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How do you know if you're a psychopath?

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Quick Answer

According to Psychology Today, only a registered forensic psychologist or psychiatrist with explicit training can diagnose someone as a psychopath. These professionals identify psychopathy by looking at a set of symptoms. Psychopaths themselves do not believe they have any psychological problems.

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Full Answer

Psychopathy is a syndrome characterized by a set of symptoms. According to Psychology Today, psychopathy researcher, Robert Hare, and a team of clinicians studied prison inmates to help them create the Psychopathy Checklist, a detailed profile that lists the traits of a psychopath. Qualified clinicians use this checklist and a formal scoring manual to identify psychopathic behavior.

Psychology Today lists key emotional/interpersonal traits of a psychopath as being glib and superficial, egocentric and grandiose, and deceitful and manipulative. A psychopath is also characterized by a lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy and shallow emotions.

Psychopaths show signs of social deviance, notes Psychology Today, including impulsivity, poor behavior controls, a need for excitement, lack of responsibility, early behavior problems and adult antisocial behavior. Many psychopaths are criminals. Many, though not all, end up spending time in prison.

Many people have some symptoms from the Psychopathy Checklist, but this does not make them psychopaths, states Psychology Today. The checklist and scoring manual help clinicians distinguish between psychopaths and people who simply break some of society's rules.

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