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.
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