How to recognize a psychopath? How to recognize a manipulator?
Hardly, or hardly at all. They really don't like to kick themselves and show their true face. Psychopaths have a brilliant ability to disguise themselves. In fact, they live their whole lives behind the mask of "normality" and never let you see behind it.
After the previous introductory article "Psychopaths I - What are they?” I would like to focus on how you actually get to know them.
That actually seems to me to be the most insidious/genius thing about them. Because they can perfectly deceive with their bodies, you will never be completely sure that the person you think is really a psychopath.
Even if you suspect that something is wrong, you will know it perfectly (much better than those around you who have no suspicions at all), in the end you will always have a grain of doubt. What if you wrong him…?
To be absolutely sure, you'd have to get him to a specialist for a referral test, which is not at all certain (I'll get to that below), or get him an MRI and look at his amygdala dentition. Which is probably unrealistic...
Why would he do that? Why would he go for an examination? He is perfectly fine after all - his life strategy works for him. He is successful - the one who has a problem and is not right is you after all!…
The Manipulator (Manipulative Personality) is by no means a psychopath in and of itself. It is just a general designation of a person who has a highly developed ability to "communicate". Not all manipulators are psychopaths, but ALL psychopaths are perfect manipulators. So it's the first clue to watch out for that something isn't right.
You can be manipulated to a small extent by your boss because he wants to achieve better results, or by your grandmother who is just worried about you and wants to achieve some small things. Or a friend who just wants to get you a beer - everyone uses these techniques in a minimal and completely harmless way from time to time to better achieve their goals. But here we are talking about a level that is already completely unacceptable and hurts its surroundings in the long term.
Test - How to recognize a manipulator
1. Induces guilt and invokes family relationships, friendships, professional responsibilities, affiliation with a religious or other organization. ("You can't do that to me as a boss, wife, mother... partners don't do this...")
2. Transfers responsibility to others or tries to wriggle out of his responsibility.
3. He does not clearly communicate his requests, needs or feelings. (He doesn't ask for help, but then blames you for not helping - often you didn't even know you needed help...)
4. Answers are usually vague. ("We'll see, then we'll agree...")
5. He changes his opinions, behavior or feelings according to the situation or the person with whom he is in contact.
6. Covers his requests with logical reasons. ("You know I'd love to, but I can't because... you know...")
7. Shows others that they must never change their mind, must be perfect, know everything and respond immediately to requests and questions.
8. Questions the qualities, abilities and personality of others, subtly criticizes and judges others, speaks of them with disdain.
9. He lets other people handle his messages or resorts to indirect communication (he likes to make phone calls or leave written messages).
10. Sows discord, incites suspicion, divides in order to rule better, is capable of subverting a marriage or other relationship. (Often you only find out in retrospect from another source, when the damage has already been irreparably done, for example, he slandered you for years, slandered you, created a completely different reality around him...)
11. He can make himself a victim so that others feel sorry for him (He complains about work overload, unbearable people around him, exaggerates the seriousness of his illnesses. He complains about you in his surroundings - about his victim and you then to go channels.).
12. Does not pay attention to the requests (needs) of others, even if they claim the opposite.
13. Uses the moral principles of others to fulfill his own needs.
14. Covertly threatens or quite openly blackmails. (Only when you get to know his "personality" more - when it comes to conflict.)
15. He bluntly changes the subject in the middle of a conversation.
16. He avoids work meetings, meetings and problem solving - he runs away from them, although he is often the author of them.
17. He focuses on the ignorance of others and tries to create the impression that he "has the upper hand".
18. He lies. (Often you only find out later from another source)
19. Tells a lie to learn the truth, distorts and interprets the statements of others. (Often you only find out later from another source)
20. He is self-centered. (There is no other view for him - he is narcissistic)
21. They envy their partner or their own children, for example.
22. He hates criticism and can deny completely obvious facts. (He doesn't accept criticism - he never takes it to heart, or runs away from an uncomfortable situation. "I won't discuss this with you at all...")
23. Does not pay attention to the rights, needs and wishes of others. (Has NO or minimal empathy.)
24. Very often requests, gives instructions and forces others to act at the last minute. (He puts you in a situation where you are forced to help, act or behave as he wants, without you having practically a free choice).
25. His speech sounds logical, but his attitudes, actions or way of life testify to the exact opposite.
26. He gives gifts, uses flattery to please himself, and does small favors unexpectedly. (But it's just a game and manipulation)
27. In his presence, people feel uncomfortable and unfree. (Only when you get to know him more - when the initial enchantment wears off)
28. He pursues his goal very consistently, but at the expense of others.
29. Makes us do things we probably would never do of our own free will.
30. People who know him still talk about him even when he's not around. (You keep thinking about what you did wrong - not him - if something could have gone differently...)
If you add up the points on this simple orientation test and more than ten characters are present, you should be on your guard and you are probably facing a skilled manipulator.
For a psychopath (this is just my personal opinion from my own experience) you will get at least 20 points.
You will spot some of these manipulation points right away. But some at all, or much later, because the skilled manipulator that the psychopath is, he always likes to keep an ace up his sleeve. It will take you many years to get to the bottom of your relationship with him. If you're lucky and escape in time, it might never happen. Therefore, the number of points you would assign to a specific person in the test will naturally increase, depending on how much you get to know the given person more deeply. Most of his manipulative qualities are reliably revealed only in conflicts - only then, in my experience, does the psychopath really reveal his mask.
For a psychopath, however, manipulation itself is just one of the tools of power, which he wields masterfully.
How do we recognize a psychopath?
For a true psychopath, most of the manipulation points described above will apply. This is his main instrument of power, and power is his main concern. (I will cover this in more detail in the next installment).
In 1984, the world-renowned psychologist and expert on psychopaths, Robert Hare, developed a recognized test (PCL-R) for detecting psychopaths - it is still used.
PCL-R test - How to recognize a psychopath
Factor 1: – Aggressive narcissism
1. Striking charm, eloquence and superficial charm
2. Grandiose self-esteem
3. Pathological lying
4. Manipulativeness and cheating
5. Absence of remorse or feelings of guilt
6. Superficiality, shallowness (flattened affect)
7. Insensitivity/lack of empathy
8. Inability to accept responsibility for one's actions
(These 8 points, which in my opinion are the most important, are excellently and detailed here: https://blog.aktualne.cz/blogy/daniel-strobl.php?itemid=30814)
Factor 2: – Socially deviant lifestyle
9. Need for excitement and/or prone to boredom
10. Parasitic lifestyle
11. Poor self-control
12. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
15. Criminality in childhood or during adolescence
16. Problematic behavior in childhood or during adolescence
17. Revocation of Parole from Correctional Facility
Newly Added Traits – Quirks not correlated with either factor
18. Promiscuous sexual conduct
19. Many short-term marital relationships
20. Criminal versatility (universal criminal behavior)
21. Secondary Acquired Sociopathic/Sociological Conditioning Skills*
* Point no. 21 was newly added. This point means that the person relies on sociological skills and tricks to deceive. In other words: He abuses therapy and psychology and the knowledge gained from it.
If the sign is fully present in the given person, 2 points are awarded, if the sign is only partially present, one point and if the particular sign is not present in the person at all, no point is awarded. 25 points and more means with a high probability that a psychopath has been revealed.
It should be borne in mind that female psychopaths usually score lower on this scale, which is also due to their lower propensity for crime, which is an essential part of the psychopathic test. I think this also applies to highly intelligent psychopaths - they don't often get outside the law, so they have fewer points. But they are even more dangerous.
It is still only an orientation test. Even with twenty or fifteen points in the test, such a person can destroy your life and be dangerous and hurt you.
The big problem is that a psychopath can often deceive even an expert, who then falls under his spell. Alternatively, he can lie in tests and just play with the doctor (if he is intelligent enough). Alternatively, learn other psychological methods from a doctor (item 21 on the PCL-R test).
Other signs of a psychopath
I have found that a psychopath often acts according to established patterns of behavior that he has learned over the years. So his "emotions" are somewhat predictable - like he has one smile for a warm encounter, one face when he's angry and another for a completely different occasion. A hundred faces and acted emotions for a hundred common events.
But a completely strange situation occurs when an unexpected event appears - situation number one hundred and one - something strange that would only evoke a healthy emotion in an ordinary person. Joy, crying, pain. But he seems to reach into his database of a hundred situations and tries to use one of them. Most of the time it works out, but I've experienced situations where it doesn't. Click - a completely non-standard reaction and emotion for a special situation. It is rare and special. Click - easy. It will shock you for a while, but you will remember it years later.
Like a robot that just uses the wrong program.
Because he doesn't have feelings, or he only has very flattened feelings - it's actually just pretending to feel the feelings and emotions that he thinks are best suited to the given situation. Most of the time it works out great, but it's those flashes of completely ill-chosen emotion that give him away. It might just be an inappropriate and insensitive word that you might not even notice at first. (After the funeral of a loved one, he will calmly ask you in a conversational tone what interesting thing you saw at the cinema...)
To make sure there is no mistake - we are not talking about a superficial assessment of someone you know briefly, you apply a few tests to him and put him in the box of psychopaths. I'm talking about many years when you know the person in question well, but something about him doesn't seem right to you, something is suspicious, but you have absolutely no idea from the beginning. You're looking for answers. You can live next to him for years - decades without suspecting anything, and if you don't come to a conflict, I often think that you will never know his true face without a mask. You may even be among those 12%-16% people who blindly submit to him and even accept his antisocial behavior as their own…
But if it mooes like a cow, gives milk like a cow, and grazes in the meadow like a cow, then it is probably a cow - but that is the trouble for your conscience - only PROBABLY!
So do you think you could safely detect a psychopath in your environment? Forget it. You will never be 100% sure. There will always be something gnawing at you telling you - what if it isn't? What if you wrong him. It's not possible for him to be like that. And he will trap you again and again in his honey webs, accuse you again, be the perfect victim when you become uncertain again. He has no conscience, no remorse that would hold him back. But you do and you ALWAYS lose because of it. The closer the person is to you, the harder it is to see or even admit it. Later to understand and then to accept…
The behavior of a psychopath is nicely described by two stories I have read.
A car knocks down a mother's child in front of your eyes. Crazy scene - a desperate mother screaming in agony. It will affect you deeply and you will probably collapse. The psychopath walks past without emotion and only watches the mother's expression - it is a new and interesting emotion for him, which he tries out in front of the mirror in the evening.
Another story tells of a woman who sees a strange man at a family funeral - handsome, dreamlike. She wants him, longs for him, but has no contact with him. He doesn't know who it was. The woman later kills her sister.
The question is - why did she kill her? The usual answers - she found out she was his lover, she was jealous, she was related to him... the water itself.
The psychopath's answer is clear - she killed her sister because there is a chance that she may meet the mysterious man again at her funeral...
Do you understand a bit? Yes? Forget it - you're not even close. It just doesn't work.
However, I am extremely grateful for what I experienced. I peeked at least for a moment into the crazy kitchen where the psychopaths cook their meals and looked around for a while. I think I can see them around me a little better now. I am much more sensitive to the traces of psychopathic behavior that we can see around us every day.
He can treat you like a best friend, visit you, flatter you, be charming, but in the meantime he is able to slander you behind your back, file a lawsuit against you, disinherit you, or in the worst extreme case, calmly kill someone in your family. See, for example, the media-known case of Mr. Ondřej Neff, whose obviously psychopathic son-in-law murdered his daughter. Then he himself helped the desperate family search for her for a fortnight, interacting with everyone without any remorse. (Here's the phone call he made two days after killing the woman himself and burying her in the woods calmly and cheerfully to the police: https://tv.idnes.cz/robert-neff-novak-telefonat-linka-158-db0-/krimi.aspx?idvideo=V180222_150035_zpravodaj_iri ) At the same time, no one in the family had the slightest suspicion for years that the daughter's husband was...
This is, of course, the extreme example of a "failed" psychopath who goes beyond the law. But the limit when it can harm within the limits of the law is enormous. Moreover, the more intelligent he is, the more perfectly he can play his game and the less chance you have to recognize him and he is able to move on the very edge of the law. A psychopath has no conscience, he's not ashamed to look you in the eye, lie to you - he doesn't really mean it personally. You are basically stolen from him - he only cares about some specific goal and unfortunately you are part of it (or just an obstacle). It's not really personal… ;-(
The text was originally written in 2018, but at that time it was not so bad with psychopaths - mainly what regards politicians. But over the past five years, the company has completely broken free from the chain and the whole world has literally been taken over by psychopaths.