- Education and Science
Myths and Truths About Psychopaths
A high-functioning psychopath is also known as a sociopath.
All sociopaths are psychopathic, but all psychopaths may not be sociopaths.
Common Belief About Psychopaths
Most people think that a psychopath is a deranged killer who goes on random killing sprees. This is nothing but a myth created by TV and movies.
Psychopathy is merely a thought process of people with certain characteristic traits like lack of empathy, narcissism, need for self-gratification and so on.
Clinically speaking, psychopaths need not be killers at all or even violent for that matter. Psychopaths should not be confused with serial killers.
Every serial killer is a psychopath, but the converse is not true.
Most serial killers suffers from some kind of anti-social disorder that fuels their violent nature. Psychopathic disorder just helps them get away with their actions till the law catches up with them.
Common Psychopathic Traits
Researchers and experts have found that a considerable number of human beings have psychopathic traits in their character.
If you notice the table below, I have listed the characteristics under positive and negative traits. The negative traits cause trouble and disturbance to people, while the positive ones are beneficial to the psychopath as well as to society (in some cases).
Thinks with cold logic
Lack of conscience
Calm and composed under pressure
Absence of empathy
Displays superficial charm
Very ego-centric and narcissitic
Good at masking their true nature
Needs constant excitement
Greatly perceptive of people's strengths and weaknesses
Good at manipulating others
Fearless in the face of challenges
Enjoys playing mind games
Doesn't hesitate to take harsh decisions
Devoid of emotions
Likes to emotionally abuse people
Resents authority or rules
Cannot maintain stable relationships
The Psychopaths Around Us
All of us would have come across people with at least few of the above qualities, though to varying degrees. Look all around you, you will find a psychopath somewhere.
It may be in the form of the smooth-talking boss at the workplace who knows how to extract work out of his slogging employees.
Or the dynamic businessman who is never scared to take risks
Think about the surgeon who performs complicated operations to saves lives without losing his nerve.
There are firemen and rescue workers who pull out injured people from disaster sites. Can we imagine the amount of mental pressure that these people face in such situations? They are forced to look beyond the horror for the greater good.
Consider the work of crime scene investigation or forensic experts. They need to witness blood and gore all the time and yet keep their calm. After all, it's their job!
Think about the lawyers who toil day and night to dig out facts from a sea of theories, incidents and witnesses.
Or the enigmatic and dangerous intelligence agent who can glibly extract information from unsuspecting people and shoot down adversaries without batting an eyelid. Remember James Bond?
The genius detectives who see through all masks and pretensions, sniffing out even the minutest anomaly in a case.
These people can perform their jobs well because they can think calmly without bringing their emotions into picture. None of the above people would qualify as insane or homicidal. What sets them apart is the rare ability to maintain dead calm when others are unable to.
Know When To Walk Away
We saw the positive aspects of a psychopath, without which our society cannot function properly. But there are those who possess only the ugly characteristics of psychopathy.
Such people use a mask of friendship to get close to their gullible targets whom they use for their own gains. They drain you out mentally and emotionally, taking pleasure in the entire process. Learn to identify these type of people and walk away before it is too late!
1. Are you in a relationship with a psychopath?
It could be the emotionally abusive boyfriend or girlfriend who exploits you before leaving for greener pastures. They charm their way into your life and give you the feeling that they are the best things that could possibly ever happen to you. They tell you exactly what you want to hear. You think, he is too good to be true!!
As time passes, the layers slowly start coming off. You realize that your partner is no longer the wonderful person he used to be a year back. He frequently plays with your feelings, gives you the silent treatment when something doesn't go his way. He insults you in front of others and likes to see you humiliated. When you try to break up, he pretends that he can't live without you and sweet talks you back into the relationship. Then the cycle repeats.
If the whole thing sounds familiar to you, you are in a relationship with a psychopath. Break away now without looking back. If you don't, he will eventually get bored of you and dump you for his next potential victim. By then, you would have lost all your self-esteem to the relationship.
2. Psychopaths in the workplace
There will always be that one colleague who will try to get you into trouble for no apparent reason. He/she will be jealous of everyone and will always try to prove that others are inferior to them. Such a person would have studied your weaknesses well and would take every chance to hit your trigger point. Many of us would react by losing our cool. That would only worsen matters for you. The psycho will use his natural tactics to convince your boss that the problem lies within you.
Best way to handle these kind of people is to first study them, get to know their strengths and weakness. Avoid them as much as possible and don't fight with them unless they initiate it. But if they strike, you need to strike back in a calm yet logical way. That is why it is so crucial to know their vulnerabilities. Once they realize that you can also hit below the belt, they will steer clear of you.
3. Mean relative or friend
If you have a friend or relative who constantly takes advantage of you but never returns the favor, you are just being a doormat. If that person criticizes you frequently or intentionally hurts you, he obviously hates you inwardly. Break up the friendship as nothing good can come out of it. Unfortunately, we cannot choose our relatives but we can definitely avoid them. If you run into a mean relative at a get-together, try not to get into a conversation. If possible, try to escape with a polite smile from a distance.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Learn one quality from psychopaths - filtering what they need and discarding what they don't. Likewise, identify the positive traits in a psychopath and follow them to improve your life. At the same time, keep your distance and know when to protect yourself from the negative traits.
© 2014 Ritu Temptor