Psychopathy is a personality disorder signified by a pattern of lying, exploitation of others, recklessness, arrogance, sexual promiscuity, low self-control, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with psychopathic traits appear to lack social emotions (love, empathy, guilt, and remorse). This means that they do not care about other people, feel remorse, or experience guilt in the same way that most of us do, although they may often feign these emotions. As a result, they survive by charming, conning, intimidating, or manipulating others. Those with psychopathic traits may appear normal, thus increasing their ability to effectively prey on others. Further, they are often good at mimicking emotion, where no real emotion exists, mirroring those around them. Yet they often reveal themselves through displays of actions that are inconsistent with their words. In addition, they are often unable to sustain the persona they wish others to believe over time, which eventually hampers their ability to sustain deceptive and exploitative relationships.
Psychopathy is sometimes referred to as sociopathy or Antisocial Personality Disorder, although there is evidence that psychopathy can be distinguished from Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Additional information about the nature and definition of psychopathy can also be found in the Resources section of this website; see “A Primer on Psychopathy”, “This Charming Psychopath”, and “What ‘Psychopath’ Means.”
For a more detailed discussion of the terms psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder, click here.