You might have heard the expression that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. So could that mean you can be a psychopath and not even know it? When we usually think of psychosis, we imagine violent behaviour, hallucinations, or going on some sort of rampage. Sure, people who suffer from mental instability may display these behaviours. But in modern psychological practise, things aren't always so black and white.
If people don’t know they’re crazy, how do other people, like psychologists, have any clue? One way to help determine if a person is a psychopath is by using Dr. Robert Hare’s PCL-R Psychopathy Checklist. In 20 categories, the checklist can help a psychologist gain some insight into a person’s underlying mental state. But if a person identifies with the majority of the categories on the checklist, even by their own admission, does that undoubtedly make them a certified psychopath? Maybe not. According to Jon Ronson, the author of The Psychopath Test, most people, at one time or another, exhibit many of the characteristics shown on the list. But, of course, we can't all be psychopaths. Right?
Hare’s checklist is still used to today as a standard to gauge people’s mental state - but don’t get carried away. A real diagnosis is left to the professionals, as complex and changeable as the human mind is.
20 Superficial Charm
This is the opposite of being shy or introverted. Psychopaths tend to be outgoing, conversational, and engaging when they are social with other people. Usually, a psychopath with this trait always knows what to say, and they will say it despite it not being their turn to talk. They'll successfully develop plenty of two dimensional relationships but very few - if any - close relationships.
If you are often bragging, condescending, and constantly self-assured, you’re exhibiting grandiose tendencies. People like this often think the world of themselves and look down upon others. They think they can do almost anything, and nothing is quite enough to live up their unrealistic standards.
18 Need for Stimulation
This person can’t sit still or do only one thing for an extended period of time. They get off on doing risky or down-right dangerous things purely for the thrill. They avoid what they consider boring tasks or people like the plague, and can’t hold down a job they consider too dull for too long.
17 Pathological Lying
Ever lie about something without having an actual reason? Psychopaths often lie or make up stories about small and trivial things. They can be cunning or sly, or completely underhanded as they attempt to deceive people around them.
16 Cunning or Manipulating
These traits stand out from just lying by the fact that the psychopath completely disregards the feelings of others. Using cunning and manipulative tactics, they will lie, cheat or con just to get their way, despite people’s feelings or well-being.
15 Lack of Remorse
Most normal people have a certain amount of empathy or sympathy for others. The psychopath has hardly any and feels very little guilt or remorse when they have done something considered wrong. In the extreme cases, this is a defining trait for serial killers or mass murders.
With this trait, there is no regard for other people’s feelings. Psychopaths care very little, if at all, for people’s emotions to the point where they’ll say rude things, lead them into hurtful situations, or hate people without any reasons.
13 Poor Behavioural Controls
Like impulsivity, a person with this trait finds it difficult to control their own behaviour. They may act annoyed, threatened, and angry at normal encounters or everyday situations. They have difficulty controlling their own emotions which can lead to mood swings or irrational behaviours.
Maybe you just bought a new Cadillac Escalade with the credit card you just got in the mail. Not a good idea. A psychopath rarely plans or makes exceptions for their future behaviour and decisions. They don’t think ahead about the consequences of their actions. They act first and think later.
Almost like a child, an adult who is always irresponsible finds it hard to fulfill promises or hold up to their obligations. They may not pay their bills and do poor work at their jobs. This often happens to everyone at one time or another. But for the psychopath, events such as these are not isolated and happen time and time again.
A psychopath will never admit that there is anything wrong with them, and may blame others for their wrong doings. It can be impossible to successfully convince a psychopath that they are, indeed, mentally unstable. Using their sly and cunning behaviour, they may even convince people that they are as normal as anyone else.
9 Parasitic Lifestyle
In this case, the psychopath will often act as a leech on other people for financial or other personal gain. They will selfishly latch onto people so they can take advantage so they may avoid or curtail their own responsibilities.
8 Sexual Promiscuity
Always on the lookout for quick flings or one night stands, the psychopath engages in superficial relationships or affairs for their own self gratification. They’ll often have relations with anyone despite their physical appearance or emotional connection. They may hold numerous sexual relationship simultaneously and talk about them in public.
7 Early Behavioural Problems
Not everyone had the picture-perfect childhood. But behavioural problems at an early age means you are more likely to show psychopathic tendencies as an adult. Some of these problems could be stealing, compulsive lying, or the use of drugs — especially before the age of 13.
6 Lack of Realistic Long-Term Goals
Almost everyone has a dream or goal that they aspire to, and most people will make sure that they can actually attain it over time. But psychopaths may lack any goals at all, and if they have them, they are often unrealistic or completely unattainable.
5 Failure to Accept Responsibility for Own Actions
It’s hard for a psychopath to admit that they have done anything wrong or that what they did was wrong to begin with. This makes them prone to deny having been responsible for a particular action that they themselves, or other people, know they did.
4 Many Short-Term Marital Relationships
Trouble staying in a long-term marriage can be a symptom of the psychopath's tendency to be sexually promiscuous. If a marriage doesn't live up to their standards, they'll likely feel few qualms about leaving the marriage altogether, despite children or their partner's well-being.
3 Juvenile Delinquency
Were you a bad kid? How bad? As children or teens, psychopaths are usually always in some kind of trouble. They can commit crimes such as vandalism, assault, or theft. If caught, they could have been incarcerated. But, because of their cunning and manipulative behaviour, they may have done more wrong than people know about.
2 Revocation of Conditional Release
If incarcerated and later released on parole, the psychopath is highly likely to breach the condition of their release and be re-incarcerated. This is usually do to with simply being forgetful, careless, or apathetic about the rules of their release. They may even disappear without a trace.
1 Criminal Versatility
Not just one type of crime, but many. A genuine psychopath can easily be involved in many different aspects of crime and be good at almost all of them. They have been arrested for a multitude of different crimes. If they haven't, they love talking about how they got away scot-free as a point of pride.