Recently, someone said
psychopaths are cowards because they victimize people who they know won’t give them any trouble. It seems true that psychopaths are cowards, doesn’t it?
Is a lion a coward because it preys on the weakest in the herd? No; it’s just hungry.
We can’t “understand” psychopaths because we evaluate them through the lens of our own motivations, values and emotions. That is the fundamental mistake.
Psychopaths aren’t cowards; they’re just hungry. It’s as simple as that.
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9 thoughts on “Psychopaths are Not Cowards (It’s Much Worse Than that)”
I disagree that they are not cowards but, I don’t believe they are not cowards for the reason you state. I agree with the lion analogy for the most part in that they are what they are. I absolutely DO believe though that they are cowards because they fear intimacy, self examination and conflict. They refuse to accept responsibility or who and what they are and for what they do, though they are very aware of it. I never saw a lion refuse responsibility for his kill or deny what he is. A lion doesn’t hide who he is when he attacks, you see him for what he is and expect to be devoured. Not so with the Psychopath. He hides and denies and therefore, he’s a coward.
When you evaluate a psychopath’s behavior through your own lens, you are missing the most fundamental aspect of the disorder. A psychopath’s mind does not work like yours. You said “they fear intimacy, self examination and conflict,” but psychopaths aren’t capable of intimacy, and they don’t even *want* intimacy. Fear? They don’t have any of that.
“I never saw a lion refuse responsibility for his kill…” Really? Did you ever see a lion TAKE responsibility for his kill? Maybe it’s just the lion’s fundamental nature, and responsibility has nothing to do with it. Maybe…the lion is just hungry.
“Taking responsibility” implies things like remorse and/or the concern about moral behavior, a concern for “doing what’s right.” Psychopaths are not concerned with that. They DO know right from wrong, but they don’t care. That’s why psychopathy was originally named “moral insanity” by Dr. H. Cleckley.
“He hides and denies and therefore, he’s a coward.” That doesn’t add up. He hides and denies to get what he wants, that’s all.
It’s hard (if not impossible) to imagine being unable to love, unable to feel remorse, and without a conscience. But even if you can’t imagine it, you can surely understand that your motives and goals would be entirely different.
Here are some ways a lion hides while hunting, from “How Lions Hunt”:
~ The grass where lions live is not short and green but grows very tall and is a light brownish color most of the time. The lions’ fur is the same color as this grass, making it difficult for other animals to see them. Coloring that helps to hide an animal or thing is called “camouflage”.
~ lions usually hunt at night when the dim light helps to keep them hidden from their prey. Lions have very good night vision so the darkness does not pose a problem for them.
~ the lion stalks from cover to cover with a final burst of speed at the end. (If spotted the lion will sit up and stare nonchalantly into the distance.)
~ The second method is to find a bush close to something your prey needs – usually water – climb in and wait.
Good comment, thank you.
Good points. I definitely do not think that the lying, hiding, manipulating is done from cowardice. As you said, these are not “normal” individuals, thus, their motives are different. When an emotionally functional individual lies, typically it IS done from cowardice… they are afraid to admit the truth.. usually afraid of the consequences, etc.
In my experience with my husband — although I did accuse him of being a coward when I caught him in lies…something that REALLY set him off — the lying, the manipulation, the hiding it’s for different reasons such as:
– To see how far he can take it and get away with it
– entertainment; he really enjoyed watching me lose my mind over things
-selfishness; hiding, lying, manipulating enabled him to continue to engage in behaviors that were hurtful to me/others without them being aware OR being capable of calling him out on it.
-BECAUSE HE CAN.
That last point, unfortunately, is the hardest to understand, but I think it’s probably largely the main reason a psychopath does anything.
Calling a psychopath a coward is giving them too much credit. It’s implying that they still have a functioning conscience, and they don’t.
A physically dangerous psychopathic criminal — a killer or rapist, for example. — they hide, manipulate, etc. to grab hold of their victims too. Can you really stomach calling a killer or a rapist a coward? I know I can’t….
Hi, Clarity. I’ve heard plenty of people call psychopaths cowards along with other things they can’t possibly be. They’re not cowards, nor are they brave; they’re just psychopaths, and that’s why they do what they can do. It all seems pretty pointless, but if they’ve got nothing else to do—such as love someone—because they aren’t capable of it, and they don’t have a conscience, there’s going to be trouble. Predator is the right word for them. Anyone who calls them a coward doesn’t yet have a grasp on how very different they are. You definitely do. It’s not an easy thing to comprehend. We tend to think that everyone is basically just like us, so we imagine how we would feel or what our motivation would be, when it doesn’t apply at all.
I think this blog post wins the award for the shortest one ever! This was written 4 months after it ended, and I was so traumatized at that time. I have no idea what possessed me. I thought my insights might be of use to someone someday, if by chance anyone ever stumbled upon the site. Stumble they did! It still surprises me.
I was told by Adrian Raine himself, who has studied psychopaths in prisons for over 30 years, that the only thing that seems to effect their decision to manipulate or not is if there will be a loss of money involved. That is the only way they will stop themselves.
Reporting any illegal behavior that you’ve witnessed is the best you, or anyone in the public can do as it start a paper trail, which is the beginning of tracking any pattern of behavior. I made a very “messy” paper trail for my psychopath so he has to be very careful in the future. Unfortunately, I may have screwed myself over, because he had plans to move to another state to practice his profession, but since his professional record will follow him wherever he goes, he’s staying here, at least for the time being.
Well I can see your point, but remember many of them are not involved in any illegal behavior. They are sub-criminal psychopaths who can screw up lives without breaking one little law. I hope you haven’t screwed yourself over. Please be careful. If he’s truly a psychopath, you have no way to predict his behavior.
Mine screwed up my life without breaking any laws but he was breaking laws a plenty in the rest of his life.
A lion would probably fight a larger predator….would a psychopath? Depends on the individual’s background, genetics, upbringing and training.
Is there a “bigger predator?” Interesting thought.
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