If you pay attention to others' dysfunctional habits, you will be more likely to spot a psychopath before they have the opportunity to inflict much damage on you. What is a psychopath? A person with psychopathy has a neurologically impaired (lack of) conscience, and little to no empathy for others.[1] Most research[2] on psychopaths has been performed on incarcerated antisocial psychopaths. Psychopathic Disorder is a clinical diagnosis in the ICD-10 F60.2[3]

In the 1970's, Dr. Robert Hare developed The Psychopathy Checklist (PCLR) to be used by mental health professionals, that delineates the traits of psychopaths. These traits are: Glibness/superficial charm, Grandiose sense of self-worth, Pathological lying, Cunning/manipulative, Lack of remorse or guilt, Emotionally shallow, Callous/lack of empathy, Failure to accept responsibility for own actions, Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom, Parasitic lifestyle, Lack of realistic, long-term goals, Impulsivity, Irresponsibility, Poor behavioral controls, Early behavioral problems, Juvenile delinquency, Revocation of conditional release, Criminal versatility, Many short-term marital relationships, and Promiscuous sexual behavior.

Dr. Hare also developed the PCLSV[4] to assess psychopathy in noncriminal everyday settings. In 2012, Dr. Hare (author of "Without Conscience") and Dr. Babiak (author of "Snakes in Suits") participated in creating a checklist for the layperson the BScan 360 an evaluation tool to help employees deduce traits of psychopathy (manipulation and ruthless exploitation of others, lack of conscience and feelings for others and impulsive and reckless behavior) in their supervisors.[5]

Antisocial psychopaths are the ones who are famously depicted in movies, so people are widely unfamiliar with the harmful effects of "prosocial" psychopaths.[6] Prosocial psychopaths are more disciplined than the antisocial psychopaths, and they cleverly disguise their antisocial proclivities as they appear to live normal lives. An estimated 4 percent of the population is psychopathic (12 million in the US alone). Prosocial psychopaths are not as violent as antisocial psychopaths, and thus remain off the radar of law enforcement, yet due to their callousness they can still damage individuals emotionally and financially.

Prosocial/Socialized Psychopaths (aka Sociopaths or Covert Malignant Narcissists) fool everyone with their unbeatable charm, and only show their true colors of deception after their charm, and only show their true colors of deception after their schemes are uncovered. You can recognize prosocial psychopaths by their toxic idiosyncrasies. These red flags are subtle clues that a person has no conscience and could betray you on a whim. The steps, warnings, and tips below are the "Lawson List" of prosocial psychopathic habits. (Based on the life experiences of a woman who has a violent psychopathic father and married a nonviolent high-functioning sociopath.)[7]

Steps Edit

1.  Watch for contradictions in speech. Psychopaths end a conversation with a statement that opposes what they said at the beginning. They talk about the problems of the world like a good citizen, yet break the rules without apology.[8]

  • The contradictions may not occur within the same conversation so keep track of what is said over time. Log in a journal important information that you think might later be contradicted.

2.  Double-check what is said. They are magical storytellers. Psychopaths talk excessively about the people in their lives because they view them as extensions of themselves. Psychopaths will lie about the people in their lives, they will even lie about their children. [9]

  • Psychopaths are prone to giving out half-truths or disinformation. They have no problem keeping important information away from you.

3.  Take note of scapegoating. Scapegoating is a term that's usually associated with assigning blame, but psychopaths also expertly assign themselves credit where little or none is due.[10]

  • This tributary behavior can give a psychopath a saintly aura, but the reality is that it's all lies.

4.  Watch for quick changes in conversation. One way to spot a psychopath is through the way that they hold a conversation. One second they are talking about their kid's party, then a halfsecond later, they are talking about their friend's dead cat and veterinary history. The conversation will often be insincere. [11]

  • Watch also to see if they quickly and smoothly change conversation when you broach a subject that might reveal their antisociality. They will rapidly dismiss discussions of their odd behavior by accusing you of causing too much drama, or by insisting that you are mentally ill and need professional help.

5.  Assess reactions to emotionally troublesome events. Because they lack empathy, psychopaths may respond to hearing of emotionally troubling events in a bland or robotic way, or in a way that seems forced and artificial.[12]

  • For example, a psychopath may repeatedly express his disappointment with words only, but in a way that lacks emotion. Psychopaths, upon hearing troubling news, may make no real effort to resolve the issue, no matter how much they talk about it.

6.  Watch for signs of self-victimization. Psychopaths may attempt to toy with your emotions by making you feel sorry for them. Watch for signs such as tones of voice and words that they use to get your sympathy. These tricks can fool you into being controlled/manipulated by them, and giving him things of value (e.g., time, special favors, gifts). [13]

  • Watch for this manipulative behavior especially when they need an excuse as to why they made a faux pas or blunder (e.g., "forgot" your birthday).

7.  Assess how often you are questioned. If you want to spot a prosocial psychopath, keep track of each time s/he bugs you with questions about how you would act in certain emotion-inducing situations. This may indicate that, because s/he lacks empathy and a conscience, s/he doesn't naturally feel what is normal or appropriate in some situations and has to get the data elsewhere[14]:

  • For example, s/he might ask: "What would you do if you came out of your apartment and saw me hiding in the bushes?" This is something a normal person would not need to ask.

8.  Analyze desire to move quickly into a close relationship. If you are thinking of getting into a relationship with someone but you are worried s/he might be a psychopath, try to get a sense of how fast s/he wants to move. There are several signs that might indicate psychopathy:

  • Does s/he, after no time at all, call you endearing terms?
  • Does s/he insist that you should freely bring her/him into your circle of trust?
  • Does s/he want you to share living quarters or share a business venture very soon after meeting?

9. Look for drastic changes in attention given to you. When psychopaths give you the cold shoulder, they leave you inwardly begging for more attention. When s/he finally brings the heat back, you experience maximum elation and feel high from the boost of dopamine (the "love" chemical) and endorphins.[15]

  • S/He manipulates you into pretty much being addicted to her/him, so you repeatedly forgive whatever transgressions s/he perpetrated against you.


  • Psychopaths target genuinely nice people. If you are victimized, that doesn't mean there is something wrong with you, it might mean that you have something they want and they feel entitled to take it.
  • Psychopaths may work their way into your social network to get closer to you or to use your friends against you in the future.
  • Psychopaths test boundaries to see if you are a self-sacrificing people-pleaser. They start by asking for small personal favors that make you feel included, but inconvenience you slightly ("Give me a wakeup call", "Help me with my job search", etc.)
  • A psychopath gives 4 messages: 1. I like who you are. 2. I am just like you. 3. Your secrets are safe with me. 4. I am the perfect friend/lover for you. This is how a psychopath will very rapidly create an intimate bond with his prey.[16]
  • Psychopaths are the most fun people to hang out with because they are always looking for new forms of entertainment, and invite you along for the ride. They will take you to Disney World and tell you it's a special treat just for you, when it really is where they were going anyway, regardless of your accompanying them. Nothing is ever for you because neurologically, psychopaths can only be self-serving.[17]


  • Do not confront a psychopath about your discovery of their psychopathy. That would be like backing a wild animal into a corner.
  • The most overlooked sign of psychopathy is an "eerily calm demeanor".
  • Never give your trust freely. Beware anyone who asks you to do so. Trust must be earned.
  • Be careful of confiding in their seemingly nice family members, since psychopathy is proven to be genetic.[18]

Sources and CitationsEdit

1.↑ A cognitive neuroscience perspective on psychopathy: Evidence for paralimbic system dysfunction by Dr. Kent A. Kiehl2.



4↑ Psychopathy Checklist Screening Version

5↑ Business Scan 360: A Measure of Corporate Psychopathy

6 ↑ Psychopaths in society and government










16↑ Dr. David McDermottThe mind control trick is that the victim thinks the manipulator is a friend

17↑ Neuroscience: An fMRI study of affective perspective taking in individuals with psychopathy: imagining another in pain does not evoke empathy

18↑ "Is Psychopathy Genetic?" at Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy Foundation

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