Psychopaths are very common villains in films and pop culture.

You may have heard about psychopaths from famous films or books. Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s Norman Bates springs to mind, a crazed man donning an old wig, stabbing people to death in a deserted motel. You might be surprised to know that this picture is not representative of all psychopaths. In fact, psychopathy is a real clinical affliction and psychopaths are living among us, hiding in plain sight just as though they were ordinary people.

Signs of a Psychopath

As psychopath poses threat, how do you spot a psychopath? It is good to know the traits and “red flags” of people who have psychopathic tendencies so that you can avoid them altogether, or learn to deal with them if you already know such individuals. Below we outline some of the main warning signs:

1. Manipulation

Psychopaths are the masters of manipulation. They are very good at flattering and appearing to be enchanting when they want to manipulate someone. None of this will be genuine, of course, but they have honed the ability to such an extent that most people do not see through this act at all and buy into the façade of charm and politeness.

2. Impulsiveness

Psychopaths can be very calm and collected at most points in their life, but they also have issues with impulse that can lead to delinquent behavior, from minor infractions like shoplifting just because the idea amuses them, to heinous acts like serial murder. Thus, a psychopath has to tread the fine line between an almost obsessive want for control and a need to indulge their whims from time to time.

3. The Lack of Empathy

This is one of the main distinguishing signs of a psychopath. These individuals are extremely egotistical. In fact, they have trouble seeing the world through other people’s eyes, which is why they lack empathy in the first place. Everything has to be the way they want it, because they think their own way of thinking, acting and believing is superior to everyone else’s.

4. Dishonesty

It is almost second-nature for psychopaths to lie about things. This does not even have to be about issues essential to maintain their profile and repute in society, but also about inconsequential matters. Psychopaths lie because it might give them some kind of joy to watch people buy into their fictions, or because it indulges their desire to control people at even the smallest level.

5. Proclivity for Violence

A lot of psychopaths have a tendency to be extremely violent. This may not even be because of a particular trigger, like someone does something to annoy or aggravate them. In fact, psychopaths do not often get violent during fits of rage. Instead, they deploy violence in a very clinical and calculated manner, getting some form of release from torturing people and animals.

6. Superficiality

Psychopaths are very buttoned-up and cold. They do not let others into their lives or minds and only operate on an entirely superficial level. They might have elaborate stories to back up both significant and insignificant details of their lives, but you may never know them for who they are. They have perfected the art of artifice, pretending to care about people or projecting an image of themselves that is completely fictitious.

7. High Intelligence

Psychopaths are very smart individuals. They often nurture their intelligence by exploring different intellectual areas. Of course, this does not have to be academic in nature. Psychopaths are able to pontificate on a range of topics, regardless of whether they are experts in the field. They also like to show off their intellect by using a lot of technical terms that set them apart from the layman.

8. Arrogance

One of the major signs of a psychopath is that they have inflated sense of their self-worth. They do not believe anyone will catch them for what they have done as they have such a strong belief in their own shrewdness. This cocksure attitude may manifest itself through delusions of grandeur.

9. A Faulty Moral Compass

Psychopaths tend not to think about morality the same way we do. This is why younger psychopaths quite often torture animals. They are testing out the boundaries of what others have told them is acceptable. It may just be that the very idea of good and bad is irrelevant to their way of life. On the other hand, however, their sense of right and wrong could be skewed from an early age, so that they think the things they believe to be “right” should be followed by everyone and outliers should be punished.

10. Lack of Culpability

Psychopaths do not feel remorseful like ordinary people. To them, people are simply things to be toyed with and therefore any pain afflicted onto others is not a cause for guilt. All of us can sometimes be cruel and callous, but a psychopath is not able to accept the responsibility for their actions.

Can Psychopathy Be Cured?

Now that you know the warning signs of a psychopath, it is worth exploring whether it is possible for such an individual to turn over a new leaf.

Most studies suggest that psychopathy cannot be cured. However, the sooner rehabilitation is offered to psychopaths, the more helpful it can be. One of the most important findings about this condition is that penalizing psychopaths does not work very well. The best course of action is to give them positive reinforcement to help them monitor their own toxic tendencies.

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