Looking Behind The Mask Of A Psychopath

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin‘s intriguing new advice piece (intended for criminal interrogation) on how to communicate with a psychopathic individual:

Psychopaths often appear at ease during interviews that most people would find stressful or overwhelming. Several explanations exist for their apparent lack of concern, including an absence of social anxiety. They seek or create exciting or risky situations that put them on the edge. Their need for stimulation and proneness to boredom means psychopaths often become disinterested, distracted, or disconnected during interviews. A single investigator may not provide sufficient stimulation and challenge.

A psychopath’s inherent narcissism, selfishness, and grandiosity comprise foundations for theme building. Premises used in past successful interviews of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence, cleverness, and skill in evading capture as compared with other serial killers. Because of psychopaths’ inflated sense of self worth and importance, interviewers should anticipate that these suspects will feel superior to them. Psychopathic individuals’ arrogance makes them appear pseudointellectual or reflects a duping delight—enjoyment at playing a cat-and-mouse game with the interrogator.

Stressing the seriousness of the crime is a waste of time with psychopathic suspects. They do not care. As distasteful as it might be, investigators should be prepared to stroke psychopaths’ egos and provide them with a platform to brag and pontificate. It is better to emphasize their unique ability to devise such an impressive crime, execute and narrate the act, evade capture, trump investigators, and generate media interest about themselves.

The possibility that psychopaths’ actions may result in them going to jail has little impact on their decisions. Therefore, pointing out the consequences of their behavior will not work. Their unrealistic goal setting causes many psychopathic offenders to believe they will escape charges, win an appeal, have a new trial, or receive an acquittal. Unable to accept blame, these individuals quickly minimize their involvement in anything that negatively reflects on them.

Generally, psychopaths are predators who view others around them as prey. Whether the suspect is dressed in a suit or in dirty, ragged street clothes, this mind-set carries over and impacts the interview. This means the psychopathic individual may attempt to invade the interviewer’s personal space. These offenders might note and react negatively when interrogators write things down and when they do not. They will watch the interrogator’s behavior for signs of nervousness, anxiety, frustration, and anger and react to those signs. Psychopaths use what they can to their advantage.

28 Comments on "Looking Behind The Mask Of A Psychopath"

  1. Jesus Borg | Aug 2, 2012 at 10:40 am |

    There are a lot of misconceptions about psychopathy. I think Reich was on the right track when he postulated that it was a defense mechanism and occured during an early developmental stage.

    People may be familiar with his concept of “armoring.”

    So anyway, psychopaths shut off their feelings which eventually results in a brain change. Its not “genetic” and they aren’t born with different brains. “genetic” is often used in the same context as “magic” or how people used to say “providence” Meaning nobody fucking knows, so it must be genetic which is the catch all for  reductionistic explanations for everything.

    • Genetics is Scientific | Aug 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm |

      Genetically, there was some research done that indicated psychopaths / sociopaths are more likey to have the ‘warrior gene’ (Monoamine oxidase A), and more likey to have it switched on. Their brains are different. Their brains won’t react to words like Rape – nor Tree. Non-sociopaths brains do react to being shown the words like Rape, but not Tree.

      Narcissism is a personality defence mechanism. Often developing in defence from other narcissists or type of social disconnection. Narcissists shut off their feelings.

      • Calypso_1 | Aug 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

        I just realized that I react most strongly to the words ‘rape & tree’ in combination.  Perhaps I should be on the lookout for Apollo Syndrome….That or I have some serious Kingdom-identity issues.

      • Jesus Borg | Aug 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

        Yeah, that’s very stylish right now to talk about that gene. Single gene explanations of human behavior is hip and sexy right now.  There was a big deal made a while ago regarding MoA and Polynesians. It turns out chinese have a higher incidence of it(probably from being descended from Ghengis Khan) and they have a low murder rate.

        I think its a dead end. I think you can change your own biology with your behavior. I think people do it all the time and I think these various relationships are very complex. I think diabetes is ultimately caused by stress. But you might have a habit of overeating in response to stress that you learned from your parents. But is it really genetic? Maybe your sister doesn’t respond to stress the same way. You can be raised by Narcissistic assholes and become a Narcissist yourself, but it could be not genetic at all.

        I mean if you have high testosterone and low serotonin, and this MoA gene and a couple others related to blunting dopamine reuptake like  DRD4 7 repeat  and one other one I can’t think of off hand. You might say “Oh that’s a list of ingredients for making a violent psychopath” But I just think that’s bogus. You could also have a Fireman or a person who likes Base jumping or a Rock Musician.

        The application of this wrong headed thinking is genetically testing kids and saying “Oooh that kids at risk, we better really watch him and single him out. He could be the next serial killer.”

        That’s the way it is now with ADHD, which is also a bullshit diagnosis IMO.

    •  Psychopaths do not ‘shut of the feelings’, that is a pure ego claim by psychopaths, they feel they are superior to normal people because they as psychopaths have total control over their emotions, you can never control something you do not have.
      Psychopaths are genetically emotionally shallow, lacking a full range of human emotions this in conjunction with a lack of an autonomic empathic response.
      Psychopaths of course routinely defend psychopath so they can continue to hide, to continue to be able to prey upon the rest of humanity from the shadows. That defence of psychopathy of course is an automatic signal that a person is a psychopath and that they have been preying on those around them, only psychopaths defend psychopaths.
      There is already an infallible test fro psychopathy which measures emotional response and control of emotional response, two elements which the psychopaths lacks, with regard to a measurable range of emotions.
      If you think the authorities don’t pay attention to those defending psychopathy and purposefully misinforming people about psychopathy you are mistaken. 1% of the human population and around 15% of the prison population (take out non-violent drug offenders from that equation and that number increases significantly).
      Forget the lies, their have been and are large numbers of clinical psychologists working with prison populations globally, involving psychology and genetics, with very large numbers of test subjects. The hunt is on.

  2. Jesus Borg | Aug 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |

    Plenty of people have this defense mechanism of seeking to dominate and control others constantly as their everyday modus operandi and few of them kill people. Many are cops, judges, lawyers, pastors, psychologists, coaches teachers etc.

    Some of them are really good at it. (manipulating)

    • Chicken Egg | Aug 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

      These “civilised” systems came into existance as a defence mechanism – against the “defence mechanism”. I’ll build this wall to protect you from the psychopaths across the border… but I’ll leave it to you to defend yourself and your family from my own future psychopathy. It’s a chicken and egg puzzle.

  3. Liam_McGonagle | Aug 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

    “Psychopaths often appear at ease during interviews that most people would find stressful or overwhelming. . . ”   and

    “Premises used in past successful interviews of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence, cleverness, and skill in evading capture . . . ”

    So the basic argument is that if she weighs the same as a duck, she is therefore made of wood, and therefore logically . . .


    You know, if a cynical authority figure were actively trying to breed a race of super unaware passives, he could do worse than to come up with a mental health paradigm that penalized self-possession and intelligence.

    • Jesus Borg | Aug 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

       Yeah, there is a weird witch hunt going on looking for “psychopaths” conducted by people that probably most closely fit the clinical definition.

      • Sure, efforts to find/understand ‘psychopathy’ are easily hijacked. As are most well intended things
        (political systems, judicial systems, religious jazz). Psychopaths are
        great a spoiling things. They’re great at hijacking things.

  4. DeepCough | Aug 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    “Psychopathy” is the new “Reefer Madness.”

    • More people are becoming aware of daily differences we have in empathy. We do not share the same level or capability for empathy. Nor do we all place empathy as important or worthy of respect.

      Narcissism is the new pandemic. But narcissism is different from psychopathy – in that they’re unaware when causing harm – and might even put empathy and good deeds on a massive pedestal.


      • DeepCough | Aug 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

        My analogy is a terse diatribe of the reactionary behaviorism that the U.S. espouses
        to instil and enforce values upon its people so it will follow the rules accordingly (as
        they are dictated by a law enforcement body that rarely abides by such rules

        • Mature Meat Sadly the callous brand
          of opportunistic, predatory, capitalism popular in the U.S.A. (Banned by Canada’s Banking Laws) today
          belies a moral deficiency bordering on sociopathy, even psychopathy,
          and is lauded around the nation as a good thing, an acceptable
          thing, releasing perhaps otherwise controlled emotional reserves for these
          monsters among us, giving them space and license, a sick sort of
          “social acceptability” at least in business spheres and in the
          military. Combine this with the forceful blasting away at
          sensitivities by the propaganda machines, the controlled media, and
          we evolve desensitized beings with new “permissions” never
          before unleashed, with hitherto-fore forbidden feelings if you will. Even a nation
          of men desensitized to abuse of women by their diet of porn, missing
          even the love between two people, and able only to seek this new
          “Brutality of the American Golden Age” as a substitute for
          romance, and the girls likewise expecting immense sexuality, not
          seeking romance, love or even family, the natural course of events?
          Combined with the hormone laced milk and meats in the American diet,
          and you have the “Perfect Formula”  with girls physical
          maturity occurring before mental maturity and good judgement, for
          “cannon fodder factories” to serve international corporate
          interests in warring, to churn economies, increase “skims” for
          “shareholders”, not family unit creators to dwell in this land
          and build it to its potential.

          • DeepCough | Aug 4, 2012 at 12:57 am |

            I get what you’re saying–but you make even less sense than the other guy.

  5. consider the source:
    > Psychopaths often appear at ease during interviews
    that most people would find stressful or overwhelming.

    if they waterboard you
    be sure to freak out

  6. TruthVybes | Aug 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    lol I love how people still love to use ‘psychopathy’ as an excuse for people who think/believe differently and, as a result, act in accordance to these beliefs that are not shared by the general public.  ‘Psychosis’ is another cute word that gets thrown around thanks to the DSM generations. Labels are like double edged swords… ‘he’s mentally ‘insane’ ‘ therefore exempt of punishment.

  7. A Reader | Aug 3, 2012 at 1:29 am |

    Also, a psychopath would read this article to know how to mimic “normal” behaviour.

  8. This may not be a very scientific/intellectual example but I seem to have a some sort of configuration for detecting the states of others. It’s something I’ve noticed happening for a while but the big event was on some pretty serious drugs. Before the event I’d noticed feeling particularly unnerved whilst around certain people. A very specific feeling. However, the sexual energy of the people concerned used to be so thick and overwhelming around them you kind of had to hack through that to try to see THEM, if that doesn’t sound too confusing.

    So I went to a festival with a particular person and a group of friends, and while I’m off my nuts he enters the scene and after a huge headfuck trying to work out whether the only discomfort I’m feeling is because I might just be attracted to the guy (and trying to not to make it obvious!), something gives and I see this black shit all around him, like ink in water, only clinging quite close, terminating at about half an inch (maybe more… trip memory, kinda distorted in hindsight). Densest closest to the body. It was…. horrrible, frankly. I just felt horrible for him for having to live in that state. I can’t really explain how I come to that conclusion but perceiving that thing made me fearful for him.

    I believe this man to have been a psychopath. He exhibits all of the classic signs, I have watched him over time and been betrayed in turn. Since then the ‘specific feeling’ has been emphasised and now I can name it as ‘having the black’. All I can really say is that I feel desperately sorry for anyone in that state, and I wish there was something that could bring back the light and colour into their lives, although people like that just seem to surround themselves in a web of people with varying degrees of black. Impossible for someone like me to get close.

    • Jesus Borg | Aug 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

      you are probably empathic. I tend to think that people that have done some really bad things, leave a trace of it like a residue on their energy signature and lots of other people pick up on it but for most people its unconscious.

      For highly intuitive and or empathic people its conscious.

      • Interesting divergence of perception, but I struggle to sit at ease simplifying it down like that. I can’t really be sure which causes the other first having not witnessed the guy’s entire history, the black state or the actions that are associated with it. People with particularly vibrant and emotionally balanced radiances don’t in my experience tend to act in the same way those with large amounts of black do. I would be interested to know if it’s in fact achievable for a black state to achieve circuit 5. My instinct would be to say no…

  9. Jesus Borg | Aug 4, 2012 at 11:08 am |

    If anyone’s interested here is The Reich model developed by some other people”


    The psychopath typology is under the tab “the inspirer”

  10. “The successful psychopath is able to manipulate people with ease, and this is something that requires a lot of emotional and social intelligence which can only be achieved through high levels of empathy. What psychopaths are lacking, which can be troubling to other members of society, is sympathy, pity, remorse, or any other “nurture-inducing” emotions, ”
    READ MORE at my blog:  http://mindthinktrue.blogspot.ca/2012/08/empathy-sympathy-and-psychopathy.html

  11. I suppose there are those who have psychopathic alters which some have likely believed were demonic possessions, even the person themselves. I’ve read that an FMRI might also be helpful in diagnosis and possibly even some type of advanced (lobotomy) procedure. I’m under the impression an induced coma or similar for a period of time along with dialysis could also be helpful such as with schizophrenia/blood/brain barrier.

    • Calypso_1 | Aug 24, 2012 at 11:47 am |

      Good thing you don’t have to take those impressions before an examiner’s board.

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