Back to basics: a psychopathy checklist

From Profile of the Sociopath:

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm
  • Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”
  • Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
  • Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
  • Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
    Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet “gets by” by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.
  • Irresponsibility/Unreliability
    Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
  • Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
    Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.
  • Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
    Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.
  • Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
    Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

I should integrate the concept of psychopathic throughlines with the checklist concept.  I’ll add it to my to do list.

In a rough way, I certainly do refer to check lists in my own thinking when considering possible psychopaths/sociopaths.   However it is a mistake to overly rely upon them in my opinion.  It is not possible to successfully follow a reverse engineering cookbook approach — ‘these are the ingredients, so this is the dish.’   I’m not arguing with Dr. Hare’s systemized use of PCL-R with trained raters in a prison setting.  However you will never catch an advanced SAP (socially adept psychopath) with one.  Basically I pay attention to psychopathic levels of arrogance/attitude and look for signs of severe arrested development, i.e., age inappropriate behaviors (even small behaviors), childish thinking patterns, etc.

Checklists can rise to the fore again however, when dealing with SAPs.  If behavior falls apart ( the “adult act” of psychopaths) under certain situations, checklist items can be of great help in recognizing psychopaths.  At one bank I worked at, we had a managing director who was ordered never to attend company parties, his behavior fell apart under the influence of alcohol.  (For those unfamiliar with corporate structure, managing directors are essentially standalone profit centers, they have to be rainmakers (profit-wise) for the company.)  This individual was widely considered to be a wild and crazy, fun guy.  Or sometimes psychopathic individuals will show their true character based on “food chain calculations” — when dealing with those they deem lower, their “inner psychopath” comes out; or when deeming themselves at the top of the food chain, the same occurs.

[A version of the first of the two above paragraphs was here earlier.  I have no idea what happened, perhaps I failed to save it correctly, perhaps there was a technical glitch, or perhaps . . . EGADS!  HAVE I BEEN GASLIGHTED BY A PSYCHOPATHIC HACKER?  “Why no, PW, whatever paragraph are you talking about.  You’ve been so stressed out lately, etc., etc.”  Psychopaths just love gaslighting campaigns, it gives them the “chortle, chortle” response that they cherish.  Gaslighting depends on the target not entertaining seemingly paranoid lines of thought.  Incidentally, I see my external links have disappeared.  I don’t know how that happened.]

At the bottom of the above factsheet, the author says “You may also find more at http://sociopathworld.com/.”  You certainly will, it is a psychopath website.

Finally the author says, “I . . . am not a psychologist and [claim] no special expertise in the subject.”  IMO, no special expertise is needed, or rather, anyone who has had intense emotional experiences with psychopaths does have special expertise.  Everyone needs to know psychopaths are out there and that they will interact with them.  If the so-called experts don’t tell us this, we have to inform each other.

Just came across another worthy checklist site:  The List of Psychopathy Symptoms: Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare

15 thoughts on “Back to basics: a psychopathy checklist

  1. Pingback: What House of Cards Tells Us | US Represented

  2. As a sociopath who is trying to get his brain working-(and failing) I am interested in meeting another sociopath-on the basis it will take one singularity to close down another-as sociopaths are locked out of humanity we are the last to know when our feral nervous systems are up for trounle…only another would seem to to be able to shut one down-and maybe create a whole new life form that has never existed before….

  3. I am dealing with a person right now in my life who gives me a strong gut feeling of being a sociopath. It is the kind of feeling I get whenever I am confronted with the very sick workings of sociopathic minds. I feel sick and very very scared just thinking of meeting him.

    BUT this one makes me (still) question my own instincts, for two reasons:

    1.) He (seemingly) genuinely blushed. That was after I said to him in a moment of revelation that I usually would not let anybody stay with me in my flat (which I offered him after he had asked me because he has no place to stay right now), but that I am having a really good feeling about him. As a response he said: “Oh I also have never asked someone this spontanously if I could stay with them. But I just thought about asking you, and it felt good about it and then I thought, why not?” And he blushed.

    So I am wondering if you think that a Sociopath was capable of faking a blush?

    2.) The first time we met was during an art class. I sat as a model for a short session and he as well as others drew my portrait. He only drew my eyes and he really caught them very well. He was the only person who caught my character in his drawings. All the other drawings of the other people there, were more shallow than his. His had soul.

    Do you think a sociopath could be able to capture the sould of another person in his drawings?

    … in the beginning of our aquaintanceship I had a really good feeling about him – he seemed like a genuinely real and sincere person.

    Now things are completely different – his behaviour has now changed to disrearding indifference and outright meanness. But I am still not getting it. My senses still tell me that his sincerety in the beginning was not fake. Which is honestly in the light of what happened later a more disturbing thought than assuming that everything what he did was fake.

    Without relating all the other experiences (good and disturbing) I had with that guy – do you think a Sociopathic person could be capable of the blushing and the soulful drawing?

    • By blush I assume you mean his face actually changed coloration not just going through the motions of blushing and acting embarrassed — real blushing would seem surprising for a sociopath, fake blushing they do all the time. His statement, “Oh I also have never . . .” is very sociopath like.

      In terms of his recognizing the emotions behind your eyes, perhaps a comment posted at Transsociopathica (when it was up) might be of interest. A sociopath wrote in saying that, to him, people walked around practically screaming their heart’s desires and he could effortlessly adjust and become just that. Some of them are incredibly sensitive.

      • Wow, thanks for the quick answer:

        Yes he actually changed color. His face went read for about three seconds.

        And about his drawing: It wasnt so much the fact that he was able to recognize the emotions behind my eyes that I cannot grasp, but the fact that he could see the soul and process it and express it in his drawing.

        I know how sensitive Sociopaths can be. Me being blessed with extreme sensitivity myself, know how finely tuned some of the sociopaths can be. If it wasnt so disturbing to observe how these people use their sensitivity I would be quite amazed.

        But – and that is the difference between someone like me (who is all about love and compassion) and them – I can see and appreciate the beauty of the human soul in the emotions. They cannot. They cannot be touched by another persons heart, not to mention their own heart (which I think they believe does not exist).

        To be able to capture what I call the “soul” of a person in a drawing is what surprises me so greatly in a person who – for me – vibes so much twistedness.

        In this art class there are actually four other guys whose vibes have written “no empathy” all over them quite clearly for me. And you can see that in their drawings very well. Their drawings are completely soul-less. And the way they tried to work their pity play on me and other girls was all too obvious.

        … I am just relating this to give you a sense of how well aware I am – on an intuitive level – what genuinity and fakeness is all about.

        • Psychopaths operate on basic needs despite their intelligence. Since loving feelings and good will towards others is completely lacking, how can they feel the human connection we empaths find so important? I am sure that the psychopaths in your art class have learned only what they learn about our inner souls seen through our eyes, but they cannot connect their eyes to love, hence their fake behaviours. Awhile ago, I read a comment that psychopaths do not really want to hang with other psychopaths as they need to seek victims to learn to read emotions and fake them in order to manipulate their victims. Psychopaths need empaths and psychopaths learn about evil from empaths.
          Fortunately psychopaths are a small percentage, but the damage that can be done can only be undone by empaths.

  4. “Sure, what kind of credentials are the unsought lessons of life? ”
    Well put.
    I am someone with some acedmic credentials ( degree in education and coursework in abnormal psychology. ) but the majority of what I know about narcissists and sociopaths comes from the horrid life experence of mistaking them for humans.
    I may not remember the diognostic criterion for some learning disorder but the destruction and sufferings cause by people treating a sociopath as a person is something that is not soon forgotten.

    • Exactly. That’s why I say that the worth of this blog is determined by whether it helps the readers gain an understanding of their own life experiences with sociopaths, or not. It is up to us to spread the word, help others protect themselves — the credentialed experts have failed us all.

  5. After reading the “sociopath world” site for a while, you realise it is by a young depressed guy with Aspergers.

    He references Aspergers *constantly*, and positively. Strange for a site meant to be about “sociopathy”.

    Asperger people often become misanthropes (via their inability to relate to others & their own social rejection).

    This author of the site is attributing his own Asperger-driven disillusionment with people & life in general (misanthropy) to “sociopathy”.

    He has read up on sociopathy to an obsessive degree, with single-topic obsession & immersion being classic Asperger behaviour.

  6. Unless we are legal counsel, none of us can afford to live solely in an expert-mediated reality, indeed.

    I, personally, appreciate pathwhisperer’s commentaries and would continue to find them of interest….particularly as the brain-injured young man for whom I am Committee was committed under the Mental Health Act last night — exhibiting signs of sociopathy and delusions once again — though free of same for 9 consecutive months. The psychosis was potentially triggered by dental drilling — a PTSD reaction to severe pain…

    SO all well-written, logical commentary is appreciate in this site by me (and I hold 2 Masters’ degrees — although that and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee on skid row). Thank you.

    • Sure, what kind of credentials are the unsought lessons of life? I have no problem with that.

      I wish to provide tools for readers’ to deal with their experiences with sociopaths. Perhaps I should take a poll of readers to see if I have done that.

      I hope you don’t really live in an expert-mediated reality.

  7. Well said; interestingly enough, the young man with a brain injury for which I am Committee was precisely this descriptive and more prior to his traumatic brain injury. The TBI seems to have effectively “reversed” the sociopathic/antisocial-personality disorder traits from his past.

    Only time will tell whether the absence of disorder is indeed what it appears to be, or a morbid confabulation of the disorder feigned to be removed, despite the brain injury.

    Interesting study, nonetheless. Psychiatric involvement, rehabilitation, behaviour modification implementation continues (now 9 years post-iTBI).

  8. Pingback: Oppositional Defiant Disorder-ODD Child Behavior: End Child Defiance

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