Frequently asked questions
- What is a psychopath?
- A psychopath has a personality disorder, characterised by narcissism and manipulation. Forensic psychologist Robert Hare – the author of seminal articles and books on psychopathy – describes psychopaths as “remorseless predators who use charm, intimidation and, if necessary, impulsive and cold-blooded violence to attain their ends.”
- What are the signs of a psychopath?
- Psychopathic traits include a grandiose sense of self-worth, manipulation, low intelligence, superficial charm, pathological lying, shallow emotions, lack of empathy, lack of guilt, and a parasitic lifestyle. Psychopaths have low levels of anxiousness and a bold interpersonal style. They speak softly and do not deviate in voice emphasis between neutral and emotional words.
- What is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath?
- The terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” are often used interchangeably. A sociopath also has a personality disorder typified by a failure to adapt to ethical and social norms. However, according to Robert Hare, there is some difference. While the term “sociopath” refers mainly to behaviour, “psychopath” refers to inner experience.
- How many people are psychopaths?
- Roughly one in 1,000 people is a psychopath. In 2009, Jeremy Coid conducted a study to measure the prevalence of psychopathy in Great Britain – the prevalence was 0.6%. However, this used a cut-off of 13 rather than the clinically recommended 18, which would have left it closer to 0.1%.
- How do I deal with a psychopath?
- The best way to deal with a psychopath is to not deal with a psychopath. But if communication is unavoidable, do not talk face-to-face. Do not express your emotions or show them sympathy; they will take advantage of it.
- Can psychopaths love?
- No, psychopaths cannot love as they have impoverished affective functioning. They have no emotional attachment, and simply use other people to achieve their own goals. They may have “friends” and be married, but these relationships are not based on feelings of friendship and love – they are based on cold calculation.
- Can psychopaths be cured?
- No, psychopaths cannot be cured. Psychopathic features manifest themselves in early childhood and remain stable over time. While psychobiological factors cannot be influenced, what can be changed to some extent is the behaviour of a psychopath. However, even this type of intervention can only be successful early in childhood.
- Is this online test accurate?
- This is a free psychopathy spectrum test that relies on honesty so results and statistics will not be as accurate as a professionally administered PCL-R test.
If you want to read more about psychopaths, I’d recommend The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.