The term “psychopath” is often associated with “sociopath” and “antisocial personality disorder”. Due to the confusion over the definitions of these terms, psychologists have had a hard time finding common ground on diagnosing and treating these illnesses. The consensus for a psychopath is that it is someone who is antisocial, lacks empathy, and engages in bold conduct (Cullen, 241).
Studies show that 80% of psychopaths are male. While professionals do not know why this is, they do believe that psychopaths are born with a powerful predisposition to being psychopathic. This predisposition can grow as time moves on, but in most cases, there is no abuse or neglect in the home. Of the many characteristics of psychopaths, two stand out: a disregard for others and an ability to disguise it (240)
Psychopaths enjoy manipulating others and are extremely proud of this trait. They see themselves as superior to those around them. Psychopaths do not use morals because morals hinder their ability to get what they consider to be their needs. They have no remorse or empathy. A psychopath is generally presented as a person without a conscience (Langman, Why).
Psychopaths struggle to feel most emotions. The emotions they have the most trouble feeling are fear and anguish. While they learn to mimic these extremely well, they do not truly feel or understand them. Because psychopaths struggle in this, they often seek risky or adventurous thrills to feel emotions like fear and excitement – roller-coasters, sky-diving, ect. The emotions psychopaths do feel are very strong. The strongest ones felt are often anger, frustration, and rage (Cullen, 240).
To better understand the mind and emotions of a psychopath, Dr. Robert Hare developed EEG scans showing a psychopath’s brain. These were so different from other scans that professionals thought the scans were not human (242). Dr. Hare and another doctor, Dr. Kent Kiehl, used fMRIs to view a psychopath’s emotional responses to certain pictures (244). When presented with ideas such as murder or rape, most people reacted with fear, disgust, or anger. The psychopaths shown these pictures reacted with intrigue. They were analyzing the pictures. The scans suggested that the psychopaths found the pictures fascinating and interesting (245). From his study of psychopathy, Dr. Hare made a “Psychopath Checklist” for other psychologists to use when trying to diagnose psychopathy (241). (see appendix)
One example of a psychopath is Eric Harris, one of the Columbine school shooters. From the information gathered in Eric’s journals and videotapes, psychologists have been able to analyze his mind. Eric applied to several of the characteristics on the psychopathic checklist, including charming, callous, cunning, manipulative, comically grandiose, and egocentric, with a lack of empathy (239).
Eric Harris was extremely good at manipulation and impression. He took joy in toying with the people. He manipulated his way through a probation...