Psychopathy has become popularised because to crime dramas, thriller films, and mystery novels, which have contributed to a slew of misconceptions about what term entails.
For example, “psychopath” is occasionally used interchangeably with other stigmatising adjectives like “evil,” “violent,” or “criminal,” and you may have heard that psychopaths have no emotions and are unconcerned about the consequences of their acts.
You may have even heard that a psychopath may be identified simply by looking into their eyes.
However, psychopathy is more complicated than these concepts suggest.
To begin with, psychopathy isn’t a recognised mental illness. It’s a colloquial phrase describing characteristics that are commonly associated with an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis (ASPD).
People with ASPD are more likely to:
1 . a lack of clarity about what is right and wrong
2 . having difficulty comprehending and empathising with the sentiments of others
3 . exhibit little regret for what they’ve done
These characteristics can enhance the likelihood of someone engaging in illegal or dangerous action, but they do not automatically make someone violent.
the psychopath stare
A prolonged, predatory look, or a fixed stare that is disturbing and uncomfortable, is how most people describe it. Perhaps you have the impression that someone is watching you and that you catch their gaze every time you look up.
The reasons for this stare include a wide range of explanations.
Some feel that people with psychopathic qualities make intense eye contact to surprise and catch others off guard, allowing them to manipulate them more readily.
Others believe it’s a strategy for retaining power and influence in social situations.
Others argue that it’s merely ennui. Staring at someone intently can make them feel uneasy, even scared – feelings that people who enjoy inflicting fear and agony would, of course, love.
Pupil reaction The relationship between psychopathic tendencies and pupil dilation in reaction to stimuli was investigated in a 2018 study.
The researchers began by assessing basic and secondary psychopathy features in 82 male inpatients at a psychiatric hospital:
Primary psychopathy features include traits and actions that impair interpersonal relationships, such as a lack of guilt, a lack of empathy, and a proclivity to manipulate.
Secondary psychopathy features include antisocial lifestyle activities such as breaking the law, having conduct issues, and engaging in impulsive or dangerous behaviour.
The participants were then shown a series of images, videos, and sound samples designed to elicit negative, positive, or neutral emotional responses.
Participants with higher levels of primary psychopathy demonstrated less pupil dilatation when viewing unpleasant images or angry faces than other participants.
The positive visuals, as well as any of the audio recordings, had no effect on pupil dilation, according to experts. Participants who scored high on measures of secondary psychopathy but not fundamental psychopathy did not have a similar response.
Another study, published in 2020 by Trusted Source, looked at eye contact in social interactions.
Researchers observed that people with higher affective psychopathy scores tended to make less eye contact throughout a series of face-to-face interactions with 30 jailed persons.
These findings, taken together, refute the hypothesis of a psychopathic stare.
They also back up previous study suggesting that those with psychopathic tendencies have difficulty identifying and interpreting emotions, social cues, and facial expressions.
It’s important to avoid making personality judgments based on a person’s looks or body language. Personality disorders, like any other mental health disease, manifest themselves differently in various people.
Only qualified mental health experts have the knowledge and experience to diagnose ASPD correctly. They’ll make this diagnosis by looking into a person’s conduct for long-term patterns of exploitation and manipulation, rather than looking into their eyes.