Common Traits of a Psychopath

Psychopaths. Most people have misconceptions about them being crime perpetrators. It is instilled among the general public that they are not normal-in thoughts and actions- and that they are dangerous, fearsome individuals.

Movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts describe and portray psychopaths as monsters inside humans. Many myths pervade pop culture regarding psychopaths. Fiction writers, journalists, and even psychologists and criminologists have gone to great lengths to both perplex and make horror out of psychopaths.

However, it is often not really the psychopaths that we want to understand. Our biases have made us establish a harsh contrast between their thinking and ours, and of course, we always want to assure ourselves that we are better than these modern monsters.


A man making a silly face

Demystifying the term, according to Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist and the founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence, psychopathy falls under the Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD or infrequently APD). It’s a mental illness, and a personality disorder characterized by a long-term pattern of disregard for, or violation of, others’ rights. A weak or nonexistent conscience is often apparent, and a history of legal problems or impulsive and aggressive behavior.

People with this personality disorder often have high intelligence but poor judgment, superficial charm, pathological egocentricity, lack of remorse or shame, impulsivity, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, manipulative behavior, low self-control, promiscuous sexual behavior, juvenile delinquency, and criminal versatility, and antisocial. It is important to note that being “antisocial” doesn’t mean a loner or is a reserved or introvert but refers to someone who goes against society, rules, and other behaviors that are more commonplace.

So, do psychopaths heartless or emotionless? No. Like mentally healthy people, psychopaths also feel affection for their families, friends, or even pets.  But they have difficulty in loving and trusting the rest of the world. Furthermore, they have emotional due to separation, divorce, death of a beloved person, or dissatisfaction with their deviant behavior.


A man sitting with a hoodie covering his head with only his lips visible

These traits may arise early during childhood and may grow worse over time. Here are some of the most common signs of a psychopath:

Early behavioral problems  Most psychopaths exhibit behavioral problems at an early age. They would love to skip school, vandalize, cheat, abuse substances, or become violent. These behaviors worsen over time.

Need for stimulation  Psychopaths love excitement and may be intolerant of routines that is why they struggle with repetitive tasks as they find it dull. They are thrilled by constant action in their lives, frequently live in the “fast lane.” Their need for stimulation frequently involves breaking rules. 

Pathological lying —To cover a previous lie, to get out of trouble or to look upright, psychopaths lie. They find it hard to make their stories straight sometimes as they forget what they’ve said. They are good conversationalist, and are superficial charm makes them likable on the surface. They may be funny and charismatic as well.

Grandiose sense of self-worth  Psychopaths have magnified view of themselves, that they feel so entitled and important. They make their own rules and justify their actions according to them. 

Lack of remorse and empathy  one of the most common traits of psychopaths is the absence of guilt or feeling sorry whenever they have done wrong. They often hardly even identify right from wrong. They struggle to be on someone’s shoes and understand that someone else might feel afraid, sad, or anxious. 

Parasitic lifestyle  they often play being victimized. Fabricate sob stories about why they can’t earn money or do something and take advantage of the kindness of others by depending on them financially. 

Impulsivity  Psychopaths are usually rule-breakers, and they make their own rules. Although they set out to follow the rules, they still struggle to maintain them. They just respond according to their feelings and thinking without calculating the potential risks and benefits of their choices. Instead, they want immediate gratification. So, they end a relationship, may quit a job, move to a new city, or buy a new car on a whim.

Criminal versatility —for psychopaths, rules are mere suggestions that usually hold them back. There are often involved in various crimes including driving infractions, financial violations, and acts of violence are just a few examples of the array of crimes one might commit.