1. News & Issues
Send to a Friend via Email

Video:What Is Psychopathic Behavior?

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Psychopathic behavior can be the result of a number of psychological disorders. Here's a video explaining how psychopathic behavior is defined and qualified.See Transcript

  • All Videos
  • All News & Issues Videos
  • Crime Videos

Transcript:What Is Psychopathic Behavior?

With so many mental disorders now identified today, it may be difficult to understand the differences between them, especially as some may appear very similar at first glance. The following tips will help you to identify what it means to be a psychopath and what types of qualities are embodied in someone with this disorder.

Definition of a Psychopath

Houghton Mifflin defines a psychopath as a "person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse." It is considered an antisocial disorder and as such, psychopaths have problems with experiencing normal emotions like love; they do not consider the consequences of their actions, and they tend to be extremely egocentric and narcissistic. Some real life and fictional examples of psychopaths include serial killer Ted Bundy, killer David Berkowitz, and quintessential mad man of the silver screen, Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.

Primary and Secondary Psychopaths

There are four classifications of psychopathic behavior: primary or secondary, and distempered or charismatic. A primary psychopath does not respond to stress, disapproval, or punishment, and often has a difficult time with meanings of words. They are disconnected to emotion and goal planning. Secondary psychopaths tend to be risk-takers, but they also react to stress and may feel guilt. They like to play by their own rules and often tend to avoid pain and anxiety but, at the same time, are drawn to situations that heighten both.

Distempered and Charismatic Psychopath

A further division for both primary and secondary psychopaths is either the distempered psychopath or the charismatic psychopath. Distempered psychopaths are generally unstable, and are known to fly into a rage or a frenzied fit. Usually men, they are driven by their strong sex drives and can be drawn toward other cravings that lead to other illicit behavior like drugs, kleptomania, and even murder. A good example here is the Boston Strangler. In contrast are charismatic psychopaths, who are typically charming, attractive, and talented, and use these traits to manipulate others. The best example of this is Ted Bundy, who charmed his victims and then killed them.

Psychopathic behavior is exhibited in many ways, crossing many personality types but generally exhibiting the same lack of empathy and concern for others. Psychopaths may also demonstrate an ongoing ability to change their personality, which can make them some of the most difficult mentally ill individuals to identify and treat.

About videos are made available on an "as is" basis, subject to the User Agreement.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.