We have all seen movies or read books that describe psychopaths. They are often portrayed as cold-blooded killers or rapists or as just pure evil.
While this is the case for some psychopaths, not all of them are violent killers. Some psychopaths have normal lives and jobs. If you think that you might be a psychopath, this list of 10 signs may help you figure it out.
10 You Have Antisocial Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the official guide used by psychiatrists and psychologists to make diagnoses of mental conditions. Psychopathy is not a condition that is found in the DSM-5.
While it is considered to be a personality trait and is measured by various personality tests used by psychologists, psychopathy is not an official diagnosis that is given to a person. The closest diagnosis would be antisocial personality disorder, and the DSM-5 describes how people with antisocial personalities are often referred to as psychopaths.
You can think of “antisocial personality” as the psychiatric term and “psychopath” as the lay term. This diagnosis, however, can only be given to those who are at least 18 years old.
This is because mental health professionals tend to have a more optimistic view of children. A child’s developmental level, personality, and temperament all change as he or she grows up. Many believe that problematic behaviors in childhood can be remediated with early intervention.
There is, however, a childhood version of antisocial personality disorder. This condition is known as “conduct disorder.” Not all children with conduct disorder grow up to have antisocial personalities. The criteria for conduct disorder are rather vague, to the point where a rebellious teenager may be misdiagnosed as having conduct disorder.
However, if the child has several symptoms of conduct disorder and the issues begin at a young age, it is more likely that the child may grow up to have antisocial personality disorder, psychopathic tendencies, or both.
9 You Have Low Physiological Arousal
An interesting fact about psychopaths: Their condition affects more than their behaviors and ways of thinking. It also affects their physiology. Psychopaths have low physiological arousal and reactivity. This means that they do not respond to stimuli the same way as the rest of us do.
Think of a time when you were frightened or nervous. Maybe you heard a loud noise in the middle of the night, or maybe you were going on a first date with someone you really liked. You may have started sweating, shaking, or breathing heavily. Your heart may have been pounding, and you may have had goose bumps.
These are all normal physiological stress responses. They act as our body’s way of telling us that we might be in danger. Psychopaths, however, usually don’t have these physiological responses.
They have lower resting heart rates, blood pressure, and body temperatures. This low arousal has been associated with some psychopathic behaviors and characteristics, such as a lack of emotions and a lack of fear.
8 You Lack Empathy And Remorse
According to the DSM-5, a lack of remorse and empathy for others is one of the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder. Empathy is the ability to understand what someone is experiencing from that person’s perspective or the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes.
Psychopaths tend to be self-involved and have trouble understanding the perspectives of other people. They often display a pattern of disregarding the needs, beliefs, and safety of others. They may also violate the rights of others, especially for personal gain.
Psychopaths, therefore, also experience a lack of remorse or guilt for their actions. Often, they are indifferent to mistreating others and rationalize their bad behaviors.
For example, psychopaths may justify stealing from someone by saying that the person deserved the theft because he left his property unattended. Or they may work as con artists and justify their actions by saying that the victim is stupid and gullible and therefore deserved to be conned.