Psychopaths: 10 Myths About the Psychopathic Personality

Penetrating gaze, serious demeanor, superb intelligence, neat attire, perverse thoughts and bloodthirsty goals. This is how we always paint movies and series psychopaths.

Before continuing to read this article, I invite you to familiarize yourself with the subject of psychopathy in depth. I leave a link below:

“Psychopathy: What’s on the mind of the psychopath?”

Stereotypes and misconceptions about psychopathy

But, What is the reality of this stereotype that Hollywood sells us with those in real life? In this article you are reading, we offer you to question ten of the most popular and common myths about psychopaths.

Myth 1: They have no empathy

the empathy it is the ability of human beings to understand the emotions, feelings and moods of others. Lack of empathy is often associated with psychopathy. In this regard, we need to clarify something.

Empathy encompasses two spheres: the cognitive zone and the emotional zone. The first is the ability to understand the feelings of others, to know what emotion the other person is going through; the second is to be able to live, feel or experience what the other feels when he expresses it to us.

psychopaths they are able to understand emotions (When someone feels anger, love or fear for example) and even imitates the expected behavior of these emotions. However, they cannot experience these emotions on their own. This is probably due to the fact that, as supported by numerous neurological studies, theyou psychopaths have brain changes in specific areas related to this ability.

Myth 2: they can’t be afraid

To understand fear, we could say that there is real fear and unreal fear. The first is this fear that we commonly know, which has the real consequences, for example, of being in an accident when we are driving at high speed.

On another side, the unreal fear that we might call psychotic fearGoing hand in hand with a psychotic disorder where there is a fracture of the reality of the individual’s psyche, the subject hears voices that want to kill him or feels threatened by images of persecution.

The first fear is however unknown to them they might experience unreal fear. It should be clarified that not all psychopaths have psychotic images, nor that psychotics have traits of psychopathy, but we will talk about this later.

Myth 3: cold gaze, serious gestures, superior intelligence

This profile already it has become a cliché for movies and series. We know that there is a correlation between our mood and the facial expressions we make gestures, but as we saw in the previous point, psychopaths are perfectly able to imitate behaviors related to emotions, of which some psychopaths are. often charismatic and kind to go unnoticed and become whatever they want.

In terms of intelligence, one could say that not feeling emotions is a point in their favor, because this encourages their actions to be carried out with more coldness and thoroughness, In addition to setting instinctive and intellectual goals. However, there is no direct correlation between psychopathy and a person’s IQ.

Myth 4: They are the product of a dysfunctional family

Completely wrong. We will not argue that there is a significant correlation between family environment and the tendency to commit a crime. Abuse, mistreatment, abandonment, bad examples as a role model are certainly very important criminogenic factors to take into account in explaining the criminogenesis of a criminal.

Despite this, there is no conclusive data linking the dysfunctional family to a cause of psychopathic behavior of an individual, because there are multiple examples of psychopaths who have committed terrible crimes, but by analyzing their family environment, we see that this nucleus was perfectly functional and integral.

Myth 5: One-sixth of people are psychopaths

Some experts estimate that the global number of psychopaths is 6% of the world’s population. Robert Hare, a psychologist known for his studies of psychopathy, it is estimated at 1% of the world population and 25% corresponding to prisoners.

The DSM-5 indicates its prevalence between 0.2% and 3.3% of the world population. However, all of this data only collects the number of psychopaths who break the rule and cause harm, but as we will see in part two of this article, not all psychopaths broke the law.

Some just go through life using their gifts of seduction and deception to meet their needs or are successful entrepreneurs who have climbed to the top using their skills, so all the numbers are essentially inaccurate.

Myth 6: His crimes are savage, bloody and sadistic

It is undeniable that their lack of emotions sometimes leads them to feel the limit of the human when they commit their violent crimes. But let’s keep in mind that the media (both TV and movies and series) live off the number of viewers who always see them and describe a bloody scoop that always grabs attention, describing their authors as psychopaths, an often distorted view of reality.

The link between psychopaths and violent crime is sometimes very distant from what really happens then they do not always commit crimes related to physical violence, Murder, genocide or rape. There are psychopaths who are fit for society and the upper class who commit financial crimes, art theft, fraud among other white collar crimes.

Myth 7: They are unstable and have uncontrollable needs

We should not confuse impulsiveness with the demand for satisfaction of a need.

The concept of impulsivity refers to the tendency to perform an action without thinking about its consequences, whereas in the second case and in relation to psychopathy, we could say that it does not adapt to the rules, when a need demands to be satisfied with the psychopath. will take the act of satisfying it without asking morally whether the way to obtain this satisfaction is good or bad. Psychopaths have a “cold” mind, they know the consequences of their actions, impulsiveness is rarely seen as they tend to execute their actions with a lot of premeditation.

Myth 8: Psychopaths are crazy

It may depend on what each person thinks of the term mad, but if we take the word mad as someone who is disconnected from reality (endlessly stigmatizing, say for example a schizophrenic) the answer to this question of madness, in most cases this corresponds to a resounding no, as they carry out their actions in full awareness and in mourning.

Although this may be the case with a psychopath who in addition to suffering from psychopathy suffers from severe psychotic episodes or even schizophrenia itself. The timely study of the subject will publish the relevant results.

Myth 9: Psychopaths never integrate or reintegrate into society

Let’s keep one thing in mind: sand whether or not a psychopath adapts to society, it is because it is entirely his decisionAnd if most of them break the law, it’s because they’ve learned that this is the best way to meet their needs.

There are psychopaths who learn to accept certain rules if they feel it suits them or as a guideline for reaching a greater end. As for reintegration, while it is true that the efforts of psychopaths to reintegrate into society have barely yielded any results, criminology is learning more and more about them and the alterations that characterize them. the psychopathic personality, which allows the act to propose. more effective treatments looking to the future.

Myth 10: All psychopaths are criminals

We close this article with the most popular myth about psychopaths. We clarify that the crime as defined by law is the action or omission punishable by criminal law. Understanding this concept, it is easy to understand that all conduct that we believe to be bad is a crime if it is not sanctioned by law.

So, for example, if one day a friend asks us for accommodation in our house, alleging that life has treated him unfairly and after a week he will help us with the income and homework, but after several months does not face, eats ours all the reserves in our pantry, and even takes our borrowed things by taking advantage of our kindness to the point where the situation seems unfair to us, does it deserve to be called a crime? Not at all, then we are the ones who let our psychopathic friend enjoy. There are thousands of instances where psychopaths spend them this way, leading a parasitic life but without necessarily breaking what the law dictates.


In conclusion, there are many myths surrounding enigmatic psychopathsMany of them have been fueled by the morbidity of urban legends, the media, and of course the entertainment industry, which often portray us as evil, twisted, and bloodthirsty beings.

However, the forensic sciences work together to reveal hidden motivations of these beings with the hope that one day they will receive adequate treatment to reintegrate them into society.

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