The Truth about Psychopaths

Posted on September 21, 2018

Many are familiar with the broad definition of being a psychopath, but not everyone completely understands what it means and how they behave, even experts themselves cannot be sure. There has been several discussions about the extent of psychopathic behavior for it to be deemed as antisocial and a criminal-like behavior, and whether it affects their ability to adapt to their surroundings.

Individuals deemed as psychopaths are often disregarded by society. Their tendencies to engage in criminal-like behavior and violence led mental health professionals to believe that psychopathy could be a type of personality disorder made up of a list of characteristics such as having little to no empathy towards others, having cruel regard for others, being manipulative, irresponsible and infringing on others’ rights.

It is still a question as to whether psychopathy consists of desirable socially adaptive characteristics like being fearless and courageous. Some feel that characteristic like bravery and having high social confidence are the key traits of a psychopath, while others believed that characteristics related to psychopathy are mainly negative, such as antagonism or being overly antisocial.

Studies have shown that constant portrayal of psychopaths by the media and popular culture as merciless murderers, generated more misconceptions and unpleasant impressions of psychopaths. It also led people to label psychopaths as criminals and feel afraid of them due to their supposed nature to be violent. Psychopaths will then have difficulties finding a job, only able to receive low healthcare standards, and have a poor social life.

The main characteristics of a psychopath include being mean and having a lack of restraint and disregard for social conventions together with being impulsive and having poor ability to assess risk. These traits are highly associated with each other. There is a possible association of fearlessness with these characteristics too despite how weak the connection might be.

Characteristics of a psychopathy such as being mean and having lack of restraint and disregard social norms, lowered people’s tendencies to believe that psychopath are violent and criminal-like. It is also possible that people with similar characteristics felt that they have something in common with these psychopaths and hence view them in a less negative light. They might even view violence and aggression as acceptable behaviors as compared to others. People who are generally mean might also feel connected with psychopaths due to the similarities in their nature. People who are courageous are also less likely to be afraid of psychopaths or view them as violent individuals and instead, would be more willing to help them.

Research has shown that people who possess possible psychopathic characteristics are less likely to have a negative view on psychopaths. The statement of psychopaths being a huge danger to society is still questionable. The way media portrays psychopaths have also found to be highly influential in people’s views on psychopaths.

Majority believe that psychopaths are manipulative, only think about themselves and show no remorse, suggesting that psychopaths are not very agreeable or conscientious people. The belief of psychopaths having violent tendencies remains, but they are not necessarily perceived as killers by the public. The public also feels that psychopaths are culpable of their actions and are aware of what is right and wrong, hence they can stay out of trouble with the justice system.

As we determine the type of treatment psychopaths deserve from our society today, we should think about the moral values that make up psychopathic behavior. Despite possible flawed assumptions about psychopaths, we should not be too quick to make negative judgments about psychopaths.

Category(s):Adult psychological development, Antisocial personality, Personality problems, Values Clarification

Source material from Psychology Today