First, let’s clarify. There’s a difference between sociopaths and psychopaths but often we use the term interchangeably. Both are included in the DSM-5 and are listed as personality disorders. Sociopaths and psychopaths are both flippant about the law, social norms, don’t care much for others, can become violent and don’t feel or have trouble feeling remorse. Sociopaths CAN form emotional attachments, it’s just difficult for them. They are not particularly organized or well-adjusted. Psychopaths CANNOT form bonds with others. They are unable to empathize with their fellow man, and they tend to be super charmers. Generally, psychopaths are born and sociopaths are “made”. Many famous serial killers, like Ted Bundy, are psychopaths. So next time you’re taking a tally of everyone in the office, keep the next 15 things in mind.
15. They’re Really Freaking Charming
It’s interesting because a lot of people seem to link this trait to sociopaths and not psychopaths. But it’s not entirely accurate to call sociopaths charming. Sociopaths can form bonds with others so they do have the ability to interact on a real level. But psychopaths cannot bond with others. The charm they exhibit is totally superficial, there’s nothing real in what they’re dishing out so careful about getting swept up off your feet. It’s not easy for some people to realize when they’re being bamboozled, though. It’s hard to imagine other people are just constantly lying about themselves or their feelings but maybe your office mate is doing just that.
14. They Lie About Everything
They’re compulsive liars but they’re pretty good at it. Unlike sociopaths, they’re capable of living fairly normal lives. Sociopaths tend to have trouble with the routines of life but psychopaths can easily blend in with others. That’s why they’re so good at doing illegal stuff. They’re charming, disarmingly so, and they lie so easily. They can effortlessly tell lies because they don’t feel at all bad about it. When you lie, you might feel a little bad about doing it. You might also sweat a little when you get afraid of being caught in a lie. Psychopaths are fearless and especially when it comes to telling lies.
13. They Just Don’t Care
They don’t care about you. They don’t care about the jobs they’re doing. They can’t really feel anything on a deeper level. Sure, they might get upset but it’s like they feel all their emotions on the surface. They’ll never feel deeply about another person because they just can’t. Sociopaths, on the other hand, are often highly emotional. Psychopaths just don’t have the same emotional range. The fact that psychopaths don’t really feel anything makes them primed for committing terrible crimes. There’s no reason for them not to do what they want, after all. They don’t have complicated feelings about things that might stop them from hurting someone else in a myriad of ways.
12. They’ve Slept With Multiple People In The Office
Psychopaths may be very promiscuous. That colleague who seems to be sleeping around the office? They might just be uninhibited, a sex addict, or maybe they’re a psychopath. The reason they’re able to sleep around so easily? It’s probably because they can’t form emotional attachments. It’s easy to enjoy sex without strings if you really don’t care about other people and you’re unable to get attached to others. In that case, sex just becomes mechanical, a vehicle for pleasure. It may even be used to manipulate others. Be wary of the office mate who sleeps around to move up the corporate ladder.
11. They Show Very Little Care For Their Work
It’s true, psychopaths are really good at pretending but like I mentioned, they don’t truly care about anything, their work included. Many psychopaths are the kinds of people who leech off of others or find ways around doing the work involved to get ahead. A psychopath isn’t super interested in handing in that report on time but they’re very good at making excuses or finding someone to do it for them. Look at Ted Bundy, he was a well-educated guy but he didn’t really want to do the work involved in getting ahead in life. He seemed to believe it was all stuff he just automatically deserved.
10. They’ve Been Married A Few Times Over
It’s not a surprise that your boss, who’s been married several times over, may be exhibiting a psychopathic trait. If that’s the only characteristic he shares in common with a psychopath it’s unlikely you need to worry but if he’s other a questionable individual you may need to watch your back. Since psychopaths can’t form real emotional attachments it’s not that surprising that they’ll often end up with a string of broken marriages. They can’t feel anything for another person and unless you’re marrying another psychopath, that just won’t cut it for most spouses. The charm wears off eventually and the hidden superficiality is quickly revealed.
9. They Think They’re The Best In All Respects
They’re charming and they also believe they’re incredibly amazing. They think the world revolves around them and since they can’t really love anyone else, it’s natural that they’ll love themselves the most. It’s why they’re able to commit crimes even against people they claim to ‘love’. They don’t really care for those other people. If they have a family it’s just a means to an end. They’ll have no problem harming others to get what they want even if those people are those who are closest to them. Really, no one is close to them because psychopaths love themselves the best.
8. They’ve Stolen Your Ideas
Remember, they don’t care about you so they’re going to have no problem advertising your ideas as their own. Have you ever been in that situation at work before? Did your boss start telling everyone about a great plan that sounded a lot like what you were talking to ‘Joe’ about earlier? Yeah. It’s possible that that person is just a jerk, but they might also be a psychopath. Psychopaths are not afraid to take what isn’t theirs. They don’t want to think up the ideas, they’d rather just take the easy way out and repeat what you just told them before that big important meeting.
7. They Can’t Handle Boredom
They can blend in effortlessly but they hate boredom. They prefer to be stimulated. They likely won’t plan too far ahead because that’s boring and routine. When a psychopath is bored, watch out. They might find amusement in things that otherwise seem horrendous. It might be criminal acts or simply manipulating others for fun. It’s probably why they enjoy sleeping around with co-workers. It’s fun for them and breaks up routine. It’s probably why they do a lot of what they do because it’s preferable to zoning out and moving along with the masses of non-psychopathic individuals. Best stay far away from that person.
6. A Sad Story Produces Zero Reaction
Did a co-worker start talking about the death of their loved one or beloved pet during lunch? Did you and your co-workers mill around a computer during some downtime to look at that tragic YouTube video that went viral the day before? Is there one person who seems totally unaffected by the whole thing? Watch out. That person may be a psychopath. They aren’t able to feel anything, remember? It’s unlikely a sad video is going to elicit a reaction. if anything, they’ll try to mimic the responses of those around them and if you’re astute you may be able to notice the superficial reaction.
5. They’ll Throw You Under The Bus No Problem
A psychopath doesn’t care about you or your feelings. They’re not going to feel bad about sacrificing you for themselves even if it’s for the smallest thing. Be careful around someone who would so easily do this, especially someone who acted so nice towards you and was extremely charming beforehand. If they don’t bat an eyelash as they throw you under the bus, you have to wonder. Are they just ruthless and ambitious, or is something more going on? Hopefully, this isn’t someone you considered a close friend but my policy is to trust no one until they give you a reason to.
4. They Guilt Trip Others & Use Flattery
It’s interesting that psychopaths do this considering they themselves don’t feel guilt. But they’re really good at making others feel bad and using that emotion to manipulate them. Since they’re also so charming they’re equally great at using flattery on people. Essentially, they’re master manipulators. This is why I tend to be so skeptical when people compliment me. I often find myself wondering ‘what do they want from me?’. It’s a bit of a pessimistic way of living life, but it’s better than getting used and abused by a psychopath. They’re so good at being who they are that they’re hard to spot, so I’ll continue to be skeptical of others thank you very much.
3. They Do What They Want When They Want
They’re not allowed to eat at their desk during work hours? Hmmm…yeah, they’re probably not going to follow that rule if they’re hungry. Psychopaths do what they want and they’re not super interested in the rules. They use their skills of manipulation to get what they want a lot of the time. They’re also just generally not interested in social norms. Sure, they’ll act like and mimic others to seem like everyone else, but the reality is that they don’t care that you’re not supposed to hit on your boss’s wife. They don’t care that stealing from the cash register is illegal. They’re all about satisfying their desires.
2. They Were Probably Awful As A Child
There’s no actual known cause for psychopathy, but it’s thought that there’s a strong genetic component. A bad childhood doesn’t help either but it’s not a direct link. You don’t automatically grow up to be a psychopath if you have crappy parents or an awful childhood. It’s also possible that as children these people were not easy to deal with. Often, psychopaths start misbehaving early in life which makes sense since the disorder is thought to be genetically inherited for the most part. Find out about your co-worker’s past if you’re curious about whether they fit the bill, although, remember childhood criminal records will likely be sealed.
1. They May Have A Criminal Record
This might not apply to all psychopaths since many of them are pretty good at staying under the radar. But someone with a criminal record should be a red flag. A long list of crimes is an even bigger red flag. Of course, the context of the crimes matters. Those psychopaths who are well-educated often do well when it comes to financial criminal activity. Psychopaths can commit all types of crimes but they’re always interested in themselves so the crimes will always be self-serving. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be violent, though. Keep in mind that just because your colleague exhibits one of these traits doesn’t mean they’re automatically a psychopath. A psychopath needs to meet way more than just a few of these traits. But if you find yourself checking off a lot of these when analyzing a co-worker, it’s probably best to keep your distance.
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