Someone with Asperger syndrome (a mild form of autism) finds it difficult to empathise with other people because they are to some extent ’emotion blind’. They find it hard to read the emotions of others, or to see a connection between the emotional responses of others and what they themselves have actually done or said. As a consequence, they can sometimes seem cruel or insensitive, but they don’t mean to be. They assume that other people see the world in the same way as they do themselves, and struggle to comprehend that there really are different perspectives. This makes someone with Aspergers actually less likely to lie or attempt to deceive – they see no need for it.
A psychopath is a different kettle of fish altogether. A psychopath is not ’emotion blind’. They can ‘read’ other people’s emotions perfectly well, and mimic them perfectly well. And for them, other people’s emotions are just another counter to use in their games. They themselves rarely get worked up about anything except not getting what they want.
How do you deal with someone who has no empathy, guilt, remorse or fear?
A psychopath may understand other people frighteningly well. They can watch dispassionately, with a cold and calculating mind, going convincingly through the motions of empathy on the surface while focusing on how to turn the situation to their advantage. The only way to spot them is to observe them carefully over a significant period of time. Do they regularly say one thing and then do another, more than other people? Do they use people emotionally, sexually, professionally and then discard them casually? Do they sometimes seem strangely un-shocked by shocking events?