Psychopathy: A User’s Guide

My husband and I both have extensive, personal experience with psychopaths. Consequently we’ve been able to compare notes and analyze this phenomenon in depth.

While psychopaths have this one thing in common: they have no remorse, there are marked differences between individuals. If you happen to have a psychopath in your life, who you can’t (or don’t want to) get rid of, it helps to define them.

We have been able to isolate qualities that distinguish various psychopaths we know. For example, some of them will do virtually anything to anyone at anytime. Others do have some lines.

The lines are not based upon any type of morals. If the psychopath decides to draw a line somewhere around what he or she won’t do, chances are the motivation is self-preservation. In other words if you are part of the network that supports the psychopath, they might decide to exclude you from their hi jinks.

In contrast there are other psychopaths who exclude no one. They “bite the hand that feeds them” as the saying goes and this is a different scenario altogether.

Having dealt with both types, I can tell you that distinguishing this is a great help but here is my question:

Do you know anyone who bites the hand that feeds them? What do you make of it?

Skip to Psychopaths – Biting The Hand That Feeds You.

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Psychopathy: A User’s Guide — 59 Comments

  1. I don’t think so. I have always never understood people who would pick fights with their bosses. It seems to me that you should always be aware of what side your bread is buttered on so to speak. Having said that I may have nibbled at the feeding hand one relationship on occasion but I don’t think I would bite it 🙂

  2. Yes, several. They seem highly paranoid or even cynical. Perhaps they figure you’ll bite them eventually…so they steal the initiative and attack first. In a perverse way it makes sense: if they find a ‘reason’ to hurt the one who helps them, they can avoid feeling indebted/loyal and maintain complete autonomy. Which is exactly what they want – the freedom to do “anything to anyone anytime”. No lines, no responsibility, no feelings.

    • Psychopaths don’t feel anything so that whole thought process you just described doesn’t apply. There’s nothing at all. All they see is the end game and moving pieces around on the board in order to achieve whatever aim they have in mind. Indebtedness and loyalty involves an emotional apparatus that doesn’t exist in these folks

  3. *delurking* I’ve followed this topic with interest, because I’ve had similar experiences to what you’ve described. All the sociopaths I’ve witnessed will cross the line eventually, in that when their shenanigans finally catch up to them, they try to shift blame onto their closest associates. *relurks*

  4. Piya, I think the official estimate is about 4% of the population which seems about right to me. I did search and 3.4% are anorexic if that gives you some perspective.

    I have never met an anorexic, lol.

  5. yes, i lived with one until my father finally threw him out of the house at 18 and 1 day (just to be safe)- and let me tell you, it was a hell of a fight to survive the daily grind… he has no sense of remorse and continually bite the hands that fed him- a real nut job/ a criminal.
    the astrology of how we each delt with life under demented 29Sag son:
    ME: Scorp SUn-AquMoon- being able to seperate myself from abnormal behavior and emotionally detach myself from daily living ARIESMars- always had an action plan. somewhere to go- people to see- an exit- a job at 10 years old- and hidden money.
    Father: Cancer sun-Cap Moon- tough love- the rebellous son will finally learn after being grounded, things taken away, make him get a job (he would be fired after 2 days- either stole from them or screwed them over somehow) Mars Virgo- specific lists of chores for bad son to do-then gone again for a month – work.
    Mother Pisces sun-Cancer moon- my son is a genius. misunderstood. ‘he tested genius, you know’ he needs, he needs, he needs- he needs more understanding and love. mars at 28AQU- let me rationalize all of my sons actions.
    now, what do i think of sociopaths? nothing, they just exist- empty shells.

  6. I agree with the points made by ep.

    Also:

    I looked it up in Wickapedia – ‘psychopathy’ (interchangable with ‘sociopathy’) – a psychological construct that describes chronic immoral and antisocial behavior.

    Then I looked up ‘antisocial’ behavior and it says persons who are harmful or hostile to others, or society in general.

    .

    Wick. states that psychopaths are 1 percent of the population.

    I think there is a continuum with someone like Bundy being a quintisential 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 for psychopath/sociopath. I would also put full blown pedaphiles (sp) ranking as 10 on that list.

    Now, it is sometimes hard to differentiate incest offenders from pediphiles because they are not always one and the same. Incest offenders are very often also drunks and only engage in their unfortunate and heinous behaviors when they are drunk.

    Pedaphiles are rarely drunks but more like just obsessed with having sexual activity with kids; because they just cannot enjoy sexual activity with adults. Adults do not turn them on, but some act on it and some just fantasize.

    For me it is difficult to distinguish a lesser psychopath/sociopath (lets say 1 thru 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 [10 being the worst possible]) sociopath from a garden variety mean drunk who has either fallen off the wagon or never been on the wagon to begin with.

    I have known too many on every level, but alot of that is because I have worked in sex offender & behavior disorder units in a state hospital which means they are all repeat offenders.

    For people who bite the hand that feeds them, maybe some of them are psycho/sociopaths and some of them are just: a) idiots, and b) come from mothers who always taught them they were little gods no matter how shitty, inappropriate, obnoxious, offensive, rude, cruel, or just plain EVIL their behavior. They grow up to be assholes. Sorry moms, and I fully expect to get jumped for saying this, but that’s ok. I have witnessed it time and time again. Meet a low level psychopath/sociopath, meet their mama. It often tells the entire story.

    • You can distinguish between a psychopath and a mean drunk who fell off the wagon by whether or not they actually feel bad about what they did the next day…when they are sober. A psychopath doesn’t develop feelings later on. The emotional apparatus is completely missing. Some of them with attempt to replicate remorse to get you off their back but you. Can tell it’s fake because it’s dead pan…sincerity is subjective so it’s hard for them to copy

  7. I have just submitted a long post, but Wick says 1 percent. I think it is more like 4 percent if you are considering sociopath at all levels. At Bundy level, maybe it is only 1 percent. Hope it’s only 1 percent.

  8. I have a sociopath in my family. Interesting little creature, no remorse whatsoever. Devoid of any true empathy. Thankfully not physically dangerous to anyone.

    Elsa I know a Taurus that used to be an anorexic!?

  9. I had a three year relationship with a psychopath. They are not individuals. They are shells of hollow people who walk this earth and hide behind smiles and fake laughs while the challenges of real life happens to you. When you ‘need’ something from them, they cannot deliver.

    They do a stellar job at ‘acting’ as if they are the center of your life but if you really examined the relationship and stood up for yourself you would see the exterior start to crack on your psychopath.

    They are only on your ‘ride’ for a brief moment. That means, until you start questioning their lies, stop giving them sex, money and attention.

    I had a huge wake up call in July 08 when this person that I had done most everything for bit my hand. Telling me he had never asked me for anything. This was his way of shrugging his responsibility. It took 7 months to break the relationship off.

    It’s been very different from a break up. It is more like a death. It’s rare that you know your own murderer when you haven’t even died yet.

    lucky

    • I had a seven year relationship with one and I myself used to call myself a “lucky girl”, lol. Now I would call myself that but only because after it ended in the most horrible way, I’m lucky to have survived.

  10. I have heard the 1% figure too but think it’s probably higher. 4% is probably too high so somewhere in that range…

    In the old days it was 1% in the new days it’s 4%. 😉

    1-2% is probably pretty accurate.

  11. Every time I read this I think Stavrogin from Dostoevsky’s Devils. Can’t help it. A sociopath who is dead inside. My professor realized that Stavrogin, the sociopath, is dead inside before I did. It’s interesting to think that a sociopath, someone free from rules and compunctions that come up in society, has to be dead inside. What are they missing that makes people alive? Is it because we can’t understand life from their point of view? I mean, what if they were the status quo rather than people with an absence of something that we all have? I was always amazed that they play by some human rules and not others. Like going to work.

    • In Dante inferno…the center of hell is ice, not fire. Cold hearted betrayal is depicted by a three headed (liar) beast. Quintessential evil is cold and lacking passion. Murder usually requires some form of passion or heat. The center of hell is so cold there isn’t even a breeze blowing.

      • When I said something the psycho did not like…he would tell me now you’re on ice, meaning the silent treatment for an undetermined amount of time. Cold hearted in every way.

  12. May I ask, Luckygirl, do you have the Neptune/ Venus phenomenon?

    I am still thinking about that post about projecting my ‘reasonable’ morals onto the other. Now I am not saying I have perfect morals, whatever that means, I do have Venus in Aries which is capable of going after whatever they want come what may, but I am saying I have ‘reasonable’ morals in my opinion.

    So this projecting thing, for me, goes like this:

    He does a Super Shitty thing that I did not deserve, or for no damn reason at all, and then, a couple days later, he apologizes and says he “will never do it again.” Or he says “I only did xyz only because I was drunk and I will never do it again.”

    Or, in a very recent example, I got an e-mail saying, “I am sorry I did xyz but I did it because I was drunk, however, I am not anything like the sociopath you are making me out to be.”

    So here we do not even hear the Fake Remorse as in “I will never do it again.” Instead, I am blamed, as if it was I who did something wrong, which goes right back to what our friend the lurker said on another thread. They get busted and then they blame YOU.

    I don’t know if it is sociopathic behavior (although it kind of sounds like it, you reckon?) but I do know it SUCKS and it is not acceptable!

    I didn’t respond to that e-mail naturally, but what I was thinking is “I didn’t call you a sociopath, I called you a drunken angry Internet Troll. All I did was state the actual facts. It was All the Other People who called you all those other things!” Wake up! (he won’t, he’ll run to mama in one form or another and I do blame her for a portion of him being how he is!)

    Back to the projection, here is what I think I was projecting all this time. By my moral standards, if I say I am sorry and I will never do xyz again, then THAT IS WHAT I REALLY MEAN! I mean what I say, it will not happen again. I think that is what I projected for 4 years, “he means what he says, he said he won’t do it again, therefore he won’t do it again.”

    But no! He is going to do it again and again and again and again ad infinitum, one version or another of xyz (and abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw also). He is just Saying it, he doesn’t really Mean it. Earth to Loonsounds, and duh and duh!

    I mean for crying out loud, STOLE from me! Took my credit card and bought himself probably what amounts to a felony amount of stuff. And did he use my credit card or bank card just once???? No.

    Plus, he broke the door hinge off two different doors in my house…he broke two doors in one night. What was he wanked out about? Who knows! I don’t think he was even drunk that time!

    When I look back on all that it would be easy to think that I am a hopeless case in a couple areas of my life. This is not self pity, but maybe I need to stay away from men forever now?

    Venus in Aries in the 1st, Neptune in Libra in the 7th, Neptune ruling the chart (Pisces rising)

  13. I know! Progressed Moon just left cancer and has gone into Leo. I am officially warding off mama’s spoiled brat boys, evil out! Perhaps I might want to give up musicians also.

    • In the book “Dark Money” the author postulates that Charles Koch is power hungry and out of control because when his father died it was the last person in this world who could tell him NO. Arrogance unchecked

  14. Most sociopaths will cross the line at one time or another. They’re arrogant and believe no one is as important as they are. Even their bosses and benefactors aren’t safe.

  15. the one i grew up around is really smart and good at avoiding getting caught at anything that would provide serious consequences. those are predictable in that they avoid getting caught red handed.
    like you say, self preservation, and enough smarts to do it well.

  16. it’s good to distinguish between psychopath & sociopath though… they’re not the same.
    i’m not sure what the operational definition is, but as i understand it, sociopaths see other people a people, rather than objects… they just don’t connect emotionally. psychopathy is an even bigger separation from reality…

  17. I haven’t experienced these kinds directly. Am so glad Loonsounds and Lucky Girl escaped their clutches. I can relate to Loonsounds comments of avoiding men and musicians…but for different reasons.
    I have met two women who lack empathy: they are tough and hard, but from what I can tell don’t do physical harm, but mental and emotional harm.

    Here in Australia many are closely watching the trial of Dr Death: a surgeon, on a cancelled medical licence mind you, operating and causing the death of 3 patients and severely damaging 16 others. See news video here:

  18. Everything I want and dare to say about this is packaged neatly in a movie called ‘American Psycho’ with my ex-pretend boyfriend Christian Bale.

  19. I’m not sure what biting the hand that feeds you has to do with being a psycho/socio-path? I think of this more so as resenting being dependant on someone, be it their money, employment, power they hold over you. I thought it was more of telling someone to go screw themselves even though it means you will lose what they give you – but that your independence/dignity is more important….(maybe I am missing another point on this).

    Anyway, I have known/know those who really just like to fuck with people’s heads, and they do this to re-inforce their feelings of smug superiority. I don’t pay them much mind, and they don’t like me much either, since I don’t put up with even a second of crap like this. Actually I only know people like this since I am forced to work with them – I would never give them a second of my valuable personal time.

  20. I knew someone for 4 years who bit the hand that fed her, me:

    It was as if she didn’t apprciate me helping her get off drugs, as if I never comforted her after she had romances time and time again;

    Earlier this year she manipulated and used me so badly & viciously that I was in misery for too long-

    She was going back to those bad habits that I can’t deal with so with the help trPluto conj Neptune I was able to kick her out of my life for now-

    It hurts to know that she used me but now I am free- she needs help, hardcore *help*

    She attracted too much drama & thrived on the negativity.

    • Let’s hope you got something out of the relationship with her (or you wouldn’t have involved yourself in the first place). It’s easy to forget all the good when things go bad.

  21. WELL PUT! Dorothy…But I myself have an inferiority complex( envying at times those with smug complexes) but I also have this unconditional love hang up thing that keeps me trying, and for some reason,( beyond my own comprehension,) I keep giving seconds,minutes and even hours of my valuable personal time,to get to the truth…call me foolish. Call me whatever you care to… I may be that, but… I’ll take it. I am in search for the truth and I will remain in Faith!

    • Yes…in search of “hope” that somebody somewhere will appreciate that unconditional love 🙂 I have Venus square Neptune in my natal so I wear those rose tinted glasses too. I’m realizing the fantasy is sooo much better than reality. Lol I noticed I recover much faster from disappointment than most. I hope for that future day when the fantasy becomes real…knowing full well it may be never happen. Would be dead inside if I gave up on the dream

  22. “”They are shells of hollow people who walk this earth and hide behind smiles and fake laughs while the challenges of real life happens to you. When you ‘need’ something from them, they cannot deliver. “” Lucky – your post was spot on.

    In fact when my dumped me his words were: I am not as advertised, I can not deliver, I am not the guy you think i am” Those were probably the only true words he said

    He is someone who will email 20 women on a dating site each morning w/ the same message : “hope you tuesday***sparkles**** vomit. Mail another 20 and say, ‘gotta tell ya, you are the only one i’ve written to here so I hope this thing works’.

    While i spent months in a ball still trying to recover he was testing his new fake personna on dating sites, he ran up bills, declared bankkruptcy and jettisoned all of his debt, and had a constant stream of attention from women who he wrote and told I AM A GREAT GUY. If it didn’t go well with one of them, he would blame them- you must have misunderstood me. He has not suffered the consequences of any of his actions.

    What’s so hard about being them? Most days his life looks way more attractive than mine.

    He just stopped texting me 3 days ago after 6 months of harassment. He’s too busy with the other 120 women he’s emailing.

    • I think you, Lucky Girl, me, and many girls on any dating sites have had relationships with the same guy. Chameleons with Satan’s horns wrapped in the nicest guy gift wrap. Danger for sure.

  23. Gah. All this hits a little too close to home. I know such a person (possibly more than one), and unfortunately I am quite close to her… although she is doing a good job of fixing that by displaying most of the behaviors described here. No responsibility, no remorse, blaming others for everything, never following through on promises, abusing people, etc.

    I am not qualified to make the diagnosis, but judging from the various checklists, she sure seems to fit the criteria of being a psychopath. 🙁 I was hoping that maybe she would “grow out of it” as she is still young (17) but so far it doesn’t look like it… and what she does goes beyond “the world owes me and I know everything best” teenage behavior.

    It’s hard because how do you deal with such a person? Get rid of them? That may not be an option here.

  24. I am a psychopath, I know this because I scored a 34 on the PCL-R, I’m not concerned with what you call me I just am, but, an aquaintance of mine is a sociopath, whom I find very entertaining, we view things in much the same way but my friend is much louder and emotional(in that he gets worked up easily) about thing we think the same way about. anyway for some reason we seem to feed off of each others destructive natures, and I was curious as to what anyones thoughts were as to how people such as us ended up being( I don’t think i would call anyone a friend) but close personal contacts.

  25. Excuse me but I posted my last before I read through all the responses. There IS a difference between psychopaths and sociopaths read up on HARE and KLECKLEY. And I dont think parents have anything to do with psychopathy. my parents were plenty adequate, I wasn’t neglected of beaten excessively, I was not unloved. I was not picked on in high school( though i may have contributed to some other peoples problems, but they were stupid anyway) I just am the way I am.

  26. I am going to continue posting these short messages because i am unsure of how long this site will let the posts get, but i am feeling talkative so i will continue to ramble for those who are interested. I do not think I was always without morals, conscience, or standards. i remember feeling hate and anger about 5 years ago toward a coworker of mine, who I ended up jumping up and down on his head before it ocurred to me that it would be extremely inconvenient to kill him.

  27. I am concerned, I think that is the appropriate term. that when i get out of the Marine Corps. that I will no longer be able to direct my destructiveness in an acceptable direction.( me and my sociopathic aquaintance are Marine Corps. Bomb technicians), it’s an entertaining job, and most of the people are enteraining to work with. In fact I would guess that at least 80% of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians(the official name for Bomb Techs.) in the military are either Psychopaths or Sociopaths. In the Marine Corps. there are about 500 of us out of 200,000+ Marines

  28. Lateley ( I would say approximately over the past year) I have become more paranoid and mistrustfull of everyone, I also seem to become less affected by anything and I am wondering if Psychopathy progresses as the individual gets older.

  29. “I was curious as to what anyones thoughts were as to how people such as us ended up being( I don’t think i would call anyone a friend) but close personal contacts.”

    2 psychopaths together do feed each other as shown throughout history when 2 of them partner and go on a killing spree ala In Cold Blood.

  30. I’m fascinated with all the posts here, but resonate most with Dorothy’s. I sort of bit the hand that fed me once, but my boss at the time screwed over my pay/contract (as well as the pay/contracts of 8 other people) while hiding behind a church and it was really unfair. So I took her to court. I burned a few social/professional bridges through doing so which I later discovered were completely unnecessary in my life. In other words, I made it without those shallow connections. To this day, I don’t regret standing up for myself and others.

    Used to be excessively sympathetic towards sociopaths but seems like I’ve grown some “balls” in the past year or so. I don’t like the fake smiles. So don’t. Nor do I like the fact that they try to control my life. No, thanks.

  31. LS: “He is going to do it again and again and again and again ad infinitum, one version or another of xyz (and abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw also).” …Well said, and yes, he will.

    I’ve had enough of it. Used to have a high tolerance for pain, but no more. As a teacher, my old experience is helping me take action faster and harder. Sadly, 3-4% numbers seem to be in the ballpark by middle school.

    I figure, why let the poison spread? Some mothers encourage it, for sure(!)and the school district seems to frown on schools who mete out criminal penalties (i.e. issuing real tickets) for criminal behavior on campus. They tend to want us to handle it internally (or not at all) and sweep it under the rug, or just let it move on to infect somebody else…part of the pattern that encourages sociopathy. What, is stealing in a school less of a crime than burglarizing a house?

    And, yes, it’s better to define them if you can’t get rid of them, and one “bad apple” will spoil the whole bunch, contrary to what Michael told us so very long ago.

  32. I think my ex husband might have been a psychopath. He thought about killing me (something my mind is still having trouble wrapping around) right down to the disposal.
    He told me once that he’d love to hunt a human.
    He thought he was god, with the power of life and death. To many unfortunate small animals, he was. And he used to torture animals when he was younger. Sick fuck.

    We were dressing a deer and he turned to me and said, “I could do this to you.” I said “Do what?” He said, “kill you and cut you up. If I put you in the woods the dogs would get you and they’d never find a body.”

    I still think he was just fucking with me but my shrink freaked out when she heard. I know when I left him I got permission to lock up his guns in the base armory until I felt safe to release them. I couldn’t find the 9mm, which he took great glee in reminding me about. He was greatly put out as he wanted to go hunting that weekend.

    We’re on friendly terms now but he lives on the eastern seaboard and I’m here in the midwest. If he moves nearer I’ll go to the range and practice again.

    • Mine said similar things, I always thought he was joking, but there was a sinister vibe to it. I now know, after surviving the most horrible discard , that he could have easily killed me, made my body disappear, and be back on the singles sites that afternoon. No one can believe that another human looking person can have no heart, soul, empathy…but there is probably one down the street from you right now. I researched this and any possible remedy for many years and my result was that I barely survived with my life.

  33. As I look back over my life I realize I’ve known worse and worse levels of psychopathy. You start out making excuses about not hearing them correctly, or that you’re being hypersensitive, but eventually they say things directly and you realize they DO mean them. And eventually they WILL act on them. If you’re normal you still make excuses. Could anyone really be like that? But I think Josh said it best “He just is what he is.” So RUN!

    • Mine started calling himself “your psycho boyfriend” after a few dates. I remember this, and as I tossed my head back and laughed at that, I replied ” Don’t call yourself that, lol. You’re not psycho !” Oh yes he was.

  34. Beyond timely . . . gonna have an email (or phone or whatever suits you) consult today/soon. I have a psycho/sociopath making life miserable and probably gonna get even worse. Oh I know she’s just a big bully, but funny how they can affect you, even when you know who they are going in. Still, I like knowing what you think. It’s a doozie. 🙂

  35. I don’t have anyone like this in my life now. I am not the kind of person they want around anyway I have Sag rising and a tendency to blurt truth without concern of consequence. So if you are full of BS I will most likely look you in the eye and call you on the carpet. Most of my experience with such people have been where they were involved with others close to me and the aforementioned blurting thing really put a damper on their tactics so they set out to eliminate me from the picture. Fortunately for me no one has been permanently successful with their elimination plans and I am mature enough not to fight back with someone like this.I have learned that I do not have to verbalize every thought I have but I can not pretend I don’t see what I see so I tend to avoid people like this. What I find more interesting than the psycho/sociopaths is the people whom project consciousness, remorse and morals onto someone whom has not displayed any such behavior. More interesting to me are the people whom get bit and stick around to get bit again and again.

  36. I think there are users who are only interested in what they want and how to get it. And then there are those who do it for fun and are always ready to exploit anyone and everyone. There is great enjoyment in hurting people. I believe they are called sadists. I can’t break it down. It’s just the way it is. I try not to feed the bears.

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