What is a Psychopath? Signs, Causes, Test, Treatment 

Perhaps you would have come across the term “psychopath” in the movies and TV series. Or you have come across such people in your life that don’t have any type of human element in them. Today, we’ll discuss what is a psychopath; its signs, causes, tests, and treatment.

What is a Psychopath? 

A psychopath outlines a person that is unemotional, callous and insensitive, and morally depraved. It’s more of a legal and clinical term rather than an official mental health diagnosis. However, the traits of psychopathy are to some extent similar to the signs of antisocial personality disorder and other broader mental health conditions outlining the people that would break rules and act out. Only a limited number of antisocial personal disorders people have psychopathic traits.

Traits of Psychopathic

The behavior of psychopathy varies from person to person; some are murderers and sex offenders, and others turn out to be successful leaders. It all depends on their traits. Therefore, it’s significant to differentiate between psychopathic traits and psychopaths. Some people exhibit various psychopathic traits without being real psychopaths.

People with psychopathic characteristics usually don’t involve in the psychopathic act and behavior. Psychopaths are those people that exhibit antisocial behavior and psychopathic traits. However, some of the psychopathic traits are as follows;

  • Lacking empathy
  • Guilty feelings
  • Unemotional & Insensitive
  • Impulsive
  • Superficial Charm
  • Narcissistic personality
  • Antisocial behavior

Approximately 29% of the overall population exhibit one or more characteristics of psychopathic, but only 0.6 of the people fall under the category of real psychopaths.

Signs of Psychopath

The traits of psychopathic start developing in childhood and aggravate over time. Some of the main signs of a psychopath are as follows;

Revocation of Conditional Release

After release from prison, psychopaths don’t stick to the rules and regulations of conditional release. They think that they can cheat the law and no one catches them this time. In fact, they would blame other people for getting caught because they have an excuse to justify their behavior.

Criminal Element

Psychopaths consider laws as a limitation on the potential that is holding them. Their criminal behavior would vary from person to person and the crimes could be the act of violation, financial violations, driving infractions, and others. However, not all of them go to jail, and some of them keep on practicing unethical activities under the disguise of shady businesses.

Extra-Marital Relationships

Psychopaths can get married as long as it serves their purpose. For instance, they would spend the income of their partner on someone else. They have to get divorced repetitively because of their behavior and their partners see them as they truly are.


They are highly untrustworthy. Promises, contracts, agreements, and signs won’t mean anything to them after getting what they want. They would be under great debt, stop paying the child support money, and not care about their commitment and obligations. They always find a way to blame others for the problems in their lives and keep on playing the victim card and share stories of how others have taken advantage of them.


Psychopaths would react to the situation that is relevant to them and how they feel. Their focus is on instant gratification, and they won’t analyze the benefits and risks of their choices. For instance, they would move to a new city, leave their job, end their relationship, buy a new house and start doing it again based on a whim.

Lacking Realism

Psychopaths would like to become famous and rich. They don’t care about the way how they can achieve their goals. However, they keep on insisting that they want everything without making effort towards it.

Behavioral Issues

Psychopaths tend to show behavioral problems in their early childhood. For instance, they become violent, misuse substances, vandalize property, skip school, and cheat. Their misbehavior would aggravate and become more serious than their peers.

Promiscuous Sexual Behavior

Psychopaths don’t care about the feelings of anyone and they would keep cheating on their partners. They would have unprotected sexual intercourse with strangers and they use sex to get what they want.

No Control on Behavior

Psychopaths face difficulty following the law, policy, rules, and regulations. If they follow it somehow, they won’t follow it for a very long time.

Parasitic Lifestyle

Psychopaths play the victim card and share stories that how others have taken advantage of them and they can’t earn money. They manipulate the kindness of others and rely on them financially, and don’t care about the feelings of others.

Lacking Empathy

Psychopaths have difficulty understanding the struggles and feelings of other people. They would show a completely indifferent attitude even when their close friends or family member is suffering.

Shallow Affect

They tend to be unemotional and cold and they don’t show genuine emotions. When it comes to it, they would play a dramatic role, but it would be shallow and short. For instance, they would intimidate others, show anger, and sadness to manipulate the kindness of others. But they don’t feel or experience any type of emotions.

Lacking Remorse

They don’t care how their actions and behavior would affect others, and they would easily forget that they have hurt them and keep on insisting they are overreacting. They don’t feel remorse or have guilty feelings after inflicting pain on others because somehow they justify their behavior and blame others.


Psychopaths are excellent at manipulating people into getting what they want. They become completely someone else and make others feel guilty in order to get their work done.

Sense of Self Worth

Psychopaths have a very high image of themselves, and they consider themselves a very important people and have the entitlement to say or do everything whatever they want. They consider themselves above the law.

Pathological Liar

They would keep on lying to cover up their previous lies, get out of the trouble, and present them look good. Often, they forget what they said and they face difficulty aligning their stories. If they get caught, they would change their story to fit the new narrative.

Require Stimulation

Psychopaths love thrill, excitement, and constant action in life, and they want their life to be fast. They would break the law to stimulate their instinct and feel the thrill. That’s why they have difficulty following the law and living dull boring life.

Superficial charm

Psychopaths are good at making up stories and engaging in conversations in order to make them look good. They would pose the charming, funny, and charismatic personality role to manipulate others.

Causes of Psychopath 

Early research studies have shown that psychopathy starts from the problematic parent-child relationship. It could be in the form of limited affection, parental affection, or emotional deprivation, and it amplifies the chances of the child being a psychopath.

Studies have also established a connection between insecure attachments, abuse, maltreatment, and separation from the caregiver repetitively. Researchers say that childhood issues play a significant role in the development of psychopathic characteristics. However, other researchers say that children with behavioral issues would face attachment issues later.

  • In short, various factors play their roles in the development of psychopathic characteristics like;
  • Maternal/paternal risk (exposure to toxins in the utero)
  • Worse parenting
  • Neurological alteration
  • Genetic issues

Test of Psychopath 

There are various psychopathy tests online that would help you to determine psychopathic traits. Two main tests are as follows;

Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)

PCL-R test comprises of inventory 20 most commonly used items to analyze the person whether one exhibits certain types of psychopathic traits and behaviors or not. It comprises semi-structured interviews and reviewing the available record like medical information and police report. Often, it studies the likelihood of whether the criminal needs rehabilitation or re-offends someone.

Psychopathic Personality Inventory

PPL test began operation in 1996 and it’s an alternative test. Researchers employ this test to study the psychopathic traits among the population that is not criminal. You can use this test on convicted prisoners. Usually, University students apply this student to the general public.

Treatment of Psychopath 

It’s a widely debated question whether you can treat psychopathy or not. Some researchers are of the view that treatment doesn’t work on psychopaths. However, the others claim that some treatment plans could lower their violent behaviors.

A literature review in 2018 showed that most of the research studies relevant to the effectiveness of psychopathy treatment were conducted on the general population and one type of population like sex offenders. When you apply the treatment to the actual psychopaths, then it won’t work.

When it comes to dealing with female psychopaths, then you would have to follow a different approach because they tend to be less violent than men. In other words, you would require a different treatment plan. A literature review study has shown that CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is an effective treatment in some cases.

Conclusion: What is a Psychopath? Signs, Causes, Test, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is a psychopath; its symptoms, causes, tests, and treatment; we have realized that psychopathy is a serious disorder. If you feel strange about someone’s behaviors and traits, you should keep in mind the abovementioned signs and don’t get manipulated.