What is a psychopath?
Psychopaths are social predators, both male and female, who do not have a conscience or the ability to feel love, compassion, fear or remorse. It is believed that psychopathy is a genetic neurobiological disorder.
Evolutionary psychology offers an alternate theory that psychopathy is not a disorder, but an evolutionary adaptation. This theory views psychopathy as a social strategy, one that benefits the individual instead of the group.
Whatever the cause, psychopathy creates individuals who share certain characteristics that differ greatly from the norm.
“Psychopathy refers to a pathological personality disposition that involves charm, manipulation, and ruthless exploitation of others. Psychopathic persons are lacking in conscience and feeling for others; they selfishly take what they want and do as they please without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.” (Hare, Neumann, & Widiger, 2012)
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, or the illusion of a marriage that furthers their goals in some way. Psychopaths often derive pleasure from their victim’s suffering, because it makes them feel superior. 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.
Psychopaths 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 and unshakable confidence 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 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!
Victims are manipulated into trying to suppress any display of the emotions that disgust the psychopath, but that’s not possible, especially since they provoke them at the same time. They will 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 or until he finds a fresh victim to fulfill his needs.
Psychopaths often 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. Self-gratification is what drives them.
Sometimes they may pursue a relationship without an explicit intent to victimize and harm. They may become “fascinated” with someone because of their their beauty or intelligence, or the belief that they’ve met their “equal.” This doesn’t change the fact that psychopaths end up hurting the people they get close to, and the combination of mechanisms that makes this happen is a complex matter, and is explained below.
“Fascination” is another word for idealization, a mental mechanism in which a person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to another. Even if they are initially fascinated with a person, a psychopath will inevitably be disappointed as they find out this fascinating object is human and has what they consider flaws and weaknesses, which is intolerable to them. At that point idealization turns into its opposite, devaluation. Devaluation means attributing exaggeratedly negative qualities to another.
Devaluation is driven by unconscious greed and envy, according to psychopathy expert Dr. Reid Meloy. When the psychopath is envious, he loses his much-needed feelings of superiority and grandiosity. The psychopath’s greed and envy cause hatred, and that hatred creates wishes to destroy the object of his or her envy, which in turn eliminates the envy. When envy is eliminated, superiority and grandiosity are temporarily restored.
It is important to understand that envy is hatred of the good object, and greed is the desire to have all the ‘contents’ of the good object. When greed and demand start again, the cycle must be repeated with a new person.
Meloy says the psychopath must act out this manipulative cycle repetitively and compulsively in order to experience feelings of exhilaration and contempt (contemptuous delight), which perpetuate his or her feeling of grandiosity. The manipulative cycle is a ‘purification process’ for the psychopath, which projects all the bad onto the victim of his manipulation. It is described as a narcissistic repair of the psychopathic process that restores a primitive and defensive equilibrium. They need to do this because their grandiose self is threatened, but must be kept intact.
This process causes a great deal of damage to the victims, who are left confused and devastated.
The psychopath will continue to ward off others by devaluing them, Meloy says, but also continue to seek out new victims. Once a new victim is found, greed and envy cause rage and sadism, and the victim is devalued and destroyed. When that has been accomplished, the psychopath’s need for devaluation will start all over again.
They do establish what appear as normal, positive relationships with some people for the purpose of developing a good reputation that covers up their victimization of vulnerable others or that helps them to meet other goals. Many psychopaths are respected and well-liked members of their community because of this. Only those closest to them know the truth.
Seeing that the psychopath is well-liked also serves to make 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 or she is a good person. Meanwhile, the victim gets no support or validation — they may have been an unknown who was new to the community or group, or in some other way a marginalized member, which is why the psychopath targeted them in the first place.
It is said that psychopaths know right from wrong, but they just don’t care. That’s not true.
They are not able to care, so why would it interest them? They don’t have the neurological wiring that allows them to care. Their physical brain is different, and those differences leave them without a conscience and without normal emotions or the needs that go with them. They are not able to experience love, so they have no need for love. They know enough about it to inspire it in others in order to take advantage of them, though.
Psychopaths are cunning and intelligent “intra-species predators,” according to Dr. Robert Hare, leading psychopathy researcher, creator of the most widely used diagnostic assessment, and author of the book 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 with no care or concern for you. 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 or has experienced multiple life stressors, such as an illness, a death in the family, or unemployment; this is the easy target. Just desiring a relationship is enough to create the required vulnerability. 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.
It is estimated there are 1 – 2 psychopaths per 100 people in the population. 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 or she 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, or hiring prostitutes. Psychopaths are most likely to be those who continue to have unprotected sex despite knowing they are HIV positive, according to research.
When 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 a red flag warning, because psychopaths are able to so perfectly mirror you and figure out your needs and desires that they appear to be the perfect person for you.
This conundrum is precisely why so many jump headfirst and wholeheartedly into relationships with psychopaths. Unfortunately, what starts out as heaven will turn into hell.