Why Psychopaths Are Feared

Tell people that you’ve had a few run ins with the law and that you were a little devil as a child and they nod.  Tell them that you are a psychopath and they run.  While people are afraid of mental abnormalities and / or mental illness to begin with, it seems that there is heightened fear toward those with Antisocial Personality Disorder and/or psychopathy.  As always, I am not one to say that such a fear is necessarily unjustified.  The psychopath, in particular, does not get assessed regarding the condition without significant evidence of antisocial thought and deed.  However, I do believe there are two main reasons that the psychopath is singled out with such fear by the neurotypical.  The lack of empathy we possess and the associations with violent criminals define the reactions that neurotypicals have to our existence.

Earlier this evening, I met with my therapist as part of touching base from time to time to ensure that my Bipolar symptoms are mitigated and that I have not gone too far off the antisocial end.  As part of that session, I related to her – in passing and without emotional feeling – that my closest friend was strongly considering suicide due to a rough turn of events in his life.  As she began to show feelings of grave concern, I started giggling.  Not because my friend is debating suicide but because of my therapist’s sudden change from a light-hearted tone to that possessing a great gravity.  She became aghast with her thoughts that I could be so dismissive of my friend’s plight.  Yes, she was the one that administered the PCL-R, but at times I believe she forgets just how little empathy I possess.  I bring up this story because this disconnect between the events in our lives and the psychopath’s reaction to them cause many great pause.  How can one be human if they cannot feel the pain of others, the neurotypical may think.  Even worse, what can those without empathy do if they have no connection to any other living human?  This brings me to the second reason that I believe the neurotypical is so fearful of the psychopath.

The neurotypical wishes to equate a lack of empathy with an ability to commit great grievance.  And, this is not necessarily untrue.  However, the association between the millions of psychopaths that stay out of jail and those that are incarcerated for life is unjust.  Yes, many (quite possibly the majority) psychopaths are rotting away in jail due to heinous deeds, but many more show some level of restraint.  We may not be angels, but we are not unequivocally demons either.  However, this want to demonize an out-group relative to the self is not uncommon for the neurotypical.  We see this all the time with straight/gay dynamics, religious dynamics, class dynamics, so on and so forth.  And, many liberal cultures suggest that such approaches are undesirable.  Yet, apply this to the psychopath and it is AOK.

Ultimately, I am not surprised by society’s want to silence and fear the psychopath.  It is merely unfortunate given that the only way to determine the merits of any group, psychopaths included, is for discussion – not silencing – to be had.

Psychopaths and Humor
When a Psychopath Ends Relationships


  1. says

    That association with violence and subsequent demonization is, I think, a direct offshoot of the psychological voodoo neurotypicals practice as naturally as we breathe. Everything from blaming rape victims for what they were wearing, to the absofreakinglute *viciousness* with which mothers especially will judge one of their number who has lost a child. We have to believe that horrible things happen to people who do something wrong, because then we get to believe that there’s a formula that will keep us safe from random tragedy.
    And part of that is believing that only psychopaths and horribly sick people—-so broken as to not be considered human—-are capable of committing atrocities. Most serial killers are psychopaths, but most people are in no danger of falling prey to one. Conversely, most violent criminals are not psychopaths, and they are the ones which pose the far larger threat. The regular, run-of-the-mill emotions that we treasure as being so human are the exact same ones which can and do drive people to do some goddamn unbelievable things.
    But that terrifies us. We need categories, and preferably listsicles to teach us how to identify those categories in twelve memes or less. We also need those categories to be very defined, we need to believe that we can identify dangerous people.
    Learning that someone you interact with regularly, and who may have struck you as odd but never made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, is a real live psychopath—-that means that you can’t recognize the bad guys, either because you suck at instinct or because the bad guys aren’t that easy to recognize after all. Either of those options undoes one’s secure worldview, and we will go to great lengths to spare ourselves that dilemma.

  2. Aygün says

    “We see this all the time with straight/gay dynamics, religious dynamics, class dynamics, so on and so forth. And, many liberal cultures suggest that such approaches are undesirable. Yet, apply this to the psychopath and it is AOK.”

    Aye – every race, ethnicity, faith, creed, gender, orientation etc etc is accepted and should not be discriminated against, but if it’s your brain that is wired differently, then, apparently, you should spend the entirety of your life apologizing for the way you were born. I don’t think so

  3. Anon says

    Nobody should be judged on the basis of who – or what – they are. I guess the difference lies in what they do.

  4. Jay says

    Psychopathy has not been proven to be resultant solely from organic factors (in fact many experts cite a genetic component likely triggered by childhood environmental stressors), but even if it were, it would not likely be the brain’s structure for which the pychopaths among us face opposition, but rather for the resulting moral breaches which tend to arise should the condition go untreated. Psychopathy is not merely a sexual orientation, a race or an ethnicity — things from which a society requiring distinctions between right and wrong behaviours for the purpose of working symbiosis need feel no threat — but rather a direct compulsion to neglect social convention and to deride honest social cohesion among other individuals and groups as an unnecessary niceity, either in the way of one’s own advantage, or as a trait which can be manipulated. Whereas multiculturalism is socially inclusive, by definition the psychopath is socially exclusive.

  5. henry says

    There was a time, when Chriatianity was afraid of scientists because they coukd challenge the religious order with science. About 1500s.
    There was a time, being blamed as a witch was a death sentence. About 1600s.
    There was a time being a government official in Europe was a sure way to lose to lose your head. 1700s.
    There was a time when everybody was too busy creating technology and setting up empires to care much what one thought :1800s to early 1920s.
    From 1920s a bunch of people took it upon themselves to run the world. Realized they were not the only psychopaths.
    Since 1940s, they have been working very hard to eliminate psychopaths.
    Psychopaths are emotionally unattached and fanatical about acquiring skills of all kinds.
    Skills of all kinds are being rendered necessary in our schools and in our lives. We are all, you see, supposed to turn into vegetables.
    The NTs have given up mainly. The psychopaths not in jail who are not jailbait are in hiding because there is a witch hunt out for them everywhere.
    The only sad thing about all this, is that a psychopath is just a person like you, who does not harbor any emotional baggage. Thats it.
    NT are duped into hunting the only one person who can help them navigate through their confusing mirage of emotions to see the reality staring them in the face.
    That unless you wake up and start controlling your environment, you will wind up a slave if you are not one already.

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