This post contains top psychopath quotes that will help you understand psychopathy better.
Who is the psychopath?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) does not list psychopathy as an official clinical diagnosis.
However, DSM-5 describes Antisocial Personality Disorder with psychopathic features as characterized by “a lack of anxiety or fear and by a bold interpersonal style that may mask maladaptive behaviors (e.g., fraudulence)”.
Diagnostic criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, according to the DSM-5, include:
“A. A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
- Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
- Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.
- Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
- Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
- Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.
- Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
B. The individual is at least age 18 years.
C. There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”
Narcissism vs. Psychopathy
Extreme narcissism can eventually crowd out not only empathy, but ethics and morals as well.
In this sense, all psychopaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are psychopaths.
Psychopaths have a much lower level of fear, regret, or remorse than most people, including narcissists.
At their most extreme, psychopaths can seem totally devoid of any type of emotion, including sadness and shame.
1. “The 16 characteristics of psychopaths:
6. Without shame or remorse
7. Having poor judgment
8. Without capacity for love
10. Poor insight
11. Indifferent to the trust or kindness of others
12. Overreactive to alcohol
14. Impersonal sex life
15. Lacking long-term goals
16. Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior”
― Hervey M. Cleckley
2. “I only care about me and about why I don’t care about anybody else.” ― Irvine Welsh
3. “…it seems as if the psychopath’s devaluation of you is so filled with bitterness, hatred and sometimes even violence that it can’t be fully explained in terms of him tiring of you and moving on to other promising victims. Loving couples can grow apart and leave each other for better matches and lives. Non-loving couples can grow apart once they’re no longer useful to one another. But a psychopath takes this process one step further, to discard his ex-lovers with a degree of vitriol and hatred that astonishes his victims and exceeds any boundaries of normality.” ― Unknown
4. “After the idealization phase is over, there’s no way to please a psychopath. Heads you lose, tails he wins. But remember that his criticisms are even less true than his initial exaggerated flattery. When all is said and done, the only truth that remains is that the whole relationship was a fraud.” ― Claudia Moscovici
5. “Deep pockets and empty hearts rule the world. We unleash them at our peril.” ― Stefan Molyneux
6. “He or she was only an illusion, a mask the psychopath created in order to mirror and manipulate you. As crushingly hard as it is and as much as it hurts, the only way to find freedom is to stop believing in that illusion.” ― Jackson MacKenzie
7. “I apply the label predatory aggressive to the most severely disturbed of all characters, the psychopath: These individuals are first and foremost characterized by their senseless, remorseless, and completely empathy-devoid use, abuse, manipulation, and exploitation of others…the heart of this personality style is…being devoid of any empathy-based sense of bonding to others, having virtually no conscience, having such a pathological sense of superiority that they feel entitled to prey on those they see as weaker and remorselessly engaging in predatory aggression. It’s important to remember also that predatory aggression is not rooted in anger, but in pure and heartless desire.” ― George Simon, PhD
8. “It strikes me profoundly that the world is more often than not a bad and cruel place.” ― Bret Easton Ellis
9. “Know what you are dealing with. This sounds easy but in fact can be very difficult. All the reading in the world cannot immunize you from the devastating effects of psychopaths. Everyone, including the experts, can be taken in, conned, and left bewildered by them.” ― Robert Hare, PhD., author of Without Conscience
10. “Know yourself. Psychopaths are skilled at detecting and ruthlessly exploiting your weak spots. Your best defense is to understand what these spots are, and to be extremely wary of anyone who zeroes in on them.” ― Dr. Robert Hare
11. “Never let the other person use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep you, the seduced, on tenterhooks.” ― Robert Greene
12. “Once they get bored with you because the spell of the initial conquest has worn off, the way they maintain control of you is through deception, isolation, abuse, gaslighting and undermining your self-confidence. That’s when…the devaluation phase has set in. You do whatever you can to regain privileged status. You try to recapture the excitement and sweetness of the idealization phase. You want to reclaim your rightful throne as the queen you thought you were in his eyes. But that’s an impossible goal, an ever-receding horizon…” ― Claudia Moscovici
Related: Who Is The Apath?
13. “Psychologists are beginning to concur that it’s this unique element of character which most powerfully predicts higher numbers of different sexual partners, as well as impulsive one night stands, and a gamut of risky sexual behaviors. This character trait is Psychopathy.” ― Unknown
14. “Psychopaths juggle multiple partners in their tireless pursuit of their top goals: pleasure, dominance and entertainment.” ― Claudia Moscovici
15. “Sadly, some victims of psychopaths attempt suicide as a result of hopelessness, helplessness and the belief there is no way out. Some have reported to us that psychopaths have actually encouraged them to take their own lives or have indicated that they would put them through so much turmoil that their only recourse would be suicide.” ― Unknown
16. “The more infrequently the crumbs of love are offered, the more hooked you are. You become conditioned, like a rat in a cage.” ― unknown
17. “The psychopath becomes not only the tormentor, but also the person who brings relief from the torment.” ― Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths
18. “There are those who deliberately hurt the hurting…Some people…have a deep contempt for the needy. Some are sadistic, gaining pleasure in pain.” ― Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
19. “Virtually all of the research done in psychopathy is on the perpetrators, and we tend to ignore the tens of thousands of victims of these individuals. And most of the victims have nowhere to turn. They talk to their psychiatrist, psychologist, their friends, their employees, their priest, and they get nowhere because most people don’t understand the nature of psychopathic people.” ― Dr. Robert Hare
20. “What makes psychopathy so different, so surreal that it knocks her head off? The inability to wrap her head around the emotional-physical-spiritual-sexual gang bang that just happened when she thought she was with the most wonderful person.” ― Sandra M. Brown, M.A.
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21. “When I look for these people, I look for someone to exploit, someone to expose all their weaknesses to themselves and leave them broken, hating themselves more than most of them already do. I enjoy causing people to realize the nasty truths of themselves (which is usually that they are pathetic lying individuals) even if I have to be hypocritical and lie myself in order to get my point across.” ― a female psychopath
22. “While woman #1 is basking in the hyper-focus of his attention, he is trolling, in the middle of, and ending, multiple other relationships with men and women. His multiple relationships that are beginning, enduring, and ending no doubt play into her relationship dynamics with the psychopath. Of course, woman #1 is high on oxytocin and believes she just met her soulmate.” ― Sandra M. Brown, M.A.
23. “Why is the seduction of the psychopath so powerful? Because it is the art of the con wrapped in the beautiful illusion of love.” ― Unknown
24. “A lot of people simply use it to refer to people they don’t like—that damned psychopath— but that is a bit too simplistic. Unfortunately, this common usage means that the term “psychopath” has been so watered down that we sometimes forget that real psychopaths actually exist.” – Thomas Erikson
25. “A marked lack of empathy is one of the hallmarks of psychopathy.” – Essi Viding
26. “A psychopath is born and a sociopath is made by their experiences in childhood.” – Mary Turner Thomson
27. “A true psychopath doesn’t care about society’s norms. The rules that apply to the rest of us don’t apply to them. Such rules limit their freedom to do whatever they want, so they make up their own rules. It’s not uncommon that this is the reason some of them end up behind bars.” – Thomas Erikson
28. “After a murder, psychopaths often say they feel like someone else did it, or the victim precipitated the pulling of the trigger. They feel detached, impelled to action by forces out of their control.” – James Fallon
29. “Another difference between psychopaths and other inmates is that psychopaths don’t get distressed by being in prison. Most inmates get depressed when they get inside, and they find prison to be a stressful experience. A hallmark feature of psychopaths’ disorder is that they don’t get bothered by much of anything. They don’t ruminate and they don’t get depressed.” – Kent A. Kiehl
30. “As a side note, if you have ever worried if you might be a psychopath then that’s proof you’re not – a psychopath would never worry about it.” – Mary Turner Thomson
31. “As I delved further into the research I discovered that sociopaths and psychopaths are essentially the same thing, but with one crucial difference. Psychopaths are born, and sociopaths are made.” – Mary Turner Thomson
32. “As well as having no empathy for other people, psychopaths have no empathy for their future selves either. It is not that they do not feel the pain, just that they don’t care that their future self is going to feel it.” – Mary Turner Thomson
33. “Careful studies suggest that we can reliably measure psychopathic traits in the general population. In other words, people vary in their level of psychopathic traits, and all of us are somewhere along the continuum of being more or less psychopathic.” – Essi Viding
34. “Despite the controversy over whether psychopaths exist, psychiatrists generally agree that one of the defining characteristics of those we refer to as psychopaths is the lack of interpersonal empathy, what one might call a flat emotional playing field.” – James Fallon
35. “Even though they subject those around them to dreadful abuses, they themselves are very easily offended. The slightest mistake or rash comment can result in a violent attack of fury if they consider it a provocation. When violent, psychopaths attack physically; otherwise, some verbal assault will come down on the person who happened to open their mouth at the wrong time. The strange thing is that the anger disappears immediately afterward. As if there was an on–off switch.” – Thomas Erikson
36. “For psychopaths, status and power are of extreme importance, and if you can make your way to the top, then why not try to get there?” – Thomas Erikson
37. “From my understanding of the research reports I have read, a psychopath is born without any chemical empathic response and therefore has no emotion or ability to love.” – Mary Turner Thomson
38. “I often refer to psychopaths as a walking oxymoron: they say one thing and do another.” – Kent A. Kiehl
39. “I read a book called Just Like His Father? by Dr Liane Leedom. It was fascinating and did indeed show that psychopathy can be passed from parent to child but that the environment, how a child is brought up, also matters. A child might have a predisposition for psychopathy but doesn’t have to turn into a psychopath even if they have no chemical empathic response.” – Mary Turner Thomson
40. “If you live in the “here and now,” you don’t need any long-term plan. Psychopaths don’t plan anything: planning is something completely contrary to their impulsive preference. Quite often they become a sort of nomad who changes partners and jobs as the mood strikes them. They never look forward or back. The aim is to live life at the expense of others, and that takes no planning at all.” – Thomas Erikson
41. “Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits report feeling less guilty than their peers in response to scenarios that involve harm to others and that typically evoke guilt. ” – Essi Viding
42. “It is not antisocial behaviour and violence in themselves that characterize psychopathy; it is the profound absence of empathy and guilt that is at the core of what makes a psychopath, and what sets such individuals apart from the rest of us.” – Essi Viding
43. “It is very common for psychopaths to have had problems with the law early in life. Because psychopathy often begins to show itself clearly at around ten years of age, they can cause quite a lot of trouble when they’re young. The fact that fifteen-year-olds commit rape, assault, robbery, and even murder should definitely be regarded as abnormal.” – Thomas Erikson
44. “Lying is like breathing. It doesn’t require any effort at all. Psychopaths are not embarrassed in the slightest by being caught lying. They can change track before you can bat an eyelid, and will claim that they never said that. It was just a misunderstanding. They will even lie when there is no reason to do so, simply because it is entertaining to deceive others.” – Thomas Erikson
45. “Most psychopaths exhibit deviant behavior before the age of twelve. This can be anything from cruelty to animals and toward other children to stealing and lying without the slightest concern. Very early sexual experiences also occur, and there are examples of twelve-year-olds who have committed rape.” – Thomas Erikson
46. “Psychodynamic thinkers wrote that psychoanalytic treatment of psychopaths was never successful. Indeed, the psychopath’s ego was fed by the therapist’s interest in him. Thus, while trying to treat the psychopath, many psychodynamic therapists found the psychopath only got worse and more egocentric.” – Kent A. Kiehl
47. “Psychopaths “read” other people’s weaknesses with alarming ease. And psychopaths turn those weaknesses against their victims for the purpose of deceiving and cheating them. Walking over people is in their nature. They are completely indifferent to the feelings of others, which makes them skilled manipulators. Since they are not worried about being discovered, they take enormous risks and behave so boldly that it’s hard to believe that we are being deceived.” – Thomas Erikson
48. “Psychopaths are basically unable to feel remorse. They can pretend to be remorseful when it suits them, but it is never reflected in their actions. It doesn’t bother them if they hurt other people. It doesn’t matter if it’s their worst enemy or their own children. Only they themselves matter” – Thomas Erikson
49. “Psychopaths are living in society just like the rest of us. They infiltrate companies and organizations, where they get comparatively little work done and only in exceptional cases do they make any positive contributions.” – Thomas Erikson
50. “Psychopaths are masters at distracting their victims; they tend to use body language and movement to distract and supplement their words. Their nonverbal behaviour is often so convincing and diverting that people don’t recognise they are being deceitful.” – Mary Turner Thomson
51. “Psychopaths are not mentally ill – they are quite rational and in control – in some sense far more so than neurotypical or empathic people.” – Mary Turner Thomson
52. “Psychopaths are resistant to psychodynamic treatment, in part because they typically don’t feel there is anything wrong with them; they are rarely interested in participating in therapy or changing.” – Kent A. Kiehl
53. “Psychopaths are typically described in historical texts as monsters, evildoers, people who lack the emotional connections that bind the majority of us, as well as the inhibitions that those connections engage. Simply put, psychopaths lack conscience and empathy.” – Kent A. Kiehl
54. “Psychopaths are usually manipulative, are champion liars, and can be quite glib and disarmingly charming. They don’t fear consequences the way most people do, and while they may react to the stress of being caught in a lie or violent act like anyone would, some remain cool as cucumbers. Even the most dangerous can appear jovial, carefree, and social at times, but sooner or later they will display a telling distance, a quiet cold-heartedness and disregard for others.” – James Fallon
55. “Psychopaths are without doubt a danger to everybody else around them and for all of society in general. They are wolves disguised as ponies.” – Thomas Erikson
56. “Psychopaths believe that their splendid qualities give them the right to live off of others. They never pay the bills if they can get someone else to do it. They often have debts and owe taxes because little details like income tax and bill due dates bore them. They never offer to pay at the restaurant (they will always forget their wallet), and they are happy to borrow money from family and friends without ever paying it back. If they are called out, they simply blame somebody else.” – Thomas Erikson
57. “Psychopaths do not have the same capacity for human feeling as the rest of us, they do not appear moved by the things that usually deeply affect others, such as seeing fellow human beings suffer or in distress.” – Essi Viding
58. “Psychopaths know that you feel something, but aren’t interested in what it is. They can see a seriously injured person and think, “Oh, how interesting.” But it doesn’t move them, and most psychopaths prefer it like that. They pride themselves on being unaffected by the “personality disorder” of empathy, because it’s so much simpler to mistreat or deceive.” – Thomas Erikson
59. “Psychopaths may not hate, but they also may not love the way most of us would prefer to love and be loved.” – James Fallon
60. “Psychopaths often have an astoundingly large vocabulary. Many of them talk very fast, and you won’t always be able to keep up with their ideas. They are charming, smile a lot, hand out compliments, and make themselves almost ridiculously popular by flattering those they meet. Despite the fact that what they say is often completely illogical and incoherent, they make us believe it is true.” – Thomas Erikson
61. “Psychopaths often have numerous short-lived sexual interactions. Their charm attracts many people, so they are never short of a partner. And permanent infidelity keeps things interesting, while at the same time it is exciting for them to deceive their partner. How much can the psychopath get away with?” – Thomas Erikson
62. “Psychopaths, under a different label or terminology, captivated attention long before Koch. Indeed, since humans first evolved, history has recorded stories of humans who display what we now understand to be the disorder psychopathy.” – Kent A. Kiehl
63. “Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by persistent antisocial behaviour by someone with impaired empathy and remorse, demonstrating bold, disinhibited and egotistical traits. It is generally considered incurable and untreatable because it involves a lack of chemical response – something that can be suppressed pharmaceutically but cannot be recreated with drugs or therapy. In any case, a psychopath, by definition, wouldn’t seek treatment even if it was available.” – Mary Turner Thomson
64. “Psychopathy is at least as common as schizophrenia. The difference is that what the psychopaths do is generally much worse than what people with schizophrenia do. The consequences of psychopaths’ ravaging are considerable.” – Thomas Erikson
65. “Psychopathy is not madness. People with undeniable and striking psychopathic traits, people like Eric Harris, remain sane in the eyes of the law. They appear quite sane too, even to experts who know they are different from you and me, because of their complete lack of empathy and conscience. They can easily fool family, friends, court officials, strangers, and even mental health professionals who haven’t had a chance to examine them closely.” – Dean A. Haycock
66. “Psychopathy is not something one can just casually assess, although there are versions of the test that can be self-administered and are not “officially” diagnostic.” – James Fallon
67. “Psychopathy stands on the lowest rung of this disease-disorder ladder, since no one agrees on what defines it—or if it exists at all —and so there is no professional agreement as to the underlying causes.” – James Fallon
68. “Research into psychopaths has shown they have no emotional response to other people but also have no empathic emotional response to themselves either.” – Mary Turner Thomson
69. “Research shows that women with psychopathy are much more likely to engage in relational aggression (spreading rumours, exclusion, mean comments), while men with psychopathy are much more likely to be physically aggressive. These findings are in line with the notion that differences in societal expectations and physical size may play a role in who is diagnosed with criminal psychopathy.” – Essi Viding
70. “Sociopathy and psychopathy are very different. Sociopathy includes a broad, heterogeneous category of individuals who act antisocially, the causes of which are believed to be social and environmental in nature. Psychopathy is a term grounded in biology and genetics and is truly agnostic to causes or etiology. In other words, genetics and the makeup of the brain, as well as environment, contribute to the construct of psychopathy.” – Kent A. Kiehl
71. “The difference between psychopaths and sociopaths is nature and nurture. Psychopaths are born with no empathic responses, and sociopaths are made by society but the results are the same as both are lacking in any chemical empathic response for anyone, including themselves.” – Mary Turner Thomson
72. “The odds are that any encounter you have with a psychopath will not result in a murder. For every psychopathic serial killer, there are literally millions of psychopaths who don’t kill.” – Dean A. Haycock
73. “The term sociopathy was introduced in the 1930s and signified the origin of psychopathic traits from social causes. One of the problems with the diagnosis of sociopathy was that it was too broad and encompassed far too many individuals. Literally every criminal met criteria for the condition. Another unfortunate consequence has been that the term sociopathy has been confused with psychopathy ever since.” – Kent A. Kiehl
74. “Their emotions aren’t really there. No fear, no horror, no worry, no remorse—nothing. Their emotional poverty is total. This isn’t something to pity them for, because they are often extremely pleased to avoid feeling when they scheme and deceive. But note that psychopaths can very readily pretend to have these emotions.” – Thomas Erikson
75. “They live in the present. No planning for the future. If they suddenly have the impulse to eat, they eat. They don’t spend any time weighing advantages against disadvantages. The idea of analyzing consequences doesn’t exist, which makes them vulnerable. A normal person would likely understand what happens if you beat up somebody on the street, but psychopaths don’t think like that. And those with the worst impulse control are indeed locked up in jail.” – Thomas Erikson
76. “They need their dopamine kicks. Excitement and arousal are great. If they can’t do crazy things themselves, they try to get others to do them. When the rest of us get nervous if we see a police car and immediately check the speedometer, psychopaths often start revving the engine. All for the sake of excitement.” – Thomas Erikson
77. “They never take responsibility for anything. Resolving debts, paying child support, protecting themselves when having casual sex—the psychopath stands above all that. They don’t care, and often get away with it because the world is full of other people who do care. A true psychopath doesn’t even take responsibility for their own children, even though they claim to love them. They can easily leave them alone for a very long time without food or water.” – Thomas Erikson
78. “Trying to identify or define psychopathy with just a checklist of traits and no cause is like using a field taxonomy guide. If it flies and eats and makes noises it could be a bird, but it could also be a bat or an insect; you haven’t nailed down what the thing really is.” – James Fallon
79. “Unlike a psychopath, a sociopath might be born with ‘chemical empathic response’, but due to early childhood abuse and neglect has it conditioned out of them, and as a result grows up without empathy for others.” – Mary Turner Thomson
80. “We know that individuals with psychopathic traits are not merely impulsive or aggressive, but they also fail to care for the well-being of others.” – Essi Viding
81. “Whatever they have done, they will never admit it. Even if they were caught on camera doing something, they will deny it. A psychopath always has somebody else to blame. Even if they understand that they have done something wrong, they’ll name a scapegoat. They are even amused by watching someone else take the blame for what they themselves have done.” – Thomas Erikson
82. “When it comes to psychopaths, we’re concerned about not only their primary victims but also the effect they have on their surroundings. An enormous number of people are affected by psychopaths’ behavior, because the impact is vast. The damage they cause has far-reaching consequences. They always drag many people down with them.” – Thomas Erikson
83. “When they see something they want, they simply take it, often with violence, which quickly gives them away. But the majority of all psychopaths are not behind bars. The more intelligent psychopaths and those who don’t commit serious violent crimes are walking around among us just like everybody else. They are people who will stop at nothing to get what they want.” – Thomas Erikson
84. “While other criminals specialize in one thing, such as robbing security vans, mugging, assault, or perhaps narcotics, psychopaths are much more versatile. In a sense, they are curious, and they try everything.” – Thomas Erikson
85. “Yet again, ordinary rules don’t apply to psychopaths. And punishments don’t work either. They don’t react to ordinary threats of repercussions, because they lack the ability to consider the consequences of their actions. This means that they will often do whatever they want once they are released.” – Thomas Erikson
- Psychopathy – Wikipedia
- What Is a Psychopath? (verywellmind.com)
- The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath (psychiatrictimes.com)
- Psychopath: Meaning, Signs, and vs. Sociopath (healthline.com)
- What’s the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath? (webmd.com)
- Psychopathy | Psychology Today
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