Do psychopaths know what they are?

Lovefraud recently received this e-mail from the reader who posts as “Flicka.”

Most experts seem to say that psychotics know what/who they are”¦different from the rest of society. However, I question whether or not this is true. My experience has been that they SEEM to sincerely believe they are a superior group of humans, intellectually, physically, emotionally and the ultimate future of the human race. I.e. when confronted with their outright lies, accusations, priorities, misjudgments, lack of morals, compassion, they either sincerely defend their lack of emotionalism as a sign of their superiority or call you absolutely “crazy”. If this response is part of their “act,” they must realize they’re different from the rest of us”¦not just mentally and emotionally superior.

What is your opinion?



P.S. In my personal case, my 5 children defend their psychotic traits with what appears to be complete sincerity.

Psychotic vs. psychopathic

First of all, I’d like to clarify the difference between “psychotic” and “psychopathic.”

People suffering from psychotic disorders lose contact with reality. Here’s the definition from the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are severe mental disorders that cause abnormal thinking and perceptions. People with psychoses lose touch with reality. Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs, such as thinking that someone is plotting against you or that the TV is sending you secret messages. Hallucinations are false perceptions, such as hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not there.

Schizophrenia is one type of psychotic disorder. People with bipolar disorder may also have psychotic symptoms. Other problems that can cause psychosis include alcohol and some drugs, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.

Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis. It might involve drugs to control symptoms and talk therapy. Hospitalization is an option for serious cases where a person might be dangerous to himself or others.


Interestingly, there is no concise definition of psychopathy. Even in Without Conscience, the classic book by Robert Hare, Ph.D., here’s the shortest description I could find:

A self-centered, callous, and remorseless person profoundly lacking in empathy and the ability to form warm emotional relationships with others, a person who functions without the restraints of a conscience.

Dr. Hare doesn’t believe anyone should be called “a psychopath.” Instead, he says a person with this disorder should be described according to his or her score on the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R), the test he developed to measure an individual’s traits and symptoms.

For more, see the Key Symptoms page on

Here’s the key point: Psychopathy is not an illness; it is a personality disorder. As Dr. Hare says in Without Conscience:

Psychopaths are not disoriented or out of touch with reality, nor do they experience the delusions, hallucinations, or intense subjective distress that characterize most other mental disorders. Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. Their behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised.

Awareness of the disorder

Another helpful book is Character Disorder, by George K. Simon Jr., Ph.D. Dr. Simon explains how traditional views of psychology simply don’t work very well in dealing with personality disorders, or as he calls them, character disorders.

Classical theories, Simon explains, regard basic human needs and emotions to be universal, and people develop psychological problems because they fear or experience their needs being thwarted. In his training, he was taught never to ask a client why he or she did something, because it would put the client on the defensive.

But in working with people who have character disordered, Simon eventually learned that they know exactly what they are doing, and why. When these people say they don’t understand their own motivations, they’re playing dumb.

In Character Disturbance, Simon writes,

Most of the time “I don’t know” doesn’t really mean the disturbed character is oblivious about his actions. It almost always means something else. It can mean:

• “I never really think about it that much.”

• “I don’t like to think about it.”

• “I don’t want to talk to you about it.”

• “I know very well why I did it, but I certainly don’t want you to know. That would put you in a position of equal advantage over me having my number, so to speak and I won’t be able to manipulate you as easily or manage your impression of me.”

• “I hope you’ll buythe notion that I’m basically a good person whose intentions were benign. That I simply made an unwitting mistake, oblivious about the harm I caused; and that I am willing to increase my awareness with your guidance.”

Knowing they are different

In answer to Flicka’s question, most psychopaths likely know that they are different. Some have been professionally diagnosed, after being dragged into therapy by family members or the court. They certainly didn’t go for treatment on their own, because they do not experience distress due to their disorder.

Or, even if psychopaths don’t know their diagnosis, they realize that they have an innate ability to manipulate, deceive and control others. They know that other people have these pesky things called “emotions” and “conscience,” which make for easy exploitation.

But psychopaths do not really understand what they lack, because they’ve never experienced real love or closeness. Remember, there is a very strong genetic component to psychopathy, so many of these individuals are the way they are from a very young age. It’s not like psychopaths were able to love, care and act with morality, and then stopped. They never had the abilities to begin with.

You can’t explain the difference between the colors red and blue to a person who has been blind since birth. Likewise, you can’t explain the value of “love” and “shame” to people who have never had the capacity to experience these emotions.

How one psychopath puts it

Last year, I received an email from a self-proclaimed psychopath. It sums up the psychopathic perspective:

I would like to thank you for making your videos they have given me an insight into how you people recognize us. WE are not to blame for your short comings because you are weak minded and foolish enough to be taken advantage of. We are evolutions next step we don’t allow silly emotions to cloud our judgments. In fact we use our advantage for survival because we are natures next course. I know I sound very narcissistic and apologize for that but if you are so proud and concerned and attached to your emotions why not allow someone to make you feel like a queen for something as worldly as money? We give you what you are missing just as all of the world ecosystem has since the beginning of time. It’s funny how we have been so easily classified and even now as I attempt to alter myself in order to become unparallel to descriptions of us, I find it very difficult to even perceive. I would like to boast of my strategic victories over hearts but I would fear you making another video and making this game more difficult, of course it would make it much more challenging and pleasurable when enjoying the hunt.


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70 Comments on "Do psychopaths know what they are?"

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Their cold inattention and lack of concern can be unfathomably painful even when they are not overtly curel. Like Flica, I am and many of us who are emapths, having heightened empathy. It makes us vulnerable and they know to target us for our loving goodness which they see as naivety and translate as TARGET. I notice some of you referring to a P as being mine or my. I learned not do that but use the term THE P and I often refer to them as creatures rather than human beings. It helps me separate myself from any connection whatsoever to him/them and that gives me some feeling of peace. They are not mine even if I married them or gave birth to them. I suggest we all disown them from our very being by never referring to them as ours.

Delores, I agree and also use the term “creature”, as well monster, individual, thing, it, being, etc. If I say he or him or my, it’s by mistake. The creature I had the misery of knowing does not deserve to be known as he or him or my or person or anything vaguely human. As well, as you said, using “my” connects this hideous individual to me and that is an unhealthy thing for me and for any of us to do. Disconnect and disown and don’t bring them closer by inference. The spell they cast makes vulnerables want them to be what we thought they were, but in reality they are inhuman hunks of skin and blood and bone with a sick mind. If it were possible to “see” what they really looked like it would be like a sci fi flick where a normal or above average person yanks off their “costume” to reveal a hideous monster underneath. All should keep that in mind.

When I would react to some outrageous, inconsistent, incongruous, unfeeling thing the monster would say or do, it would say, “I’m complicated.” I would say, “Really? I was thinking more along the lines of psychotic.” This, of course, before I realized what was really going on. I had no idea what could cause this erratic, sick behavior and felt compelled to make excuse after excuse. It truly was like being in a trance.

Remember to not take this behavior personally. We are dealing with an individual with a mental problem. Similar to dealing with someone who is drunk. Except most drunks have feelings and are caring. We just sometimes cannot communicate with them even if we believe we are. The psychopath is so narcissistic they seldom know you are even speaking let alone care what you are saying.

Yes, these people are sick but it’s very difficult not to take it personally when they wantonly and utterly DESTROY one life after another.

What they do to us is extremely personal, yet I recognize that my ex P would have (and did) treat anyone else the same way he treated me if he had the opportunity and if it suited his exploitive purposes to do so. In that way, his abuse of me is because of who he is, not who I am. In that way, it wasn’t personal because to him I could have been anyone.

Sociopaths often exclaim: “So…you think I’m a sociopath or something?” Or even “I’m sociopathic- I’m not Charlie Manson!” (Honest.) and even a flippant “big deal I’m sociopathic!” (Meaning: don’t expect me to change or do anything about it!) Some people substitute “borderline” and even the meaningless “crazy”.

MOST spaths KNOW. And they don’t CARE that YOU know either! Though they may loose you- they just move on to the next target.

Spaths really are PROUD of their accomplishments gained from their sociopathic behaviour. I think they all realize that their high opinion of themselves, of superiority to their victims at a very young age. Their obviousness is the only thing that changes as they get older. As they become “more successful” at targeting the right “victim” they grow bolder and the lies may get bigger and more unbelieveable.

One thing is true, sadly- if their routine didn’t work for them, if MOST potential targets told them to get lost and most “partners” dumped them at the very first discovered lie….they might go live in a cave (sic) and not bother anyone (since, emotionally, they don’t need anyone). This will never happen because “normal” people, even suspicious normal people will always give a spath the benefit of the doubt, and countless “second chances”.

BTW- ever see the battle between TWO spaths trying to get the better of each other? You never will. Spaths aren’t roosters- they won’t “fight” fair. Once a spath recognises another spath- they run like hell!

You are right, emotionally they don’t “need” anyone. But in order to practice their craft they need targets, toys, us. They become very bored and unsettled without their toys. We’d all be better off if they would go and form a commune in the mountains and stay there. That would be an implosion of egos, huh?

And yep, I’ve given countless second chances and benefit of the doubt. We all do, I suppose. I’ve never seen two of them come to blows though – that would be interesting to witness.

They do run for the hills when they’ve been discovered though. Or rather in my case, in dealing with a former pastor who was one, once he realized we knew his deal, he dismissed us (husband was on staff).

They know because they know how to do it! They know because they do it in a manner which cant be detected. A normal human couldnt manage the crafted and cunning tactics of a Path for the longterm. When others say “how can that be true, he is so nice, intelligent, etc.” Therein lies the answer. Of course he is nice and appears so rational in public, anything else would appear less than perfection.

I like your reasoning regarding whether or not P’s know what they’re doing-what they are; it makes sense! Thank you Kellymill.

Absolutely the ONLY way I won even a 6 month restraining order against mine was because I documented and saved EVERYTHING. He was always sending emails and those were ultimately what won it for me. It is very true that a LOT of judges fall for their tactics in the same way others do, because they are so good at pretending to be what they are not.

IMO, many judges ARE psychopaths – – their omnipotence and the fact they can’t be sued for willful and intentional misconduct etc., creates the perfect ‘hiding place’ to practice their craft.

MsConfused I’m glad you found the descriptions useful.

I have learned that I am very different to other people from having been raised and surrounded by psychopaths my whole life. Most people say I am very mature, calm, articulate and witty.

Most of these attributes are from intellectual psychopaths and also having been abused, having nobody sane around and having to grow up very fast.

I am not sure about the not being loved Annette. They don’t feel a selfless love in the sense that they are naturally inclined to give without receiving. But whether they were acting or not, they would self-check and then check on me. Like a computer. In this way I at times had a lot of power. Things could be on my terms. I didn’t know they were psychopaths but the message I got was they are “different to me” they are “more mischievous than me” and “I am still respected for being who I am”.

The happy medium we reached was respecting each other as different but I had to take COMPLETE responsibility for my life and expect nothing from them other than food and shelter, at a very young age.

But when I am comparing psychopathy to a disability, it’s not not self-submerge in anger and angst over what is really out of their control. They are simply born without the tools to make what we have. And what is the point in getting angry? Yes it is important to get angry at abuse to validate yourself because it is wrong,and to not put yourself in harm’s way. BUT, psychopathy is still caused by a brain without the building blocks for empathy, emotion and love. So everything I received was done without those building blocks and so was unnatural for them. And this makes me appreciate it. Whether they were exploiting me, I’m not sure. But I really enjoyed a lot of our time together and what they were able to give. They will never be like me but they influenced me in really amazing ways. The awful thing to swallow is that I have holes inside because they cannot play traditional family roles that they should. But that is just what I got in life. The hardest thing as well is explaining why I’m an orphan now when they are still alive. I chose to leave because it was too hard to live my own truth and theirs at the same time. It’s easier when you’re a kid and you just want to have fun with no expectations.

I don’t want victims to go through what I did and think horrible thoughts for years and years and take on the psychopath’s view of the world. That’s what I did. I think they try to pull you down because they hate themselves so much that they want misery company. I am a person who doesn’t want to remain bitter because of this. And admitting to myself that they are ill helps a lot.

We don’t want to treat them as though they are healthy people who have made the choice to behave that way. Althought they do know right from wrong, they don’t truly know it as we do. If they had the full emotional experience, they would be deterred from behaving that way as we are. If we treat them as though they chose this life, it means we take the behaviour personally and it affects us badly. I know my personality and nature have changed for the worse because my expectation of the psychopaths were that they behave like empathic people. It’s just not possible for them.

It’s better to accept their limits. Horrible as the expression of this illness is, I really do not blame them anymore. What made it difficult was the firm authority they take when they speak and act. But they are just trying to get their needs met and to them it’s fine. It’s like if you’re in a foreign country and don’t understand the language or gestures, and were never going to be able to understand, you’d just give up with niceties and go straight for what you need. That’s what I think psychopaths are doing and they have no idea of the meaning of the pain they cause.

I know my mum knew I was in pain. But it was always a distant concept to her. She knew it was bad and she should help me. But she always had to ask how. And never knew how long I was going to take to get over it and why I might be tired and then happy. Emotional processes are total mysteries to them. I really think that when society is more open about psychopathy then they will have support to make some kind of social roles for them with boundaries. But it takes understanding them and doing so without taking the same meanings from their behaviour as if an empathic person behaved that way. Because they really do not assign meanings. They just want something when they want it and the hows and whys and meanings are all confusing for them. They actually become really distressed trying to work it all out.

I think I know about 50 psychopaths – non-criminals – with my ex-boyfriends being among the most hurtful. The reason I am so comfortable is of course because I continue playing the role of my childhood. I also like how they get straight to the point and we can have an open and honest conversation. While I don’t like their behaviour and don’t continue contact, psychopathy is a reality and panicking about it is not going to help. We need to arm ourselves with personal tools and I think this website is absolutely fantastic in sharing information about the traits and how to handle it. I don’t think anyone who has fallen in love should blame themselves. After all, many of them are loveable and hilarious and fun! But the experience does perhaps make you appreciate yourself a lot more. “Thank God I am not like that” and “Thank God I can love.”

I know my family have done atrocious things to me but even as a little girl I understood they were doing it because they felt pain and had to transfer it immediately. That was how they dealt with it. They also didn’t like me being different and therefore out of their control, so I had to act predictable to calm them down. The best thing to do is look objectively at how they think and accept you will never connect because it is so different.

I have seen a few posts in here where victims of P’s talk about being diagnosed with PTSD. My brother went through some therapy a few years ago and was told he had PTSD from our P father. I’ve not been through therapy myself, unless you count self-therapy. I am curious, how many of you have been told you have PTSD from your P experience? I am afraid this may be more common than I thought.



I LOVE LOVE LOVE these line: “I would like to boast of my strategic victories over hearts but I would fear you making another video and making this game more difficult, of course it would make it much more challenging and pleasurable when enjoying the hunt.”

This is why we must have an online presence exposing pyschopathy. I am forever indebted to PB who exposed the spath of my aquaint’ online. I would NEVER have known who the spath really was, or have been able to put together th epieces of the grand con. I may have looked over my shoulder in fear for decades because I didn’t realize that the spath lived faraway from me and was a lazy/vastly superior person who was never going to come after me in 3D.

I also know that PB’s website has linked people and thwarted other other cons the spath has tried.


May I ask for your opinions.. do you think it is completely essential to cut off all psychopaths from your life?

I cut out my 15 close family and relatives because not expecting them to play real roles kept me angry, grief-stricken and vulnerable to more attacks. Every single boss I’ve had in 3 workplaces has been a psychopath. It is inherent in my field (media) and my second field (dance) in my city, basically the leader of every group I am a part of is a psychopath. I don’t know if it’s something in the water here but the seem to follow me.

I know experts say you can work with them with boundaries, but because I know how they work so well I know they already have me worked out in the first minutes. If I suddenly change my act then they’re on to me. I feel constantly on surveillance and so need to keep up my caffeine intake to have the energy to be on the defence.

A lot of my former friends were psychopaths too and I’ve cut them out, so it’s been traumatic. I feel like my world was wiped away by a tsunami and I’m an orphan and refugee with nothing to prove it. But that’s what has happened. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone close to me who wasn’t a psychopath. A lot of share houses I’ve been in have had psychos. I don’t know if I believe in God but if there is one, he wants me to suffer a hell of a lot!

Do you think a zero-contact policy is essential tot he point where you would avoid careers or career moves to avoid them? Or are they a fact of life and we have to accept they are all around but work hard to block them out?

Wonderful question! And one I have pondered myself. I feel that our compassionate characters do attract psychotics and therefore we must always be wary. For our own happiness we probably need to eliminate them completely from our lives. However, if climbing the ladder of success in our professions becomes a striving goal, then I do think we have to succumb to a certain extent to their power as they are very prominent in all walks of life. Exceptions do exist i.e. perhaps Mandela, Gates, SAS founder, Elizabeth Warren etc, but they are relatively few. Personally I would rather be surrounded by like minded people than reach for the heights in professions. So it may be up to you to answer your own question depending on where your happiness lies. May you find peace within yourself.

For the last two months I was involved with what I determine a socio/psychopath. At first of course he was very charming as most psychopaths. But, after a few days I realized he was not right. Each time I resigned to move away and distance myself I found myself pulled in closer and closer. The roller-coaster ride was an experience that I simply could not easily walk away from. I wanted to take a closer look at this individual and see just how far he would go to try to get what he wanted. On the second date he asked if I could give him a million dollars. I was shocked and could not believe my ears. I told him I found that to be insulting and walked away from him. He then said he was joking of course.

I examined his behavior for two months and now of course I have had enough. Through all of this I had to question my behavior. Why did I not immediately walk away? Again because he was very charming, he knew how to smooth things over and I was very lonely. I knew he was manipulating me, but I knew I would only allow what I was willing to allow.

This psychopath I learned had a wife of 38 years and a girlfriend of 5 years. He wanted me to fit into that equation.

Reading the email from the client puts it into perspective nicely and a very clear assessment of the mind of a psychopath.


RE: personality disorders, or as he calls them, character disorders.

That is not correct. Dr. Simon makes a clear distinction between the two types of disorders.

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