Psychopaths - Symptoms, causes and treatment

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Psychopaths - Symptoms, causes and treatment
Psychopaths - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Psychopath is a term used to describe someone who has no emotions, feelings, and conscience. Although often used, psychopath is not the correct medical term for this condition, but rather antisocial personality disorder

A psychopath can be reckless, destructive, and violent towards others without feeling guilty. However, a psychopath can also be calculating in his actions and often looks charismatic and charming.

Alodokter - Psychopath

Please note, psychopaths are not the same as sociopaths, even though these two conditions belong to the antisocial personality disorder group.

People who are psychopaths can't feel emotions. The empathy shown by a psychopath is only feigned, that is, by learning it from the responses of others.

Meanwhile, people who are sociopaths can still feel empathy for others, but ignore social norms and tend to be more impulsive and arbitrary. Compared to a psychopath, a sociopath is more easily agitated.

The Cause of a Psychopath

It is not known exactly what causes a person to become a psychopath. However, this condition is thought to be influenced by genetic and environmental factors, such as:

  • Had a personality disorder as a child
  • Experienced violence, abuse, or neglect as a child
  • Has a family member suffering from antisocial personality disorder or other behavioral and mental disorders
  • Suffering from alcohol addiction
  • Male gender

According to research, abnormalities in brain structures that regulate emotions can also cause a person to become a psychopath. This disorder can occur as a result of a disability or injury during brain development.

These abnormalities can even cause changes in the basic functions of the body. For example, when people see blood or violence, people generally experience palpitations, rapid breathing, and sweaty palms. However, a psychopath will actually feel calmer when he sees these things.

Psychopathic Symptoms

Psychopathic symptoms refer to the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. A person can generally be said to be a psychopath if they have the following symptoms:

  • Very irritable
  • Has an arrogant or overconfident attitude
  • Has an aggressive attitude and likes to do violence
  • Has behavior that goes against social norms
  • Ignoring or violating the rights of others
  • Unable to distinguish between right and wrong
  • Show no remorse and empathy
  • Frequently lie
  • Doesn't hesitate to manipulate or hurt other people to get what they want
  • Repeated crime
  • Don't care about responsibility

In addition, a psychopath usually also shows symptoms of behavioral disorders before the age of 15, such as:

  • Has a rude attitude towards other people and animals
  • Likes to break things
  • Frequently cheating
  • Likes to steal
  • Committed a serious violation of the law

Keep in mind, a person can have some of the behaviors above even though he is not a psychopath. To be sure, an immediate examination by a psychiatrist (psychiatrist) is required.

Antisocial personality disorder generally lasts a lifetime. However, in some cases, certain symptoms may subside over time. However, it is not known if this occurs due to increasing age or the patient's increased self-awareness of the consequences of breaking the rules.

Psychopathic symptoms usually reach a severe level when the sufferer is in their teens to early 20s. In certain cases, symptoms may subside when the patient reaches the age of 40.

When to see a doctor

A person with antisocial personality disorder, such as a psychopath, generally does not feel that he or she has a behavior disorder. As a result, it is rare for them to go to the doctor regarding this condition.

However, sometimes people with antisocial personality disorder feel the need to see a doctor because of certain symptoms they experience, such as irritability (anger issue) or drug addiction.

Therefore, if you or someone you know shows symptoms of a psychopath as mentioned above, especially if you are 18 years of age or older, consult a psychiatrist or psychologist. Proper medical treatment can save psychopaths and those around them from harm.

Psychopath Diagnosis

A psychopathic diagnosis can only be made when the person suspected of having this condition is 18 years old. A diagnosis can also only be made if the patient has a history of behavioral disorders before the age of 15 years.

In the diagnosis process, the doctor will ask questions about the complaints and symptoms experienced. Patients with antisocial personality disorder may have difficulty explaining their condition.Therefore, the doctor will also ask for help from the patient's family or relatives to provide additional information needed.

The psychopathic diagnosis will also be determined based on the following:

  • Results of psychological examination related to the patient's thoughts, feelings, behavior patterns, and relationships with other people
  • History of the patient's and family's he alth, to determine whether the patient has experienced other mental disorders

Patients can only be diagnosed as psychopath if they have had three or more symptoms of antisocial personality disorder since the age of 15, which are not due to another condition, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Psychopath Treatment

Treatment of a psychopath depends on the severity of the condition, the situation, and the patient's willingness to undergo treatment. There are several methods of treatment that can be done, namely:


Psychotherapy can be used to manage anger and violence, treat alcohol or substance addiction, and treat other mental disorders.

This therapy is done by guiding the patient to understand about the condition experienced and its effect on life and relationships with other people. The psychologist or psychiatrist will make a guidance plan according to the symptoms the patient is experiencing and their severity.

Some types of psychotherapy that can be done are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy), to help patients control the condition by changing negative ways of thinking and behavior into positive ones
  • mentalization-based therapy, to help patients understand how mental conditions affect behavior
  • Psychodynamic therapy, to increase the patient's awareness of negative and impulsive thoughts and behaviors

Psychotherapy is not always effective in treating psychopaths, especially if the symptoms experienced are severe enough and the patient does not feel they have the condition and is therefore unwilling to undergo treatment.

Group counseling

Group counseling is a type of social therapy that aims to meet the emotional and psychological needs of the patient, as well as increase the patient's ability to not easily offend others when interacting.

Counseling can be done in large or small groups by solving a problem together to create an environment that helps each other.

Patients are advised to attend group counseling for 18 months. This is because patients need sufficient time to make changes in themselves and practice their abilities.


Antisocial personality disorder can't actually be cured with drugs.However, doctors may prescribe certain medications to relieve other mental disorders that may coexist with this condition, such as depression, anxiety disorders, or aggressiveness (irritability). Doctors can also combine medication with psychotherapy.

Please note, antisocial personality disorder, including psychopathy, is very difficult to cure. However, long-term medication and monitoring can relieve symptoms.

Psychopath Complications

The following are some of the complications that a psychopath can experience:

  • To abuse or neglect a child or spouse
  • Experiencing alcohol or drug addiction
  • Committed a crime that caused him to go to jail
  • Has a tendency to kill or commit suicide
  • Suffer from other mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety disorders
  • Has a low social and economic status
  • Experiencing an early death, usually as a result of violence

Psychopath Prevention

There is no sure way to prevent someone from becoming a psychopath, especially in people who do have risk factors. The best effort that can be done is to detect this condition as early as possible and provide immediate treatment before actions that endanger others.

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