Here is an adapted version of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which can help you find out that someone you know might be a psychopath.
The term ‘psychopath’ was first coined in the mid- to late 1800s, and comes from the Greek psykhe and pathos, which mean ‘sick mind’ or ‘suffering soul.’
In those days, psychopathy was considered to be a sort of moral insanity, but of course, nowadays, we know better.
However, are we right to think of psychopaths as lone killers, devoid of humanity, preying on the vulnerable, who find it hard to mix with society? The truth is that you could have one as a friend, boss or even a partner. Psychopaths live among us and manage to blend into society, but you can spot them if you look hard enough.
First, you have to change the way you think about people and how we operate as human beings. It is normal to believe that everyone else on the planet is like us, in that, they think like us, feel the same emotions like us, and understand pain and loss like we do. It is important to understand that for a few percentage of the population, this is not true. These are people that do not have empathy or remorse, cannot feel emotion, whose only goal is to take advantage of others.
These are the psychopaths, and as with any mental disorder, there are characteristics that define it. The most common way of detecting whether a person is a psychopath is by using The Hare Psychopathy Checklist -Revised (PCL-R), which is a diagnostic tool, set to determine if someone is on the psychopathy spectrum.
On the checklist are 20 traits which each have a score between 0 – 2, the highest mark someone can achieve therefore being 40. In the US, if someone rates over 30 in the test, they are said to be psychopathic, but in the UK, it is only over 25.
The twenty traits on the Hare Psychopathy checklist are:
- pathological lying
- glib and superficial charm
- grandiose sense of self
- need for stimulation
- cunning and manipulative
- lack of remorse or guilt
- shallow emotional response
- callousness and lack of empathy
- parasitic lifestyle
- poor behavioral controls
- sexual promiscuity
- early behavior problems
- lack of realistic long-term goals
- failure to accept responsibility
- many short-term marital relationships
- juvenile delinquency
- revocation of conditional release
- criminal versatility
The Hare Psychopathy Checklist -Revised (PCL-R) categorizes these traits into four factors: interpersonal, emotional, lifestyle and antisocial.
INTERPERSONAL TRAITS OF A PSYCHOPATH
The most common trait of a psychopath is their pathological lying. This is so that they can cover up their behaviour and get their own way.
Psychopaths use glibness and superficial charm to get you hooked in the first place. Once they have you under their spell, you are more likely to be willing to help them.
You’ll find many psychopaths in positions of great power and authority, this is due to their enormous sense of self-worth.
It is their manipulative behaviour that probably got them into these positions in the first place.
EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A PSYCHOPATH
The most emotional characteristic is a complete lack of remorse or guilt. This could explain why psychopathic killers get away with their crimes as they simply do not care.
Some psychopaths may feel shallow emotions, in that they might feel sorry that their victim is dead because it no longer holds any pleasure for them.
More often a psychopath will be callous and show a distinct lack of empathy towards their victims. Failure to accept responsibility for their own acts is another common trait for a psychopath.
LIFESTYLE PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS
You can also see psychopathic traits in the lifestyles of psychopaths. A common trait is the parasitic way they will feed off other people to sustain their lifestyle.
Psychopaths also have a need for stimulation which might lead them to behaving with impulsivity and acting in an irresponsible way. Typically, a psychopath will have no realistic, long-term goals, instead preferring to live in the moment.
ANTISOCIAL TRAITS OF PSYCHOPATHS
Despite many psychopaths holding down impressive jobs, they do not have good social skills. They find it hard to control their behaviour in public which could lead to a revoking of their parole.
Psychopaths are known to be particularly versatile in many areas of different crimes. This makes it difficult to catch them.
Diagnosing a psychopath
Even if you have the Hare Psychopathy Checklist in your arsenal, diagnosing someone in your life who you think is a psychopath is a very serious step. It has implications either way, whether you are right or wrong. It is better to leave any diagnosing to the professionals who are trained to spot the subtle signs of psychopathy, something that non-professionals might easily miss.