Most often, when people talk about psychopaths, they mean a person who is devoid of any kind of emotion. Is it really true? Do psychopaths really feel nothing? If you are looking for answers to such questions, you have come to the right place. subscribe to the Guilt Free Mind. This will help me notify you about the release of new blog posts. Guilt Free Mind also has a YouTube channel by the name Shruti’s art studio. Please subscribe to that as well if you like to watch videos. Remember to ring the notification bell. Then YouTube can send you notifications when there is a new video release.
People feel that psychopaths are cold, calculated and remorseless individuals who will do anything to achieve what they want. Even the diagnostic features of psychopathy includes the presence of:
- High intelligence
- Superficial charm
- Poor judgment
- Absence of experience learning
- Pathological lying
- Incapability of love
- Absence of shame or remorse
- Grandeurs of self-worth
- Manipulative behavior
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- The absence of self-control
- Manipulative behavior
- Criminal behavior
- And a few others
Since these traits are common in psychopathy, the image of the psychopath has become that of a person who lacks any normal human emotions and empathy.
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Psychopaths feel too
Psychopaths do feel emotions towards their loved ones. However, their love is different from what can be categorized as a normal love. In this article I will be discussing the emotions that psychopaths feel and how is their emotional quotient different from what has been deemed to be normal amongst others.
Yes, psychopaths do have feelings even though they are different from what a normal human might experience. If a psychopath is in a room full of people who are experiencing a specific emotion, chances are that the psychopath may not feel the same way. This psychopath will only feel concerned if it is a person that the psychopath truly cares about like their mother, children, spouse, father, pets etc. However, the ability to feel and respond empathetically towards others is absent in psychopaths.
If there is a discussion of a tragedy in the room which has affected millions of people and taken hundreds of lives, everyone in the room may feel sadness towards the incident. However, the psychopath may not feel anything. Some psychopaths are skilled at mimicking human behavior. They may pretend to be sad when actually they do not feel anything.
Do psychopaths feel emotional pain?
Psychopaths have the ability to feel emotional pain. This can happen for many reasons. One thing, most psychopaths share with the normal human population is the need for love. Psychopaths wish to be loved and cared for. They want people in their lives who love them completely and unconditionally. However, most often this desire remains unfulfilled in psychopaths. This is primarily because it is not possible for a normal person to get close to a person who has commitment issues, constantly lies, deceives others, is an expert at manipulation, gaslighting others, etc. These repellant characters of a psychopath personality leave a trail of broken relationships.
A psychopath may realize the effect they are having on others. This can cause genuine sadness in them. However, they are unable to control their behavior. This is why, most psychopaths do not have a stable social network or even close friends.
If you look into the childhood history of the psychopath, it may have various indicators of repressed childhood traumas like
- Constant fights between the parents
- Absence of parental attention
- Complete lack of parental guidance
- Chaos in the family
- Substance abuse by parents
- Antisocial behavior by parents
- Divorce amongst parents
- Exceptionally poor relationships
- Awful neighborhoods.
Such people may grow up being prisoners in their own minds. They may also have fewer opportunities compared to others to actually grow and evolve. Many people have dysfunctional family. However, when the dysfunction becomes too much for the child to handle, they may recede in themselves. This most often leads to a psychopathic behavior.
High inferiority complex
Despite the presence of outward arrogance, psychopaths have a high level of inferiority complex. They may appear to be normal but they know that they are not. They understand that their abnormal behavior or psychopathic tendencies are considered as stigma by the society. Some of the psychopaths have exceptional skills. They can hide their true nature because they understand that others will not be able to accept them the way they are.
A psychopath can choose to lead one of two lives. They can either display their true colors and accept that they will be lonely and alone for most of their life. Alternatively, psychopaths may decide to hide their true nature. This will allow them to lead and unreal life with friends in the society.
Most often, psychopaths realize that others have meaningful relationships and friendships. This is something that is devoid in their own life. This can deeply sadden them. This can also cause feelings of dejection in such people. They know that they will never have what others can get fairly easily.
Need excessive stimulation
People categorized as psychopaths are mostly require high stimulation. However, their disillusioned adventures ends very soon since it is based on unrealistic expectations. One can only pretend for so long.
Psychopaths use their charismatic nature to make friends. However, as expected, this friendship does not last long. Once the layers of the personality are peeled and the true nature reveals itself, psychopaths lose the friends they made. This causes them to feel disheartened since they cannot reel in their weaknesses.
This does not mean that psychopaths do not try to change. They do. However, the absence of the fear response and inability to learn from their previous experiences causes them to commit the same mistakes repeatedly. This leads to a feeling of frustration, negativity, inferiority complex, and difficulty adjusting to the justice system.
As psychopaths grow older, it becomes hard to continue the high energy-consuming lifestyle that they have cut out for themselves. This causes them to quickly burn out and start feeling depressed. When a psychopath looks back at their life, they realize that they are full of interpersonal discontentment. As they become more reckless, they put more strain on their mind and body causing their health to deteriorate.
When does a psychopath become violent?
There is a limit to everything. Eventually psychopaths feel that they have reached the end of the line. They feel that they cannot return from this point. The most common feeling at this point is that they have cut ties with the people in the normal world. At this edge, psychopaths start to feel that they have nothing left to lose. Thus, they start to show their true colors even if they have repressed it before.
Risk factors associated with violent behavior in psychopaths
There are certain risk factors that contribute to violent behavior in psychopaths. These are:
- Hidden suffering
- Inferiority complex
- Absence of self-esteem
- Violence and emotional pain
Loneliness, social isolation, having no friends and the emotional pain that’s associated with being alone all the time may proceed the acts of violence in case of psychopathy. Psychopaths start to believe that the entire world is against them, no one will ever understand them and they will always be lonely. This convinces them that if they want something they will have to go get it themselves. They deserve the right to satisfy their needs and special privileges. Therefore, the violent psychopath starts to kill when they feel that they have reached a point from where they cannot return any more. Eventually, as the loneliness and sadness increase, their crimes may not even make sense anymore. This is most often observed in the case of serial killers.
Sometimes, psychopaths may kill just to have some company. This occurs when the loneliness becomes too much. As normal human beings, we cannot imagine being lonely. We are always surrounded by our peers either on social media or by going out. However, psychopaths do not have friends on social media or in the physical world. For them, the loneliness reaches a point of being unbearably painful. This is when they start to avenge their loneliness from the world by causing suffering.
There are two types of psychopaths. One category of psychopaths target others and the other category target themselves. Once the person starts to believe that life is worthless, they will never achieve anything, they will never have any friends, social connections, and living does not make any sense anymore, they have reached their breaking point. When psychopaths reached this point, they may either end their own life by engaging in drugs, alcohol abuse risky driving etc. Alternatively they may begin to hurt others for pleasure.
Biological basis of psychopathy
In the last few decades, many neurobiological explanations have sprung up defining the traits of psychopathy. It has been observed that psychopaths have an abnormality in the region of the brain that controls fear. The fear sensors are wrongly wired in the case of psychopaths. Their recklessness, hostility, impulsivity and aggressiveness has been explaining by the presence of high levels of many neurochemicals like:
- Monoamine oxidase
- 5 hydroxyindoleacetic acid
- Free thyroxine
- Hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal hormone
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone
- Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal hormones
Cortisol has been linked to the inability to learn from past experiences and the constant sensation-seeking behavior of psychopaths. Sensation seeking is related to the presence of low levels of monoamine oxidase and high levels of the gonadal hormones. Reduced levels of the grey matter volume have been linked to sensation-seeking behavior.
Because of the above-mentioned neurobiological evidence, psychopathy to a certain level can be considered as a result of neurobiological imbalance. These neurobiological imbalances have created a gulf between the psychopath and everyone else.
Is it possible to treat psychopathy?
Some traits of psychopathy like aggression, impulsivity, sensation seeking behavior, emotional pain etc can be treated via use of psychopharmacotherapy, neurofeedback, and psychotherapy. It has been observed that these treatment processes can start to show some effect within five years. However, this has been observed to affect some psychopaths but not all. This also does not completely change the person. It only causes a reduction in the strong feelings that they have. Therefore, the personality traits of psychopathy may diminish but the psychopathy is not completely gone.
If a clinician only relies on psychopathy to improve the symptoms, it may not be sufficient. Psychopharmacotherapy helps normalize the neurobiological functions that is related to the personality and behavioral traits. Experts have found that lithium is an impressive drug for treating aggressive, assaultive, and antisocial behavior. Other neuroleptics, like monoamine oxidase and the other mood stabilizers, have shown efficiency in the treatment of impulsivity and aggressiveness in certain patients. However, further studies of Psychopharmacotherapy can help psychologists become certain about the effect of the drugs on psychopathy.
Feedback techniques can help reduce the autonomic activity and cortical under arousal.
Psychopaths have a very different world than the rest of us. They can mimic most human emotions if they want to. However, after a certain point of time, they grow tired and stop acting. This is when psychopaths can truly become dangerous. If they feel that things are never going to improve, they will never have friends or family, they can go off the edge and engage in violent crimes. Certain medications can reduce the traits of psychopathy in psychopaths. However, there is no medication that can completely eradicate psychopathy.
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Have you ever met a psychopath? What personality traits made you realize that the person in front of you is a psychopath? What are your thoughts and comments about the psychopathy spectrum? Please mention your opinions in the comments section. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. You can either reach me on my social media channels, via email or mention your comments in the comment section. I will be happy to help.
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