The List of Psychopathy Symptoms: Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare

“I knew in my heart something was wrong with him (or with her)”. This is what nearly every victim of a psychopath has felt, usually early on in the relationship. The over-the-top flattery. The quick pace of the relationship and demands for instant commitment. The lies and inconsistencies. The callousness towards others. The disregard for social norms. The sense of superiority (absolute narcissism), without having much to show for it or justify it. The aimlessness and lack of responsibility. The random oscillations in mood and behavior, to exert power over others. The demands for isolation from loved ones and friends. The sexual deviancy. The control and possessiveness. There are always very disturbing signs in the psychopathic bond, signs that we tend to ignore or rationalize until the toxic relationship, like a disease, takes over to destroy our lives. 

I’d advise anyone who feels this way to start researching on the internet the symptoms they see wrong because this information about psychopathy, and finally paying attention to the red flags and our intuition, has saved each and every one of us. The first –and last–step in recovery from the psychopathic bond is getting information; recognizing the nature of the problem. This is why knowing how to identify the symptoms of psychopathy is so important. Information can save us from denial, false hope, gaslighting and the illusion that a psychopath is likely to foster in victims. It can give us the strength to leave the toxic relationships, substantiated by facts as opposed to just feelings. Psychopaths can manipulate our feelings. But the symptoms of this personality disorder are clear as psychology–which is, after all, a social rather than “hard” science–can identify.

Today I’d like to repost a list of the symptoms of psychopathy, offered by two of the main experts on psychopathy, to whom I’ve often alluded so far: Hervey Cleckley (author of The Mask of Sanity) and Robert Hare (author of Without Conscience, Snakes in Suits and The Psychopathy Checklist). Obviously, their lists are very similar since Robert Hare built upon Hervey Cleckley’s ground-breaking research.

Hervey Cleckley’s List of Psychopathy Symptoms:

1. Considerable superficial charm and average or above average intelligence.

2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.

3. Absence of anxiety or other “neurotic” symptoms. Considerable poise, calmness and verbal facility.

4. Unreliability, disregard for obligations, no sense of responsibility, in matters of little and great import.

5. Untruthfulness and insincerity.

6. Antisocial behavior which is inadequately motivated and poorly planned, seeming to stem from an inexplicable impulsiveness.

7. Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior.

8. Poor judgment and failure to learn from experience.

9. Pathological egocentricity. Total self-centeredness and an incapacity for real love and attachment.

10. General poverty of deep and lasting emotions.

11. Lack of any true insight; inability to see oneself as others do.

12. Ingratitude for any special considerations, kindness and trust.

13. Fantastic and objectionable behavior, after drinking and sometimes even when not drinking. Vulgarity, rudeness, quick mood shifts, pranks for facile entertainment.

14. No history of genuine suicide attempts.

15. An impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated sex life.

16. Failure to have a life plan and to live in any ordered way  (unless it is for destructive purposes or a sham).

Robert Hare’s Checklist of Psychopathy Symptoms:

1. GLIB AND SUPERFICIAL CHARM — the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. He can also be a great listener, to simulate empathy while zeroing in on his targets’ dreams and vulnerabilities, to be able to manipulate them better.

2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH — a grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM — an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING — can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative and dishonest.

5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS: the use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.

6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT:  a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

7. SHALLOW AFFECT:  emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness and superficial warmth.

8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY:  a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE: an intentional, manipulative, selfis, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline and the inability to carry through one’s responsibilities.

10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS:  expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR: a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of numerous, multiple relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity (rape) or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits and conquests.

12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS: a variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use and running away from home.

13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS: an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

14. IMPULSIVITY: the occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations and momentary urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic and reckless.

15. IRRESPONSIBILITY: repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS: a failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

17. MANY SHORT-TERM RELATIONSHIPS: a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including in marital and familial bonds.

18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE: a revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation or failing to appear.

20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY: a diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes or wrongdoings.

These lists have been compiled by angelfire, on the link below:

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness


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32 Comments

  1. They are never at fault. It is always someone else’s responsibility or some wired fluke as to why things go wrong.

  2. In the movie I Love you Philip Morris is Jim Carrey’s character a sociopath? Since I realized my husband of 7 years is most likely a sociopath I see them all around me. It kind of scares me and I wonder if I’m being obsessed by it.

  3. Janice, I haven’t seen that movie with Jim Carrey. But there are plenty of psychopaths
    in movies and reality television (most recently, there’s Adam, in Real Life Las Vegas),
    since they create so much drama around them that they make good shows.
    In real life, up to 4 percent of the population is psychopathic. That adds up to millions, which is
    not that much, but they are highly promiscuous and adversely affect tens of millions of people in the U.S. alone.
    If you see a lot of disordered people around you in your personal life it’s either
    a) because you are able to recognize their traits very well now and/or
    b) because for some reason you surround yourself with them (either they are part of your family,
    or, for some reason, you gravitate towards them).

  4. Claudia

    I like Cleckley’s list better than Hare’s although both are authenticated. What’s really interesting is that I consider myself to be a smart woman, yet when I read the descriptions of psychopathy at first, it was too sterile and generic for me. The traits were the starting point, but I went through them and looked up their definitions then I applied them to the behaviors I saw.

    I’d like to add to your list here.

    Thomas Sheridan’s List:

    1. No Remorse: Lack of depth in terms of problems and hurt. Cheap apology at most. Usually no apology at all. They psychopath will never acknowledge or apologize for the harm and misery they have caused to others. They don’t get why they even should.

    2. Invented Personas to Manipulate Others:
    Psychopaths are a different version of themselves for every person they interact with. They also have group personas for family, organizational and work place interaction. There is also a several second lag time when the psychopath persona switches to access the correct version of themselves of which you are being subjected to, even if you happen to be the spouse they wake up to in the morning. Eyes frantically studying the person’s face while they present a forced smile is VERY commonly reported.

    3. Using pity to manipulate and entrap victims:
    Kindness and the ability to feel pity are considered weaknesses by the psychopath, rather than noble attributes, and through “pity plays” they often beckon their target to become unknowingly entangled in their web of lies and deceit.

    4. A mysterious or cryptic past:
    Inconsistent time-lines and missing past histories. Moving from state to state, or region to region under suspicious or vague circumstances–usually without any or little prior announcement. They want to know about your every move and life story, while their own remains elusive or vague. Often has few or no photos of themselves before they met you. This could be due to them having been in prison or even having been a different gender in the past. Often they were not the war hero they claimed to be w/ithout medals they purchased on eBay or Photoshopped images. More likely, they will have an entire multi-layered psychopathic lifestyle which may include using aliases, prostitution, periods of ad hoc homosexuality, multiple relationships, extremely promiscuous sexual history, several marriages and abandoned spouses and/or children which they want to keep swept under the rug and hidden there.

    5. High Testosterone Levels (extremely significant in female psychopaths)
    HIghly impulsive and highly spontaneous sex drive/sexually aggressive/’pervy’ behavior. Upper body strength and pronounced Adam’s apple in female psychopaths. Early baldness in males.

    If you know someone who has all of the above primary traits, you are dealing with a psychopath. It does not matter if they have none of the secondary traits listed below, they are still pure psychopathic.

    Kel

  5. Kelli, I think these three lists are a great frame of reference, though it’s true that any psychological list can’t capture the degree of devastation psychopaths can cause in people’s lives. It’s tough to capture that, unless you experienced it, as it is to comprehend the magnitude of deception, manipulation and malice. Had I read this list while being with the psychopath–who by the way exhibits ALL of these symptoms to a very high degree–I may still have not woken up from the psychopathic bond. Most people may have lied in their lives, for instance, but the degree and magnitude of psychopathic pathological lying is staggering. That’s why a list of psychopathy symptoms is what it purports to be: a frame of reference, and a starting point to help the public identify psychopaths, but it’s not the entire picture. Claudia

  6. This was taken from: http://www.waking-you-up.com/redundant-narcissists.html
    Sara Strudwick

    (SARA! THIS IS FANTASTIC! Where did you get the info about the new DSM???)

    In a recent article written by the New York times entitled “A Fate That Narcissists Will Hate: Being Ignored” according to some professionals Narcissists are about to become an endangered species.

    When I first read his article, like most other people who are trying to educate people about narcissism I was somewhat alarmed especially as I know how much damage those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can do to their victims. However on further investigation I had a look at the new guidelines outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013, otherwise known as DSM-5). The work group is recommending that this disorder be reformulated as the Antisocial/Psychopathic Type.

    It appears that some of the traits of the narcissistic personality have now been included in what they call the psychopathic type. Apart from recklessness, impulsivity and aggression which may apply to the narcissist in varying degrees. According to the new list below the majority of the new traits would fit into the both the psychopathic AND the narcissistic personality.

    From my own experience and those who have had relationships with those who have had NPD many have the following characteristics although often they may be loath to admit that their partners were in fact psychopaths. My own personal opinion has always been quite different. To highlight this I have listed the new guidelines and and highlighted those in blue that a narcissist are most likely to have. You can see the full criteria changes here

    The new list comprises a number of psychopathic traits i.e.

    1. Antagonism: Callousness

    Lack of empathy or concern for others’ feelings or problems; lack of guilt or remorse about the negative or harmful effects of one’s actions on others; exploitativeness

    2. Antagonism: Aggression

    Being mean, cruel, or cold-hearted; verbally, relationally, or physically abusive; humiliating and demeaning of others; willingly and wilfully engaging in acts of violence against persons and objects; active and open belligerence or vengefulness; using dominance and intimidation to control others

    3.Antagonism: Manipulativeness

    Use of cunning, craft, or subterfuge to influence or control others; casual use of others to one’s own advantage; use of seduction, charm, glibness, or ingratiation to achieve one’s own end

    4.Antagonism: Hostility

    Irritability, hot temperedness; being unfriendly, rude, surly, or nasty; responding angrily to minor slights and insults

    5.Antagonism: Deceitfulness

    Dishonesty, untruthfulness; embellishment or fabrication when relating events; misrepresentation of self; fraudulence

    6. Antagonism: Narcissism

    Vanity, boastfulness, exaggeration of one’s achievements and abilities; self-centeredness; feeling and acting entitled, believing that one deserves only the best; preoccupation with having unlimited success, power, brilliance, and/or beauty

    7.Disinhibition: Irresponsibility

    Disregard for, or failure to honor, financial and other obligations or commitments; lack of respect and follow through on agreements and promises; unreliability; failure to keep appointments or to complete tasks or assignments; carelessness with own and/or others’ possessions

    8.Disinhibition: Recklessness

    Craving and pursuit of stimulation and variety without regard for consequences; boredom proneness and unplanned initiation of activities to counter boredom; unnecessary risk taking; lack of concern for ones limitations; denial of the reality of personal danger; high tolerance for uncertainty and unfamiliarity

    9.Disinhibition: Impulsivity

    Acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli; acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes; difficulty establishing and following plans; failure to learn from experience

    Under the older model. The diagnostic criteria for NPD was that a person had to have 5 or more of the following traits:

    Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

    Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

    Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

    Requires excessive admiration

    Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., they have unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment for themselves or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

    Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e. they take advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

    Lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

    Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

    Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes

    Under the new model they have a rating system. ie. The person would be either mildly psychopathic with low levels of psychopathic traits or significantly psychopathic with high level traits.

    What’s interesting is that they have called Narcissism an ‘Antagonistic’ trait. In the past narcissism has always had a somewhat glamorous title to it which is reflected in the media all the time. We often hear headlines where the press say so and so is a narcissist. Its flouted around almost as flippantly as if saying that someone is a flirt and that actually narcissism is OK. Healthy narcissism is but unhealthy narcissism is extremely antagonistic as most people will know having lived or had an encounter with someone who has NPD. At the extreme end of the Narcissistic Personality whereby someone does have some of the aggressive traits listed above which would might otherwise been known as “narcissistic rage” they can easily kill someone.

    Perhaps the new rules and regulations are actually a good thing. Its certainly not going to be very glamorous for people to say they are a psychopath and as the New York times article rightly says the last thing a narcissist wants to be is ignored.

    In my opinion the narcissist is now being given the ultimate honour and a title they should have been given a long time ago, that of a psychopath. It also means that with education more and more people will be able to spot these dangerous predators and instead of saying “oh they are harmless because they have NPD” people will start to take them and their victims more seriously.

    Sarah Strudwick http://www.darksouls-thebook.com

  7. Claudia,

    It is so frustrating that there is a pattern that seems to be evolving with regards to psychopathy and education. People just don’t believe it until they EXPERIENCE it. But if educational efforts are felt to be fruitless until the AFTERMATH, how do we really EDUCATE the public about psychopathy and make it believable and true? I think doing so would save thousands of lives from misery and destruction. Kel

  8. CLAUDIA AND ALL; First thank you for listing these psychopathic traits, I can go down this list and compare it to my personal observations and not only did he have all the above but I could add a few other strange behaviors.So he passed, congratulations you are a psychopath you meet the criteria. (lol) although there is nothing funny about that its really very very sad they live this way; they may enjoy the rewards but if they ever could step out of themselves and could see how utterly pathetic and stupid their behavior is they would not see themselves as the “GOD” they THINK they are, but since they dont have this ability they will never see it this way.
    They only think their targets are fools and stupid, until we see the truth they run because they arent going to stick around for letting US put up the mirror to them, so off they go. They figure, hey go kill yourself or get over it, I could care less.

    .How could such pathetic human beings (as all psychopaths are), with no real achievements and healthy human relationships, feel superior to others if they don’t consistently try to undermine those around them? You asked this question for us to ponder in your previous article Claudia, well obviously because since they have no internal human qualities that constitute being human this is the ONLY WAY they can interact with others; to undermine our humanity because of their lack of it, giving them a superior internal sense, but what they seek internally to achieve this is based on fooling, duping and manipulating others, purely predatory in every sense. Their lack of conscience and remorse forces them to always project on to others what they lack internally when questioned.

    Kelli your description from Sheridan’s book is something I have been thinking about the past few days, as he also expressed this in his videos.
    What has made no contact easier for me (this time) is the questions I failed to ask myself in the past and what I failed to see until recently (thanks to this site) When the psychopath held up that mirror for me it was ALWAYS myself that had to figure out I AM NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT if I continue looking outside myself and to others for “Belief Packages”, and with psychopaths these packages will NEVER exist, this also means not looking to others (psycho or not) to fill some void that is in my life. It seems I have always had this internal void or lack of something and it was the predation of a highly skilled psychopath that came into my life with this vulnerability and FORCED ME to find this from within myself. It goes beyond the marital problems it goes beyond anything I have ever had to face and confront. I bought what he had to sell me TOO EASILY; some whirlwind fantasy or dream of what I thought was “the perfect love”. I dont believe I have EVER come to terms with what my OWN personal potential can be I was always looking for others to give it to me or see it in me and this is something I must see in myself first.

    Its a PAINFUL lesson that I had to experience this awakening with an individual that in ALL aspects was not REALLY HUMAN, the list you provided for us Claudia is not someone that has human traits; these traits are mentally unhealthy and really almost “mentally ill”, these are traits of individuals that are highly disturbed; NOBODY will find their hearts desire with someone of this nature whole or not whole. Psychopaths dont want us “whole” they want targets who they can exploit and manipulate so we buy into these belief packages they fool us into buying and in the end we say, hold on a minute this is NOT the package I bought, this is not what you promised me; of course it is at this point we realize who and what we were involved with and we discover happiness does not come in the form of a package being sold to us by a person who is a total FRAUD masking human qualities. Happiness is ALWAYS internal. I extracted myself and was discarded because I learned what he never wanted me to discover; I found the power and wisdom to free myself from his sickness. x0 Linda

  9. Linda, these psychopathy traits are obviously horribly negative and nobody would want to be with a person like that. But psychopaths manage to use them to their best advantage, that is how they reel in normal human beings. They use their glibness and charm to feed us what we want to hear, initially. They lie easily so they mask their negative intentions, actions and past behavior. They justify their possessiveness and control in terms of needing us and passionate love. Everything that’s clearly negative they either hide or manage to justify into something positive, even extraordinary. This is why when faced with these lists of symptoms, people can’t recognize the psychopaths in them until the mask starts slipping off. By then it can be too late and a lot of the damage has already been done. Claudia

  10. Linda,

    You sound so much better, really working hard. It’s GREAT to see this! I’m really proud of the way you’ve taken this and run with it in working hard to heal yourself. I SEE your growth! I love seeing that.
    Keep pushing foward! HUGS Kel

  11. Kel, I don’t know how that can change. I think that collaborating with Women’s Shelters is very important. Because the subject of violence against woman has become mainstream; its message has, for the most part, reached the general public. The message about psychopathy and other very dangerous personality disorders is still reaching mainly victims, after they’ve already been hurt. Claudia

  12. Sarah, great post and great news. Narcissism is understood by the general public as people who are full of themselves or very insecure and dependent upon validation. Placing the emphasis upon the lack of empathy and shallow emotions common to these personality disordered individuals–hence upon their psychopathy–underlines their DANGER to everyone they touch and to society. Claudia

  13. All – I always wondered what would be the deciding factor that would cause him to discard me it pretty much came down to him knowing he could never destroy me and I have moved on; he lost his power and control over me for the most part and he realized his efforts were not resulting in what he wanted so he cut me lose. I believe he will never bother with me again because he knows I know he is nothing but a fraud and con man – I grew too smart and strong for him to destroy so the predator will move on to fresh new vulnerable conquests. The beast is gone Linda

  14. Linda, you’re so fortunate that happened. Some psychopaths can move on from former dominance bonds and some can’t, and keep hovering around like birds of prey. My ex is like that despite the fact he boasted, when we were together, that he’d move on without ever looking back if we broke up. Unfortunately, that’s yet another promise he didn’t keep. I wonder what makes the difference in their behavior, since the psychological profile of psychopaths and patterns of behavior are very similar. Claudia

  15. Claudia,

    I think as with ALL of us human beings, psychopaths have their own unique way of handling things. Some are more stalkers than others. Some exhibit one behavior/trait more than another. Some are cerebral, while others somatic. There are differences in what they do, but not who they ARE. Mine is a stealth stalker. He blows through once in awhile. Then he lets go. Then you have the extreme with your ex, who just does it for fun in a sadistic way. Yours is pretty extreme though with regards to the stalking. It’s how his psychopathy is expressed, an area that he enjoys expressing it. For others, it’s the conquest, so once a target decides not to be a target anymore, they go for another victim without looking back. That happens a lot too. If some psychopaths are not getting a response via stalking, they give up and go away. Unless, like yours, they enjoy the stalking. I think that’s pretty unusual though, although I do believe that most do stalk right out of the relationshit for awhile, then give up. Kel

  16. Kel, true, psychopaths all share most of the symptoms listed by Cleckley and Hare, but they manifest their psychopathy in different ways. The stalking is about exercising control over a person or relationship (i.e., refusing to give it up). A lot of psychopaths become stalkers or cyberstalkers, but some don’t because they prefer to exercise control differently (such as by moving on without looking back, or at least not too often, upon their former dominance bonds). Also, even psychopaths prioritize in their own way. They may stalk some dominance bonds and not others. I think since they’re so promiscuous and engage in so many relationships simultaneously, no psychopath (cyber)stalks all of his former targets. They pick and choose based on who has caused them most narcissistic injury or whom they simply enjoy playing mind games with most. It’s all about their pleasure and control. Claudia

  17. Claudia: I think I was too much work and bother for him it was a losing game for him I was a victim that NEVER delivered what he set out to get from me and he got sick of trying so he said, I am cutting this one lose she gives me NOTHING. It would serve no purpose for him to stalk me and I am surrounded with support groups in my life, my family for one and he is not going to take this risk and mess with that. He can no longer conquer and divide me in the manner he would like to; if I say its over and I am done he will just move on. Claudia I was doing some paper work today and the tv was on and it was the movie taxidriver with Robert Dinero, I was not really watching it but there was a scene that caught my attention a young prostitute was talking to her pimp the girl was expressing how much she missed him and that he didnt spend much time with her like he used to and he was telling her oh baby I know, I have been busy but I will do better he held her and soothed her told her she was the love of his life and he adored her and would always care for her, …… It sounded like the 4 year relationshit with my x pimp psycho this same kind of love sick conditioning he used on me – except when ever I would express how I missed him he would say; “well get busy baby, find someone for us” and I thought he loved his GF – someone so diabolical and sick as this could never love another human being – I am so glad I am on the other side now and that is where I am always going to stay – I can and WILL heal from the exposure of a path I think the only thing I could ever say to him if I ever accidently picked up his call even a year from now would be You are a very disturbed person dont EVER contact me again and if he did start calling I would change my number but he is not going to stick around for me to tell him that he KNOWS I KNOW he is sick so he is running like hell. That is their greatest fear Claudia being exposed for what they are mine was a sheriff so he REALLY knows the stalking laws and he will not take the risk in his life he will just move on, he is too smart to stalk and that saved me in the end. x0x0 linda

  18. Linda, I think you’re absolutely right about ex conditioning you for a life that, essentially, resembles prostitution, even if it doesn’t involve the exchange of money. It’s also true that most psychopaths don’t want to put in the work of maintaining targets who recognize them for the evil people they are and are surrounded by a support system of family and friends. However, that’s not the case in all situations. As I’ve said many times, my psychopathic ex still cyberstalks me despite the fact I’m surrounded by a support system and despite the fact I identified him as a psychopath and have no interest in ever communicating with him again. It all depends upon which dominance bonds/former targets they fixate on to play their evil games. And that aspect can be random. Claudia

  19. All,

    As I have mentioned, I am involved in an extremely ‘high-conflict’ divorce with my ex-wife and her father, who are both psychopathic. I have been asking the Court to simply consider that she may have a personality disorder, based on the patterns of behavior and personality that can be verified by third party evidence and witnesses. Because the Judges were fooled early and often in the case, the Current Judge refuses to even say to the words ‘personality disorder’ and has refused all requests for third party intervention and denied all of my requests for ‘fair and reasonable visitation’ with my own children. He is using my children as the carrot and the stick to bully me into silence about psychopathy and the mistakes that he made that allowed it to go undetected.

    Hopefully, you can understand my motives for wanting to increase awareness about the mental illness. It is imperative that we refer to psychopathy as a mental illness. It is first and foremost an emotional dysfunction. The influence of emotion on judgement is impaired in human beings with psychopathy. They are human beings with a mental illness. The characteristics that define them listed above are the manifestation of their judgement. The PCL-R that is considered the ‘gold standard’ diagnostic tool for psychopathy is simply a checklist of these traits, that must be verfied with evidence and witnesseses. However, the traits and the checklists used to identify people with the condition do not define the condition. It is the emotional defficiency that is critical to the understanding the illness.

    Legal and psychological experts are aware of the condition and simply have refused to acknowledge the illness as a source of conflict in legal cases. As a result taxpayers money is wasted. Dr. Cleckley described it as a ‘conspiracy of silence’ in Mask of Sanity. Psychopathy has been described as the prime crimonogenic personality trait (Wison & Herrnstein, 1985), the most important psychological construct in the criminal justice system (Harris, Skilling, & Rice, 2001) and as perhaps the most important forensic concept in the early 21st century (Monahan, 2006).

    If anyone is aware of any legal or psychological experts that have been involved in legal cases involving psychopathy, I would be very interested in speaking with them.

    Thanks Claudia for the best resource I have found on the internet about psychopathy. I really enjoy your writing.

  20. I saw a very good psychiatrist. I wish I had listened to him more. But he simply said “One thing we know for sure….this is a guy who takes care of his own needs.” He also told me that any further contact with him, positive or negative, would be very dangerous to me. But he didn’t label him. I think it would have really helped me at the time if he had. And I do think I would have listened. I ALMOST did as it was.

  21. Susan, I wish your psychiatrist would have labelled the psychopath as such as well. It would have made a big difference, because you’d have watched out more for the symptoms and red flags of this personality disorder, and probably looked it up on the internet. The way it was phrased by the psychiatrist, your ex could have been just an ordinary selfish person. But he turned out to be far, far worse than that. Claudia

  22. I should add, I only saw him two more times after that, but I wish I hadn’t. And it was a full year before I cut off the email, and the calls.

  23. Chris, I think that the legal system is very pragmatic and wary of using psychological labels. They prefer to deal with facts, like domestic violence, which one can see. Emotional abuse is more intangible–even if it can be just as damaging–and they don’t take it into account enough for this reason. Hopefully your activities will make a difference into counting more emotional abuse and personality disorders as factors that determine divorce and custody legal outcomes. Claudia

  24. Claudia,

    RE: Your response to LInda about cyberstalking and your ex.

    Psychopaths are HIGHLY ENVIOUS. I believe this is the SOLE motive of your ex. He ENVIES your success and wants to rattle you enough to let you know that you won’t have that happening while he’s around. Yep, douche bag idiot! What he doesn’t get is that your success is going to happen regardless of what he does. Anyway, each psychopaths motives for stalking are different.

    Actually, I don’t think they give a rats ass one way or another. If they rattle our cages once in awhile, it’s only to play games out of their boredom. I don’t sit around delusional about him “missing” me in any way. He’s not capable of that. He’s gone because I wouldn’t play the game anymore. THAT”S ALL. No other reason, so he found someone else who WOULD play the game and for her, it isn’t about her EITHER, it’s about what she can give, which in this case, is money.

    To attribute ANY emotion to a psychopath, tying into their motives, is not to understand who they are and what they do.

    I”m glad the bastard is gone and leaving me alone. GOOD RIDDANCE. But Claudia, just remember that each day he stalks you. It’s out of ENVY. Your far more successful than he could ever dream to be. Kel

  25. Chris,

    I understand your concerns with regards to the legal system. This is now occurring with regards to my son, whom I had to have put in jail this morning, having discovered A LOT of marijuana that he had in baggies and in a prescription bottle for sale. He also had money that he had made from the sales. I suspected this had been going on for awhile and my son was declining physically and becoming increasingly abusive, physically and verbally. HIs father is psychopathic. Pathology is weaved throughout my family, so this doesn’t come as a surprise, but with just as much heartbreak. Having said that, while speaking with his juvenile counselor today about how to proceed (he will not be returning home as his charges are of the felony variety and he is still jailed), I asked for a full psych evaluation, as well as the alcohol drug treatment eval HE suggested. There was silence with this request. I explained why I wanted the evaluation. more silence. While my son is just sixteen, the ONLY individual to recognize his budding pathology, was his teacher at school and only because she had been studying about it. The judicial/juvenile system wants to chalk up his addictive behavior to what’s wrong as a whole, rather than what underlies it, which is pathological in nature. You recognize it in kids like this, because the behaviors are EXTREME. He was displaying these behaviors PRIOR to his addiction. We have court tomorrow with regards to the course of action to be taken. I WILL get an opportunity to express my concerns to the judge. I’m willing to bet that my concerns about my son’s budding pathology will be IGNORED or blown off.
    This would be yet another tragedy because while the addictive behavior will be “treated” his underlying pathology will not.
    Another disorder released into society.

    I’m terribly sorry for the heartbreak and absolute frustration you are dealing with in your situation. I can imagine it, but only to a certain degree, never to where I could not be involved with my children and the psychopath and his money resources matter more than the children’s lives or the idea that a mistake was made in determining your ex wife’s pathological behavior.

    I understand your need for public awareness and I wholeheartedly agree. I believe this is one of THE most dangerous mental illnesses around that costs taxpayers BILLIONS and victims their lives and livelihoods. Something needs to be done. Something more. I don’t know what that is yet, but the frustration and pain of it builds to the point where one begins to become quite creative. My best to you. Kel

  26. Claudia

    This is a HUGE detriment to victims both in the therapeutic environment and judicial system. Even the WORD psychopathic sounds frightening and is not currently in the DSM either. It’s not “politically” correct to deem or label anyone a psychopath, even though they ARE. What else do we call them? Narcissist is a term used for now, but even that isn’t “as bad” as psychopathy. Okay, how about PATHOLOGY. I think the lack of labels does a grave injustice to the victims who are having trouble enough as it is out of one of these relationshits, defining what’s happened to them. Therapists fear being “sued” for giving out “wrong” labels, the judicial system is psychopathic in many ways already and the hierarchy of such would not be able to express itself in the deviant way it already does. I’m not at all surprised that Susan’s therapist did not label her ex. Even though my own therapist is familiar with personality disorders, it’s still very taboo and has a “move on” theme to with regards to a victim’s recovery. FEAR is the basis of failure in recognizing or labeling pathology or psychopaths for just what they are. And this is just what the psychopathic “control grid” as Thomas Sheridan refers to it, wants us to believe and embrace. As long as there is fear of embracing pathology and that nothing can be done about the pathological person, the victims are pretty much on their own. That is a tragedy, because there are more victims than there are psychopaths. Psychopaths don’t just leave one wounded individual in their wake, but many. Kel

  27. Claudia,

    And that’s always what you want to keep in mind about your ex and his cyberstalking. He’s GREEN with envy :) It also helps to see his distortions for the ridiculousness that they really are. He’s so ridiculous that he doesn’t recognize how ridiculous he is. Since you don’t fear him anymore, Claudia, it takes the wind out of his stalking. Psychopaths thrive on fear of their victims.

    He’s probably more “fearful” of your success than you ever were of him. You continue to prove just what an douche bag idiot he really is :) Kel

  28. Kel (and everyone), I think that all psychopaths are driven by envy no matter who they are with. They want more and more and more control over their partners or kids. They need more idolatry, more power, more confirmation of their (false) sense of superiority. That’s why even if they do manage to get you to quit work, to feel low about your body image, to isolate you from family and friends, it’s still NOT enough for them. It’s never enough. You still have some autonomy; you still have some potential for life left; you still have people who care about you; you still dream of what you want to do. Envy and Contempt define the psychopath. Envy because psychopaths always need confirmation that they’re better than all those around them. Contempt because they’re certainly not better, so the only way to justify their failures is to have contempt for the goals and accomplishments of those around them, as if such goals are beneath them. This paradoxical attitude (of envying something they feel contempt for) is probably at work in every one of your relationships with your psychopathic ex’s. If you’ve ever been put down by the psychopath, this is the main reason for it. Claudia

  29. One thing I like about this new criteria is getting away from criminal behavior. Whether or not a psychopath is criminal in the normal sense of the word depends a lot on their class in life. And as we all know, some are not after our money (though they always seem to get some of it), some are just out to emotionally rape us. That is not illegal, unfortunately. And of course, most manage to physically exploit us sexually as well.

    But there are plenty of psychopaths who are “successful” in the eyes of the world. The physician attending Michael Jackson might be one example. Priests who molest children, politicians, etc….all can look successful from a distance, until you peer behind the mask. Sometimes they do get caught in criminal behavior, but many do not.

  30. Totally agree. Envy and contempt. which gives them the drive to exploit, to tear down, to pull one over, to be sadistic, etc etc etc.

  31. Susan, absolutely, since so called subcriminal psychopaths can harm others at least as much as criminal ones (i.e., those who get caught and convicted for their crimes). Claudia


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