Antisocial Personality Disorder, which includes a Psychopath, a term many of us may have heard in television series, movies, or documents, incites feelings of fright and curiosity in many. However, what does it exactly mean, and who is a psychopath?
Psychopathy consists of certain personality characteristics that make an individual antisocial, which ironically is one of the traits. It is characterised by high intelligence, charm, lack of empathy, manipulative behaviour, lying and egocentrism.
The American Psychological Association (APA) describes psychopath as a former name for an individual with antisocial personality disorder. To understand a psychopath, we must understand what Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is.
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)
Antisocial Personality Disorder, as the name suggests, is a personality disorder wherein the person lacks empathy for others and shows no regard for what’s morally and ethically correct, and also for other people’s feelings. Individuals suffering from ASPD tend to be manipulative and usually work a way to get what they want, often lie to others quite cleverly, treat other people harshly and have no remorse or regret for any of it.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5) mentions the diagnosing criteria of Antisocial Personality Disorder as:
- A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
- Failure to conform to social norms concerning lawful behaviors, such as performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
- Deceitfulness, repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for pleasure or personal profit.
- Impulsivity or failure to plan.
- Irritability and aggressiveness, often with physical fights or assaults.
- Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others.
- Consistent irresponsibility, failure to sustain consistent work behavior, or honor monetary obligations.
- Lack of remorse, being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another person.
- The individual is at least 18 years old.
- Evidence of conduct disorder typically with onset before age 15 years.
- The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”
Some Famous Psychopaths in the Past
- Ed Gein- Known for killing and collecting women’s bodies to decorate his farm in Wisconsin, Gein is one of the most famous psychopath serial killers in the history of humankind.
- Aileen Wuornos- Aileen worked as a prostitute and that’s how she found her targets and got them to isolated locations to kill them. She is one of the most widely know female serial killers. One notable thing about her case is that at time she would show remorse or guilt for what she has done, however other times that guilt would be completely absent.
- Ted Bundy- Probably the most famous psychopath due the the numerous documentaries and movies based on him, a highly charming and bright young man, killed at least 30 people all around the US. He was able to abduct and kill numerous people without any suspection from anyone since even the ones who knew Bundy could never imagine he could do something as twisted as this, mainly since he was a bright and intelligent young man.
- Jeffrey Dahmer- Not only did Dahmer kill people, he also ate them. Yes, he was a cannibal, but evaded police inspection before being caught later, mainly because of his polite nature.
Psychopaths, as learned by now, are highly charming, and can manipulate people into doing things they want them to do. That coupled by their high intelligence and no empathy and remorse makes them highly dangerous. For psychopaths, elegance, grace, perfection, excellence matters a lot, be it their profession or a murder. However, the term used to cover such personalities now is Antisocial Personality Disorder, which gives the true idea behind a psychopath, that they are suffering from a disorder.
Fisher, K. A. (2021). Antisocial personality disorder – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546673/
Markarian, T. (2022, March 16). 15 of the most famous psychopaths in history. Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from https://www.rd.com/list/most-famous-psychopaths-in-history/
Martens, W. H. J. (2014, October 8). The hidden suffering of the psychopath. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/hidden-suffering-psychopath
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, December 10). Antisocial personality disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353928