Dr. Hare has spent over 35 years researching psychopathy and is the developer of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), and a co-author of its derivatives, the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV), the P-Scan, the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV), and the Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD). He is also a co-author of the Guidelines for a Psychopathy Treatment Program. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, with demonstrated reliability and validity, is rapidly being adopted worldwide as the standard instrument for researchers and clinicians. The PCL-R and PCL:SV are strong predictors of recidivism, violence and response to therapeutic intervention. They play an important role in most recent risk-for-violence instruments. The PCL-R was reviewed in Buros Mental Measurements Yearbook (1995), as being the “state of the art” both clinically and in research use. In 2005, the Buros Mental Measurements Yearbook review listed the PCL-R as “a reliable and effective instrument for the measurement of psychopathy and is considered the ‘gold standard’ for measurement of psychopathy. Continue reading “Psychopathy Scales”
- Michael McCaul says 1 in 100 people is a sociopath. From Politifact Texas by W. Gardner Selby, March 2018.
- Now Available! the Hare Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (SRP-4); Published by Multi-Health Systems.
- Robert Hare was named to the Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours. The Order of Canada recognizes a lifetime of achievement and contribution to society, and was presented by the Governor General of Canada.
- This Charming Psychopath: How to Spot Social Predators Before They Attack – An excerpt from Dr. Hare’s Without Conscience, published by Psychology Today.
- Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy: an organization established to be of assistance to people who are or have been in relationships with individuals with psychopathic features.
- Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy (SSSP): a non-profit, professional organization which was developed to promote the conduct and communication of scientific research in the field of psychopathy and to encourage education and training in those fields of science that contribute to research in psychopathy.
Many individuals with psychopathic features are opportunists who seek to take whatever they can from those around them, viewing others as merely a source of “supply.” If they detect something in someone they find interesting or that can help them achieve their agenda in some way, that person has the potential to become a victim. However, it is likely that there are some people whom they view as having more or less “potential” than others.
Those with psychopathic features often seem to have an uncanny ability to home into basic human vulnerabilities. This often puts them in unique positions, where they are able to gain the upper hand. Uninhibited by conscience, they initially assess the utility of those around them freely and equally. They then tend to narrow their choices to those they find unusually trusting or vulnerable. Sometimes, simply having normal personality traits qualifies an individual as vulnerable. Other times, they sense that an individual may be susceptible to their advances due to hardship or an unfulfilled need. Some psychopaths are predatory in nature and can quickly evaluate who might be willing and able to help them achieve what they are looking to accomplish. They can identify a potential victim’s “Achilles Heel” and capitalize on it.
Individuals who are openly trusting or generally seek to find the good in others are more apt to find themselves targeted than those who tend to challenge others to “prove” themselves. However, most people tend to attempt to see the good in others. As a result, this natural inclination to respect and trust often leads people to rationalize or minimize the odd or unusual behavior that does occur in exchanges with psychopathic individuals. This makes almost everyone fair game.
Psychopaths often try to present themselves as “saviors” to those they view as potential victims, offering “support,” relating to their plights and misfortune, or telling their own tales of woe and victimization (which may be distorted or entirely fabricated). Those on the receiving end often believe what the psychopath tells them, which can lead to sympathy, which in turn, contributes to feelings of intense connection. Though red flags may be present, many potential victims lack the ability to listen to or interpret their gut reactions. Many people may genuinely feel that the psychopath is sincerely interested in them.
At this point, an individual who is being targeted is usually unaware of the psychopath’s true intentions. In addition to any possible vulnerabilities potential victims may have that can make them more receptive to their advances, psychopaths also look for those who will “invest” in relationships with them. Often things may feel wrong. However, in the absence of any solid reasons or evidence as to why things do not feel right, the relationships, whether romantic, business, or otherwise, often continue. The simple passage of time can further deepen the connections and perceived obligations to the psychopath. It may seem that victims are weak, but this is not the case. Normal human vulnerability should not be confused with weakness. Anyone has the potential to be targeted. Psychopathic individuals do not appear to care whom or what they use or ultimately destroy. Continue reading “How do psychopathic individuals choose their victims?”
While the majority of survivors reported receiving some form of support from family and/or friends, many found the support received was not enough. The vast majority indicated a need for better education, particularly to combat the “sadistic serial killer” stereotype surrounding psychopathy. One survivor said that when “people think of the word psychopathy [they] think of someone who murders with a kitchen knife, [but a psychopath] could just be a normal person, and they could be the life of the party, and do all these wonderful, great things. But, behind a closed door, they are a monster”. In addition to educating society, several participants reported a lack of understanding among professionals (e.g., lawyers, psychologists). As such, there is a need to make psychopathy research more available to the public and professionals to combat the stereotype and increase the quality of support provided to those recovering.
Finally, we asked each survivor what they would want other potential victims to know. Many emphasized that healing takes time and there is hope at the end of the tunnel; “be very patient with yourself, and look for multiple ways in which you can heal”. Another survivor urged others to connect and share their experience with other survivors, as “the thing that helps the most is the validation and acknowledgement that what happened is real”. “There are very few people in the world that will understand […] and it will be almost impossible to explain”, as one survivor said, highlighting the importance of connecting with other survivors who have had a similar experience. The Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy forums, for example, provide a safe space to connect and share experiences with other survivors. Continue reading ““Monsters are real, evil exists”.”
“Monsters are real, evil exists”. Despite a growing research literature investigating psychopathy, those victimized by psychopathic individuals have largely been neglected. To date, only one published research study has qualitatively examined the experiences of those victimized by a psychopathic individual (Kirkman, 2005). In this study, Kirkman (2005) focused on female victims previously involved in intimate, heterosexual relationships. These women reported similar experiences over the course of their relationships (e.g., quick progression, numerous infidelities, emotional abuse), many of which Kirkman (2005) considered to be warning signs. Given the impact that psychopathic individuals have on the lives of others, we felt it was important to continue to explore the experiences of those involved in intimate relationships with psychopathic individuals. Expanding on Kirkman’s (2005) work, we conducted 28 interviews with females who had been involved with a psychopathic male to discuss their experiences during the relationship (e.g., warning signs, familial concerns, abuse), the subsequent impact of the relationship (e.g., mental, physical, financial), and the availability and effectiveness of support. All survivors were recruited through a posting on the Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy Foundation website.
Over the course of their relationships, lasting an average of 12 years, 50% of the survivors we spoke with reported experiencing sexual or physical abuse. Emotional abuse was reported by 100% of those we spoke with, of whom 80% indicated that the emotional abuse was extreme. As one survivor said – “you can hit me all day long, and its nothing compared to the emotional abuse. You can heal if somebody hits you.” In addition to experiencing abuse, the survivors also reported issues with their career and finances, a fear of forming new friendships, a loss of identity, and severe mental and physical health issues including depression, anxiety, problems sleeping, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Continue reading “From the Mouths of Survivors”
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.
The Psychopaths stare is very effective during the luring and “honeymoon” phases. Women often mistake it as “being sexy” and for “Sexual Attraction” eye gazing occurs in copious amounts during the “Luring and honeymoon stage” at the
beginning of the relationship.
Robert Hare refers to the Psychopath’s gaze as “Intense eye contact and piercing eyes” and even suggested people avoid consistant eye contact with them.
“She cries that he hurt her and he literally doesn’t understand her. The psychopath’s blank-faced stare is an indication that the emotional content of her pain has not registered with him” Cool under pressure with an adroit use of charm and
charisma, they intimidate and control others. There is often an intrusion of space and the predatory ‘stare’. They have a natural ability to lie and deceive, and have an impressive use of jargon. They are naturals at undermining and pushing the
buttons of others. Continue reading “The Psychopaths stare”
When you combine positive emotions not quite meeting the eyes (ok, what I really mean is that cold, dead eye thing); the concentrated assessment of others required to identify and duplicate appropriate emotions; and reduced blink rate, you get a pretty intense stare.
This is commonly referred to as the ‘predatory stare’. This is not an unfair characterization in light of the fact that overlaying these factors, the psychopath is also continuously evaluating your use to them and capacity to be taken advantage of Continue reading “Laser beam eyes”
Their predatory gaze zooms in on potential prey.
On the other hand, when they are manipulating someone, those with antisocial traits are known for their intense “predatory gaze” when they fixate on a specific victim. This can be an almost reptilian gaze that is described as “dead” and “dark” or even seductive if the psychopath is attempting to lure someone in sexually. As Robert Hare (1993) writes in Without Conscience:
“Many people find it difficult to deal with intense, emotionless, or “predatory” stare of the psychopath. Normal people maintain close eye contact with others for a variety of reasons, but the fixated stare of the psychopath is more of a prelude to self-gratification and the exercise of power than simple interest or empathic caring…Some people respond to the emotionless stare of the psychopath, with considerable discomfort, almost as if they feel like potential prey in the presence of a predator.”
The successful decoding of different emotional expressions depends on visual attention toward emotionally salient aspects of the face, most notably the eyes and the mouth (Eisenbarth & Alpers, 2011; Smith, Cottrell, Gosselin, & Schyns, 2005; Wells et al., 2016). The precise pattern of eye movements is thought to be dependent upon the emotion expressed, and attention is often guided toward the most diagnostic facial features for a given emotion (e.g., the widened eye whites of fearful expressions) (Schurgin et al., 2014, Smith et al., 2005, Wells et al., 2016). While attention to these regions is likely to be modified by conscious control, even briefly presented faces trigger very early, potentially reflexive eye movements toward diagnostic regions of the face (Gamer & Büchel, 2009; Scheller, Büchel, & Gamer, 2012). Again, reflexive eye movements in these studies were more commonly toward the eyes than away from the eyes, and varied with the type of expression. Psychopathy related impairments in emotion recognition may therefore reflect reduced attention to the eye region of emotional faces.