Dr. Robert Hare created a diagnostic test for psychopathy. It’s a checklist of personality traits that may show someone is a psychopath. I will say now, it does not distinguish between high functioning and low functioning psychopaths and at times, nearly all of us have a few traits from the list. For most they change based on our moods. But it is just a diagnostic test, there are more criteria that needs to be met, beyond the test. And again, high functioning psychopaths are usually quite successful, while low functioning psychopaths don’t.
- Glib and superficial charm.
- Grandiose sense of self.
- Need for stimulation.
- Pathological lying.
- Cunning and manipulative.
- Lack of remorse or guilt.
- shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness).
- Callousness and lack of empathy.
- Parasitic lifestyle (even successful psychopaths can live parasitic lives).
- Poor behavioral controls.
- Sexual promiscuity.
- Childhood behavioral problems.
- Low impulse control.
- Fails to accept responsibility for own actions.
- Many short term marital relationships.
- Juvenile delinquency.
- Incapacity to love.
- Shows criminal versatility and entrepreneurship.
There’s the list. There are some things usually associated with psychopathy that didn’t make the list, but are kind of ‘add-ons’ to it. Psychopaths are almost universally authoritative. Their word is law and breaking that law will have serious consequences. They are also known to be secretive, think Patrick Jane from the Mentalist. They often have trouble hiding their contempt for people they disagree with (which can manifest as belittling those people or bullying them into changing their opinion). Usually, they manifest some sort of paranoia in which they feel someone else is out to get them (or a group of people). Since, they are compulsive liars and often start rumors, they think everyone else does as well and will accuse people of starting rumors and spreading lies about them. Finally, they have trouble making connections with other people, which may make them seem antisocial (which they are) and lead to extramarital affairs, poor relationships with their children, even though they may want their children around them, and change ‘close’ friends often.
Nearly all of us can think of a person or two we know that fits this list, and probably the add-ons to the list as well. Roughly 1 person out of every 100 in the US is a psychopath. Oddly, 4 out of 100 CEOs, CFOs, and upper echelon of large companies in the US are psychopaths. Scientists think this is because the culture of corporate America rewards several of these antisocial behaviors.