A constant struggle that I have had to deal with since writing about psychopathy is that people claim that I have said things that I never said, or they will misinterpret things intentionally. The reasoning that they do this is varied, but a good number of them are looking to discredit my writing for their own benefit. Many times it is someone that self-diagnosed themselves with psychopathy, and now has to shatter anything that disagrees with their beliefs about themselves or the fantasy that they are living out.
There are different versions of this, and many of them revolve around making assumptions about what I write without actually looking into it, or bothering to ask me to clarify. Often this occurs when discussing the diagnosis of psychopathy, the DSM, teenagers, or psychopathy versus ASPD. Other times it is a direct misrepresentation of what I write, such as claiming that I think psychopathy is a superpower. Let’s get into it.
Psychopathy can’t be identified until adulthood, therefore my byline of “Psychopathy is present from the first breath one takes, to the last.” is false. Most recently I got this one on an answer directly explaining why this is the case, and even though it was clearly explained in the answer, I was still greeted by this nonsense.
"Once I read a woman saying that psychopath was something present from the first breath you take to the last.
Guess she was wrong though.
People say a lot of things in the internet.”
Sigh. Please read the answer before deciding that I don’t know what I am talking about.
People claim that I think psychopathy is a superpower:
”Funniest part is psychopathy is basically a disability while these people wrongly see it as a superpower. The higher the score however the more dysfunctional they are. So when one sees the term psychopath on a profile in a vain attempt to wear it as a badge of honour its like someone stating they have no arms or legs yet professing to be an olympic athlete with better abilities than an able bodied person.”
”If you sense the tone of the person answering, it’s touching on high and mighty with a hint of condescension “oh don’t you wish you could live life like me, not bothered by your useless emotions?” like this person feels they are so beyond this human experience almost as if they believe they are superior? Every answer I read from people who claim to be ASPD seems like it has this tone. This is maybe the delusion they tell themselves to stave off the deep hollow void in their experience. And maybe it’s so obscure they may not ever see it but if it weren’t there, I think their answers to these questions wouldn’t have such a pompous ring about them.”
”Athena, it’s blatantly clear that you do indeed view yourself as superior because of your psychopathy. Perhaps you really don’t think people notice through your posts exactly how you perceive yourself compared to others? It’s very, very, obvious, though. And here’s some truth on humanity for you: It is VERY normal - very HUMAN - for us all to grasp at the straws we believe make us special. I grasp at my 157 IQ and my preference for logic and reason (while recognizing that emotional bonds, empathy, and mercy ARE important as well as being capable of it all), even though it’s just a number that doesn’t even remotely guarantee my success in life, including my career or social success. Yet I’m proud of it because I perceive it to make me special - more unique, standing out from that ole boring crowd of regular masses.
In any case, my point is this: welcome to the human race, Athena. You may not be as different from the rest of us as you think. You are without a doubt, like the rest of us “regular masses,” capable of reason-blinding pride and ego…”
Psychopathy is neither a disability nor is it a superpower. It does not direct actions, and it is not what defines a person. I have never made the claim that it is a superpower, and in fact, frequently have mentioned that this is the sign of someone that is not psychopathic. It is common for those that adopt it as an identity to decide that it is indeed a superpower, and makes them far more superior than anything else.
The people that do make it out to be a superpower tend to say things like this:
”Your inability to love has to do with the fact that you're a shitty person, not oxytocin or brain chemistry. I'm a psychopath because my brain chemistry works better than most people's.. not because certain parts of my brain don't work lol
I fall in love HARDER than most people. Psychopaths are on a spectrum, you are what I'd say is probably actually a narcissist, because you assume you know everything and that everyone else is just like you. I can further this conclusion by saying you lack all spirit if you lack the ability to love. Psychopaths are very spiritual people, whether they discuss it or not.
Just because you can't feel love doesn't mean you're fucking Steven Seagall bro lol.. Lack of feeling and empathy is a trait sociopaths and narcissists posess. Psychopaths have an entire array of feelings, and they are much better controlling them than neurotypicals.
If you think you're even slightly close to a psychopath, I encourage you to try some psychedelics so you can understand what it's truly like to be insane, at least for a little bit of time ;)”
That is, at the very least, exhausting to deal with.
That psychopaths cannot ever, or do not ever, abuse people. Example of this one:
I am neither faking my psychopathy nor have I ever said that. Also, I would never say that. Anyone can be abusive. What I have stated is that being a psychopath does not make a person abusive. A psychopath may well be abusive, but that has nothing to do with their psychopathy. It has everything to do with the choices that they make. That is their responsibility, and the only person that can affect change in that individual is themselves.
That does not prevent me from getting these comments all the time:
”I do not need to list the long litany of antisocial behaviours a true psychopath suffers from as they can easily be found on the internet, but psychopathy is a serious mental illness and not conducive to happy reciprocal relationships. And you are right, only a small number of psychopaths are criminals, in the essence of what the word criminal means, because I've worked for a great deal of psychopathic CEO's in my lifetime who killed nor economically robbed a single soul yet wreacked havoc in the lives of their employees - me included, that had irreparable side effects. The incapacity to love and manipulative, egotistic behaviours among a long list of other destructive attributes are at the top of psychopathic behaviours, so yes, you my dear can say what you like to try and appease a forum in your favour, but if you are indeed a psychopath, well stay the hell away from good, kind, giving people yeah?”
Yup, she sure sounds like the reasonable and balanced person in the relationship she was complaining to me about.
Psychopaths are never criminals. I have no idea why anyone would make this claim, but they do, and frequently. Despite writing about antisocial psychopaths, and that they are focused on as primary instead of secondary in research, I still have people trying to say that I have the stance that psychopaths are pure as the driven snow.
I don’t know if you have picked up on this yet in my writing yet, but I am a big believer in personal responsibility. Even to the point that I may well be unfair to antisocial psychopaths in stating that psychopathy is not an excuse (which is what I always say by the way, not that psychopaths are never criminals). I have stated many times and will do so again, psychopathy is not an excuse or shield to hide behind to explain wrongdoing. That is the individual’s choice. No one else’s.
This may translate to being shortsighted when it comes to low-functioning psychopaths. I have never been that way, so perhaps I am expecting too much of them. Maybe they really do have no impulse control and no ability to learn it. I don’t know. What I do know is that giving those that are able to make better choices an excuse for why they don’t need to is enabling criminals. That doesn’t interest me, and while it is super-inconvenient for those that would like to say, “Poor me, I’m a psychopath. What do you expect of me?”, it is also not reasonable to give anyone a pass when they do something wrong. Hold people to account, not brain formations.
That psychopaths suffer. I have no idea where this one came from, but I can tell you that it is incorrect. I mean, sure, I can suffer physically. Meningitis sucked, no argument there, but it doesn’t stick around. There is this notion with some people that really dislike me for some reason, that I am trying to paint psychopaths in a sympathetic light. No, I am trying to make them neutral. I am attempting to explain psychopathy in a way that is understandable to the general public so they can then separate that from negative behaviors that an individual, who may or may not be psychopathic, might display.
Psychopathy is not good, and it is not bad. It simply is. There is nothing more to it. I don’t know why people get so vitriolic when it comes to explaining that, but it is vexing to me. It seems to me that it would be more beneficial to be able to look at an ex, or a parent, or a sibling, or a boss, and say, wow, that person is a d*ck. There seems to be some measure of disquiet when it comes to even considering it, however. It is better in their minds that psychopaths are a dangerous and malevolent unit of creatures, and any attempt to step away from the hyperbole used to describe us results in the assumption of sympathy mining.
That there are no other psychopaths. This one is a …what? I have certainly never made that claim, and readily will discuss psychopathy based on the research that has been done on psychopaths. However, I also recognize that there are some serious issues with that research, and there are reasons to question study findings when the study itself is poorly constructed, or they are investigating something regarding psychopathy through a purely neurotypical lens. That’s science.
This claim often comes about on Quora, and it usually is in relation to me not supporting the claims of self-diagnosed people, that sooner or later give up pretending to be a psychopath:
”I am a psychopath and I think people like Athena try to make it seem harmless or normal. with their flowery bullshit. Fact is Psychopaths are fucked up in the head and there ain’t nothing good to say about that.
and then write about other things, or they get banned from the site because they are too busy harassing other writers that they want to overtake in views:
That my Significant Other is a psychopath. I have no idea why people make this assumption, but comments like this are common on my answers:
What made psychopaths choose their significant others?
”That, Athena person, was a load of self serving crap on a stick from a fast food shop but failed in almost every way imaginable to answer the question. Yeah yeah, i know what you are going to say, don't bother. I did not sense a human bone in your body, not a scintilla of genuine emotion or compassion, and zero evidence your fellow is the psychopath. Frankly, it seemed the other way around.”
Well… yeah dude. That’s literally what the answer was about. I am describing why I chose him. I never said he was the psychopath, and in fact, if you read that answer through that lens, it would make no sense at all, as I wrote it in first person. I wouldn’t think much of it if it was just a one-off thing, but it is a common mistake. Let me state clearly. I have no idea if my Significant Other is anything other than neurotypical, and I operate under the assumption that he is. I am not qualified to assess anyone for anything, and I don’t pretend that I am.
That I can diagnose anyone. I get comments, and messages all the time asking me to do this. Be it themselves, their friends, their significant others, you name it. I can’t. I have no idea why anyone thinks that I can, but I do not have that kind of education. Even if I had it, it cannot be done online. No matter how many times I repeat myself about this not being possible, that I am not qualified, that it is impossible for me to diagnose anyone with anything, I still get entire life stories without paragraph breaks that expect me to psychically divine whether or not they, or their subject of query, are indeed psychopathic.
Let me reiterate, I have no idea. All I can comment on is when there are glaringly obvious signs that the person that is asking or is being asked about, is definitely not psychopathic, such as, “I’m fifteen and…” Yeah, not psychopathic. Reconsider it after you pass twenty-five.
That I romanticize psychopathy:
”Please don't call yourself a psychopath and then attempt to romantic the meaning of the word. You are either a person characterised by the attributes of what a psychopath is or you are something else.”
I don’t romanticize it, and I don’t demonize it. This goes back to the notion that psychopathy only fits in one place in people’s minds. It is only a definition for evil-doers and nothing else. If anything else is said about it, it is for the sole purpose of painting it in a good light. What I don’t understand is, how do people think that this standard can be applied to any group of people’s immutable characteristics. It isn’t acceptable to do so regardless of what it is, but psychopathy apparently gets its own special rules. I don't think that works personally.
That psychopathy is an all-or-nothing condition. This comment sort of summarizes all the previous points well:
”I don’t usually care enough to comment, but I have to chime in. You seem to view psychopathy as an all-or-nothing condition, which it isn’t.
I have read through many of your answers where you seem very hell-bent on representing the romanticized idea of psychopathy as a superhuman that never experiences fear, anxiety etc. Which is probably why you have a large following. You know what people like to hear and you play to that.
You also seem to be completely oblivious to your extreme narcissism. The ironic thing is that people with NPD don’t understand that they have it, yet you claim that NPD can not occur along with psychopathy. Do I think you have NPD? I don’t know, but you are definitely a narcissist.
There is no person in the world that I really care about, but people like you I care even less about.”
He has a few things correct in this comment, such as that psychopathy and NPD cannot coexist. This isn’t my assertion, it is basic fact. You cannot have an emotionally dysregulated and emotionally and egotistically dependent person in the same body as a person that has completely internal emotional regulation, and ego mechanisms that never seek help from an external source. It isn’t possible. However, the rest of it, he covers the idea that I romanticize psychopathy, and also that it is all or nothing.
This is complex, and I have written about it several times, but apparently bears repeating. Psychopathic traits are a spectrum, that’s true. It is not all or nothing. Everyone falls on this spectrum somewhere. They might be high, they might be low, but most people are in between. However, psychopathy itself has a diagnostic cutoff. You have to reach the diagnostic criteria in order to be considered psychopathic. If you don’t, you aren’t.
That means you aren’t going to be a terrified psychopath or a psychopath who can fall in love. I have had many people write about how they are the exception to this rule, but they always end up being something other than psychopathic.
I have never denied that psychopathic traits are on a spectrum, but in order to be psychopathic in name, you have to reach that aforementioned criterion. If you don’t, you aren’t. This isn’t about “because I say so”, that’s just how things work. However, I do not believe, nor have I ever stated that psychopathic traits are all or nothing. That would be contrary to human nature, as many of the traits that make up the core of psychopathy are present in everyone at different points, and at different volumes throughout their lives.
I am sure there are more things that people claim that I said, or that I believe, that isn’t true. Normally I wouldn’t address such things, but there has been a lot of incorrect representation of my thinking recently, so it seemed to be reasonable to directly clear up any of these misconceptions. It should also be pointed out that while I have an understanding of psychopathy, it may change as research advances, or better studies are done. There is nothing that is not subject to being reevaluated, as it should be with all information that we think is correct.