Many believe the psychopath is unconsciously projecting an “annihilatory stare,” meaning he or she isn’t seeing the other person as a human being, but coldly assessing them as an object he can use, manipulate or destroy.
The psychopath’s fixated, intense stare is sometimes referred to as scoptophilia: the sexualization of looking; predatory staring. It is visual predation.
Experts also call it a “reptilian stare,” and that might be more than just a colorful description. Dr. Reid Meloy’s Reptilian State Theory hypothesizes that psychopaths are more like reptiles than mammals. The brain structure of the reptile supports the behaviors of establishment and defense of territory, hunting, feeding, mating, dominance, aggression, and imitation. Psychopaths and reptiles are missing behaviors that are products of the emotion-generating limbic system, which is absent in reptiles and markedly underactive in psychopaths.