We think psychopaths are super criminals with violent tendencies, but that’s not completely accurate. In fact, psychopaths are more likely to be a colleague, a friend, or even a spouse.
The majority of us tend to believe that a psychopath is someone who fits the role of Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates, but that assumption of behavioural traits is wildly inaccurate. Because of this misconception of what a psychopath actually “looks” like, it becomes harder to spot them in a crowd.
If you consider that recent research suggests 1% of the population falls under the spectrum of psychopathy, you’ll find that these people are much more prevalent in society than first imagined. While one percent might not seem like much, that equates to 1 in every 100 people. Shockingly, that percentage can rise up to 4 times in high-power career positions, like CEO, lawyer, or police officer.
Since there is a lot of unlearning to do regarding the actual signs and traits of someone with psychopathy, let’s get down to it.
Here are 9 warning signs of a psychopath:
1. Overly Charming
According to Scientific America, psychopaths are superficially charming and “tend to make a good first impression on others even striking observers as remarkably normal.” They come off as friendly and approachable which makes others put their guard down around them.
Psychology Today say that psychopaths “place a higher priority than most on power, money, and winning. They easily disregard moral and social rules, and as a result, lie to others and manipulate them with little to no guilt.”
A psychopath feels no shame and no remorse, which makes lying a very easy thing for them to do. Whereas most of us have a conscience that guides us, a psychopath does not. They see others as pawns.
4. Lack of Empathy
It is a well-known fact that these types of people lack empathy. They are completely devoid of guilt and lack the ability to feel genuine emotions for others. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t understand it.
James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California says “This all gives certain psychopaths a great advantage, because they can understand what you’re thinking, it’s just that they don’t care, so they can use you against yourself.”
5. Only Focused on Themselves
The psychopath might be able to feign interest and compassion for a short while, but that facade quickly vanishes, and it becomes clear that they only really care about themselves.
6. Better than Everyone Else
These types of people never feel like they are in competition with anyone, or that anyone would even pose as a challenge for them. This contributes to their lack of respect towards authority figures, bosses, and even parents.
7. More Clever than They Let On
Fallon states that these people appear intelligent, but are actually more clever than we realize because their lack of emotional constraints allows them to go beyond what a normal person would. “Psychopaths can work very quickly, and can have an apparent IQ higher than it really is, because they’re not inhibited by moral concerns.”
8. Overly Impulsive
Psychopaths tend to act on a whim, without a second thought. This means that there is no consideration of consequences to themselves or what might happen to those around them. Generally, this leads to destructive behavior.
9. Excuses All the Time
Scientific America reports, “Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback.” You can never expect them to take responsibility for their actions, and if they do apologize, it comes with strings attached.
While we might not be surrounded by these kinds of people (thank goodness), they are out there, and there is at least one in your life. Be cautious of how much of yourself and your life you open up to them, because they will use all of it against you for their personal gain.