Sociopaths care about their families

Von, Masters Degree in Psychology
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Psychopathy is a serious personality disorder. Psychopaths manipulate and act without feeling remorseful. They lie, cheat and skillfully exploit their fellow human beings. In doing so, they are extremely willing to take risks and behave irresponsibly. Read here how to recognize a psychopath.

What is psychopathy?

Psychopathy is considered an extreme form of dissocial personality disorder. However, the demarcation is not clearly defined scientifically. There is a lot of overlap between the two disorders. In both psychopaths and people with antisocial personality disorder, the individuals exhibit antisocial behavior. However, experts assume that psychopaths are more emotionally impaired. For example, they use unrestrained aggression to exercise control over other people and achieve their goals.

Psychopathy and crime

People with psychopathy are often indistinguishable from other people in everyday life. However, they can be very dangerous for society as they lack the ability to empathize with other people. They do not feel guilty for behaving in an antisocial or illegal manner. The rate of psychopaths in prisons is very high. People with psychopathy are potentially the most dangerous offenders. Due to the lack of empathy, some of them are capable of extremely cruel acts of violence. However, not every psychopathic person becomes a criminal. And vice versa, of course, not every criminal is psychopathic. Psychopathology occurs in around 1.5 to 3.7 percent of the population in Western societies.

Master of manipulation

Psychopaths are very manipulative when dealing with other people. They know how to use their charm. They often mislead people and professionals alike by feigning guilt or empathy. Because they know very well which reactions are socially appropriate. However, psychopaths do not have a conscience that plagues them when they act immorally. The lack of emotions gives them the advantage that they can think through their actions very rationally. This ability quickly moves people with psychopathy into high professional positions. Fear or doubt are alien to them. They pursue their interests regardless of loss or impact on other people.

Psychopathy: symptoms

The symptoms of psychopathy are very similar to those of dissocial personality disorders. In order to better differentiate psychopathy, the Canadian criminal psychologist Robert Hare has developed a test to identify psychopaths: the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) It contains the following 20 criteria:

  • cleverly eloquent blender with superficial charm
  • significantly increased self-esteem
  • Need for stimulation (hunger for adventure), constant feeling of boredom
  • morbid lying
  • fraudulent manipulative behavior
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • superficial feelings
  • Cold feeling, lack of empathy
  • parasitic lifestyle: you live at the expense of others
  • insufficient control of behavior
  • frequently changing sexual contacts
  • early behavior problems
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • impulsiveness
  • irresponsibility
  • Lack of willingness / ability to take responsibility for one's own actions
  • many short-term marriage (similar) light relationships
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Disregard of ways and conditions / revocation of probation
  • Commit various crimes and offenses in different ways

The therapist or psychiatrist rates each characteristic with 0 or 1. According to the total, he determines whether there is a psychopathy and how severe it is.

Psychopathy: treatment

Antisocial personality disorder cannot yet be adequately treated. Those affected see no reason why they should change themselves or their behavior. People who are mentally or physically ill usually have psychological stress and go to a doctor or therapist to reduce this suffering. However, people with psychopathy do not feel sorry. In addition, they often lie and try to manipulate other people. This and the numbness towards other people make a trusting relationship with a therapist, which is crucial for the success of a treatment, impossible. Psychotropic drugs for the treatment of dissocial personality disorder also seem to have no convincing effect.

People with psychopathy are often good at hiding their illness. You can mislead the therapist by faking empathy. Psychopaths often have a strong inner drive to exercise violence and power. This desire cannot be erased in therapy. However, some psychopaths learn in therapy to better control this drive.

Psychopathy and partnership

In a partnership, psychopaths initially seem too good to be true. They are charismatic, give gifts, and are often very sexually active. They lure the partner into marriage as quickly as possible. As soon as he gets involved, the relationship often changes radically. The psychopath no longer cares about his partner, some become aggressive and violent. Individuals who are in a partnership with a psychopath should definitely seek professional help. People with psychopathy know how to manipulate others and often leave a lot of pain and suffering behind. The first painful but important realization is that people with psychopathy do not change their behavior.

Protection from people with psychopathy

We encounter psychopaths in everyday life. It can be your own boss, your partner or a friend. Because people with psychopathy are difficult to spot, even for experts, it's important to look carefully. People who are overly confident, quick-witted, and only superficially interested in others should make one skeptical. It is particularly challenging not to be dazzled by great promises or overwhelming speeches. People with psychopathy want absolute control over other people. Drawing and adhering to boundaries can protect one from the ill influence of people with psychopathy.

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