Getting picky about the definition of psychopathy

After reading about the book, The Psychopath Test, Kayt Sukel, a Psychology Today blogger, wondered if psychopaths were, in fact, everywhere. So she asked Joshua Buckholtz, a neuroscientist. He said that psychopathy needed to have meaningful diagnostic boundaries. Buckholtz told her “a true psychopath is going to show high aggression, low empathy and high narcissism in all contexts.”

I wondered about that description. Here at Lovefraud, we know that psychopaths are capable of faking love and concern, quite convincingly, when it suits their purpose. How does the expert account for that?

Read Psychopaths everywhere? on

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70 Comments on "Getting picky about the definition of psychopathy"

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this is such an important topic because there are so many facets of it. It can be a complex dynamic that changes over time.

For example, I’m pretty sure I have the outward appearance of a pushover. I am small and feminine. Someone mentioned that I have a little girl voice, though someone else said I don’t. Anyway, spathy people do think I make a great victim. I’ve seen it many times. Even online.

When I was on the community waterboard, my spath neighbor with the big head, loud presence, domineering manner and a mousey wife, became president. I didn’t realize that spath was directing him to block all my efforts and trying to get me to hire an incompetent attorney to do everything wrong.

In my usual way, I tried to understand his POV, I tried to explain my own etc… I sat quiety, nodding while he railed and raged. Then one day we were driving back from an attorney’s office and he insisted we would hire the incompetent attorney and let her do things wrong because it wasn’t our problem once it was in her hands. I thought, WTF?

He instantly went from big mouthed bully to shriveling coward.
The next week he resigned in a letter, saying he didn’t think he was able to influence the board as much as he had thought.

Well now I know it was because my spath had him convinced that I could be cowed. But that’s just my way of being patient and giving them rope, so that I can see EXACTLY who they are and what they’ll do. They always take the rope.

When it comes to bullies and spaths, they are looking for victims. By definition that means someone who cannot or will not fight back. When you do, they slither away.

BUT that doesn’t mean you’ve won. They will go from overt to covert aggression and it actually becomes much harder to fight. Given what I know now, I would have gone covert myself instead of facing Joe down. It actually works better, but my anger got the better of me.

Hi gals/guys,
This conversation makes me think of when I was young. My parents used to read like crazy and they would leave all the books hanging around.

I remember reading Timothy Leary’s “Jaile Notes” When I was probably in 8th or 9th grade!

My mother would not let me read “The Woman’s Room” by Marylin French. She said she was a “man hater” I know I’m dating myself, but when I finally got my hands on it I was totally obnoxious!!

Have any of you read it??

Hi Ana,
I haven’t read it, but the wikipedia article on it sounds really good.

It’s not just spaths, our culture is a disaster.
As Rene Girard says, it was founded on a murder and a lie. So what can you expect from it?



Thanks for the book recommendation. I also checked it out on Wikipedia…sounds good!

Louise & Skylar,
Yeah, I was obnoxious after I read the book. No wonder my mother would not let me read it!

I loved the book, but my goodness you have to be careful about ya attitude after reading it! It’s intense….LOL


One can regard using Leary’s laws as manipulation. I’ve seen it in that light too myself, because you’re using people’s instinctive responses to get them where you want them. It takes letting instinctive reactions pass without showng it, then come back to your center and then choose your “response” from the position that is most effective rather than “react”. It can be used for good and for bad. Spaths are able to use the laws effectively for their own benefit. Non-spaths are able to use the laws effectively for mutual benefit.


Exactly. You can intimidate someone into a down position by becoming very authoritive, but if that someone is against and you cannot change the “against” position, it will just be a covert “against” instead of “open and in plain sight”. It’s a valid option, but I only use it when I can afford it… when the coverts cannot find a listerener’s ear or support. I’ve done it once to an egotist on a 3 week trip. I had first warned him with concern that his actions may cause him being ousted by the group (he put some girls down, did not respect waiting lines at showers, …). He kept at it (refused to share a double bed when it was his turn to do so), and things happened exactly as I predicted by the start of the third week (one of his roommates openly discussed it with him, and when he stil refused, the other guy asked the group who’d take him in.. and the egotist ended up alone, and ignored by the group). I did not intervene on his behalf, and when he sought pity with me afterwards because of the group’s response on my one day off I ignored him. After that he was sympathetic to my face, and talked behind my back, and give some barbed covert comment once in a while. I was able to afford it, because I knew everyone else knew I had always kept him from derailing plans at their cost, and the trip was near its end. I sacrificed one good review by letting him stay in the submissive position without trying to get him on our side any further. But he would given a bad review in any case. He was a spoiled pain in the ass, an egotist. The only thing that would have pleased him was everybody else sacrificing themselves to his wants and needs all the time.


You are right. Things can be used for good or bad. A pen can write a sonnet or a love poem, or it can be used for writing a poison pen letter…breaking someone’s heart. A gun can be used to defend yourself or it can be used to attack someone else unprovoked.

Words can uplift or they can tear down.

In the book (I reviewed it here on LF) “The 48 laws of power” (the author also wrote a book about how to seduce women) he talks about how to manipulate others to get what you want. The book for all it is written as telling someone how to get along in the world is actually I think a “psychopath’s play book” as it tells a psychopathic person how to back stab and manipulate others for your own personal power. Of course it pretends to be an uplifting book but it is anything but.

In learning how to get along with others we all learn ways to do things that can be used to manipulate others if our motives are to do that. We learn “social” ways of interacting that are for the good of all concerned, they grease the wheels of “getting along” and “cooperation” in society.

We learn to be “polite” to someone when we dont’ feel like it, or to answer questions in such a way as to not offend someone. “Do these pants make my bottom look big?” LOL We learn to turn down an invitation we dont’ want with a “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t come, I have a prior engagement” so that we don’t offend the inviting party.

We don’t tell them “I wouldn’t come to your party if it was a dog fight and you were fighting” LOL

I think you dealt well with the spoiled egotist in your group. Let the group sanction his behavior. Of course he is going to blame you for his spoiled trip, not his own cr4py behavior.

The thing is also, that we can see the redflags and know when a person is toxic, but it is very difficult to know just HOW toxic.

How far will the covert sabotage go? I could see all the red flags of my spath for years, though I didn’t know what they meant. Even if I HAD known, I would never ever ever have imagined that he was killing people and poisoning me. Not in a million years. He only appeared to be a liar and an abuser. The truth was so horrible that I simply refused to consider it. It just COULDN’T be true.

So now, I know better. It doesn’t matter if an abuser has killed or not. I understand now that the red flags indicate NO EMPATHY. That means they are CAPABLE of anything. They have no limits.

Indeed they have no limits. I believe that too, now. The only limits they have are those they impose on themselves if it would inconvenience them.

I know and recognize I can NEVER return to the Nicaraguan village, not even if I were accompanied by someone. It’s a dangerous country by itself, let alone if there’s a spath with connections with a mind to hurt you if he ever has the chance and can get away with it. He could order a hit for all I know from abroad, if I ever show my face there and his spies alert him.

On another note… I’m flabbergasted by some news I received. My big love pulled through his depression and started to take action in hs life again… he returned to a familiar course of work again (tourleading in Mexico) to get back on his feet and self-confidence, eager to know how I’m doing… but that’s not what flabbergasted me (though heck my mom was asking about him just today and I’ve been wondering for a week how he is and have been contemplating writing a letter to him). But he just gave me a love declaration. He’s been googling jobs and English teaching positions in my hometown, and told me he loved me as he remembers me just as much as he’d love me wrinkled and old. For the moment, I’m quite speechless.

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