Signs You Are Arguing With A Psychopath


Psychopaths make up one percent of the general population. Contrary to popular belief, most of them aren’t serial killers.

They’re manipulative people who intentionally cause harm to others without any sense of remorse or responsibility.

Psychopaths are social chameleons who can fit perfectly into any situation.

They are experts at morphing their identities to get what they want and mirroring others for money, sex, and — most commonly — attention. Because of their ability to idealize others, psychopaths are often perceived as charming, innocent, and fun to unsuspecting onlookers and casual acquaintances.

But there is another side to them.

When they’re feeling threatened or bored, a psychopath’s true colors start to come out. They draw you into arguments that are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. The argument usually stems from something hurtful or inappropriate they’ve done, but you’ll quickly find that you’re the one defending yourself.

It’s sort of like good cop, bad cop, demented cop, stalker cop, scary cop, baby cop.

Here are 6 warning signs that the person you’re arguing with is a psychopath and it’s time to disengage.

1. They lie and make excuses.
Everyone messes up every now and then, but psychopaths recite excuses more often than they follow through with promises. Their actions never match up with their words and their lies disappoint you so frequently that you actually feel relieved when they do something halfway decent. They’ve conditioned you to become grateful for mediocre treatment.

2. Their tone is condescending and patronizing.
Psychopaths often try to make you unhinged in an attempt to gain the upper hand. Throughout the entire argument, you’ll notice that they keep a calm and cool demeanor. It’s almost as if they’re mocking you — gauging your reactions to see how much further they can push. When you finally react emotionally, that’s when they’ll raise their eyebrows, smirk, tell you to calm down, or feign disappointment.

3. They employ mind-blowing hypocrisy.
In heated arguments, psychopaths have no shame and will often begin labeling you with their own horrible qualities. It goes beyond projection, because most people project unknowingly. Psychopaths know they are smearing you with their own flaws, because they are seeking a reaction. The point is to lure you in so that you react and seem “crazy” to onlookers.

4. They seem to have multiple personalities.
When arguing with a psychopath, you’re likely to notice a variety of their personas. It’s sort of like good cop, bad cop, demented cop, stalker cop, scary cop, baby cop. Once you begin pulling away from their manipulation and lies, they’ll start apologizing and flatter you. If that doesn’t work, they’ll suddenly start insulting the qualities they just flattered two minutes ago. As they struggle to regain control, you’ll be left wondering who you’re even talking to.

5. They play the eternal victim.
Somehow, their bad behavior will always lead back to a conversation about their abusive past or a crazy ex or an evil boss. You’ll end up feeling bad for them, even when they’ve done something horribly wrong. And once they’ve successfully diverted your attention, everything will get messy again. Psychopaths cry “abuse,” but, in the end, you’re the only one being abused.

6. You feel the need to explain basic human emotions to them.
You’ll find yourself attempting to explain emotions like empathy and kindness, guided by the thought that if they understand why you’re hurt, they’ll stop hurting you. You are not the first person who has attempted to see the good in them, and you will not be the last. They behave this way because they know that it hurts you.

There’s only one way out of these arguments. You need to disengage!

Arguments with psychopaths leave you drained. You might spend hours, even days, obsessing over the argument. If you think you have the perfect response to their latest outrageous comment, they planted it there on purpose. They’re trying to provoke you. They’re trying to draw you in.

In professional environments, they want you to blow up so that coworkers and superiors see you as unstable. In romantic settings, they want you to lash out so that they can use your “hysterical” reactions to show potential partners and exes how crazy you’ve become. Until we understand this, we’ll continue to fall into their trap.

So next time someone you’re arguing with uses these tactics to draw you in, try a different strategy: simply smile, nod, and go live your life.

They don’t deserve another second of your time.


How School Dress Codes Shame Girls and Perpetuate Rape Culture

 22-1424607950-rape-latest-600When teachers punish girls for wearing clothes deemed ‘too distracting’ for boys to handle, it teaches a damaging lesson

Some of our most powerful and lasting ideas about the world around us are learned at school. Hard work pays off. Success comes from working together. Girls’ bodies are dangerous and harassment is inevitable.

This might sound inflammatory, but it is not an exaggeration. It is the overriding message being sent to thousands of students around the world by sexist school dress codes and the way in which they are enforced.

In the past month alone a Canadian teen says she was given detention for wearing a full length maxi dress because it violated her school dress code by showing her shoulders and back and a UK school announced plans to ban skirts altogether.

These are just the most recent cases in an ever-growing list that has seen shoulders and knees become a battleground, leggings and yoga pants banned and girls in some cases reportedly told to flap their arms up and down while their attire was inspected, or asked to leave their proms because chaperones considered their dresses too ‘sexual’ or ‘provocative’.

Many schools respond to criticism of dress codes by citing the importance of maintaining a ‘distraction free’ learning environment, or of teaching young people about the importance of dressing appropriately for different occasions.

But at the Everyday Sexism Project, where people from around the world share their experiences of gender inequality, we have received over a hundred testimonies from girls and young women who are affected by the dress codes and feel a strong sense of injustice.

One such project entry read:

“I got dress coded at my school for wearing shorts. After I left the principal’s office with a detention I walked past another student wearing a shirt depicting two stick figures: the male holding down the females head in his crotch and saying ‘good girls swallow’. Teachers walked right past him and didn’t say a thing.”

Girls are repeatedly told the reason they have to cover up to avoid ‘distracting’ their male peers, or making male teachers ‘uncomfortable’…

“At my school our dress code dictates everything about a girls outfit: knee length shorts or skirts only, no cleavage, no bra straps, no tank tops. We can’t even wear flip flops, and girls will be given detentions and sent home for breaking any one of these rules. There’s no dress code for men, and the reasoning? Girls can’t dress “provacatively” [sic] because it could distract and excite the boys.”

I can’t help feeling there is a powerful irony in accusing a girl of being ‘provocative’ – in projecting that societal assumption onto her adolescent body – before she is even old enough to have learned how to correctly spell the word.

One student says she was given three specific reasons for the school dress code:

“1) There are male teachers and male sixth formers [high school seniors]
2) Teachers feel uncomfortable around bras etc.
3) Don’t want the boys to target you or intimidate you”.

This sends an incredibly powerful message. It teaches our children that girls’ bodies are dangerous, powerful and sexualised, and that boys are biologically programmed to objectify and harass them. It prepares them for college life, where as many as one in five women is sexually assaulted but society will blame and question and silence them, while perpetrators are rarely disciplined.

The problem is often compounded by a lack of any attempt to discipline boys for harassing behavior, which drives home the message that it is the victim’s responsibility to prevent. We have received thousands of testimonies from girls who have complained about being verbally harassed, touched, groped, chased, followed, licked, and assaulted at school, only to be told: “he just likes you”, or: “boys will be boys”. The hypocrisy is breath taking.

Meanwhile, the very act of teachers calling young girls out for their attire projects an adult sexual perception onto an outfit or body part that may not have been intended or perceived as such by the student herself. It can be disturbing and distressing for students to be perceived in this way and there is often a strong element of shame involved.

“I’ve been told by a teacher that the way I was wearing my socks made me look like a prostitute in my first year of school, making me 13, and I’ve been asked whether I’m ashamed of myself because I rolled my skirt up,” wrote one young woman.

The codes aren’t just problematic for sexist reasons. One project entry reads:

“At age 10 I was pulled out of my fifth grade class for a few minutes for a ‘special health lesson’. As an early bloomer, I already had obvious breasts and was the tallest in my class. I thought they were giving me a paper about reproductive health that’s normally given to the 12 year old girls. Instead I was told to cover my body more because I was different.”

Other incidents have also seen boys banned from school for having hair ‘too long’ or wearing traditionally ‘feminine’ fashion, from skinny jeans to skirts. A transgender student said he was threatened with having his photo barred from the school yearbook simply because he chose to wear a tuxedo to prom. Black girls are more likely to be targeted for ‘unacceptable’ hairstyles. The parents of a 12-year old African American student said she was threatened with expulsion for refusing to cut her naturally styled hair. Her mother was told she violated school dress codes for being “a distraction”.

At this point it starts to feel like such ‘codes’ are less about protecting children and more about protecting strict social norms and hierarchies that refuse to tolerate difference or diversity.

This is a critical moment. The school dress code debate will be dismissed by many for being minor or unimportant, but it is not.

When a girl is taken out of class on a hot day for wearing a strappy top, because she is ‘distracting’ her male classmates, his education is prioritized over hers. When a school takes the decision to police female students’ bodies while turning a blind eye to boys’ behavior, it sets up a lifelong assumption that sexual violence is inevitable and victims are partially responsible. Students are being groomed to perpetuate the rape culture narrative that sits at the very heart of our society’s sexual violence crisis. It matters very much indeed.


How PTSD Disrupts Relationships – Part 2

heart3-300x24750 Ways PTSD Undermines Intimate Relationships – The Art of Healing Trauma

In How PTSD Disrupts Relationships – Part 1- The Relationship Foundation we looked at some ways PTSD may affect the foundation, the basement and floor, of a relationship. Now I want to look more at how PTSD affects the “relationship house” that two people build on the foundation. The relationship house consists of the day-to-day relating, activities, growth, intimacy and connection that the couple creates. This is the metaphorical house they will live in together so they are trying to make it into something positive, healthy and supportive in their lives. But sometimes, sadly, things go wrong. And things go wrong easily if one partner has PTSD. (scroll past discussion to end of article for full list of 50 items)

In my experience, PTSD causes an extreme amount of stress, not only for the partner who has PTSD but for both partners as well as children and extended family members if there are any in the picture. Both partners may suffer from a sense of exhaustion because PTSD burns up energy like nothing else. They both may also suffer health problems due to this extremely high level of stress. I salute any relationship that is managing to survive PTSD!

Detachment and Avoidance
Boyfriend Speaks – My Detachment and Avoidance Impact him the Most. When I asked my boyfriend what he thought the worst things were about being in a relationship with someone with PTSD he mentioned the following:
Sleeping A Lot. The first main issue is was how I sleep a lot, am frequently exhausted, can go into myself and be totally emotionally detached and absent. His words were, “How you sleep all day sometimes, retreat into yourself and spend a lot of time recovering.” That makes him feel “alone.” (makes sense, right?)
Scared to Do Stuff. The second thing he doesn’t like is that I’m scared of so many things it makes it hard for us to do anything together. He said, “If you always assume something bad will happen then you end up not doing anything. Most of the time bad things won’t happen but you can’t perceive that and miss out on a lot of experiences.”
Basically I am triggered so much of the time that I have trouble going out and doing anything fun, adventurous or interesting. For example, I didn’t go rafting with him because my lungs had been damaged and the river has a road with traffic next to it. I didn’t want to harm my lungs with contamination/exhaust fumes. This is directly in relation to the injuries, so it invokes the terror of nearly dying, which makes it hard for my mind to put it into perspective in regards to all aspects of the experience.
I never consider it rationally as a cost / benefit ratio, with the cost being lung contamination and the benefits being the fun, sunshine (vitamin D), doing things together (increases good feelings of being in a relationship together), exercise for poor body makes it feel better, and experiencing something new (good for breaking out of PTSD and ingrained habit patterns). The triggers are magnified or exaggerated in my mind to become the entire potential experience and then of course I avoid the activity.  When I don’t participate in things with my boyfriend, his needs for experiencing adventure, fun, discovery, and exploration with me do not get met.  So boyfriend feels alone and abandoned by my:

  • emotional detachment
  • physical exhaustion
  • avoidance behavior that prevents joint activities

My Perspective… a Huge Wall
From my point of view, I just see all the symptoms of PTSD standing in-between my boyfriend and I like a huge wall.
The worst things are not being able to see who he is for real and feeling so terrified of him for no reason. It’s like he is wearing a “past abusive partner” suit all the time and I can’t figure out how to take that off of him in my mind.
Also, not having memories makes it hard to be in a relationship. I can’t remember things we’ve done together. I especially can’t remember good things we’ve done together because of how my brain is tuned powerfully into the bad, traumatic events in order to survive them successfully. I think I even turn good things we’ve experienced together into bad things without realizing it.
I also don’t remember simple things like taking care of something I said I would do. Seeing his face, the look of disappointment, when I am unable to remember something, is painful. I also feel really disabled and different when I realize my memory is damaged and I become afraid and sad.
When I realize how dependent I am on him for things like remembering stuff, or when I need him to comfort me when am triggered and feeling terrified, I can become really clingy. When I feel clingy I start to wonder if I’m using him. I wonder if I’m with him for the wrong reasons. I become mad at myself. This whole line of thought then starts to seed lots of fear, confusion and guilt when perhaps clinginess is just part of recovery.
I am not up to doing things a lot of the time. Seeing him look let down when I can’t go out, or when I break a promise is really hard.  Sometimes I get addicted to computer games to escape my intense feelings that are bubbling just below the surface. I feel really bad for abandoning my partner and my life.  When I am very suicidal, I see how worried he looks and this hurts.

I feel bad that I have physical limitations and injuries due to the accidents, and lost my figure and the beauty of my appearance. I wish I could be my old self with my nice figure I used to have for my boyfriend. I wish I could turn back time. I wish I looked pretty again. I wish I could give him that. But I can’t… I know he likes me how I am but that is no consolation when the grief is still so strong. What else was lost? If I even begin to go down that road I feel I will be lost. The grief is so huge I feel like I can’t open my heart to him or else it will all pour out everywhere.
I notice that he looks stressed, like everything is taking a toll on him. I notice he has started to have some health issues, probably from stress. I know I’m creating a ton of stress for both of us, so I feel terrible when I see him suffering from stress related issues.
Most of the time, I wish I could be a better, normal partner. I feel a lot of guilt and helplessness.  I also feel like over time PTSD can destroy the love one genuinely has for their partner, because it takes over emotionally and in the storm one can forget any of the positive, loving emotions they once felt towards their partner.  At the same time, certain dynamics in the relationship could be a way to play out past trauma that only the unconscious mind knows about (there are no conscious memories), in an attempt to alert the conscious mind that there is something that needs healing – like a beacon trying to get attention.
So my list of The Main Things That Disrupt Our Relationship are my:

  • distorted perceptions: inability to see who my partner is because of the past trauma eclipsing him
  • triggers, hyperarousal: feeling terrified of my partner for no reason
  • memory problems: not being able to remember things we’ve done together, blocking out all memories of good times due to how brain is wired, not remembering to take care of practical day-to-day things, forgetting things from one moment to the next
  • clinginess, dependency
  • exhaustion and avoidance: letting down my partner so many times, breaking promises without meaning to
  • addictive tendencies
  • suicidality: talking about wanting to kill myself multiple times a week causes my partner fear, concern, worry, stress
  • grief for loss of body and other things
  • extreme stress: both of us experience stress related health issues from contending with PTSD symptoms
  • painful emotions: I feel pain, guilt, helplessness when perceiving the toll it takes on my partner

I created this illustration that shows a few of the main things that get in-between a person with PTSD and their partner. I left out a large number of things, but it shows some of the main ones.

Grief may not be always considered in relation to PTSD. But what happens when you have PTSD and go to therapy? At a certain point, you come across a great loss that was sitting underneath the trauma all along. You lost someone you love. You lost your appearance due to injury. You lost an opportunity. You lost your innocence. You lost love. You lost the person who you used to be. You lost a dream. You lost your relationship with God. So I think grief is in there and if it is a profound grief, you may not be available to your partner – at least not fully – until you grieve that loss or those losses. The part of your heart lost in grieving will be a part of you that is not there to love your partner.
Although not all people with PTSD feel suicidal, it is a symptom of PTSD. It can be very difficult for a relationship when one person is suicidal. It can be a challenge for the suicidal person’s partner to try to figure out how to handle the situation. They can feel worried, confused, scared and helpless. Even if the suicidal behavior is more passive, for example, if the person does not take care of their health, engages in risk taking behavior or has a cavalier attitude about living and dying, this still takes a toll on their partner.
Depression often accompanies PTSD (is “comorbid” with PTSD). If a person has both PTSD and Depression together (or any other mental illness) they will abandon their partner to an even greater degree than if they suffer from PTSD alone.

50 Ways PTSD Undermines Intimate Relationships
Note that 16 of the items on this list (1,2,3,4,6,7,11,16,23,27,31,35,39,42,43,44) are inspired by this informative article on the subject – Relationships and PTSD – from the National Center for PTSD on the Veteran’s Affairs website. I have categorized them and elaborated on them much more in this article.
Numbers 1-34 (roughly) can be considered to cause intimacy problems. These symptoms cause the person suffering from PTSD to abandon their partner and their relationship without meaning to. This is just the nature of the illness/injury. This is not their fault.
Numbers 34-50 are a bit more related to amping up the stress in the relationship. These symptoms cause the person suffering from PTSD to increase the level of stress in the relationship without meaning to.
If you are with someone who has PTSD and you feel sad because they are somewhat “absent” and you feel stressed from their stress level, this list may explain why.  People with PTSD may experience…

1. problems with trust – can’t trust anyone anymore including their partner
2. problems with closeness – won’t allow themselves to be vulnerable
3. less interest in social activities – prefer to stay at home, may not care about other people, may fear social activities on some level
4. less interest in sexual activities, sex may be triggering, that amount of closeness may feel foreign and intrusive if you are used to being numb and detached, may dissociate during sex and not be in their body, or may develop a sex addiction to cope
5. challenges with listening, focusing and concentrating on what is going on or what is being spoken about right now.
6. problems with communication
7. issues with unknowingly communicating in a way that comes across as demanding
8. difficulty knowing how to collaborate well with others
9. All their PTSD symptoms may lead the survivor feel a variety of challenging emotions regarding their partner: guilty, helpless, self-doubt regarding their own motives in the relationship, worry, confusion
10. All their PTSD symptoms may lead the survivor feel a variety of challenging emotions regarding relationships in general: a sense that they are dramatically different from others, not worthy of love, impaired, a failure, doubts that they have anything to offer anyone, belief that they are damaged goods, low self-esteem and self-worth

11. emotional detachment, feeling distant from others, numb, shut down
12. trying to get a handle on all their symptoms may take the trauma survivor’s attention away from their partner and the relationship so they seem detached
13. They may have dulled senses, as if the world is all gray and constricted
14. Can become dissociated
15. lack of mentalization and empathy – they may not be able to sense the mental and emotional states underlying partner’s behavior making it hard for their partner to feel understood and “gotten.” (mentalization is the ability to understand the mental state of oneself and others which underlies overt behavior. empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.)

16. the trauma survivor will try to avoid any activity that could trigger a memory which can be very difficult for their partner to handle

17. problems with memory – can’t remember things in the past in general, such as things they did with their partner or family, making it seem like they don’t care but it’s actually just memory impairment
18. problems with memory – can’t remember specifically anything good they did with their partner
19. problems with memory – can’t remember day-to-day responsibilities and promises
20. problems with memory – can’t remember moment to moment plans (e.g. why did I go into this room?)
21. problems with processing information
22. difficulties problem solving and making decisions, especially joint decisions
23. The trauma survivor may end up depending a lot on their partners, family and friends due to the overwhelming and disabling nature of their symptoms which can cause a number of related issues such as guilt, resentment, and strain in the relationship.
24. They may stay in an abusive situation due to believing their activation/ fight-flight-freeze reactions are triggers due to PTSD and not valid responses to the present situation
25. They may leave a healthy situation due to having too much activation/ fight-flight-freeze reactions that stem from past trauma and thinking they are responses to the present situation

26. develop addictive tendencies
27. engage in addictive behaviors to attempt to cope with all the intense emotions of PTSD. Addictions can destroy intimacy and relationships.

28. grief may stay buried/unrecognized/unresolved because trauma symptoms dominate
29. unresolved grief can take a toll on intimacy. One way to look at it is it takes up space in the heart and that space is not available to connect to a loved one

30. the various states of fear of PTSD consume tons of energy causing exhaustion
31. the survivor can experience trouble sleeping . As a result they may not be able to get enough rest and thus become exhausted all the time.
32. sleeping together may be more difficult due to sleep disturbances
33. health issues caused by constant stress in the body can lead to a higher need for sleep so the body can try to heal itself
34. a lot of time spent sleeping, rehabilitating and recovering can be seen as being lazy and carelessly abandoning one’s partner but it is actually a symptom of PTSD

35. the trauma survivor can be in frequent states of hyperarousal and hypervigilance. They can be plagued by trauma memories, triggers, flashbacks, be overly stressed and tense, irritable, jumpy, always on guard, worried, nervous and unable to relax.
36. triggers cause distorted perceptions of their partner and the world
37. triggers can cause a multitude of different fears of their partner
38. they may experience anxiety and perception of various kinds of danger associated with being in a close relationship
39. an increased need to protect their loved ones from danger
40. irrational panic if a loved one is out late, doesn’t call back right away etc. They are convinced something terrible has happened.
41. This level of chronic stress can lead to serious health conditions, which can be huge ordeals for a couple to get through

42. anger problems – the survivor may experience intense anger and aggressive impulses
43. They may become violent (verbally and physically)
44. They may avoid closeness as a way to keep themselves away from situations in which they might get angry and lose control, lash out impulsively. In other words, they may push away loved ones to protect the people they care about from themselves.

45. possible urges to self-harm (may or may not be present)
46. risk taking behavior reflecting a lack of interest in life
47. accidents due to risk taking behavior
48. suicidal ideation – thoughts about suicide, feelings of desiring to commit suicide
49. speaking of suicide/death – telling partner they want to die can cause partner high level of distress
50. making suicide attempts can be highly upsetting and traumatic for the partner

The Effect on Their Partner:
Due to the Problems that Disrupt Intimacy they may feel:

  • alone
  • abandoned
  • rejected
  • cut off from their partner
  • hurt
  • down, sad because their partner is suffering
  • helpless
  • confused
  • angry at their partner
  • distant toward their partner
  • sorrow that it seems like working as a team is impossible
  • pressured
  • controlled
  • abused
  • trapped by their partner’s dependencies
  • like they lost their partner, who they were before

Due to the Problems that Increase Stress they may feel:

  • stressed out
  • tense
  • exhausted
  • afraid
  • they may develop health problems from the stress
  • they may experience secondary traumatization. The indirect impact of trauma on the partner can make them also feel a sense of danger, edginess, fear as if they are living in constant threat of danger.  If their partner is very suicidal this may be traumatic for them to manage

Beyond this list, there are a number of specific unhealthy dynamics that can develop in the relationship and inside the person with PTSD. These dynamics will be discussed in Part 3.
The good thing is that – if the person with PTSD goes to a therapist who knows Trauma Resiliency Model, Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, they can, step by step, overcome their symptoms and restore a loving connection with their partner, or part ways with their partner, depending on which is most healthy for both people. At least they will emerge from the storm and be able to see clearly again.

by Heidi Hanson


How to Identify a Psychopath

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist was initially developed to assess the mental condition of people who commit crimes, and it is commonly used to diagnose people who may exhibit the traits and tendencies of a psychopath. Most mental health professionals define a psychopath as a predator who takes advantage of others using charm, deceit, violence and other methods to get what they want. Identify a psychopath by using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist and trusting your own intuition.

1  Look for glib and superficial charm. A psychopath will also put on what professionals refer to as a “mask” of normality that is likable and pleasant.[1] For example, the psychopath may do good deeds to gain his or her victim’s trust.[2]

2  Look for a grandiose self-perception.[3] Psychopaths will often believe they are smarter or more powerful than they actually are.

3  Watch for a constant need for stimulation. Stillness, quiet and reflection are not things embraced by psychopaths. They need constant entertainment and activity.

4  Determine if there is pathological lying. A psychopath will tell all sorts of lies, little white lies as well as huge stories intended to mislead.

5  Evaluate the level of manipulation. All psychopaths are identified as cunning and able to get people to do things they might not normally do. They can use guilt, force and other methods to manipulate.

6  Look for any feelings of guilt. An absence of any guilt or remorse is a sign of psychopathy. Psychopaths cannot feel guilty.[4]  A psychopath may feign guilt over bad behavior in order to manipulate a person into not becoming angry. For example, they pretend to go into a guilt spiral over hurting their victim, so the victim ends up consoling them instead.

7  Consider the affect or emotional response a person has. Psychopaths demonstrate shallow emotional reactions to deaths, injuries, trauma or other events that would otherwise cause a deeper response.[5]  The difference between autistic and psychopathic responses is that while autistic people may seem initially numb, they may melt down in distress later or throw themselves into research and ways to help.[6][7] Psychopaths have no deep emotions hiding underneath.

8  Look for a lack of sympathy and compassion. Psychopaths are naturally callous and cannot naturally relate to non-psychopaths.[2]  Research shows psychopathy is not as simple as having a total lack of empathy. They do not spontaneously empathize but can on will in order to charm others, and are capable of cognitive empathy (the ability to read and understand the emotions of others) but have impaired affective empathy (the ability to feel these emotions).[8][9][10]  This is another way to distinguish psychopathy from autism—autistic people may lack empathy and seem robotic at times, but they genuinely care about others and can show deep compassion.

9  Take a look at the person’s lifestyle. Psychopaths are often parasitic, meaning they live off other people. They will use others to gain power and resources, and may enter their lives quickly and easily.[2]

10  Observe the person’s behavior. The Hare Checklist includes behavior indicators such as the following: poor behavior control, sexual promiscuity, and early behavior problems.

11  Talk about goals. Psychopaths have unrealistic goals for the long term. Either there are no goals at all, or they are unattainable and based on the exaggerated sense of one’s own accomplishments and abilities.

12  Look at whether the person is impulsive or irresponsible. Both those characteristics are evidence of psychopathy.

13  Consider whether the person can accept responsibility. A psychopath will never admit to being wrong or owning up to mistakes and errors in judgment. When pressed, they may admit to making a mistake, but manipulate others so as to avoid any consequences.  Any accusations may be turned back on the accuser, to make the accuser believe that they are being cruel or unfair for making reasonable complaints. Victims may start second-guessing any issues they might want to raise.[11]

14  Examine marital relationships. Some psychopaths have many short-term marriages. They will blame marital problems on their ex-spouses, and never suggest that they played a role in the marriage’s failure.

15  Look for a history of juvenile delinquency. Psychopaths tend to exhibit delinquent behaviors in their youth, including aggressive behaviors towards others.

16  Check for criminal versatility. Psychopaths are able to get away with a lot, and while they might sometimes get caught, the ability to be flexible when committing crimes is an indicator.

17  Check out if a person makes constant use of “the poor fellow’s imagery”. Psychopaths are experts at manipulating our emotions and insecurities into causing us to view them as “poor injusticed fellows”, thus lowering our sentimental guard and rendering us vulnerable for future exploitation. If this psychological resource is continually combined with unacceptable and evil actions, this equals to a powerful alert sign about this person’s real nature.  They may put on a fake emotional display.[12]  The difference between this and anxiety is that an anxious person deeply feels the guilt and helplessness that they express, while a psychopath only does this as a performance. An anxious person will display these symptoms even when it is inconvenient to them, while a psychopath can turn these displays of emotion on and off at will.

18  Pay close attention to the person’s treatment towards those whom they don’t consider useful. Psychopaths are generally prone to belittle, humiliate, mistreat, mock and even attack physically (or kill, in extreme cases) people who normally would bring no benefits to him/her in any way, such as subordinates, physically frail or lower-ranking people, children, elderly people, disabled people, and even animals—especially if they are able to get away with it.[13]  Remember Arthur Schopenhauer’s famous words: “A person who harms or kills animals cannot be a good person at all”. Another relevant saying is Mahatma Gandhi’s famous speech, “You know somebody well for their treatment towards their animals”.


Trust your instincts and intuition. If you believe someone displays the characteristics of a psychopath, put distance between yourself and that person so you are not manipulated or drawn into a relationship that may only cause you pain.

Be careful not to confuse psychopathy with other disorders, such as anxiety or autism.

Resist categorizing someone you do not like as a psychopath simply because they meet 1 or 2 of the characteristics on the Hare checklist. Psychopathy is complicated.[14] It takes a psychiatrist or a qualified mental health practitioner to correctly diagnose someone as a psychopath.