How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To

Almost every victim of a psychopathic predator deals with the burden of anger and resentment. We feel betrayed by the lies, by the cheating, by the constant manipulation, by the entire mask of sanity. Everything about the relationship that we considered real and based on true love turned out to be a sham. The person we thought we knew and loved was not the person we thought we knew and loved. We ended up loving an illusion, a mask and ultimately only a fantasy of love, not a real person, not a real relationship. So feelings of anger and betrayal are natural in the aftermath of a toxic relationship with a psychopath. Natural, but burdensome. It’s difficult to carry around so much anger. We’re often advised to forgive, if not actually forget the experience. Forgiveness is presented as a religious and ethical ideal, akin in some ways to the equally ideal notion of unconditional love. Dr. Janis Abrahms Spring, author of How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To (HarperCollins, 2005), argues that forgiveness, like the notion of love, can’t be automatic. It is something earned, based on a reciprocity between a truly repentant person and the person who forgives. Since psychopaths cause intentional harm and lack conscience–and therefore also lack any meaningful sense of remorse–how applicable can the notion of forgiveness then be to a relationship with them, to what they did wrong? In the article below, How Can I Forgive You? as well as in her book and in her seminar (www.janisaspring.com), Dr. Abrahms Spring offers a more meaningful understanding of forgiveness: one that is earned. Please welcome her guest post below. 

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Almost everything that has been written about forgiveness preaches to hurt parties as to why they should forgive: Forgiveness is good for us; and good people forgive, is the common refrain. But in my clinical practice of over three decades (mostly working with couples recovering from infidelity), I’ve found that when someone acts in a hurtful way and isn’t able or willing to make meaningful repairs, hurt parties choke on the mandate for them to forgive. This makes sense to me. Why are we preaching to the hurt party? Why not turn to offenders and ask them to earn forgiveness?

When hurt parties are pushed to forgive an unrepentant offender, I find they often react in one of three ways:

1)    They refuse to forgive and insist, “Forgiveness may be divine, but it’s not for me.” They’re then left not forgiving – hating and hurting and living in a grudge state – and we know this isn’t healthy.

2)    They’re taught to forgive, they try to forgive, but inside, they often feel cheated and disingenuous.

3)    They say they forgive, but often even those people who describe themselves as the forgiving type, actually forgive less in reality then they’d like to admit.

To me, there’s a missing option in the work of forgiveness, or in the work of healing from interpersonal wounds. Something the lies between the fluffy, inspirational concept of “pure” forgiveness (asking nothing in return), and the hard, cold-hearted response of not forgiving.

I’ve developed a radical alternative which I call “Acceptance.” Acceptance is not forgiveness. Acceptance is a healing alternative which hurt parties accomplish for themselves, by themselves. It asks nothing of the offender which is good because in this condition, offenders have nothing to offer. I say, when an offender is not sorry, when they are unable or unwilling to make meaningful repairs, it is not the job of the hurt party to forgive them. (I call this Cheap Forgiveness). But it is the job of the hurt party to heal themselves. This is the work of Acceptance and in my book, How Can I Forgive You?, I spell out 10 steps hurt parties can take to heal themselves. (One step involves choosing a level of relationship with the offender that serves their best interest. This can range from cutting off to full engagement. A second step would be de-shaming the injury).

What I call Genuine Forgiveness is reserved for those offenders who have the courage and character to make meaningful amends. Again, in my book, I spell out exactly what offenders must do to earn forgiveness, and what hurt parties must do to foster this process. Acceptance is intrapersonal; Genuine Forgiveness is interpersonal.

The work of Genuine Forgiveness operates like that of love. We can love someone alone. (We’ve all been in those relationships). But doesn’t it feel more genuine, more satisfying, more embracing, when we love someone who deserves our love, who treats us with tender regard?

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The Two Phases of Mourning: The Rational and the Emotional

Almost everyone who reads about psychopathy is able to absorb this information on a rational level. We’re able to recognize the symptoms and red flags of this personality disorder, which helps us recognize other people’s psychopathic partners and offer support. But it’s much tougher to absorb this information on an emotional level and apply it to the psychopath in our lives: meaning the person we’re emotionally invested in. This is why weeks, months and even years after ending a relationship with a psychopath, victims still experience moments of doubt, or cognitive dissonance. This may take the form of self-blame, of jealousy towards the psychopath’s other victims or of remembering fondly the psychopath’s luring phase, when he made the greatest effort to hide his deviant acts and to lie to us. Those who stay in close contact with a psychopath risk never getting over the psychopathic bond.

Although nobody gets over a psychopath while still with him, it seems that once they look up the symptoms of his disorder, victims realize, at least intellectually, that they’re dealing with a sick man. The first impulse of a woman living with such a person, once she discovers that the totality of his symptoms comprise a dangerous personality disorder, is to attempt to cure him through her love or with the help of professional counseling.

Her need to change him means that she only has an intellectual understanding of his personality disorder. But she hasn’t yet absorbed the information on an emotional level as well. By “intellectual,” I mean that having done some research, the rational side of her brain has put together the symptoms of her partner’s behavior and seen them as signs of psychopathy. She may be horrified by this discovery. Perhaps a part of her wanted to believe that he was just a regular man, who made the mistake of cheating on her and is sorry about it, who lies sometimes, or who’s impulsive and somewhat childish, but that’s a huge part of his charm, after all. Once you do research on psychopathy you finally realize, on a rational level, the magnitude of his disorder. You also see how much more severe and damaging to others it is compared to “ordinary” cheating, lying or immaturity. You realize, rationally, that you’re not dealing with someone who’s extraordinary, as the psychopath encouraged you to believe. You’re dealing with someone who’s subordinary: with a person who lacks the main qualities that make us human.

When you finally reach this disheartening conclusion, instead of accepting or admiring the psychopath’s behavior as before, you disapprove of it. You also no longer see the problems in the relationship as he presented them to you, as largely your fault. You realize, rationally, that his sex addiction has nothing to do with the fact that you’re not sufficiently attractive or sensual. It has everything to do with his malady. You also see that his constant deception is neither harmless nor normal, as he would like you to believe. It’s pathological and self-serving. Once you realize that the problems in your relationship have much more to do with his personality disorder than with your own deficiencies, you begin to mourn the death of the idealized image of him and of the special relationship you thought you had with him. You also start to ruminate. You obsessively turn over and over in your mind all the lies and inconsistencies he’s told you. But this is not enough to get over the psychopath. You need to absorb this information on an emotional level as well in order to move on.

In her article “Do Psychopaths/Sociopaths Make Choices?” published on May 23, 2008 on lovefraud.com, Liane Leedom draws a distinction between intellectual disagreement with the psychopath’s actions, which is largely a rational process, and emotional disgust with his actions and with him. When you mourn the end of the idealized image of the psychopath only rationally, by disapproving of his behavior, you’re not likely to feel sufficiently repulsed by his identity to want to escape the relationship. You’re more likely to focus instead on improving him, the relationship with him and maybe even your own self (since for as long as you stay with a psychopath, he’ll continue to shift the blame unto to you). You therefore risk remaining under his spell and, therefore, under his thumb. Only once you pass to the second stage of mourning–that of experiencing visceral disgust–do you begin to get over the psychopath, escape his hold on you and move on with your life. Leedom states that you reach this stage once you realize that the sum of his actions is who he is. He is a pathological liar. He is malicious. He lacks empathy. He is completely narcissistic. His harmful actions aren’t normal human mistakes. They reflect the bad person that he is and that he’ll always be, no matter what false promises he makes and how much you may want to believe him.

Since the psychopath knows that, unlike him, you’re a loving person capable of empathy and forgiveness, he may look you in the eyes like a penitent puppy and tell you that the love you feel for him is unconditional. Even though he’s shown time after time that his own professed love for you is nonexistent. What he’s telling you about your own love is, once again, false. It’s a ploy intended to trap you in the toxic relationship with him.

When you go through the process of emotional mourning, you stop liking, respecting and loving the psychopath. After awhile, you no longer even experience anger towards him. Such an emotion still implies some traces of passion, a lingering attraction. He’s sunk so low in your eyes that it’s not even worth hating him. You finally see him as the trivial human being that he is. You’re repulsed by his actions, by all of his malicious lies, by his manipulation of others, by his fake niceness and conditional gifts, by his predatory and perverse sexuality, by everything he does and by everything he is. You reject him deep within your heart, as utterly and completely as one human being can reject another. At that point–and only at that point—are you finally ready to escape the psychopath and the harmful relationship with him that has been your prison.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction


Erased But Not Forgotten: Psychopaths and Emotional Memory

Please welcome a post on psychopaths and emotional memory by our guest blogger, Michael Pacitti, who writes both from his personal experience with a psychopath and from his experience as a mental health professional. This article explains a seeming paradox:  how psychopaths can simultaneously move on from previous relationships and discard their partners so unfeelingly, as if their memories of the relationships were erased, yet still continue to harass and stalk some of their previous targets, in a kind of perpetual relationship boomerang. Hence the title we chose: Erased but Not Forgotten. 

I listened to a song playing on the radio quite recently, a U2 track from their album “how to dismantle an atomic bomb”; the song is called A Man and a Woman. As I listened it took me back to a time early in the relationship with my ex when her idealisation of me was in full swing. I remember playing this song for her when we first met, and I had one of those cognitive dissonance moments as feelings of loss, sadness and melancholia came crashing over me. I had another similar moment looking at some photos of the Lake District, and one of the photos reminded me of a camping trip my ex and I went on in mid July of 2009.

We all experience many of these moments throughout our lives when we encounter a stimulus, it could be a piece of music, a place, a smell, a photo, it could be anything that triggers memories of days gone by, and the people who were or are significant in our lives. In those moments of recall a flood of emotion washes over us and it as though we relive those bittersweet moments all over again; we may experience feelings of joy, happiness, contentment, sadness, grief and so on. These are our emotional memories at play.

There is a biological basis for this mechanism that combines and connects emotion with the storage and retrieval of our memories. Psychologists who have researched memory function have noted that recall involves specific memory pathways within the brain and that these pathways interact at specific neurological locations. Pathways that give rise to the experience of emotion work in tandem with memory storage pathways, in that they are woven together, which is why recall of unpleasant events produce unpleasant emotions; likewise recalling memories of pleasant experiences produces pleasant emotions. We are far more likely to be able to access and recall memories that are associated with strong emotions, than events that are emotionally neutral or are lacking in emotional significance.

What is interesting is that our memories are by and large draped over our experience of emotion, and are stored in these pathways accordingly, with neurological cognitive recall pathways running alongside and working hand in hand with emotional memory pathways.  Our emotional memories can be thought of as a little like an internal journal that charts our growth and development as we move through life. Our emotional life forms the core of our own inner narrative and our narrative with others, whether it is family members, friends, or loved ones who have come and gone. Our experience of emotion determines how we store our memories which helps map, organise, and structure our experiences into a narrative or personal story that gives us a sense of internal temporal continuity. This also gives others a sense of temporal continuity of, and with us. Imagine the chaos and instability we would experience in our lives if it were not for this sense of continuity?

And yet this lack of continuity is precisely one of the defining characteristics of a pathological relationship, where contradictions, dichotomies, and non sequiturs continuously keep us off balance. The psychopathic personality construct is comprised of traits that fall along and make up the Cluster B continuum, and central to all of these variations of psychopathy is a poverty of emotional experience. Neuro-imaging has revealed that psychopaths have anatomical differences in the paralimbic systems of the brain which deal with the processing and experience of emotion. What this means is that psychopaths only experience a narrow, primitive, and primordial spectrum of emotion; and what emotions they do experience are very short lived. They are in other words lacking in an emotional memory, which is one of the reasons why psychopaths are notorious for having poor or selective, and contradictory recall; their neurological pathways are not working in tandem. They actually store memories quite differently to the rest of us due their lacking the emotional pegging neccesary for organising their inner experience of events and people. They are limited to stroring memories in small encapsulated packages, or what Robert Hare refers to as “small thought units” in Without Conscience.

They have no true or real consistent depth of emotional experience that provides them with an emotional temporal inner story with either themselves or others; they are quite literally empty black holes. Their own inner experience of themselves falls through them in much the same way that their experience of others does. They may be capable of cognitive complexity, but rest assured if they are disordered there is little or no sign of emotional intelligence or nuance that enabled you to follow and keep track of their emotional story with us. Their script continually changes, or is rewritten and flips in a manner that is severely emotionally disorientating for the victim, leaving us feeling as though we are plucking a never-ending daisy.

Because they are lacking a core self at the helm of their own experience there comes a point when you realise that there is no consensual narrative or consensual reality. They are in a sense lacking in a personal story when it comes to emotional relating, bonding, attachment, and intimacy. We as their partners believed of course that we were living a narrative with them. What we did not comprehend is that everything we shared with them (or thought we shared), no matter how significant has absolutely no currency with them whatsoever. I found it helpful to think about it like this: Imagine you are thirsty and take a glass, you place the glass under the tap and fill it with water, you put the glass to your lips and realise the glass is empty; I could have sworn I just filled the glass under the tap. In an erratic and dramatic manner, their stories are forever changing and lack a smooth seam that charts their transition from emotional position a, to contradictory emotional position b. Their ever changing scripts to us as victims, made us feel like we had a central role in a very important plot, only to find that the plot had suddenly changed and we were never consulted about it. Our role in the plot suddenly ends and the script we were reading suddenly and abruptly no longer apply.

One of the hallmarks that you have experienced a pathological relationship is that you can recall numerous disagreements, when all previous context, history, and emotional narrative were deleted by your partner. Welcome to the bait and switch. Their behaviours that have caused huge damage to the relationship doesn’t form part of their dialogue and narrative, or enter into the equation during such disagreements. Even to the point of talking in the third person as though they have somehow divorced themselves from themselves and their own behaviour. Psychopaths cannot sustain any consistent position over a period of time; they are quintessentially unstable of feeling, emotion and insight. While they are seemingly able to demonstrate insightfulness in the here and now, they are unable to demonstrate insight into their lack of consistent or longitudinal insight or see the bigger picture. They have no bird’s eye view of their behaviour or how their behaviour has impacted upon us. This is one of the encrypted, crazy making, and puzzling conundrums of these personality disordered people that we can become forever lost in trying to the fathom. How is it that they can appear to have such sound insight in the here and now, and yet have no insight at all into their lack of consistency around their ever changing and dichotomised insights across time?    

 The past seems to somehow miraculously disappear, along with their declared feelings for us, and commitments to us, all in the blink of an eye. In the end, we come to realise that any feelings they said they had for us were nothing more than a primitive expression of emotion designed to have whatever needs they wanted us to meet in that precise here and now moment. Once they are done with us and have secured their next victim, they can delete us as though the past never happened and we never existed.  And yet, periodically, they pop up to harass and stalk some of their previous victims, not because they miss them, but because they need those dominance bonds to feel empowered and alive. 

Michael Pacitti   

Dangerous Liaisons: How To Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Dangerous Liaisons by Claudia Moscovici

I’m happy to report that my nonfiction book about psychopathy, on which I’ve been working for the past few years, Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction, is out in print. You can find it on online bookstores, including amazon.com, on the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Liasons-Recognize-Psychopathic-Seduction/dp/0761855696/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318095970&sr=1-1 
http://www.youtube.com/user/ClaudiaMoscovici?feature=mhee#p/a/u/0/B0B0QYah9ZE
I wrote Dangerous Liaisons based not only on my own terrible personal experience with a psychopath, but also on years of gathering information about psychopathy, from the leading psychology books and websites. Developed from this blog and incorporating some new chapters as well (on psychopaths in literature and art), Dangerous Liaisons includes:
1) information about psychopaths and their victims;
2) a clear and indepth explanation of their techniques of luring victims and
3) a discussion of strategies of escaping from their clutches and moving on with one’s life.
Making a clinical diagnosis of personality disorders is, of course, only up to professional therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. But identifying potentially dangerous traits isn’t just for experts. Any of us can be adversely affected when we allow disordered individuals into our lives. Therefore, knowledge is the most essential form of self-defense for all of us.
Please find below the book’s Advance Praise and Table of Contents.

Advance Praise 

As a clinical specialist in the narcissistic spectrum personality disorders, I find that nobody addresses this subject matter more trenchantly, and with more penetrating insight, than Claudia Moscovici does in her consistently illuminating work. Hers is a clinically keen, lucid mind, indeed. In Dangerous Liaisons, Moscovici presents the reader with the rare opportunity, if he or she dares, to enter and understand the mind and twisted machinations of psychopathic personalities. With dangerously deficient consciences, psychopaths are highly inclined to perpetrate sundry disturbing violations against others, remorselessly. In her examination of the dynamics of this puzzling, chilling personality, and in applying her insights to real-life, modern examples of classic psychopaths, Moscovici has written a book from which anyone (curious lay person or seasoned clinician) interested in how psychopaths insinuate themselves into others’ lives, leaving trails of often hard-to-imagine devastation, will benefit immensely. With Dangerous Liaisons, Moscovici makes an invaluable, genuinely distinguished contribution to the literature on psychopathy.

Steve Becker, MSW, LCSW LoveFraud.com feature columnist, Expert/ Con­su­ltant on Narcissism and Psychopathy 

The Institute has long said that what is shocking is not that pathology exists, but that there is so little public and survivor education about the most dangerous relationships on the planet. Claudia Moscovici’s Dangerous Liaisons is a needed perspective about the invisible tyranny and death grip of pathological love relationships and what they do to those who love psychopaths. We can’t avoid what we can’t spot, and we can’t heal from what we don’t identify. This book helps to highlight the unique strength and lure of pathology, the devastating outcomes to the survivor, and an understanding of what pathology is and does. Not merely another ‘I-Fell-In-Love-With-A-Psychopath’ memoir, Dangerous Liaisons dives into recent information by the leading experts about the most disordered and dangerous person alive.”

Sandra L. Brown, M.A. is a psychopathologist, the CEO The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education, and author of Women Who Love Psychopaths (2nd Ed.), How to Spot a Dangerous Man, and Counseling Victims of Violence.

“I don’t want my past to become anyone else’s future.” – Elie Wiesel

Contents

Introduction

Part I. What is a Psychopath?

1. Charismatic Psychopaths: Mark Hacking and Neil Entwistle

2. What is a Psychopath? Close Readings of Hervey Cleckley’s The Mask of Sanity

3. Psychopaths and Pathological Lying

4. The Psychopath’s Antisocial Behavior

5. Psychopaths as Lovers

6.  Psychopaths and Failure

Part II. The Process of Psychopathic Seduction

1. The Case of Drew Peterson

2.  Red Flags: How to Identify a Psychopathic Bond

3.  The Process of Psychopathic Seduction: Idealize, Devalue and Discard

4.  Artistic Psychopaths: The Case of Picasso

5. The Psychopathic Seducer in Literature: Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe                                                                                            

6.  The Women Who Love Psychopaths

7.  Coping Mechanisms for Staying with a Psychopath

Part III. How to Save Yourself from Psychopathic Seduction

1. Escaping the Psychopath

2. Understanding the Science Behind the Disorder

3. The Two Phases of Mourning: The Rational and the Emotional

4.  Sharing Information with Others

5. Resisting Family/External Pressure to Stay with the Psychopath

6. Know your Worth: A Healthy Self-Esteem is the Key to a Good Life

7. Conclusion: Reclaiming Your Life

Notes

Bibliography

Additional Resources: Websites

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness


Between Envy and Contempt: The Psychopath’s Emotional Pendulum

Envy and contempt don’t necessarily go together. They’re both very negative emotions, but in some ways they’re polar opposites. Envy is about wanting what others have and you lack. Contempt is about disdaining what others want or have. In a psychopath’s mind, however, these two emotions coexist. Psychopaths want what others have. They want to be loved, even adored, for who they are, despite continually lying to, cheating on and mistreating those around them. They want to have professional success, despite the fact they rarely put in the work for it and even cheat their customers or bosses. They want to be respected by their kids, despite the fact that they emotionally abuse them or regard them as mere possessions or trophies. They want to have what normal human beings often have in life but they can’t because of their underlying abnormality. This is why their main emotion is contempt for others and, more generally, for human endeavors, accomplishments and goals.

I became attuned to this pendular attitude when I noticed my psychopathic (ex) partner’s inexplicable and unjustified criticism of and disdain towards others. I recall in particular one incident, when he put down a friend of mine who is a very talented and successful fiction writer, who had just published a novel on the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, which was very similar to my novel about communist Romania, Velvet Totalitarianism. His novel did very well not just in terms of sales but also in terms of critical reviews. My ex referred to that writer as “a Loser” and “a failure” because he didn’t sell in the same quantities as books like the Harry Potter series. I was stunned by the fact that this man (my ex), who had accomplished nothing with his life and got booted out of every job, would put down someone so much more accomplished than him, who was also a nice person. My friend hadn’t done or said anything to insult my ex. My ex’s gratuitous insult towards a talented, successful and nice person stuck with me. I didn’t see any reason for it.

Later, after I informed myself about psychopathy, I realized that he was indirectly also putting me down, so that I wouldn’t feel satisfied with the literary success of my fiction if it wouldn’t be on the scale of books like Harry Potter. Just like he had identified in his wife a low body image and conditioned her to feel fat when she wasn’t, to the point where she had joined Overeaters Anonymous, or pressured her to leave a lucrative job where she was very much appreciated by her colleagues, so he was hoping to find my insecurities and make me feel bad about my dreams and accomplishments.

There were many such incidents during the course of our one year together, which I went over in my mind retrospectively, after the breakup, when I was trying to come to terms with the pathological relationship. To offer one more telling example, I was equally shocked when he greeted the good news that his sister-in-law had just given birth to a new baby with the contemptuous statement: “The kid’s butt-ugly”. At the time, he was already pressuring me about wanting us to have a baby together. I realized that this is how he processed any news about others having something he wanted: with mean-spirited criticism driven by envy. This trait bothered me at the time but, as usual, I chalked it up to his emotional immaturity.

Psychopaths have contempt for worldly ambition, for money, fame or success in any field. They have contempt for human love, viewing it as a weakness that can be easily manipulated. They have contempt for bonds of friendship outside of casual fun or mutual utility. Envy and contempt, wanting what others have yet disdaining it at the same time, are not contradictory emotions for a psychopath. They form the essence of the psychopath’s pendular movement, which springs from an underlying narcissism: his natural equilibrium, or state of being. Psychopaths want to be better than others at everything we thrive at and hold dear, but at the same time they disdain human values and their fellow human beings.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

 


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

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction