Many, incorrectly, assume that since the psychopath lacks affective empathy, that they must not have any understanding of how another functions. This could not be further from the truth. We may lack the capacity to automatically feel what others are feeling (affective empathy), but we do understand why they are feeling what they are feeling. I know, at times, I have to step back and accept that the ‘why’ of what they are feeling seems juvenile to me, but I still grasp the mechanisms that are in play. Having this understanding allows me to find targets easily for parasitism and other useful behavior. Like a heatseeking missile, I am able to detect their vulnerabilities, knowing why they are vulnerable. It all comes down to understanding their emotions as well as their wants and needs.
Going for their metaphorical heartstrings is one way to exploit. Going after their mental state is another. The latter is where the successful psychopath should focus her efforts. Some people are overly trusting. Some people are overly naive. Others respond well to flattery and esteem-boosting tactics. Each person works a little bit differently. However, the patterns usually become apparent. That person that is having an awful day wants to hear anything that sounds uplifting. The person that just got dumped wants to have some reassurance of their own self-worth. The key in all of these examples is to recognize their current mental state, the reasons why they are in such a state, and to realize what actions or words are beneficial for ‘relieving’ such.
Put another way, if we see lightning, we know there is a storm in the distance. We can take the presentation of another in front of us and quickly learn which avenues are available for manipulation. An elated person wants more elation. A sorrowful person wants relief. Most representations of human expression have an underlying cause and a route to maintain or elevate that emotional state. It is all a puzzle, and one that psychopaths can easily solve in order to further their own wants and needs.
We psychopaths have emotion, can strive to understand our emotions – specifically, what causes them – and then use this knowledge for our gain when it comes to others. The successful psychopath has already spent a lifetime analyzing the way others work. Maybe I don’t get choked up when my friends, family, and pets die or become ill, but I do realize that the non-psychopath will have this response and, as such, consoling rather than indifference is needed to establish false trust. We may have a muted ability to empathize, but we are not stupid. We know exactly what makes others tick. This knowledge makes for an excellent gameplan of how to get what we want from others.