It can be your boss, your boyfriend, sister or even friend … How to recognize a psychopath?
Contrary to popular opinion, a psychopath does not have to be a criminal or a murderer – people with this type of personality often occupy high positions, have a lot of personal charm and manipulate others well.
According to recent research published in Behavioral Sciences & the Law, about 1% of the general population meets the criteria for a psychopath. This percentage is much higher when we look at business leaders, 3% of business leaders may be psychopaths.
A typical psychopath usually lacks empathy, is impulsive, likes to manipulate and lacks the feeling of responsibility.
There is currently no psychopathic personality in the accepted psychiatric classifications as a separate diagnostic category. It is part of an anti-social or dissocial personality. Diagnosis, however, is possible thanks to psychological tools, such as The Hare Psychopathy Checklist, the Psychopathic Personality Inventory and The Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality (CAPP; Cooke, Hart, Logan, & Michie, 2004).
It is precisely the concept of Robert D. Hare that seems to describe what is characterized by psychopathy fully. He distinguished two factors describing a psychopathic person.
The first of these concerns the selfish, hostile and remorseless use of other people, charming but superficial personal charm, the tendency to pathological lies, exaggerated self-esteem, superficial and shallow emotionality, emotional coldness and irresponsibility.
The second factor relates to chronically unstable, antisocial and unacceptable lifestyle, high demand for stimulation and high susceptibility to boredom, parasitic lifestyle, low self-control of behavior, lack of realism and planning long-term goals, impulsiveness, irresponsibility, and recklessness.
Reading the above features may lead to the question: do I not know such people? Often, this style of functioning is presented by people from the world of politics or business. They meet professionally and enjoy recognition. Their lack of emotions helps to keep calm in objectively difficult situations.
These are people who often occupy high positions. It is difficult to deny their charm, and the decidedly ruthless behavior allows them to take high risks and achieve their goals. Psychopathy does not necessarily mean that someone is a criminal and a murderer. You can have, for example, a psychopathic personality, a style, but function as a “normal” person.
If you are a manager, remember: you can not change psychopaths, you must fire them.
The basic rule that applies to psychopaths: keep them away from your company and team, do not employ them.
If firing a psychopath the only way? Unlike other, normal people, the psychopath is not taught through fear. When you get burned, touching a hot iron, next time you will not consciously touch the hot part. Meanwhile, a psychopath after a negative event (punishment) does not learn that something shouldn’t be done.
Once again, he sends offensive, unfairly accusing e-mail to colleagues, although he knows what kind of punishment awaits him. Or he starts another office game, even though he has already received a warning.
The psychopath is not afraid of punishment since there is no empathy in his dictionary. Also, he learns quickly and knows how to behave so that the environment will find him fit or even charming. This works especially good with people in senior positions.
It is very difficult for ethical people to sense this kind of manipulation. Psychopaths juggle information in a way that makes a rational and righteous man falls into his trap.
You must understand that when working with a psychopath, you will most often have doubts as to whether you are not doing something wrong and you will look for guilt in yourself.
Therefore, to identify a psychopath in a company, vigilance, observation and common sense assessment of the situation is needed. And if you are really working with a psychopath, it mighe be better to change jobs.
In children, we diagnose behavioral disorders or some psychopathic features. Despite this, it is the observation of children, especially teenagers, that is extremely important because it gives a good chance to change behavior that may prevent the development of psychopathy.
We do not know the causes of psychopathy, but so-far research suggests genetic factors at the level of brain structure, education without clearly defined boundaries and difficult, traumatic life experiences.
Being in a healthy relationship with a psychopath is impossible. If your partner shows signs of psychopathy and you know about that it’s better to end the relationship as soon as possible. Such a relationship will be full of suffering, manipulation, and you will be used without even knowing that. Do not count on selflessness, such a person cares only about their own benefits, and as soon as you aren’t useful anymore, he or she will leave you.
As I mentioned earlier, the earlier intervention, the better the effects of the treatment. However, due to the continued lack of complete data on the origin of this disorder, the efficacy of even joint therapies is still very low. Currently, we can offer cognitive- behavioral or systemic psychotherapy as well as other therapeutic interactions. Pharmacotherapy also can be used.
Unfortunately, psychopaths rarely report to a psychotherapist. Why should they? They are awesome, clever, the best in the world and it’s not that they are crazy, it’s you or the world.