Psychopathy is a disorder that manifests through a pattern of antisocial behaviors. These behaviors commonly include a complete disregard for the rights of others, selfishness, and lack of empathy. More so than most of us, psychopathic individuals are often very good at altering their presentation. As a result, the disorder may not be initially apparent. As specific situations arise, psychopathic individuals may appear charming, outgoing, and charismatic, but the person at the core remains disordered. In short, their appearances are often facades that tend to disintegrate over time. Traits associated with psychopathy are frequently divided into four facets:
1) interpersonal characteristics (such as an inflated sense of self importance and a smooth style of speaking that lacks substance),
2) emotional or affective characteristics (such as an inability to completely experience moral emotions such as guilt, caring, and remorse and an unresponsiveness in interpersonal relationships),
3) lifestyle characteristics (such as impulsivity, irresponsibility, a parasitic lifestyle, failure to achieve long term goals, and an inability to plan effectively for the future),
4) antisocial characteristics (such as short temper, getting in trouble early and often, including getting into trouble with the law).
In addition, poor judgment and a failure to learn from experiences have been identified as features associated with psychopathy. Traits associated with psychopathy may also be harder to identify in individuals with whom we have close emotional connections. Many psychopaths are predators who very skillfully fool others by hiding their true identity in order to lure prey. Victims are manipulated and often left doubting their own sanity and reality. Once the victim is emotionally attached, the psychopath may stop acting, and show his or her true nature. This often leaves victims feeling very lost or confused. The key to discerning a person’s true nature is to observe the person’s behaviors over extended periods of time and in a variety of settings or contexts. If you learn that other people have a very different impression of a person than you do, that may simply indicate that they are missing something. However, it can also be a clue that the person may behave very differently around others than he or she does around you.