• Quote of the Day
    "For most people, transformation is slow. It happens without you realizing it."
    Marsha Linehan, posted by Daniel

David Baxter

Mar 26, 2004
How to tell who’s a psychopath
By Tuan C. Nguyen, SmartPlanet
March 9, 2012

Whether it’s Ted Bundy or a fictional character such as Hannibal Lecter, psychopaths elicit within us a sense of morbid fascination.

How did they come to be? Are they born out of society’s failures or simply born evil? Recent evidence has shown that their brains appear to be wired differently than most people. Yet what makes them even more mysterious is that on the outside, they appear as inconspicuous as the next person.

However, a study now suggests that there may be a way to identify psychopaths and it involves simply recognizing certain patterns and words in their speech. The finding may make it possible to screen suspects and even enable law enforcement to develop better strategies to track down or interrogate suspects. Additionally, clinical psychologists can use such insights to formulate improved treatment programs.

To investigate whether there are actually “psychopathic tendencies” in the way a person talks, researchers at Cornell University compared stories told by 14 imprisoned psychopathic male murderers with those of 38 convicted murderers who were not diagnosed as psychopathic. Each subject was asked to describe his crime in detail; the stories were taped, transcribed and subjected to computer analysis.

The analysis showed that psychopaths are more likely than other criminals to use words that reveal a great degree of selfishness, detachment from their crimes and emotional flatness, the study found. These include conjunctions like “because,” “since” or “so that,” to imply that the crime “had to be done” to obtain a particular goal. Here are a few other notable differences:

  • Psychopaths used twice as many words relating to physical needs, such as food, sex or money, while non-psychopaths used more words about social needs, including family, religion and spirituality.
  • They were also more likely to use the past tense, suggesting a detachment from their crimes.
  • They tended to be less fluent in their speech, using more “ums” and “uhs.” The exact reason for this is not clear, but the researchers speculate that the psychopath is trying harder to make a positive impression and needs to use more mental effort to frame the story.
However, the researchers caution that their analysis applies only to murderers relating the story of their own crimes, and called for further studies of speech patterns in more neutral situations, such as telling a neutral story from the subjects’ past or describing an incident shown to them on video.

“These findings on speech begin to open the window into the mind of the psychopath, allowing us to infer that the psychopath’s world view is fundamentally different from the rest of the human species,” the researchers concluded.


Mar 13, 2012
This research seems to imply that we all have psychopathic tendencies to some degree or another:

Point number one: considering the present superficiality trend in society where people seem to be overly concerned with how they look (body modification, clothes, sexual appeal) and how much money they have to buy “things”, the latest phone, the latest fashion, the latest vehicle, the latest boobs.

Point number 2: not many people live in “The Now”, and our psyches are based on past experiences.
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Forum Supporter
Aug 5, 2004
considering the present superficiality trend in society where people seem to be overly concerned with how they look (body modification, clothes, sexual appeal) and how much money they have to buy “things”, the latest phone, the latest fashion, the latest vehicle, the latest boobs.

Which doesn't represent a lack of empathy per se but a misguided way of seeking love/validation/meaning. For example:

Today when there's much more freedom and much less family support, there's a great deal more anxiety about finding a partner. And I think that that plays into this type of personality, who starts out with a great deal of anxiety, feeling unloved, and very frightened that they'll never find anyone.

Am I Co-Dependent or Addicted to Love?

Many people, especially women, are too nice/empathetic to their significant other, whose behavior may be comparatively selfish/narcissistic -- as in codependent relationships.

More generally:
"Most psychopaths are male, although the reasons for this sex difference are unknown." (What "Psychopath" Means: Scientific American)



Aug 17, 2005
On reading the original post, it put me in mind of the infamous Russel Williams, the army colonel who led a double life as a distinguished officer in Canada and a depraved serial sexual killer.

Looking at the You Tube videos of the police interogation, his manner and rationalizations for his crimes reflect the observations of the cited study.


May 30, 2012
This is my experience of identifying the psychopathic personality.

I identify strongly with what Daniel said '...a lack of empathy per se...' To me, that lack of empathy rings loader than the occasional humour many people have, of say, another?s misfortune. It rings load to me when someone describes, humorously, their part in an incident that caused pain and suffering in another person. They not only see the incident as funny, but they also seem to be looking for credit for their sense of humour. The psychopath also seems to have no identification with the other person who suffered by their ill-treating behaviour. However, they may display empathy after they get a cue to do so, but by then, those who recognise this, know it is a fake display. This further re-enforces their lack of empathy.

Furthermore, they will try to hide their psychopathic identity by trying to ?get away with it? ? i.e., not get caught out. Often, if the psychopath suspects to be ?found out?, they try to laugh it off or use other means to win the opposition?s favour. Sometimes when their simulated empathy, and tactics to keep it valid, fail, they may resign to the fact they are now exposed and may even say they are ? like ?damn, you caught me.?


Sep 26, 2012
Greetings... psychopaths... well definitely ill, and if it's mostly involving males, well maybe it's a disturbing malfunction of man's "hunter" instincts...
We ladies - we have the Couponers... the "gatherers"... I dated a guy for six months, and he was definitely pschopathic. You realize that their behaviour is so way over the line (when they slip up) but meanwhile, they always carefully preserve their image - as a "nice guy".... NOT


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