What are 10 warning signs of a psychopath?
Why would you assume I know the 10 warning signs of a psychopath? If you’ve ever wondered whether you, or someone else, is a psychopath or a serial killer, I will set your mind at ease.
Well, maybe not at ease, but if you aren’t dead, I can assure you that you aren’t the victim of a serial killer, although you may be one.
We’ve read the stories about the woman married all unknowing for twenty years to a guy she thought was just tinkering in the garage or hanging out with buddies, but was really dispatching the equivalent population of a small town, and it’s a big surprise when the Feds bust in during breakfast looking for him.
Who is she kidding? He didn’t have buddies; he was a ‘loner,’ mainly because he kept killing people who might have become his buddies.
Oh, he was tinkering, alright.
According to wikiHow, one of my go-to sources for all things perverse, a psychopath is male, which they show in their illustrations of a man ensconced in bed, a lady on either side of him, while he holds a cigarette and a bottle of Scotch. This seems to embody one or two of the fantasies of many men.
WikiHow should know these pictures will not serve to dissuade men from becoming psychopaths.
I did use other sources to research psychopaths. Or, did I? (Lying is a red flag for a garden variety psychopath.)
If any of these 10 warning signs of a psychopath fit you, as they do me, keep it on the down low:
- Have You Taken Your Pulse Lately?
Psychopaths and serial killers have low resting heart rates, thus the term ‘cold-blooded killer’. They can commit heinous acts of violence and never break a sweat.
Bomb disposal experts are like this. They can put fear aside, and calmly disassemble something that can render them mere molecules, should they fail at their job. The upside for their employer is that ‘severance pay’ is moot.
The correlation between a low resting heart rate and antisocial behavior in kids is greater than the correlation between smoking and lung cancer, or taking aspirin to reduce heart attacks, and is an inheritable characteristic. Remember that next time you bring a pen home from work.
If you’re a criminal, there’s a good chance your kids will be, too.
Out of forty-eight predictors, a low resting heart rate and poor concentration are related to violence, independent of all other risk factors.
Kids as young as three with low resting heart rates characterize stimulation-seeking and aggressive behavior by the time they reach the age of eleven. Little Timmy will shave the dog bald headed, then get kicked out of fifth grade for beating someone up and stealing their lunch money.
Stimulants that raise the heart rate can reduce antisocial behavior. I prove this every morning after my first cup of coffee. I could have saved these experts a lot of time and money.
Having a low heart rate is an unpleasant physiological state, which is why turtle-hearted people seek stimulation. They are restless and bored. Think about this the next time you contemplate having an affair, quitting your job, or knocking over a convenience store for extra cash.
Put on some rock music and have a cup of coffee, instead. Timmy doesn’t need to see you diddling a stranger and learning why The Postman Always Rings Twice.
That was an awesome movie, by the way, about two ‘unsuccessful ‘ psychopaths, who are the ones that get caught. We are now free to wonder about all the people who did not get caught and are not in jail, like you and me…
- Is Your Conscience Pictured On The Side Of A Milk Carton?
Whether we admit it or not, most of us have had fantasies of killing someone, usually a person who is not genetically related to us, like our spouse.
Americans love violence and aggression regardless of our protestations to the contrary.
I’ve seen Die Hard and The Dirty Dozen so many times, I could take over a skyscraper and a mountain schloss single handed before lunch. In the absence of a nine millimeter registered to someone else and a gang of filthy, no-good Nazis or bad guys, a good insult is a great stand in for gun play and keeps you out of Sing-Sing, but some people aren’t equipped to make snappy comebacks.
On the hit list of homicidal fantasies, either having their own about us, or vice versa, are stepchildren and stepparents. It isn’t cool to take out people who have your DNA. We are evolutionarily programmed to keep that stuff around, but that doesn’t mean we don’t succumb to temptation occasionally. You’ll notice it’s usually spouses offing spouses, who normally aren’t related to us.
Despite our fear of stranger danger, we are more likely to be killed by our nearest and dearest, so you should consider having Thanksgiving alone at a diner. Let your blended family duke it out at home without you.
Denny’s is open on holidays.
Most of us don’t follow through on revenge fantasies, or of stealing from the pension fund. We got punished for these things and many others when we were young, and became conditioned to society’s rules.
If you didn’t get punished for robbing a pension fund when you were three, you are probably missing a conscience by now.
Psychopaths know right from wrong, they just don’t care. They exhibit poor fear conditioning, so retribution and the slings and arrows of a guilty conscience don’t bother them. They are more likely to follow through on fantasies of revenge.
- Speaking Of Offices, Are You A Temp?
I’ve worked as a temp, but never emptied the supply closets, or followed a co-worker home and killed them for the fun of it.
I did like the transience of a temporary workplace, however. You’re long gone before you get bored.
Psychopaths like working as temps because background checks are minimal, not staying long in one place reduces the possibility of discovery, and constantly moving on gives them fresh pools of victims. Temporary agencies are a breeding ground for psychopaths, whose superficial charm allows them to follow their parasitic and exploitative lifestyle.
Sooner or later someone is going to notice they never pick up the tab for drinks on Friday night, and that they are systematically working their way through the female personnel, again assuming the psychopath is male.
That glib young man will be gone before his co-workers can organize a tar and feather going away party. Sometimes these ‘temp-worker psychopaths’ are rapists and killers, sometimes they are not.
Increases the suspense, huh? Glad I’m retired.
- Are You A CEO?
If you display cognitive flexibility, good planning, attention to detail, and the ability to change plans when given feedback that a course of action is inappropriate, you too, could be a psychopath.
These are the high functioning traits of executives, and might explain why a CEO can blithely raid pension funds, conduct a hostile takeover, fire the staff of the company he now controls, sell consumers aspartame, and do it all before the million dollar celebratory party at his beach house that evening.
Psychopaths are good decision makers in a pinch.
They have ‘intact autonomic stress reactivity and anticipatory fear’, displayed as somatic markers, which are autonomic bodily states that bring together emotion and cognition, and are displayed in a sweating forehead or a pounding heart.
If they’re dressed in a black turtleneck, and wearing a ski mask, but something doesn’t ‘look right’ at the intended target, like maybe a SWAT team is parked at the curb, the smart psychopath will scrap his plans for that evening and have a pizza, instead.
We learn from past mistakes, especially the successful psychopath (remember, the one who isn’t in jail?) and that SWAT team interfered with his last robbery and hostage-taking venture.
Contrary to popular belief, emotions are essential to good decision making. Every decision I’ve ever made has been from an emotional viewpoint and based on somatic markers. These prevented me from bungee jumping from a bridge, and led me instead to that cup of coffee in the morning.
The lack of which leads to poor decisions.
- Were You Adopted Or Raised In Foster Care?
Being adopted, raised in foster care, or separated from Mom for any length of time during the first year of life, can lead to ‘psychosocial impairment and result in a lack of social connectedness and the superficiality that typifies psychopathic relationships’, which is pretty self-explanatory.
I don’t want to scare anyone off from adopting their own little Timmy, but it would be nice if there was a Car Max for kids.
I may even be raising my own little psychopath. I bought tofu the other day, and after I used it and went to put it away, I noticed the directions for storing it which told me to ‘Put it in a container and change the water daily’.
I don’t have time for this; I have other things to do. I don’t even change my dog’s water daily. If I’d known a block of beige bean curd jello required baptism and a name (I like Telly) I would not have assumed the responsibility for it, and am looking for adoptive parents on Craigslist.
If you’re interested, please leave your name, and be on the lookout for a temporary tofu worker in your office.
If this person has a bland personality and jiggles a little when they walk, those are beige flags signalling this curd crud’s true nature.
- Did Someone Ever Throw A Spear Through Your Head?
Impaired or reduced pre-frontal functioning of the brain is typical of a violent person. You would probably know for sure whether you ever took a spear through your head, or got bonked by a brick, but do you know for sure whether you were ever dropped on your cranium when you were a baby?
Yeah, neither do I.
An expert at reading brain scans can’t see differences between the brains of normal people and those of antisocial psychopaths, but they’re there. People with lesions in the lower frontal cortex, which sits above your eyes and is in line with your nose, do not have the same emotional and social connections to certain stimuli that normal people do. Show them pictures of horrible disasters, and they cannot summon any empathy.
The lack of emotional responsivity in psychopaths contributes to impulsivity, unreliability, rule-breaking, and reckless, irresponsible behavior, including sexual promiscuity, and alcoholism. Sounds like spring break, to me.
Without the neural system in place in the ventral prefrontal cortex where social-emotional events are coded, the person will be emotionally blunted, and not a good candidate for the mating game.
- Do You Like Money?
Psychopaths are hooked on rewards, especially money.
They have 10 percent more volume in the striatum than non-psychopaths. The striatum is a brain region associated with reward-seeking and impulsive behavior, and is involved in stimulation-seeking and repeated, persistent actions related to rewards.
This explains why someone won’t go to the bathroom for fifteen hours once they sit at a slot machine that paid out a couple hundred bucks.
If you have a big striatum (go to your nearest CAT scan and get it measured) and can’t leave the blackjack tables or anyone’s wallet alone, you could be a psychopath.
- Are You A Lot Of Fun With A Gift Of Gab?
Psychopaths have high verbal IQs.
Their brains are actually wired differently from regular people, with greater connectivity between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. They get to use both of these for language processing, which often makes them glib, charming, accomplished con artists.
In the market for a used car?
- Are You A Pathological Liar?
This question is a conundrum; if you answer either yes or no, how do I know you’re telling the truth?
And, if the answer is yes, but you are lying about being a liar, what the hell is wrong with you?
Psychopaths are extremely good at lying, and if caught in a lie, can explain the discrepancy. Their brains have 22 percent greater volume of white matter in that pesky prefrontal cortex than normal people, and 26 percent more than criminals who aren’t psychopaths!
You have to be on your toes to be a good liar. Its easy to tell the truth, but not that easy to dance around telling whoppers, remembering what you’ve already said. Lying involves theory of mind; to be a successful liar, you have to know what the other person believes to be the facts of the case. Its almost like mind reading.
The pathological liar can suppress other body functions to focus on his story, which is why your cheating spouse can look you straight in the eye while lying about what he was really doing last night, and why the Unabomber passed the lie detector test.
Politicians are good at this too; they’re probably all psychopaths. They’ve been practicing the art for years, and the more you practice something, the greater your white matter expands to accommodate your skill set.
‘Lying is a complex executive function that requires a lot of frontal lobe processing’, so don’t try it on the IRS until you’ve scanned and weighed your brain.
- Were The Sixties, Eighties, Or Any Other Decade Good To Your Mom?
The brains of psychopaths aren’t fully zipped. They have cavum septum pellucidum, an incomplete closure of the central part of the brain.
It’s an indicator of a disruption of normal brain development. Both right and left amygdalae are impaired in psychopaths, and if their mom caused it by imbibing alcohol and nicotine, psychopaths in their turn will make lousy parents.
The central nucleus where all these things are located, plays a strong role in classic conditioning and is involved in positive parenting behaviors.
If yours isn’t fully zipped, you may show poor fear conditioning, have attentional deficit, be a lousy parent, have a violent temper, or be an abusive alcoholic. Neural brain maldevelopment could also be genetic or caused by an environmental factor, such as a nuclear power plant meltdown.
Prenatal nicotine exposure disrupts the development of the noradrenergic neurotransmitter system. Don’t ask me what this is; I just know its important.
Reduction in its functioning impairs the sympathetic nervous system and has been measured in the sweat rate of antisocial individuals, and helps explain their low resting heart rate and poor fear conditioning.
When a fetus is exposed to nicotine, the sympathetic nervous system gets shut down and you’ve got yourself an under aroused, stimulation-seeking little Timmy, who will keep you up nights when he reaches his teen years.
As for alcohol, the outcome is pretty dismal. It ravages the brain during fetal development and results in poor executive functions and an inability to learn, besides cranial deformities, and a host of other things.
The pregnant woman who drinks is brewing up a special petri dish of hell.
An asymmetric hippocampus is also common in psychopaths, especially those who were bounced from home to home while growing up. The hippocampus regulates emotion, and helps us learn the things that make up a conscience. Psychopaths are deficient in both these areas.
I hope that you will be better able to sleep tonight, now that you know so much more about psychopaths. You will at least know enough not to date that charming young temp who just got hired yesterday at your office. You might ask about his childhood first, or whether he ever took a spear through the cranium.
Of course, it’s entirely possible he’ll lie to you.
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