Sometimes on Family Arrested people may refer to the offender in their lives as an “S-path” or sociopath or psychopath. What does that mean? Are they talking about serial killers?
The media equates the terms psychopath and sociopath to mean “serial killer” or someone like Charlie Manson or that Castro guy who kidnapped and held those three girls for over a decade in Cleveland, yet went right on living “normally” in the community without anyone suspecting he was such a horrible creature. Ted Bundy who killed more than 10 women was a psychopath and he lived in the community as a “normal” guy without anyone suspecting what he did at night. So how do you spot a psychopath, or a serial killer, or a killer who is just out to kill you, or just an offender who is not going to change for the better, at least not for long.
What psychologists or criminologists would call a “psychopath” today in the past may have been referred to as having “moral insanity” which I think is a pretty accurate description for two words to describe it. Essentially, the term is not even recognized by the medical and psychological community in their “diagnostic Bible” the DSM. “The term ‘psychopath’ has been dropped and some of the previously psychopathic traits are now included under ‘Anti-social Personality Disorder.”
Now to most lay people that might sound like someone was a hermit and anti-social, but to psychologists it means that the person lives a life against society’s rules. In other words the person is an offender of either moral and/or criminal laws and is not likely to change for the better.
Not all people who break the law and end up in prison are psycho/socio-paths, but many do end up in prison and it is estimated by researchers that 25%, one in four, people convicted of a felony are psychopaths, and the other 75% of felony inmates are very high in the traits that make up a psychopath’s problematic personality. This is why many if not most ex-convicts go back to prison after they are released.
Dr. Robert Hare, who is one of the most experienced researchers in psychopaths, who has studied them in prisons and other institutions for upwards of 40 years, and has written the book, Without Conscience and also developed the “Psychopath’s Check List, Revised” which is the “Gold Standard” in criminal courts for determining if an offender meets the criteria for being a psychopath.
The qualities of a psychopath, as listed by Dr. Hare are:
- Glib and superficial charm
- Grandiose self worth
- Need for stimulation, prone to boredom
- Pathological lying
- Conning and manipulating
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Shallowness of expressions
- Callousness, lack of empathy
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavioral controls
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Early behavioral problems such as lying, fire setting, stealing etc.
- Lack of realistic long term goals
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- Many short term marital relationships
- Juvenile delinquency, crimes and acting out between the ages of 13-18
- Revocation of Conditional Release
- Criminal versatility
You can read more about each of these criteria at this link.
The DSM V which was recently published has the following criteria for “anti-social personality disorder”, in this PDF link.
The bottom line on psychopaths (by whatever name you call them) is that they have no true remorse for the things they have done, the hurt they do to others, or the laws they break. They may be good at pretending and saying they have remorse, but the bottom line is that they don’t change their behavior for long, and that the pretense of remorse is simply to convince the person they are trying to con that they have “changed”—but then they end up right back in prison again, or they cheat again, or lie again, or emotionally or physically abuse their loved ones again and again and again.
My son is a perfect example of a psychopath, he is actually proud of the fact he killed Jessica Witt, as he feels she “deserved” to die for ratting him out to the cops, and I deserve to die because I am disinheriting him and because I ratted him out to the cops when he robbed our friends’ business.
Patrick broke every parole/probation he ever had given to him. He continued to lie and lie and lie. He thinks he is the most important person in the world, that everyone else is inferior to him, even though he’s been in prison for more than 20 years, he feels like he is a “great success” in life (as crazy as that might sound to the rest of us) .
Adults who expect others to furnish them a living, and the home, transportation, etc. are living parasitic life styles because they want someone else to assume the responsibility for their upkeep. To give them chance after chance to change their ways, but they never do for long.
A person does not have to be a psychopath to be “toxic” and “Poison” to the people who love them, who wish they were better, and have tried to help them get their life back on track, but if an offender does not change their ways and make responsible choices to show that their remorse is genuine, then as hard as it is, the only way we can protect ourselves is to sever relationships with these people. Stop being responsible for them, let them have the consequences of their own behavior. But as long as we “support” them and allow them to continue to make poor or bad choices, and we get the consequences instead of them, what motivation do they have to change? Not much I think.
I finally broke free of my own offending son, my psychopathic son, but it took me 20+ years of pain and agony to do so. I’m still not totally “free” as I know he is still intent on killing me, just as he did Jessica Witt, but at least now I can accept what he is….an offender without a conscience, and without remorse, who is never going to change.