Below I’ve quoted paragraphs from an article from Quora (https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-bring-down-a-psychopath-psychologically). I found these paragraphs interesting or directly relating to this blog, I don’t necessarily agree with them.
How do you bring down a psychopath psychologically?
How do you think a psychopath can be affected despite all that has been written about the psychopath being so devious etc.? I am sure there are weaknesses which one can dig into to break him ‘psychologically’. I read somewhere that they are basically people who are very insecure and they love to control people so that they feel they have a power within themselves.
I know of a psychopath who insists on people doing what he wants and anyone defying him will see his vengeful self lashing out. But I am sure there must be something that can break such a psychopath. How about belittling or bring him to shame?35 Answers[. . .]
To mess with a psychopath, you really need the upper hand and it would basically be blackmailing. You need to be able to have actual power or knowledge above them AND make them realize they have no advantage over you and that they cannot sway your mind. This cannot be achieved with mere words or bluffing, for example you would need to hold a secret or something above them, AND have some way of physically protecting yourself, AND have nothing that they can hold above you. Basically stripping them of all possible cards against you. That’s gonna be hard to pull off, they will desperately find ways to neutralize the threat, whether that means harming you or seeking an upper hand to make you back off, this can include seducing and brainwashing people around you. In conclusion, you need an air tight plot.The gray rock method.
You can’t belittle a psychopath- your opinion matters little to them- or make them feel shame. By definition they have none. Not all psychopaths fit the same mold, either. And unless you have an extensive education in psychology, it’d be a good idea not to diagnose people around you. What you described could be NPD, simple passive-aggressiveness, or just a guy having a bad day.
, pop psychologist
Written 29 Sep 2011
The goal of psychotherapy is not to ‘bring someone down,’ ‘belittle them,’ or ‘shame’ them. The question seems to assume that by doing these negative things, the psychopath could be ‘cured.’ To elaborate– when the psychopath finally ‘realizes’ the pain he or she has caused, she will ‘break down’ and beg forgiveness and essentially cease to be a psychopath.Psychotherapy as a cure rarely works. [. . .]
We are always suspicious of your motives. Trying to trick one of us will likely put you into line for them to use all of your moves against you. You have no idea who you are dealing with and it would be easy for you to think you have gotten over on a psychopath, when in reality you are walking into a nasty trap.
Ask yourself this, why do you have interest in dancing on the yellow jacket nest? Chances are, unless you have really done something to attract the psychopaths attention, chances are that they will walk away and never think of you again……unless you give them reason to. For the record, psychopaths are not very egotistical. Unless they happen to have a comorbidity of narcissism. It is not a guarantee that they will have both, and it is likely that they have one or the other, not both. Ego is a dangerous assumption to pursue with a psychopath and we see it coming from far off.
As for psychopaths being very insecure people, whoever wrote that is incorrect. It is narcissists that have this difficulty. Psychopaths do not, in any way, care what you think of us provided we get what we want from you. Your emotional investment in us is a fruitless one. We do not need your support or validation. You are a means to an end, and that is all you will be to us.
So, really, you don’t. Ever. A psychopath is not wired for the reaction you are looking for, they are wired to play, or not play a game of pain. If they walked away you got off easy. If you call them back with the intention of trying to get revenge, you are already weak and simple for them to dismantle. You will never get the response you are looking for, you will get a decisive surgical strike that could cause deep everlasting damage in your life.
As for the person you think is a psychopath, there is only one way to know for sure, and unless you have done this, you cannot possibly call him a psychopath.
Go to four year college.
Get your Bachelors degree. Psychology or Psychiatry
Get a Masters degree Psychology
Get a PhD. Psychology
Get Medical Degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Psychiatry.
Do your residency in psychiatric diagnosis, psychopharmacology, medical care issues, and psychotherapies. Psychiatry.
Complete at least four post-graduate months of internal medicine or pediatrics, plus a minimum of two months of neurology during their first year of residency, referred to as an “internship”. Psychiatry.
Get board certified. Psychiatry.
Do your Fellowship in Forensic psychiatry so you can focus on personality disorders. Psychiatry.
Interview people suspected to be psychopathic.
Conduct personality testing on those people.
Diagnose those people that you evaluate.
[. . .]
Unfortunately, while at times you may think you’re getting in, you’re really not.
In the book, The Psychopath Test, several serious attempts at treatment we’re described — all failed. In fact, the treatment ended up making them ‘better’ psychopaths, primarily because they learned how to feign emotion and sensitivity!
, Fumbling along between humility and ambition
Written Feb 21, 2013Even if there was a way to “break down” a psychopath, which I am taking to mean “beat” or “win over” instead of “cure”, because I agree with the other posters that is very improbable, you would never guess it. Its possible there are only a few times when you would have a chance at this, and it would be very difficult to figure out the exact right move that would bring him down. This moment would not be when he is acting normal or when he is in a rage, it would most likely be in a drawn-out tense situation, a big event in his life (an unforeseen death, a moment where he seems vulnerable), or a time when he seems depressed. Everyone is different and so everyone would require a different trick. Don’t try to embarrass him, he will most likely only go into a rage and you will make matters worse.
Updated Sep 21, 2013
If you want to inflict some sort of emotional or psychological pain on a psychopath, let me tell you – you simply can’t do it, and I wouldn’t recommend trying. A real psychopath is NOT insecure. Control is not to support an internal weakness, it’s for kicks and personal gain. I’m not a psychopath myself, but as an individual that is …further along the scale than most, I can still speak from personal experience: When people try to hurt me with words, it just becomes a game. It’s amusing for me. It’s like the Black Knight from Monty Python, or punching a brick wall – they just expose more points of weakness, wind up more hurt by my return fire or indifference, and I go chuckling on my way.
That said, you can absolutely nail someone like this to the wall, but it’s not a matter of standing to fight – it’s about running them forward and using their own momentum to land them in a situation they can’t talk their way out of. By definition, psychopaths tend to be impulsive, rebellious, and fearless. Bait them, game them, and lead them into doing something that will lead to a zero tolerance firing or jail time. How you do this depends entirely on your situation, so I’ll leave the details up to you. Just remember to document everything; hard, thorough evidence in the bottom line will beat even the best liar. Have fun!
, studied Psychology at The Open University
Written Dec 23
You cant, not by this method. The way to bring down a psychopath is not via the same methods which would work with “normal people”.
A “psycho” means lack lack of empathy . This is more often than not due to an organic fault within the brain. Trying to “beat” a psycho by using psychology wont work.
You cant really bring down a psychopath with logic as his logic will be different to most peoples. You mention belittling him into shame-NO doesnt work! Believe me, I ve been there.
This might work with a bully but it doesnt work with psychopaths.
Gemma is right on this one. Try & keep away.
Using other psychological methods may work but not in the way most of us would see as logical because they are not logical & I ve yet to learn any strategy which actually works.
When I attempted to react to a psycho in the way I would a bully, it all went horribly wrong. They are not the same.
[. . .]
, sticks up for the underdog
Written Nov 25, 2011
If by “break down” you mean break through the hard outer shell to the softie inside … good luck with that. I don’t really mean to be flippant, but psychopaths are, by definition, incapable of caring about what you think. They believe that the rules of society do not apply to them but only to people like us, who don’t have the backbone/intelligence/drive to get what we really want. As Robert pointed out in his answer, talented, intelligence, trained professionals have tried to break through and failed. Psychopaths are gifted manipulators, and may even find a way to make you think you succeeded, if that suits their long-term goals.
A better question might be directed toward your own motivation: what makes you want to break your psychopath? Maybe just be with the interests and emotions of that part of you.
, works at Construction Work
Updated May 30, 2014Apparently, they get bored easily. Best thing to do is not lock them up (Unless they committed a crime like murder, then that is different), but just ignore them and stay away from them, loneliness will make them bored. When they have no thrills and spills in their life, they get bored and when they’re bored, they feel like nothing.
“And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
or like Joaquin Phoenix’ character says in the film 8MM, “If you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change. The devil changes you.”
By trying to “break down” a psychopath psychologically, I assume you mean to belittle them in some way, the way they’re so adept at belittling others. This isn’t really possible. Lacking a conscience, a psychopath literally doesn’t have the capacity to feel what you’re hoping them to feel. It’s like having a coloring contest with a blind man.
Imagine you’re the main character in Grand Theft Auto and one of the computer characters insults you. Do you truly feel insulted? Truly feel hurt? Inferior?
Of course not. The computer character isn’t real. It’s a program. An object.
That’s how a psychopath feels when insulted or humiliated in real life. You might replay the level in a video game and alter your strategy. The psychopath just alters his/her real life strategy for the next similar situation.
This is such a loaded question. You cannot bring them “down”. They are already living a hellish life despite what it may look like on the outside. In no way do I feel sorry for them as they deftly use pity to terrorize innocent people.
There is only one way to deal with them and that is to NOT deal with them. Ignoring them and having zero contact is the WORST injury you could inflict but for your own safety, if you must, use the gray rock method. I do this now when I figure out who I am dealing with. Thankfully and painfully I’ve dealt with them my entire life but snif them out much more quickly. Education helps and NO CONTACT.
Assuming that you realize you are messing with a dangerous animal, I think there are a few ways to engage with a psychopath:
- Sociopathy is correlated with narcissism, and though socio/psychopaths do not feel the full range of human emotions, I’ve seen many display anger and a kind of proto-embarassment.
- Certain institutions tend to behave like psychopathic individuals, so we can look to those who fight bureaucracies and government for inspiration. The organizer Saul Alinsky famously said “ridicule is man’s most potent weapon”, and he often used this tactic to get at institutions that behave remarkably like psychopaths.
- Beat them at their own game of logic
- Psychopaths are not inherently intelligent, in fact they are probably less intelligent than the general population on average, and most humans are capable of behaving like psychopaths in certain situations (see Milgram experiments, the holocaust, etc). Therefore, despite what psychopaths will tell you, there is not an inherent advantage to being a psychopath in a conflict. They often pride themselves on being logical, but neurotypicals are not inherently any worse at being logical, they just depend on it a bit less, and are therefore less practiced at it.Anonymous
What really brought my ex “down” was being able to refute everything she accused me of in divorce court (which were actually her offenses, but as you know, that’s just what they do) with evidence – formal legal exhibits that were discussed at length, and the judge accused her of lying to him. Which she soon became very scared.
She never bothered me again. Which I guess is the answer to your question – if you can really, really puncture that world the psychopath creates for him/herself, they will move on.
I don’t think therapy works – they just simply know how to “game” the therapist and the setting too well. And if the therapist catches on, the psychopath will move on to another therapist. These are not people who want to get well. These are people who want what they want through whatever means necessary.
Unless it’s a homicidal psychopath – in which case you might be in more trouble.
I agree, they are very insecure – but it is an almost impenetrable wall they build. The only way to break through is to win in through a “superior” authority (court, in my case) and win decisively.
Even then, you won’t win thoroughly – but if you’re lucky they’ll leave you alone for the rest of yours or their life.
OK. First, I have to agree that the person you describe is NOT a psychopath but is a Narcissist. The posts suggest a number of ways of dealing with Narcissists. Psychopaths, however, are a whole other ball game. For one thing, they are not all alike, and I have never met one who was the “serial killer” type although I am sure they exist, they are just pretty rare (thank goodness). In my rather long life, I have been in relationships with two psychopaths. They were both handsome, charming, easy to be with and very good and considerate lovers. Not the picture you expected? Well, let me add, they also could tell fantastic lies (of the tall tales variety), they did not concern themselves with normal morals (if they found something, like a wallet, they would take the cash and throw out the wallet, they did not show any concern for their friends if something bad happened, etc). What they were was imminently rational. One of them, let’s call him Jack, was my first lover. He was a good choice and was knowledgeable and considerate. For other stuff, not so much. We did not live together but we were together a lot. I was in love. He was attentive, did the usual “trying to impress you, guy type displays like wheelies on a motorcycles, etc,” and was very easy to talk with and be around in general. My mother thought he was the most personable man I ever dated. My father didn’t like him but didn’t know why. After we had been dating for about a year, I heard from a friend that she thought he was married. My heart sank, not just because he belonged to someone else, but because I would never knowingly have done something that might destroy someone’s marriage. I cried and by the time he arrived I was a mess. Of course, he knew something had happened. So, our conversation went something like this (btw I am a math/science type of thinker so if my part of the conversation seems strange, it is because reason has a strong appeal to me). So, here we go:
Me “Susan told me that you are married.”
Him “I am.”
Me “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Him “You would not have gone out with me.”
Me (stopped short and thinking that that made sense) “Then why didn’t you tell me later?”
Him “You would have stopped seeing me.”
Me “So, I guess it is over.”
Him “I guess that it is, but I would have liked for it to continue. It is too bad you found out.”
I did stop seeing him. He had one of my gas credit cards and used it occasionally. I paid it. Then he started charging other stuff on it and I called him.
Me “You are charging more than gas on my cc. I didn’t mind covering you for gas even though we were through, but I am not going to pay for all the other stuff”
Me “So, here’s the deal. You mail me my cc back and I will pay what you charged right up to this minute and nothing more. You charge more on it or don’t mail it back and I report cc fraud and get the police interested in you. I don’t want to do that because I do still care about you so please send me my cc.
And he did send me my cc without charging more on it.
Two years later I get a phone call from 1000 miles away.
Him “I am in trouble”
Me “What happened.”
Him “I slept with a girl and she was old enough, but her brother is telling her to claim rape.”
Me “No way you would ever rape someone, I believe you.”
Him “I am in the slammer. This is my phone call. The brother says if I can give him $1000, they will drop the charges”
I checked, he was in the slammer. Talked to the brother, and he was pulling a blackmail scam, but he knew what he was doing. We made agreement about the money. I sent it. Jack went free. He called me and thanked me. He did not bother to say that he would pay me back because we both knew that would never happen. I said, next time call someone else. He said, ok. I never heard from him again.
So, a Psychopath but not an evil person, all in all a fun, likeable person with some baggage. From everything I could tell, the correct response was to use REASON.
The other guy was a bit scarier, had killed people for the USA, but again was able to respond to REASON especially if you point out his own self interest.
So, this may be anecdotal, but it is my experience in dealing with Psychopaths. I like them a lot better than the other personality disorders like Narcissists and Borderline. At least you have fun while it lasts with them.
So, finally to answer your question. If you are dealing with a Psychopath do not try to bring them down. Just figure out what they want, reason with them and appeal to their self interest. That is my advice in a nutshell.
First off, we have to make a distinction between psychopaths and narcissists. I see some posts in quora that intertwine these two diagnostic categories.
Narcissists love themselves. They construct a delusion that they are perfect and the best and attempt to get others to mirror back to them that they are wonderful. There is a pseudo-self that is created. Narcissists seek adoration, validation, and lots of attention. They are very concerned about what others think of them and are vulnerable to rejection, ridicule, being upstaged….. If any of these circumstance occur, they experience what is called a “narcissistic injury” resulting in outright aggression or passive-aggressiveness. Sounds like someone we know about who has been in the news lately (hmm..).
By contrast, psychopaths do not care what others think. They are concerned about “the hunt.” They love to manipulate others by first gaining trust. They are not emotionally dependent on being admired or recognized. They are covert. Psychopaths do have a strong ego which means they have a strong sense of self. Psychopaths are generally more dangerous than narcissists. Ted Bundy is a good example. Narcissists seek attention for its own sake. Psychopaths seek attention in order to get something in return.
So attempting to bring down a psychopath is not easy. You would have to have some training in psychology/counseling in order to have skills in empathy, reflective listening and probing. You have to get on their good side first and develop rapport. Once this is established, you may see signs of vulnerability but this can take a long time to get there. The goal would not be to bring them down, but to try to understand and chip away at their defenses. – Carlos V. Guzman, PhD
Unless a) you have good reason b) are sure of your diagnosis based on training and c) you admit the chance of not succeeding with a lot of damage control etc, DON’T BOTHER. Layman who has seen them at work, and has the simple method – remove them from your sphere of operation, or you from theirs. Dust off your shoes, retreat, do not pass go. They may try to follow, but a strict discipline not to engage or turn back to face them. Demonstrate control of your affairs, full stop. They meddle, don’t react. Hold the line. Be resolute and …. good luck.
You definetly can, but you should never try!
There’s a direct and a subtile way, first off the dorect:
I’m sure every psycopath, no matter how narcisstic he is has a weakness he can’t deny, and if you still want to break one down, look for it and confront him. I can’t garantuee you’ll find one, just give it a shot.
The subtile way:
Be unpredictible, completely random, let a dice decide. Many psychopaths (including me) study the behaviour of people and often understand what emotions do with them. So if you don’t behave rational nor emotionally, we’ll have a hard time understanding what’s going on. Depending on the level of narcissm, the psyhopath will ignore it (you reached nothing) or questions himself an his abilities (maybe some sort of a win for you, but not on the long term).
If you somehow managed to break one down, for example get him insecure, watch out! As Jacob already said, “Psychopaths make great friends and horrible enemies”. If you make a psyhopath angry, he’s likely to hurt him very bad (not physically but mentally) and you’ll wish you never knew him and then never wastes a single thought on you afterwards.
A psychopath by definition is someone who cannot be broken down any further. G.K. Chesterson described it best, as people who have lost everything except for their logic and reasoning ability. To say psychopaths are “insecure” would imply they have something to feel insecure about. They don’t feel anything. They’re cold as ice.
So then how can anyone make a psychopath feel bad? The cruelest thing you can do is let them play their game, whatever it is, and somewhere in the middle of it, cut them off. You’re taking away their endgame, which is like deliberately interrupting a couple mid-coitus with a fuck you grin and a Mick Foley “Have A Nice Day” sign. Don’t ever do that, though. It’s very dangerous, but if you want to play with fire, you must be willing to get burned. And you will get burned. Nothing makes a psychopath angrier than loss of control. But in order to lose control, they must have had control. Are you willing to hand yourself over?
Remember, they play these games because its the only way for them to feel anything. And everybody needs to feel something. Interfering with their main source of sustenance is like pissing in someone’s garden when there is no food store for 1,000 miles. So if you want to go stick your neck on the guillotine, go right ahead.
Oh, and by the way, simply finding their game, playing it, and then messing it up will likely just make you a target and not bring them down at all. Timing is everything. And they actually have to like you. It’s hard to explain, and an explanation is rather useless. They can’t feel up any more than they can feel down. The real question is why anybody would want to bring down a psychopath. Its much easier, simpler, and safer to just go no contact. They won’t want you back unless they really care. And if they cared, they could be brought down. They don’t want you. They want control. It’s the only way they can feel connected.
P.S. the people on here claiming to be legit psychopaths are inadequate white males afraid of their own dicks. Psychopaths don’t like to limit themselves in any way, especially not in a social “HEY EVERYBODY, HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET TO KNOW ME BETTER!!” advertising way. For some reason there are a lot of loser guys out there who think ignoring whatever feelings they have will make them strong like a generic “I’ve lost everything but I’ve still got a gun and my wits” movie character. Hey, we all need a sense of identity..
[. . .]
- Why? Why on earth would you decide “”it’s a great idea to be a dick to this person because they’re a dick”?
- What you described is not a psychopath. If they claim to be a psychopath, they aren’t.
- If they were a psychopath, how do you see this ending well for you?
- If youre being lashed out at for not complying, the best bet, assuming this is a coworker, is to point out the behavior and talk to HR. If it’s not a coworker, point out the behavior and don’t let them bully you into compliance. If a tactic works, anybody will keep using it.Anonymous
A way to bring down a psychopath is to lure him/her into the palm of your hand and then squish them. You essentially have to do as they do. It’s difficult to act like a psychopath because your feelings of empathy will try to stop you from enacting this kind of plan. But, if you can stick with it, you have a chance at stinging the psychopath and winning them at their own game.
Psychopaths are like spiders. They trap their victims and watch them squirm, attempting to get free from the web. Spiders don’t get stuck in their own webs. So, what you need to do is lure the psychopath into your web by promising him/her something that is of great value to him/her. i.e. money, prestige, ego boost, fame etc. and then taking it away abruptly. When you take it away, you must leave and never look back. Game over, you won. This will cause great narcissistic injury to the psychopath and cause the psychopath to forever be haunted by you and what you took from him/her.
The psychopath will endlessly ruminate about what was lost and he will be angry because you foiled his feelings of superiority and grandiosity. Psychopaths don’t like to lose. A psychopath will attempt to lure you back to finish the game on his/her terms, but do not fall for their charms. The psychopath has nothing but contempt and envy for you, especially since you beat him/her at their own game. Just present a false charm and treat the psychopath like he/she is invisible. In summary: To bring a psychopath down, you have to act like one.
Honestly, I believe any attempt to hurt a psychopath will only contribute to their belief that people cannot be trusted and will only hurt them, making you more a target of his “deviousness”. Abuse is, after all, a factor in some sufferer’s development of the condition.
On top of that, would you deliberately try to “bring down” someone who is hurting you this way but is not a psychopath? I ask because it seems to me, based on the number of questions I’ve seen like this around the internet and other observations, that many people feel psychopaths are an unprotected, lower class of people; as if, should you encounter a psychopath and manage to damage them, you’ll do society a favor. Psychopaths and those with antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders are still people. It’s true that some- not all- do horrible things, and there must be measures for preventing anyone with violent intentions from acting on them, but they still ought to be treated with the same respect as others, even if they don’t always treat others that way.
[. . .]
For starters, find what brought them to this point. That’s it. Understand what makes them tick then plan your move accordingly. Your combination of words, tones, actions/gestures, and the environment could play a major role in “breaking” them. These are the basics. You gotta know them, where they come from, who they are, …what they are. Analyze and strike. They’re just like anyone else, manipulative, compulsive, greedy. But without boundaries. A legitimate pyschopath/sociopath has no limits. It’s astounding what a man can do when they’re hollow.
Psychopaths do not, in any way, care what you think of us provided we get what we want from you. Your emotional investment in us is a fruitless one. We do not need your support or validation. You are a means to an end, and that is all you will be to , really, you don’t. Ever. A psychopath is not wired for the reaction you are looking for, they are wired to play, or not play a game of pain. If they walked away you got off easy. If you call them back with the intention of trying to get revenge, you are already weak and simple for them to dismantle. You will never get the response you are looking for, you will get a decisive surgical strike that could cause deep everlasting damage in your for the person you think is a psychopath, there is only one way to know for sure, and unless you have done this, you cannot possibly call him a psychopath.
wow… I think I am the coolest person on earth.. but this is.. wow megalomania at its best – I am speechless.
one does not have to be psychopath to be a lying detector machine I am , I can usually smell manipulation at an instant – Yes my default is to trust people, unless proven otherwise, but real trust is built only after long time, I find it way more practical to trust anyone by default – after all most people are trust worthy. psychopath is just a human being with a different brain – not a god. there is one important thing which is common between you and me(and all other psychopath)?? I do not believe in an eye for an eye, If some one really wronged me.. he will loose much more, until I stop, I will be ruthless in my reaction, the only difference is.. I will not be as patient, I found it idiotic, to wait 20 years for revenge, on the other hand I will take my time, to cool down, and will not operate on spot. It is insane to believe that only psychopath have those characteristics.
the other thing me and you (all of the psychopath)? are different, is I will never pretend I forgot or forgave, If I do not like you, I will let you know, I will also let you know that you are going to pay, if i feel like you wronged me, I feel great when i keep my promises, for me – it worse nothing, to harm some one, without that some one knows it was me, it does not give me the satisfaction I am looking for, so I will make sure you know and find a way to pass the massage.
I find the advise “once psychopath wronged you, just walk away” to be very annoying, when some one wrongs me, I don`t care who it is, he will pay, no one is immune, does not meter what is his status, how dangerous he is, or how his brain is wired, yes, of course there will be a calculation, I am not a suicidal person, I really like my life. but if you killed my mother.. you better start digging you own grave, because ones I am finished with you, you would wish you have died earlier.
[. . .]