Avoiding psychopathic predators


First step: be prepared

Staying in good physical and mental health is the goal here at Rogue Health and Fitness, and that goal includes avoiding being the victim of a violent assault (physical health) or getting otherwise involved with a psychopathic predator (mental health). I believe that people should know at least as much about avoiding psychopathic predators as they do do about where the fire extinguisher is located, or how to use a gun: the need may not come around often, but when it does, you want to be prepared.

The problem is that awareness of the psychopaths among us is, in my experience, quite low. Psychopaths constitute at least 1% of the general population, although I’ve read claims of up to 4%. But since more men than women are psychopaths, even at 1% of the population, perhaps double or triple that fraction of them are men.

Psychopaths are manipulative and very adept at hiding who they are, which makes detection of them all the more difficult, and which contributes to the general unawareness of them. Ordinary people are like sheep to the psychopaths’ wolves.

A common misunderstanding is that psychopaths are all violent. While the converse may be close to reality, that really violent men are mostly psychopathic, most psychopaths are not violent, another factor that contributes to lack of awareness.

Pathological lying is a huge clue

One huge clue to the presence of a psychopath is pathological lying. Obviously someone may lie to you once or a few times and you can’t detect this; but if you discover a pattern of lying in someone, chances are good you’re dealing with someone on the psychopathic end of the personality spectrum.

Psychopaths, even non-violent ones, typically do so much damage to people’s lives because the ordinary person doesn’t see what’s coming. Normal people have a degree of trust in others that prevents them from seeing the psychopath as someone who should be given a wide berth. It behooves the normal person to understand their nature and how to identify them.
Robert Hare, who has done original work in the study of psychopaths, and is arguably the leading authority on them, has developed a psychopathy checklist. The 20 traits evaluated are the following:

glib and superficial charm
grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
need for stimulation
pathological lying
cunning and manipulativeness
lack of remorse or guilt
shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
callousness and lack of empathy
parasitic lifestyle
poor behavioral controls
sexual promiscuity
early behavior problems
lack of realistic long-term goals
failure to accept responsibility for own actions
many short-term marital relationships
juvenile delinquency
revocation of conditional release
criminal versatility

In essence, psychopathic predators can come across as socially adept, likable – at least at first – and the life of the party. Even after getting to know them, normal people often have the sense that something is wrong, but they don’t know what, because they aren’t use to thinking in terms of predatory behavior that will never change. Psychopaths, 99% of the time, are not reformable, and normal people who get in their way often spend considerable effort and energy into reforming them, which makes the normal person all the more vulnerable.

Psychopaths know how to select victims

Psychopathic criminals are skilled at assessing the vulnerability of potential victims. Psychopathy and Victim Selection: The Use of Gait as a Cue to Vulnerability (full paper here)

Previous research has shown that victims display characteristic body language, specifically in their walking style (Grayson & Stein, 1981). Individuals scoring higher on the interpersonal/affective aspects of psychopathy (Factor 1) are more accurate at judging victim vulnerability simply from viewing targets walking (Wheeler, Book, & Costello, 2009). The present study examines the relation between psychopathy and accuracy in assessing victim vulnerability in a sample of inmates from a maximum security penitentiary in Ontario, Canada. Forty-seven inmates viewed short video clips of targets walking and judged how vulnerable each target was to victimization. Higher Factor 1 psychopathy scores (as measured by the PCL-R; Hare 2003) were positively related to accuracy in judging victim vulnerability. Contrary to research with noninstitutional participants (Wheeler et al., 2009), inmates higher on Factor 1 of psychopathy were more likely to rationalize their vulnerability judgments by mentioning the victim’s gait. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Psychopathic criminals see ordinary people primarily as potential victims, so it seems as if a lifetime of experience hones the skill of choosing victims.

Victim selection in this paper refers specifically to being the victim of a violent assault. It appears that if you do not act like a victim, that is, you walk and talk with confidence and some show of strength, that alone may keep you from being victimized. Psychopaths, like all criminals, prefer soft targets.

You can of course be victimized in other ways, such as financially or in matters of love and sex. The item in Hare’s list called “criminal versatility’ means that psychopaths will do just about anything that they feel like, whether stealing, sexual assault, forging checks, and so on. So you need to watch out for a lot more than violence.

Glibly charming people who lie pathologically or who have been caught stealing should be like a flashing red warning light.

You should steer completely clear of them.


Leave a Comment:

Anonymous says April 14, 2013

They should offer this as a service: send a video of yourself walking and they’ll run it by a few psychopaths and let you know if you’re likely to be a victim.

Shawn says October 15, 2014

“One should keep in mind that up to 4% of the population are psychopaths, and it behooves the normal person to understand their nature and how to identify them.”

Interesting. I would not be surprised if the percentage is as high as 15-20% or so among lawyers, certain finance types, CEOs, and certain sales roles.

    Remnant says May 29, 2015

    Don’t forget politicians!! In their case, 20% is probably a lowball estimate.

    Anonymous but known says May 29, 2015

    I think 4% is too high without modifying what the definition of a psychopath is. If you say anyone who can suppress their empathy to a large degree or redefine others as not “deserving of empathy” then maybe you could get 4%. If you’re talking “no empathy” and being physically unable to empathize with others I think the 1% figure is probably closer.

    The reason I called myself “Anonymous but known” is because I live near and have to interact with someone I consider a psychopath. He’s not the violent maniac type but manipulative. He very good with making money but he blows it as fast as he gets it. I try to entwine my affairs with his as little as possible. He just ripped me off for $30 a few days ago. Not so bad and the situation couldn’t easily be avoided. He doesn’t know I know though. He also doesn’t know I know he a psychopath or that he’s extremely likely to be Jewish. He hides it.

    My strategy for dealing with him is when he tries to manipulate me, I just don’t talk with him for a while. He seems to respond to this and becomes less manipulative. I, for reasons I don’t want to get into, have to interact with him occasionally. One of his ploys is to do you some small favor then he calls you constantly to “help” him in some way. Straight out of Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. He also tries to mimic being like you. What ever ails you, he has too. Most of the time he’s harmless but you just can’t trust him. Hence the $30 he got from me the other day. An interesting point is he doesn’t need the $30. I think he just can’t help himself. A chance to pinch a small amount of money is too enticing to him. Of course he doesn’t understand that the piddling $30 will make sure I never trust him at all in the future.

    Another thing he does is he wants to know everything about what you’re doing all the time. I tell nothing or little.

    I know that were there ever a disaster of some sort I would never trust him with my life. While he’s not violent I bet if he thought there was no way to get caught and he would profit he would off someone. With most people you don’t have to worry “obsessively” that they might just, possibly kill you if they could get away with it. I would never ever get myself in a situation where he would have control over my fate.

    Reading about psychopaths has also clued me into little things he says. He says frequently that he never steals yet he’s mentioned things he has stolen when younger. He also frequently mentions how honest he is. Yet he’s not. He’s kind of funny to watch and I get a good chuckle out his behavior ever now and then.

    If you want to read about psychopaths here’s an oldy but definitely a goody. This is a small chapter about Stanley a Spath. [sociapath + psychopath = Spath, I see no difference between them except maybe impulse control]


    The whole book is online and well worth reading. Hervey Cleckley “The Mask of Sanity”


    Thomas Sheridan has some great videos and several books.
    One video, he has many more,
    Financial Terrorism Exposed!! – Thomas Sheridan (Psychopaths in Public Life)

      Anonymous but known says May 29, 2015

      I want to add something the Spath also does. He always says,”Thank You”t even when it’s inappropriate. Not wrong but inappropriate. A made up example. You borrow money from him he says,”Thank You”. Every interaction he says “Thank You”.

      In the link I provided earlier it tells how a much abused girlfriend of Stanley’s says that he made her feel more loved than anyone ever has. Stanley probably told her just that. I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, over and over. I think Spaths just mouth the words and since they show no emotions “we” add them. It’s well known that your brain can think you see things that you expect. It’s how magic works. Spaths take advantage of this by telling us lies but with no stress or visible emotion. I think we tell if people are lying unconsciously by very small physical twitches. Even when we are not looking for them. When we don’t see these our brain adds emotion or feelings that the Spath doesn’t have. It’s magic [we see what we expect] and they are telling the truth [or so our unconscious brain says].

      Watch for people telling you “how fair they are”, “how they are truthful they are”, thanking you robotically, “how they are honest”, etc.

sabril says May 30, 2015

My thought would be to look at the person’s track record. For example, if someone has a long history of romantic relationships that ended badly, chances are it’s a bad idea to get involved with them.

Aaron says May 31, 2015

I think cluster B personality disorders, of which psycopathy is the worst, comprise aboout 15%-20% of the population.

So the problem is far more serious than the 4% figure would suggest – and most of these people operate on the emotional realm, and destroy people’s lives that way.

Tina Taylor says June 4, 2015

I grew up in a family of psychopaths, and my perspective enabled me to develop a list of their habits so that anyone can spot them, no matter how nice they appear: http://www.facebook.com/notes/psychopathy-genetics/how-to-spot-a-pro-social-psychopath/781795738538803

FirkinRidiculous says November 12, 2015

Having read that checklist, are blacks more prone to psychopathology?

    Tina Taylor says November 12, 2015

    From that list, it sounds like the British or Germans or Jewish. But, there is no racial connection. Psychopaths are everywhere.

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