Do you think you would be able to spot a psychopath? Psychopaths exist in all realms of our society, from world leaders, fictional characters to your boss at work.
Society seems to be fascinated with psychopaths and how to identify them. You only have to look online to find tests that reveal whether or not you are a psychopath.
So far research has revealed typical psychopathic traits such as superficial charm, lack of remorse, low affect, narcissism, and more. However, it appears that along with certain psychopathic traits there is a whole range of weird things psychopaths do.
So if you want to spot a psychopath, keep an eye out for the following.
8 weird things psychopaths do to have the upper hand
1. They think and speak carefully and slowly
Psychopaths do not feel emotions the same way we do. Therefore, they have to be careful not to reveal their true intentions.
Psychiatrist Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig called psychopaths ‘emptied souls’. They have no empathy, but they are intelligent enough to know that they need to fake emotions to fit in with society.
In other words, when someone feels genuine emotion, they instinctively react.
For example, your friend’s dog just died, you feel sadness for them and offer comforting words. A psychopath would have no idea how to react in these situations. So they have to think carefully before they speak. They use previous experiences to mimic an appropriate response.
In studies, a series of disturbing images were shown to psychopaths. Their brain activity was then recorded. When normal people view upsetting images, it activates the limbic system; this generates emotions.
However, psychopaths’ brains showed a lack of activity. This is called limbic under-activation. So the psychopath does not feel emotions. Where we feel, the psychopath must think carefully and pretend.
2. They switch loyalties in an instant
One minute you are the centre of a psychopath’s world, then they ghost you. Psychopaths have the gift of the gab; they are naturally charming and draw you in like a moth to a flame. But as soon as they have you in their clutches, or when they have taken what they want from you, they dump you.
Psychopaths make you believe that you are special. They use techniques such as love-bombing. You’ll also find that they like to move on you quickly. They create a whirlwind of romance and feelings.
It’s a little like being in the middle of a tornado and being asked to solve a maths question at the same time. They want you off-balance so they can manipulate you.
They’ll say things like “I’ve never felt this way before” and “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” after a few days. You are bombarded by their charm offensive. Then, just as you start to believe and fall for them, they switch loyalties and turn their attention onto someone else.
3. They turn people against each other
Psychopaths are master manipulators and try every trick in the book to control those around them. One of the weird things psychopaths do to achieve this is to create drama around them. They will badmouth, spread malicious gossip, or tell secrets so that you begin to distrust the other person.
As we know, psychopaths are masters at lying, so this comes easy to them. Turning people against each other serves multiple purposes. It isolates you from the other person, and it elevates the psychopath’s position within your circle.
4. They have an unblinking stare
We are all aware of the importance of eye contact. Too little and a person appears to be shifty; too much and it is intimidating. Psychopaths have mastered the unblinking stare to perfection. It is one of the ways you can tell you are dealing with one.
Typically, a person will look at someone for 4-5 seconds, then look away. Appropriate eye contact is around 50% when talking and 70% when listening. However, psychopaths hold your gaze for an uncomfortably long time. This is the psychopathic stare.
Dr. Robert Hare, who devised the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, described it as “intense eye contact and piercing eyes.” Most of us find an unblinking stare uncomfortable, but some women have described it as sexual and seductive as if they were looking into their souls.
5. They don’t move their heads when talking
One study reviewed interviews with over 500 inmates who had scored highly on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. The results showed that the higher the score, the stiller the inmate held his head during the interview. Now, this is a weird thing psychopaths do, but what’s the reason behind it?
Researchers could only surmise that head movements convey emotional messages to other people. For example, tilting the head suggests the person is concentrating on your words. Nodding or shaking the head indicates yes or no answers. In other words, we use head movements to indicate social cues.
Now, psychopaths may hold their heads still as a defence mechanism; they don’t want to give away information. But researchers believe it is a developmental issue.
As we grow up, we learn these subtle interpersonal cues from our emotional experiences. Psychopaths have no emotions, so they do not use head movements.
6. They use past tense when they speak
Communication expert Jeff Hancock, a professor at Cornell University, studied the speech patterns psychopaths use and found that they are more likely to talk using past tense verbs.
The researchers interviewed 14 convicted male murderers diagnosed with psychopathic traits and 38 convicted non-psychopathic murderers. The psychopathic murders spoke using past tense about their crimes.
Researchers examined the emotional content of the convict’s crimes and found that they frequently used past tense when describing the murder. They believe this is a distancing tactic because psychopaths are detached from normal emotions.
7. They talk about food a lot
In the same study, co-author Michael Woodworth, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, identified that psychopaths tend to talk about food and their basic needs a lot more.
For example, a psychopathic murderer is twice as likely to discuss what they had for lunch than the crime they committed. To psychopaths, this is equally, if not more important.
Researchers suggest that as psychopaths are predatory by nature, this is not a weird thing for psychopaths to do.
8. They over-exaggerate their body language
Psychopaths may not move their heads much when they talk, but they make up for this in other ways. Psychopaths are master manipulators and habitual liars. As such, they need to convince others that what they are saying is the truth.
You often see exaggerated gestures in police interviews when the suspect explains what happened. When we tell the truth, we don’t need to use big gestures to emphasise our points. The truth is the truth.
But one of the weird things psychopaths do is punctuate their speech with extravagant hand gestures.
Experts believe this is either a distracting technique or a convincing one.
Have you crossed paths with a psychopath? Do you recognise any of the weird things I’ve mentioned, or do you have some of your own to tell us? Use the comments box to fill us in!
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