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Definition and Symptoms of Psychopathy

A psychopath can be thought of as a callous, remorseless predator. This kind of person seems to lack a conscience, and will tend to use charm, manipulation, intimidation and violence in order to control others and satisfy his or her own needs.

The personality features that characterize a psychopath include the following (based on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)):

Aggressive narcissism

  • Glibness and superficial charm (smooth-talking, insincere)
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth (arrogant, superiority complex)
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning and manipulative
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Emotionally shallow
  • Callous lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Impulsive and antisocial behaviors

  • Need for stimulation and proneness to boredom
  • Parasitic lifestyle (intentional, manipulative, selfish and exploitative financial dependence on others)
  • Poor behavioral control (inappropriate expressions of anger)
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsiveness (reckless, potentially dangerous behaviors done with little thought for the consequences)
  • Irresponsibility
  • Juvenile delinquency (criminal behavioral problems between the ages of 13-18)
  • Early behavioral problems (a variety of dysfunctional and unacceptable behaviors before age thirteen)
  • Revocation of conditional release (violating probation or other conditional release because of technicalities)

Other items

  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Criminal versatility (diversity of criminal acts)


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Antisocial Personality Disorder