Psychopathy Is Not a Diagnosis:

First of all, psychopathy is not actually a real diagnosis. The closest resembling diagnosis is ‘antisocial personality disorder’. However, there have been many scales of psychopathy created over the years, including ‘the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale’ and ‘the Hare Psychopathy Checklist’. These scales test how many psychopathic traits an individual possesses. The 20 traits accessed by the Hare Psychopathy Checklist include:

  • Superficial charm
  • Grandiose estimation of self
  • Need for stimulation
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning and manipulativeness
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Superficial emotional responsiveness
  • Lack of empathy
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Poor behavioural controls
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Early behaviour problems
  • Lack of realistic long-term goals
  • Impulsivity
  • Irresponsibility
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Revocation of conditional release
  • Criminal versatility

Most Are Not Violent:

Psychopaths are portrayed as merciless killers in the media – but in real life, those with psychopathic tendencies are not always violent individuals. These individuals can live successfully amongst the general public, using their traits to be productive members of society. They may have logical reasons, rather than emotional ones, for not committing violent acts. For example, they know it can get them in trouble with the law, or physically injured, therefore it is in their interest not to behave violently.

They Want Friends:

Psychopaths realise the benefits of friendship and alliances. They are capable of forming positive relationships, even if it is only for self-gain. Friends can help the psychopath with favours and therefore are kept around for their usefulness rather than emotional reasons. Friendships may also fulfil the need for stimulation as psychopaths can become easily bored.

They Are Not All in Corporate Business:

Although psychopaths are prevalent at higher levels of corporate organisations, they also exist in many other professions. They are our lawyers, surgeons and police officers. These psychopaths are seen as ‘successful psychopaths’. They use their dark triad traits and charm in order to push their way to the top.  However, most psychopaths are often not suited to most occupations as they are unable to get along with others – due to this some disadvantaged psychopaths may turn to crime.

They Are Not Psychotic:

People commonly mistake psychopathy for psychosis but there is a huge difference between the two. Psychosis is an umbrella term describing a mental state where one experiences a disconnect from reality whereas psychopathy describes a set of traits which show a lack of empathy.

 

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22 thoughts on “5 Misconceptions About Psychopathy

  1. In my nursing career I’ve only ever had one patient who was clearly a psychopath. What struck me the most was his skill at acting and manipulation. He managed to convince a fair number of people that he was psychotic, but it was all an act designed to control and manipulate people, and pit some members of the treatment team against others. It was quite chilling.

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  2. You have written fairly accurately about Psychopaths. Only thing I don’t seem to understand is if the deranged attitudes can be spread to others like a communicable disease. And whether the usurpation of resources, limited and unevenly distributed,by such people can be dealt with, least damagingly.

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  3. I absolutely love this piece. Psychopathy is difficult, and a topic alike the majority of disorders that holds so much stigma. My psychiatrist told me after a long session that I scored fairly highly on the psychopathy checklist by Hare which I’m glad you mentioned (:D) so those I’m really close to I talk about my experience of being ‘diagnosed’ with psychopathic tendencies as it’s actually on my diagnosis list and they get so scared. It’s important for work like this to be seen so these misconceptions can be stomped on 🙂 thank you.

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    1. I will be making a blog post on this some time soon! But quick answer is that psychopaths are aware of their differences and that their behaviour is unacceptable whereas narcissists do not believe they are doing any wrong. Psychopaths can be intentionally vindictive whereas narcissists are oblivious to the harm they cause.

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      1. Before the 2016 election, a former associate from a networking group, himself a Ph.D psychologist and by trade, a Christian counselor, posted a meme to my Facebook page claiming President Obama was a “narcissist” for mentioning his name in a campaign speech on behalf of Hillary Clinton. It makes sense that an outgoing President would mention himself, and that certainly does not evidence narcissism. At the same time, this Ph.D psychologist trumpeted the benefits of Donald Trump, whom many psychologists claim have shown evidence of many traits on the Hare scale, and certainly many of those of a narcissist. What I find disturbing in all this is the willful choice to confuse these situations. It gives me great concerns for his patients, for one thing. And his practice is known to engage in ‘conversion therapy’ for gay people, and one of the review of his practice suggests he invited a patient to his personal residence and even on vacation for “treatment.” It all bothers me greatly. It’s important to understand these distinctions, it seems. That same psychologist pursued me onto Messenger with personal attacks and called me a “sick f***” for questioning his judgement. To me the entire experience explains a lot in terms of what’s going on in society these days.

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  4. This is correct in basic details, but oversimplifies greatly. Nothing you won’t find on a million other sites, which doesn’t help your differentiation. Have you thought of inviting someone with ASPD to write a guest post? I could suggest two or three people who’d probably do it.

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    1. Hello there – I have only recently started to write on this blog and wanted to establish some basics definitions before getting into more complex topics. 🙂 I would love to get some guest bloggers on at a later date though! Thanks for your comment!

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