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May 292013

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:

  1. Glib and superficial charm
  2. Grandiose self worth
  3. Need for stimulation, prone to boredom
  4. Pathological  lying
  5. Conning and manipulating
  6. Lack of remorse or guilt
  7. Shallowness of expressions
  8. Callousness, lack of empathy
  9. Parasitic lifestyle
  10. Poor behavioral controls
  11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
  12. Early behavioral problems such as lying, fire setting, stealing etc.
  13. Lack of realistic long term goals
  14. Impulsivity
  15. Irresponsibility
  16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  17. Many short term marital relationships
  18. Juvenile delinquency, crimes and acting out between the ages of 13-18
  19. Revocation of Conditional Release
  20. 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.

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  7 Responses to “What is a “Psychopath?” New DSM V calls it "anti-social personality disorder"

  1. Joyce, I am no “expert” in the field of psychology or psychiatry. Having typed that, I feel that I am most certainly an “expert” in human predators. My practical experiences are applicable, as are all survivors in recovery. 😉

    Having typed that, a layman typically associates “anti-social personality disorder” with someone who avoids human interactions – it’s a simple association to the chosen vocabulary. As we know, psychspeak is a language unto itself and spoken only among a certain and specific group of professionals. Physicians speak their own language, as do lawyers. The language spoken by social workers is impenetrable for those who are not within that circle, as well.

    Even though the DSM V has redefined numerous conditions and syndromes (AGAIN), with some being ridiculously altered, the main point is that “anti-social behavioral disorder” has clear and glaring behaviors that are set patterns. I never understood what “glib” meant, and I finally (and, at long last) understand what this term means. I can quite clearly identify a majority of the behavioral symptoms in every toxic person that I’ve encountered, BAR NONE.

    I have no knowledge of any of the DSM publications, and I wonder if any of them had general treatment protocols listed with the defined syndromes and disorders. If there are, I have to imagine that the protocol for “anti-social personality disorder” is simply a blank page.

    Thanks for this update, Joyce.

  2. Truthy, I sit here and shake my head about the DSMs, it started out as a way to help mental health research and to develop a “common language” for the professionals, and it is now as big as the Los Angeles CA telephone book, and more confusing than ever.

    Remember the old quote about “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”? Well, it doesn’t matter what “name” the professionals put on a “psychopath” they are still as toxic. Funny thing though, I followed the DSM V revision as it progressed for the past couple of years and at one point they were going to call “it” the “Anti-social/psychopathic personality disorder” They were also going to eliminate “narcissistic personality disorder” as a separate “disorder” and lump that self-centeredness into the “anti-social/psychopathic” as a symptom not a separate disorder..

    But again, I repeat, call it what you will, the “animal” is still the same. My husband used to say a “camel is a horse designed by a committee every one has to put their own hump on it.” The DSM V is a perfect example of a camel.

    What WE have to learn though is what the PRACTICAL part is, that anyone who displays ANY of these characteristics is not someone we want to deal with in our “circle of intimacy” because they are TOXIC to our own well being.

    Not that we should expect someone we love to be “perfect” but we should expect them to be TRUTHFUL, RESPONSIBLE, KIND, UNSELFISH, HAVE A CONSCIENCE and HAVE REMORSE and GUILT when they do something wrong. We should expect them to RESPECT THE LAWS OF THE LAND, to be HONEST, and those who are few or none of these things are not going to add to our lives.

    A person doesn’t have to be a true pure 100% psychopath in order to be TOXIC to us but if they have many of the same TRAITS then they WILL be toxic. Not every person that I have removed from my life was a psychopath, though, a few were….but I don’t
    “miss” any of these people in my life. They kept it filled with drama and trauma and kept me in the “spin cycle” trying to cope. Life without them is much more peaceful and calm.

  3. Hebrews 3:13

    But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    Romans 3:3

    For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

  4. Wini, you are right, what we BELIEVE does not change the FACTS. Back in the day when the powers that be thought the world was flat, it did not change the FACT that the world is essentially ROUND. These people stated that “the Bible said there are FOUR CORNERS of the earth” so therefore, the world must be flat and have FOUR CORNERS. LOL

    While I believe that the Bible is the word of God, I do NOT believe the earth has 4 corners, taking every passage LITERALLY….has gotten a lot of people into false beliefs, but those false beliefs don’t change FACTS.

    So while the DSM V tries to “define” various mental illnesses and personality disorders, it does not matter to me what they “call it” or what “name” or “label” they hang on it, the point is that the DSM V like all things must be taken with a “grain of salt” and realize that it is no more literal than the Bible…there may be some great truths in the DSM V, but it is not absolutely the world of God where mental illnesses are concerned and is open to INTERPRETATION….if I were still practicing I would have to give a “diagnosis” and “code” to the person I was treating in order for the third-party payers to pay me for my treatment or assessment of that person. I would have to put down the DSM V CODE for “anti-social personality disorder” and I could NOT call it “psychopath” and there is no code for psychopath, but that doesn’t change what the diagnosis really is, the person is toxic, has no empathy, no remorse, no guilt, is a liar and a manipulator, etc. and I would not want that person in my life….no matter who they were.

    Since I retired, I can “call” something whatever I want to call it…I can call it a DUCK if it waddles, flies, quacks and lays eggs….I don’t need a PhD to tell me something is a duck. Now if I wanted to be extremely correct about the duck I might call a biologist to tell me the specific breed or variety (and there are many) but for my purposes, “duck” is close enough for me.

    There are people who have some, many or all of the traits of a psychopath, but it doesn’t matter if they “qualify” as a full blown psychopath or not, if they have very many of the traits that make up a psychopath, then they are pretty well toxic to any relationship be it family, friend, or business, and especially family relationships.

    I know from experience that going “no contact” with a person in my family who is toxic, but not a psychopath, and from going “no contact” with one who is a psychopath, but my belief for decades that these people could, would and wanted to change, didn’t change the fact that they are NOT GOING TO CHANGE and have shown over and over by repeating their bad behaviors, lies, manipulations, abuses, that they are what they are and my belief that they could and would change didn’t change the FACTS.

    Now that these people are recognized for what they are, toxic to me, I am much happier, and more healthy mentally and physically, than when they were involved in my life.

  5. I’m not sure who or what posted the #6 comment/link, but it is very interesting….the T. J. Layne “body language” exhibited at his sentencing (wearing a Tee shirt under his over shirt that said KILLER, and then telling the families that the hand he killed their children with was the one he masturbates with absolutely showed me that he is a psychopath.

    Of course Justin Harris is “innocent” until a court proves otherwise, but the evidence released so far would tend to make me think that he left that child deliberately…we’ll see what the court decides.

    It seems that there has been a “rash” of babies dying from being left in hot cars this year, but even if he did not do it deliberately, I don’t think he deserves a walk on the death.

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