ByHeather Snowden, writer at
Lover of bad puns, nostalgic feels and all things Winona. Email: [email protected] Tweet: @heathbetweetin
Heather Snowden

In 2011 the 'gonzo journalist' and author behind Men Who Stare At Goats, Jon Ronson, wrote one of my favorite books, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. The book explores the field of psychopathy, gaining a clinical perspective via conversations with psychologists and psychiatrists and then, using something called the Hare Psychopathy Check List, applies the findings to high profile members of society. It's a great read and is currently being adapted into a thriller starring Scarlet Johansson so I recommend getting your mitts on it soon.

Anyway, high profile figures aside, people generally apply the term 'psychopath' to the Ted Bundy-esque characters, those who display overtly disturbing criminal, murderous characteristics. The reality is far more sinister.

It's estimated that a quarter of the world's population falls somewhere on the psychopathic scale. A QUARTER. That's one in four, but clearly (hopefully) not everyone leaves prostitutes' heads in their fridges or horses' heads in beds. Psychiatrists are viewing psychopathy as a mental illness and Ronson mentioned within The Psychopath Test that some people are born without the ability to feel empathy for others, which naturally makes them seem cold and uncaring.

But how do you know if you're friends with a psychopath? Or, scarier still, what if you are one? By trade, psychopaths are typically confident, manipulative and lacking in empathy or remorse. But what else should you watch out for?

1. Glibness/superficial charm

2. Grandiose sense of self-worth

3. Pathological lying

4. Cunning/manipulative

5. Lack of remorse or guilt

6. Emotionally shallow

7. Callous/lack of empathy

8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

9. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

10. Parasitic lifestyle

11. Lack of realistic, long-term goals

12. Impulsivity

13. Irresponsibility

14. Poor behavioral controls

15. Early behavioral problems

16. Juvenile delinquency

17. Revocation of conditional release

18. Criminal versatility

19. Many short-term marital relationships

20. Promiscuous sexual behavior


How many psychopathic characteristics do you exhibit?

(Source: IFScience)


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