What is a Psychopath?

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scary clown phot by Lobo StudioWhat is a psychopath?

Psychopaths are social predators, both male and female, who are born without a conscience and without the ability to feel love, compassion, fear or remorse. It is believed that psychopathy is a genetic neurobiological disorder.

Psychopaths experience the lack of these abilities and emotions as indication that they are superior, and they consider us nothing more than prey to be hunted to fulfill their own needs. The psychopath considers life a game to be played and “won” at the expense of others. Inflicting harm, whether it be psychological, spiritual, physical or financial, is acceptable to them.

Self-gratification is the only thing that motivates them and all that they live for.

Psychopaths play their game primarily to fulfill their insatiable desires for power and control. They also play to meet their secondary needs for things like sex, money, prestige, a mother for their children…or even for children to molest. Psychopaths derive great pleasure from their victim’s suffering. While this is incomprehensible to normal humans, it’s just life as usual for the psychopath.

Psychopaths are pathological liars who will say anything to get what they want.

With traits like these, you’d never expect a psychopath to be charming, but they are often extraordinarily so.

mask-178267_1280Psychopaths wear what’s called “the mask of sanity,”

which hides the truth that lies beneath. The Mask allows them to move through society undetected. They’re smooth talkers with a lot to say. They’re totally relaxed since they have no fear or anxiety, and this makes others around them relax. Strong social skills are their predatory edge; these skills bring the psychopath into contact with many potential victims, and make these “targets” comfortable and open to contact.

Just when you need your intuition to alert you to danger, it will be disarmed by the psychopath.

Psychopaths and love are an impossible combination. They aren’t able to experience love, and they consider it a weakness that creates vulnerability that they can use to their advantage. These predators gain a victim’s trust and love and then involve them in devastating sham relationships that inevitably result in serious harm.

Psychopaths feel contempt for normal human emotions. We show our humanness in the form of true love, insecurity, fear, remorse, trust and anxiety, and they consider these emotions unforgivable weaknesses, vulnerabilities that make us easy targets for manipulation, and deserving of it!

roller-coaster-66537_640Victims are manipulated into trying to suppress any display of these emotions that disgust the psychopath, but that’s not possible. They leak out one way or another, igniting the psychopath’s contempt. In other words, there is no way to establish an intimate relationship with a psychopath. He will despise you, guaranteed…but keep using you anyway as long as you have something he wants.

Psychopaths establish a relationship with a target based on a hidden agenda from day one, the only goal being victimization. They are human predators who completely hide their real identities and create a tailor-made persona to gain the trust and love of their victim so they can dominate, control and manipulate them.

They do establish seemingly normal, positive relationships with some people for the purpose of developing a good reputation that covers up their victimization of vulnerable others. Many psychopaths are respected and well-liked members of their community because of this.

Seeing that the psychopath is well-liked makes the victim more trusting, and when or if the victim finds out the truth and comes forward, the psychopath is strongly supported by all those who think he’s nice as pie. Meanwhile, the victim gets no support or validation, by design — she was probably an unknown, new to the community or in some way a marginalized member, which is why he targeted her in the first place.

The psychopath knows right from wrong, but doesn’t care.

human-111856_640The psychopath is a cunning and intelligent “intraspecies predator,” according to Dr. Robert Hare, psychopathy researcher and author of Without Conscience.

If you’re targeted and lured into love with a psychopath, you’ll be left in ruins while he or she goes on to the next victim. There is no easy way to detect them, but awareness may help.

Psychopaths are cunning and calculating predators.

Some go for a vulnerable person who is lonely and/or has experienced multiple life stressors, such as an illness, a death in the family, or unemployment; this is the easy target. Others like more of a challenge. No one is immune. Psychopaths are adept shape-shifters and changelings able to read their prey like a book. They figure out exactly what you need and they cut the master key that disarms all of your defenses.

There are 1 – 2 psychopaths per 100 people in the population, according to estimates. And they get around. One psychopath can wreak havoc on many through serial “romantic” relationships. It doesn’t take long for the psychopath to inflict harm, and he can move swiftly and simultaneously among many victims. He can also keep one victim for a long period while having many more on the side. Some maintain a marriage to give the illusion of normalcy. Many psychopaths feast greedily on a banquet of easy targets while taking the time necessary to break down the defenses of more challenging ones.

Psychopaths are notoriously hypersexual and promiscuous; at any one time they may be having sex with their main victim while juggling a few other regulars, having one-night stands with people of either sex, and hiring prostitutes. Psychopaths are most likely to be those who continue to have unprotected sex despite knowing they are HIV positive.

portrait-266062_640When you’ve met someone who you believe is your soul mate and the love of your life, it’s not usually the time you think of danger or want consider taking things slowly. After all, this is someone you love and trust. But this is exactly when you need to keep your eyes open and think critically about who this person really is and what they really want. Unfortunately, feeling someone is your soul mate is one big red warning flag, because psychopaths are able to so perfectly mirror your needs and desires. This conundrum is precisely why so many jump headfirst and wholeheartedly into relationships with psychopaths. What starts out as heaven will turn into hell.


© 2012 – 2014 ‘Psychopaths and Love’ All Rights Reserved


wc “Psychopaths are found in every segment of society, and there is a good chance that eventually you will have a painful or humiliating encounter with one.”

~ R. Hare, PhD

The final chapter, “A Survival Guide,” is especially recommended.

Buy It Now

book cover, psychopaths and love

400_yellow_boundaries_cover_3 copy

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32 comments on “What is a Psychopath?

  1. Jessica on said:

    I am a psychopath, and I can say from first hand experience, I do feel guilt, fear, love, happiness, etc. However, I do not experience the intensity of those emotions that most non psychopaths experience. I only feel guilt when I have done something pretty awful…When I love I would do anything for the person or people I love, but I have never felt there is someone I cannot live without.
    Also, not all psychopaths seek power and control…I have the tendency to hurt people because I lack the ability to understand emotions, and I lack empathy, as well as sympathy, but hurting people is not my mission. I don’t want to spend my life hurting others, instead I’d like to spend my life being happy, loving, and being loved…

    • So sorry to break the good news to you, but you’re not a psychopath.

      • Nicola Paull on said:

        I believe he is. Psychopathic behaviour is on a sliding scale – some worse than others. Extremely LOW conscience and extremely LOW empathy still qualify. My sociopath ex insists he is not acting out of malice, and I believe him. His actions still represent exactly the model described on this site. He has killed me. He has taken everything of value. It’s just that he cannot understand that what he does, if done by a ‘normal’ person could only be seen as cruel, callous, manipulative (the list goes on in the same vein). He is just SO completely preoccupied with his own importance in the scheme of things, and so convinced by his own lies to himself that he believes his evil behaviour to be normal! He is also entirely incapable of self-reflection, so cannot see how his action A caused another’s suffering B.

        • Nicola Paull on said:

          PS She….
          Thank you for being there, and for providing so much guidance for those of us limping along after psychopathic abuse. It’s somethin’ else, isn’t it?

    • Michael on said:

      Having been in relationships with women with antisocial personality disorders, I would agree with Jessica and with you. Jessica may not be at the extreme psychopathological end of ASPD, but even those people with less severe symptoms still have problems understanding other people’s points of view and emotions. As a result, I believe that at least some of them have genuine trouble seeing how, or caring if, they cause problems for the rest of us.
      I think that Jessica is correct to say that some people with ASPD want to be happy and loved. That was true for both of the women I dated. Unfortunately, their pathology caused them to behave in ways that were counterproductive to loving relationships.

      But all of that is only my opinion.

      • This blog isn’t about ASPD; it’s about psychopathy.

        While many psychopaths (but not all) have traits of ASPD, most people with ASPD are not psychopathic.

        The women you describe — who want to be “happy and loved” — are not psychopaths, and neither is Jessica. She might have Asperger’s Syndrome or possibly ASPD, but definitely not psychopathy. If she were a psychopath, she would have no ability to love.

        Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure

        “Diagnostic confusion about psychopathy and ASPD has the potential for harming psychiatric patients and society as well.” Dr. Robert Hare

        Thank you for your comment!

  2. gagagal on said:

    Thank you for a brilliant and concise definition of a psychopath. This information is the best I have seen on this topic. I came her looking for validation that my spouse fits this mold – having read books on the subject, numerous web sites and articles, but this site brought it all together. I now know I am not crazy. Thank you

  3. I’m glad I could help you, and yet I’m sorry your spouse is a psychopath.
    Best wishes to you.

  4. A Question follows at the end of this post.
    I ended my relationship multiple times :-) over the last 2 years of many . I have been involved, off and on, :-) , with a psychopath for at least 4.5 years.
    I originally thought, after realizing that my ‘gut’ was talking to me, that I was dealing with a narcissist. I began reading…lots! A year of reading and giving him the benefit of doubt, led me to psychopathy. Hence, another year of reading, doing my best to keep my distance, licking my wounds and gaining strength.

    With insight gained, I have been able to separate from him with a small level of his trust. Mostly he finds it difficult to not brag. I call it “giving himself away”. He doesn’t reveal a plan (though he did previously, when I was (ignorant ) but he does share his “job’s”. Jobs are aside from his first line of work as a public adjuster. Also an airtraffic controller. His jobs: He paints homes!

    Through his sharing about “jobs” I know that he has 2 women targets in process. One of the women had a terminally ill husband. That husband died 2 weeks ago. My psycho is going to make his move on her in the next day or so. Though I assume that he has already laid the ground-work.

    I know my psycho’s family. I’ve known them 15 years before I knew my psycho. I am, in no way, concerned about my relationship with them, whatever I decide.

    I feel compelled to warn his next victim. I do not know her personally. I know where she lives and land line phone.
    Do I approach this next victim? Do I call from phone-booth and warn her? Send email? Send regular mail with printed info about psychopathy?

    My heart is heavy with this. Which is exactly the empathy that allowed me to be gullible in the first place.

    Any words, suggestions, insight will be of enormous help.

    • DON’T DO IT!!! How’s that for a suggestion?

      Here’s why:

      If he has already “laid the groundwork” and is ready to make his move, it’s already way too late for her.

      Think about it — think back to when you were falling in love with him. Would you have just walked away because you got an anonymous call or letter? Or would you have disregarded it, or thought is was from some jealous crazy ex, OR MAYBE EVEN SAID TO HIM, “I got the strangest phone call today…” This last scenario is the one you have to worry about most! You may be anonymous to her, BUT YOU WON’T BE TO HIM! And if he is truly a psychopath, you have absolutely no way of predicting what he will do next. You will live in fear. And rightfully so!

      I totally understand your feelings, but stop and consider whether your action will truly have any result, or if it will only serve to make you afraid for your life.

      If he’s already hooked her, wild horses will not stop her from wanting him.

      If you do act, if will make you feel better for all of 5 seconds before fear sets in.

      Good luck with this.

  5. That’s an inaccurate post based on your own sentiments of rejection. Everybody is different even those born differently, they want to love, can see its effects on T.V and reflected in the lives of those around them.
    Life is about filling this need, finding this experience, finding the one. At the start of the relationship they truley believe that this is the one. It’s not seeking a target or a victim they’re drawn by genuine desire.
    Unfortunately the feelings they are searching for will never be realized, it’s not weakness they’re looking for but due to their own weaknesses and manipulative nature they can sense it.
    After the relationship is over they look back, think why did I let that go, why didn’t they appreciate how happy they were.
    They lead an empty life, always looking for something but never knowing or being able to find it, constantly alienating those they are close to.

  6. victim survivor on said:

    I am a victim of a psychopath, never imagined that I would experience this. We meet he was everything I could imagine. Showered me with gifts, love, attention. He was a business man. Six figures! He thought I was madly in love, but on the other hand. I knew something was not right cause he had me like a puppet. He started pulling BACK no attention. Stop answering the phone. Excuses… I was so hurt. Felt lost, did not want to continue my life.. that was love bombing!! I stop going to church, I was delivered when I said I need help. Went to church got prayer, and it was broken after a few visit. I still did not come to the knowledge of the man behind a psychopath. I tried to go back but I did not feel the same. God broke the deception. Then a friend of mine said love bomb. I did research. And I was crushed but nothing like I was before PRAYER. The seen who he was. I even text him revealing I know WHAT you’re about. But a person like this has no care. I just pray God will reveal him to other. THAT he will not be able to manipulate, control another. That the mask comes off and he stop. But you can’t do people wrong and expect happiness to happen in your life. You reap what you sow. I’m delivered and set free.

  7. victim survivor on said:

    He also was in a marriage, lied in the beginning. Hang ups

  8. I think I am being manipulated, and I have fallen hard,
    our most recent communications by text after an arguement I didnt know was happening:
    Me: Do you still hate me?

    Partner: Quite a bit! twas unreasonable. Were u like that permanantly with ur ex’s? very Pauline esk (pauline being ex girlfriend)

    Me: It hurts. And you know I love you, I have been chucked out like Pauline! You see me as a bad person that doesnt deserve to be loved?

    Partner: What? who said that. I certainaly saw a vicious side, and didnt like it.

    Me: we all have that side if we feel we are being attacked or being made to feel stupid. What did I actually say…. that the fire in London was in a bakers a stupid thing to say possibly, but not viscious. You told me to fuck off- you weren’t joking! what I said didnt mean to come out harsh or hurtful.
    Partner: Ok. As u wish.
    Me: What do mean by that please explain?
    Just as you think. in otherwords, I think ur wrong. But im not arguing with you…my life is too short.
    Let me cool down.
    Me: Ok
    Me: Can I talk with you yet?
    Me: will you please tell me whats going on
    Me: why would I mean to hurt one of the most important people in my life. I wish I could be perfect.
    Partner: I need a break. simple..
    Me: For how long? And does that mean a total break? it seems so major. How can you hate me so much when we loved each other so much yesterday?
    Partner: Dont b so romantic. a break, means. A time of reflection…u shocked me, with ur look… and ur anger.
    Me: I didnt realise. i looked so angry. i romantic? i love you deeply. more than i have anyone else. therefore this silence is frightening, because when these deep feelings emerge i get hurt.
    Partner: Really? go and look angry, in a mirror. Sit down take your time. Then look. tel me wat u see.
    Me: Your evaluation of me does it mean you dont see a future for us?
    Not exactly….Just different
    (conversation goes on phone call)
    Next morning it continues similar tack accept he follows by
    this comment
    Partner: Yes. I do love you. you arse. x
    Me: I love you more than you will ever know x
    Partner:Just saw Daphne and Niles, having a suprise dinner on the roof of their tower block…with candles, and Frazier the waiter… and thought of us x
    Please advise I think I am being manipulated and I am very fragile emotionally and need your advise

    • First, I’m sorry you’re so distraught.
      You are the only one who can tell if you’re being manipulated. The following list of signs will help you to figure it out, and there’s a link to the blog post below it.If you’re often feeling like you are now, then something is definitely not right. And if you’re “just like Pauline,” that makes me wonder what part he’s playing in that. Also, he’s taking the focus off of himself and placing it on your reaction (anger), which can be a red flag.

      Here’s the list of signs you’re being manipulated:

      Your joy at finding love has turned into the fear of losing it. This is known as the “manipulative shift.” You will start feeling stressed at this point.
      Sometimes s/he gives you a lot of attention and love, and sometimes he gives you the cold shoulder for no reason. You’re left wondering what you’ve done wrong.
      Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to anxiety, sadness and even desperation.
      Your relationship feels very complex, although you may not be sure why.
      You obsess about the relationship almost constantly.
      You never feel sure of where you stand with your partner; you feel you’re in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety.
      You feel confused about the relationship and frequently ask your partner what’s wrong. He becomes angry or frustrated and he consistently denies responsibility for any problems.
      You feel that you just don’t know how to make him happy.
      You may frequently feel angry and resentful toward your partner, yet are not allowed to express it. Communication feels restricted or even forbidden, causing feelings of extreme frustration and even hostility.
      You feel inadequate. You don’t feel as good about yourself as you did before the relationship.
      Your emotions and moods are controlled by your partner’s words and actions.

      How to tell if you’re being manipulated

      Also, here’s some good reading about the silent treatment: http://www.powercommunicating.com/

      Good luck to you.

  9. I understand that psychopaths don’t feel love or empathy despite our culture’s sudden attraction to them and the dangerous message that they’re just misunderstood and can somehow be fixed with love or understanding or other such nonsense. My question is this: can a psychopath become attached to a person? Say the way a normal person can be attached to aninanimate object? Just a desire to have a particular person (other than a child who would be seen as an extension of themselves) around and attempt to moderate their behavior so the person won’t leave?

    • Good question. I’ll answer it from what I know.

      Psychopaths see humans exactly as they see inanimate objects. One of the most chilling things I ever read was a psychopath’s description of how a chair is made of wood and screws and glue, and how a child is made of blood and cells and bone. No difference to him at all.

      They can become enamored with a person (as an inanimate object, but only for a very short period of time, because a human is…well, human…and their “weaknesses” will start to show quickly) and then the psychopath is done with them (although he may not be done with them completely). And he will put them out in the trash JUST as he would a chair he was tired of.

      “Attached” is a strong word, and one I don’t believe is in a psychopath’s dictionary. Momentarily enthralled (because of what he can get) is more like it.

      • Meghan on said:

        Sociopaths can form attachments like the one you described and sociopaths can seem like psychopaths but they tend to be slightly disorganized whereas psychopaths tend to be very neat and careful.

  10. My question is can a clinical psychologist also be a psychopath? Can someone who cares for others be so uncaring, indifferent and manipulative towards people who love them? Virtually everything I read here resonates with me about the person I was involved with until they discarded me.

  11. I think my wife is a psychopath.

    I live in fear of going to jail, being heart broken, lied about constantly.

    Since we’ve been married every time we fight she becomes blind with rage. Very abusive verbally and physically. With as many excuses as you can think of to do so. I have a very strong feeling she is sexiest as well. Whenever she doesn’t get “her way” she calls my family, her relatives, the police, our neighbors… Anyone that she can think of to create incredibly awkward and manipulative situations for me to look like I’m either doing something I’m not* or being someone I’m not*. I feel like I don’t have any strength to leave her because I care about her. And because marriage is an important thing to me. But I’m just so desperately miserable. And I mask it with music in my life… But I don’t know how to live like this and be happy. I’m so tired of incidents with her… The worst part is I don’t even think she knows that she is manipulative.

    • Hi, Sam. Sorry to hear you are so miserable. This is a serious situation you’re in. Something must change — things can’t continue as they are.

      If your wife is a psychopath, there is no hope for anything to get better, and you are married to someone not capable of having a real and meaningful relationship.

      If she’s NOT a psychopath, then there’s hope. Is she willing to go to counseling with you? And take an anger management course? You must set boundaries, and tell her that although you care about her and your marriage is important to you, you will not stand for being treated this way and you will not continue a relationship with her if things don’t change. That’s the only way to change this situation, at least that I can see.

      Best wishes to you.

  12. Depressedempath on said:

    I ended a 7 month relationship this year with a man I believe is a psychopath. He managed to lure me from my family and ended my 32 year marriage with his love bombing. I really thought he was “the one”. The alarms were ringing for me when he started abusing me. I thought it was domestic violence, which I had no previous experience with. He would put me down by treating me like a child and the arguments would start when I reacted to defend myself. He swore at me, called me disgusting names, chased me in his car when I left in mine to get away from him. Once he grabbed me and a number of times he bashed on my car. He said it was my problem because I couldn’t control my emotions and I needed to see a psychologist. I did, and that didn’t help because he said I was normal, but taught me how to suppress my reaction. Problem was that it was the psycho who had the anger problem.
    The arguments and following breakups (by me- I told him I couldn’t cope, it was making me depressed) happened weekly. I would tell him it’s over, then he would tug on my heartstrings with “I can’t lose you”
    Finally a friend alerted me to a show on TV about psychopaths and I started realising what was happening. But it took me another month to get away from him, he started a smear campaign which I ended with an intervention order. It was the only way to stop the stalking and bullying.
    It has been 4 months since I broke up with him and I still cry everyday. I’m back with my family, but the hurt is so deep, some days I find it insurmountable. I would like to see a psychologist to help me, but am scared after seeing one earlier who should have realised what was happening and should never have tried to get me to suppress my normal emotions.
    Thank you so much for this site, it is fantastic. I find that the more I read about it, the more I learn, with lots of light bulb moments. I can’t believe how alike psychopaths are. Mine was textbook.

    • I’m glad that you were able to figure out what was going on! And shame on that psychologist you saw, but there IS hope of finding a good one — just make sure you choose one who works with abuse victims. It sounds as if you’re doing everything right. Even though the hurt is so deep, you are guiding yourself in the right direction. It’s a tough road, but you will keep going forward.

      I’m happy you’re back with your family, and I’m glad to hear the website is helping. Warmest wishes to you.

  13. I was a victim of a psychopath ! Actually I know 2 females psychopaths – one of them destroyed me the other is her friend and they go togehter everywhere …both these girls destoryed a lot of males already they will keep destroying till they are alive …I wouldn’t imagine tht such kind of people exist …iT’S VERY HARD TO FORGET such an ordeal because of the pain they inflict on their vicitms …they like to make trinagulation with ex ,potential targets and so on …they like to lie and cheat …and when you show them your feelings then you get destroyed… because they can’t feel love …by the way there is one very obviuos thing that most people should watch for – psychpothats can’t live without excitements …the need to go clubs , bars , discos , everywhere all the time … they just want to be in the centre of the action …and the centre of attention as well…this the number one symptom …the one one is manipulation and cheating …. I was for a year with such creature …it was awful experience ! I feel sorry fot the males after me …they don’t know what is waiting them …..

    • Female psychopaths are every bit as dangerous as males, and I think their numbers are equal. I’m so sorry you experienced this. Best wishes to you.

      • the trick with the ex was very harsh …I didn’t know what to do because I was deeply in love …it took me 10 months to recover and another 2 years to figure out what was wrong with this girl …. and I am a person who is very hard to be manipluated or to fall in love … However , the psychopathic female was able to get under my skin and to destroy me emotionally … I couldn’t believe what was happening ….now it’s easy to recognize such people but only after I was burned big time… there is onw more thing to consider ….. pschyopaths like to leverage their body so they look atrtractive and seductive ….and that’s how they behave most of the time ! and they tend to read people very well ….they mirror you all the time ….that’s is why very easy to get in love with them …anyway ,it’s very hwelpful to find your site and the book …not that I don’t know the truth already but I will read the book beacuse the subject is very interesting to me …keep up the good job … thank you

  14. Alice Lister on said:

    I do not know who you are but after 2 months of cutting things of with a psychopath I had dated I want to say this is hands down the best website ever on the topic! Every single word and example you offer I have been through exactly like you say. I lay in bed unable to sleep with fear. I keep reminding myself it was all fake, there was no love whatsoever and repeat to myself “He’s angry. I’m just his prey that got away.” Thanks for saving my life as the physical addition, I did not understand, could have kept me in his hands confused as his prey for years. I was battling depression a lot and I never get depressed and could not even see the forest for the trees. I feel like me again thanks to your amazing information!

    • I am so glad to hear that the site’s helped you. It makes all my work worthwhile. Thanks for letting me know. And I’m thrilled that you got away from him! I wish you all the best.

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