There are many characteristics of a psychopath. They range from glibness to superficial charm with a grandiose sense of self worth. They are the type that need stimulation and are very prone to boredom. Psychopaths have a habit of being pathological liars and are conning and manipulative. They lack remorse or guilt and have a shallow affect. This includes being callous and lacking in sympathy towards others. They tend to live a parasitic lifestyle and have very poor behavior controls. Psychopaths have early behavior problems and are usually often fall into the perimeters of a juvenile delinquent.
They are impulsive and irresponsible often failing to accept responsibility for their own actions. Lying, stealing, fighting and resisting authority are typical childhood signs. As they develop more into adolescents, they have an unusually aggressive sexual behavior. This can also accompany habits of using illicit drugs and excessive drinking. As they move on to adulthood, these kinds of behaviors continue with the addition of the inability to sustain consistent work performance or to function as a responsible parent. They fail to accept the social norms of society to lawful behavior.
These individuals are also incapable of forming lasting relationships. They seem to have no enduring friendships and their children often become unattached. They are often unreliable and steal the trust of those around them with little regard for how they hurt the ones they leave behind. Psychopaths are unable to feel fear for themselves much less empathy for others. The threat of punishment is merely a laughing matter even when the punishment is severe. They can repeat the same destructive acts without blinking an eye, as well as continuation to seek thrill and danger without regard to the risks.
These individuals tend to be more machine like than humans. Another trait that psychopaths often have is an extra sensory perception about others and the ability to pick out personal vulnerabilities in others. We can all laugh and mention someone who fits these descriptions, be it your boss, your mother-in-law, your wife or whatever. These however will usually turn out to be people with whom we do not see eye to eye. Psychopaths are a different kettle of fish as they actually work full time to ensure all around them measure up and perform to their own needs and desires.
Many psychologists and professionals find it unfortunate that the DSM fails to give a complete list of symptoms, making early identification and treatment more difficult. Some have even stated that the DSM is totally inadequate in helping the average professional know how to deal with this type of personality that tends to deviate from the norms of society. There seem to be two sides to their personalities and different types. Even in early years, young psychopaths contain at least two sides to their personalities.
According to Hervey Cleckley, M. D. , the outside superficial mask is often a likeable character. Usually this charming public side is verbally fluent and capable of making short- term friends easily. The psychopathic personality seems to be full of something akin to deep greed. They lie for the sake of lying and then are able to convey the deepest heart felt message without meaning a word of it. There are many successful psychopaths and important things in their lives seem to generate around power, money, and gratification of negative desires.
Several studies have been done that show locking up a psychopath has no effect on them in terms of modifying their life strategies. In fact the conclusion of some studies has shown to make them worse. “One very interesting aspect of the psychopath is his “hidden “life that is often not too well hidden. It seems that the psychopath has a regular need to take a “vacation into filth and degradation” the same way normal people take a vacation to a resort where they enjoy beautiful surroundings and culture.
These people people are very human in every respect but they lack a soul. This lack a soul quality makes them very efficient machines. They can be brilliant, write scholarly works, imitate the words of emotion, but over time, it becomes clear that their words do not match their actions. They are the type of characters claim they are devastated by grief, who then attend a party “to forget”. The problem is they really do forget. Being very efficient machines, like a computer, they are able to execute very complex routines designed to elicit from others support for what they want.
In this way, many psychopaths are able to reach very high positions in life. It is only over time that their associates become aware of the fact that their climb up the ladder of success is predicted or violating the rights of others. ” (Cleckley, 1982). According to some psychologists, it is believed that there are primary and secondary psychopaths and they can be sub-divided. These sub divisions are primary, secondary, distempered, and charismatic psychopaths. Secondary psychopaths take risks but also tend to be very stressing reactive worriers and guilt prone.
Distempered psychopaths are a kind that seems to fly into a rage or frenzy more often than the other subtypes. There is another strong characterization with drug addiction and they like the endorphin high or rush of excitement from risk taking. According to some researchers, the psychopath is frequently termed with sociopath and someone who is suffering from anti-social personality diagnosis. These three terms are often used interchangeably. The sticky wicket here is that nearly all psychopaths have personality disorder but only some individuals with anti-personality disorder are psychopaths.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria and PCL-R assessment in contemporary research and clinical psychiatric practice use the ICD-10 and the DSM, and will use the term anti-social personality disorder. Psychopathy is most commonly assessed by those who subscribe to a separate idea of psychopathy with the PCL-R, which is a clinical rating scale with twenty items. Each of the items in the PCL-R is scored on a three point (0, 1, 2) scale according to two factors. PCL-R factor 2 is associated with reactive anger, anxiety, increased risk of suicide, criminality, and impulse violence.
PCL-R factor 1, in contrast is associated with extroversion and positive effect. Factor 1, the so called core personality traits of psychopathy, may even be beneficial for the psychopath (in terms of non-deviant social functioning). A psychopath will score high on both factors, whereas someone with anti-social personality disorder will score high only on factor 2. A case study example of a psychopath is the story of Scott Peterson who sits on death row in San Quentin Prison. He was found guilty of murdering his wife Laci and their unborn child. Laci was reported missing in Modesto California on Christmas Eve in 2002.
Scott Peterson claimed he was fishing that day and within four months her body and that of their unborn child washed ashore near the vicinity where he was fishing. This story took America by storm and people asked how could he do it, and why not just get a divorce? Some experts on the criminal mind say the answer may lie in what lurked beneath his charming veneer. According to the AP story published in December 2004, “Criminal psychologists say that Peterson appeared to be a master manipulator who lacked the capacity to feel remorse or consider consequences.
The same sociopath characteristics exhibited by serial killers Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. “ In conclusion, psychopaths or sociopaths have been termed since the early part of the eighteenth century. Clinicians knew back then that the sociopath clearly knows the difference between right and wrong. Instead they follow their own rules and laws. Although not all psychopaths are killers, their lack of feeling and tendency to devalue human life, along with their inclination to feel victimized and rejected, makes them much more inclined to consider murder as an option.
Sadder is when the sociopath is involved with children and family. More awareness needs to be brought out regarding the devastating damage that continues to flow long after the nightmare has been exposed. Most siblings and adult children of people with psychiatric disorders find that mental illness in a sister, brother, or parent is a tragic event. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a good start in learning to cope is to find out as much as possible about the disorder or illness.
You can read and talk to other families and there are also support groups. The NAMI also has a help line and online resource information page with pamphlets and fact sheets and tapes. References Cleckley, Harvey (1982), Mask of Sanity American Psychiatric Association, The Human Nature Review, 2001, Volume 1:28 – 36 (5 November) American Judges Foundation, Domestic Violence and the Courtroom: Understanding the Problem, Knowing the Victim, retrieved from AFW website, 2008. National Alliance on Mental Illness, www. nami. org