Are You a Psychopath?

The term “psychopath” is one you’ve probably heard tossed around in conversation, sometimes flippantly. But what is a psychopath, really, and how can you tell if you fall under this classification?

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is associated with individuals who are very antisocial. They show little remorse for their actions and typically have a low sense of empathy.

Though most mental health professionals do not diagnose individuals as “psychopaths,” the disorder is commonly associated with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), which is noted in the DSM5.

In popular culture, we think of psychopaths as people who have no regard for the rights of others. We think of criminals, or even serial killers, who do not follow the same set of moral guidance as the general public.

It’s important to note, however, that not all psychopaths or “sociopaths” end up becoming criminals. Like most disorders, psychopathy affects people in different ways, and some people condition themselves to overcome their predispositions.

Now, if you want to find out where you stand when it comes to psychopathy, here are some great methods:

*NOTE: Keep in mind that some of the methods below are only meant to give you an idea of whether or not you are a psychopath. Always consult a mental health professional if you wish to determine whether or not you have ASPD.

1. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist

For decades, Dr. Robert Hare’s assessment has been the most commonly used resource for measuring and identifying psychopathy in individuals. His “checklist” rates your tendency toward antisocial behavior via 20 distinct personality traits.

You receive a score out of 40 points that will determine your level of psychopathy. In the U.S., 30 points out of 40 is enough to classify you as a psychopath, and other scores vary by country.

Though this method is widely trusted, it can only be administered by a licensed therapist or counselor. Additionally, some researchers believe that this test makes too many assumptions about criminal behavior without acknowledging the full context of the person taking it, including their gender and race.

2. The Cleckley Clinical Profile

If you simply want a snapshot of psychopathic character traits you may have, then consider Hervey Cleckley’s clinical profile.

He determined the 16 most “common” personality traits associated with psychopathy, and this list is actually the basis for a lot of Dr. Hare’s research.

Here are just a few of the traits he lists:

  1. The person is very superficial, charming and intelligent.
  2. Very dishonest and insincere.
  3. Failure to learn from experience.
  4. Failure to follow any life plan.
  5. Many signs of irrational thinking.

Cleckley himself insists that none of these traits (or the additional 11) indicate whether or not a person is hostile. He even suggests that most people who are technically and perhaps unknowingly psychopathic do not carry out aggressive, criminal acts.