Depending on the word used we either are a disease of the mind or a disease of society.  I prefer to think of some of our inclinations as being that of cannibals.  We feast on the naivety of our fellow human beings, often leaving the broken, and leaving us full until we need to feed again.  We find a host and bleed them dry, hopefully without them realizing or having the means to challenge us.  The PCL-R refers to this trait as living a “parasitic lifestyle”.

The way this cannibalism takes place can vary.  Maybe you are perpetually “sick” at work and manage to get extended sick leave that others do not.  Maybe I constantly find ways to reduce my rent due to “hardship” so that I don’t have to pay as much, even though I have the money.  Maybe you are always visiting family, not because you care about them, but because they are willing to provide free meals and gifts.  Psychopaths who swindle others or society out of their money in exchange for token compassion and companionship are feasting on others’ means and generosity.  The common theme is that the psychopath is taking far more than the give, if they give anything at all.

This parasitism can also be of an emotional nature.  Interpersonal relationships in which the psychopath takes much and gives little emotional energy are not uncommon.  I am guilty of this with nearly all of my interpersonal relationships.  I do not care what the other person needs so long as I can have mine met.  I can no longer count the number of former relationships in which I would exact every last ounce of empathy and emotional energy from the other without ever giving any empathy or energy of my own.  I would be the person to call at three in the morning because I was bored and wanted to alleviate that by talking with someone.  However, I’d also be the person to ignore any such call from anyone else.

The intelligent and capable psychopath is probably in a position where they do not need to be a parasite at all in order to survive.  Part of the allure is laziness.  Why work and give good faith effort when I can just swindle or steal for the things I desire?  Part of the allure is also gamesmanship.  I want to see what I can gain from others.  I want to see how to maximize my reward to effort.  Ultimately, these gains must come from fellow humans and from society.  The immature psychopath may take out their aggression and curiosity in the maiming of animals, but that is not going to pay the bills or feed them.  Only another human being (or equivalent entity) can provide those items. Only by being a parasite can the psychopath get a discount on what should be paid at full price.




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