Psychopaths: Are They Born Or Made?

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Psychopaths are a dangerous group of individuals that live among people in a society. There are different abnormalities within the human mind, which contributes for people to turn into a psychopath. They are hurt people (physically and mentally), but they are an intriguing subject that spikes curiosity about the mindset of a criminal or a sane person that would be able to do something brutal and disturbing.

They are born and made. Lots of research tells us that there is a genetic predisposition to antisocial behavior, which is the main diagnosis for psychopaths; this behavior makes people go against society and usually break laws “it seems that a genetic tendency towards violence, together with an abusive childhood, are literally a killer combination - murderers are both born and made” (Mosley). They are in the same group of criminals, although not all criminals are psychopaths. Other than the genetics, every human being is influenced by society, and that changes people during their lives, and an unhealthy environment, abusive backgrounds and extremely exigent and harsh parenting tends to affect those people, and triggers their mind abnormalities.

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Psychopaths are usually labeled as thrill seekers, which is due to their lack of feelings. They tend to find activities that will increase their adrenaline and make them feel something, which makes this group of people prone to drug and alcohol use, or creates criminal behavior like stealing. Studies show that psychopaths have a “lack of moral and ethical susceptibility, with the result that they prove capable of diverse forms of criminal behavior” (Bromberg, 200). They are also known to have a lack of empathy, remorse and mercy. People usually feel bad if someone close to them has any sort of bad news, while a psychopath would not have that feeling, but would make sure that they show care, mainly if it is for someone relatively close to them, to create a sort of mask for society. Children start feeling remorse as soon as they learn that breaking the laws is bad, but children that will become psychopaths usually don’t feel that remorse for doing something wrong. Psychopaths are also known to have learning disabilities, especially deficit problems. “Individuals with psychopathy present with severe difficulties in both aversive conditioning and instrumental learning” (Blair, James).

People have a hard time distinguishing psychopaths from other groups that are able to kill, and people with schizophrenia are usually one of the groups that people confuse with psychopaths. People that suffer from schizophrenia live in their own realities and often experience hallucinations and delusions that may cause them to commit a homicide. “Their speech and behavior can be so disorganized that they may be incomprehensible or frightening to others” (Spearing). A psychopath’s motives for murder are usually specific, being driven by money or a desire to escape from the scene of another crime, for example. People without mental disorders can also kill other people and not be diagnosed as psychopaths, as in killing because they see themselves as failures, or for revenge or anger, although a psychopath can also kill because of an angry moment because they usually don’t feel any remorse.

Another group that is commonly confused with psychopaths are people with dissociative identity disorder. Those individuals have multiple personalities and sometimes they even know about it. People that suffer from this disorder host in their minds multiple personalities, and can say things that won’t make sense. For example, Sherry, a twenty-eight year old woman that suffers from the disorder, after the last time she changed hospitals she became very confused about her surroundings and started complaining that everything looked different, and her reaction is described in John Viktus’ casebook in abnormal psychology. “She demanded to know who had rearranged the hospital and the grounds, and she repeatedly asked to see people who didn’t exist” (17). Among those different personalities, one of them can be cruel and capable of homicide, but then the day after, the person wouldn’t even recall the accident. This can be disturbing and scary for people that live around those individuals. If their disorder comes to be that extreme to a point that they could physically harm someone, those people are usually watched, but not diagnosed as a psychopath.

Another big subject that confuses people is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. Sociopaths do not cause as much harm because they are extremely social, they exactly know how to behave in a social setting, and are not very temperamental like psychopaths who have no control of their temperament, which comes from their impulsive behavior. A psychopath has no social skills and is more likely to live alone. Unlike psychopaths, sociopaths do feel guilt, but it is usually limited to very close relationships. Some sociopath characteristics may include: “Charm of charisma, a constant need for stimulation, impulsiveness, sexual promiscuity, pathological lying, cunning and manipulation, a parasitic lifestyle and a refusal to accept responsibility for their own actions” (Arends). Both groups are usually bored with life and seek things to please themselves. While a psychopath needs adrenaline, which conducts them to a criminal behavior, a sociopath will affect society mentally, by being very dramatic and creating conflicts in their group of friends or family, seeking attention.

These anti-social and predatory groups of people that are parasitic to society live as normal people everywhere in the globe. From a suburban dad, to a pretty girl in high school, to a homeless person. Some of the psychopathic characteristics are defined as “arrogant and confident sense of superiority and entitlement” (Babiak, Hare). They have a high need for control and power over other people. They often lie and manipulate people and sometimes lack fear.

The first signs of a psychopathic person start when they are infants; those signs can range from starting fires, to physically abusing someone in school, to animal abuse or murder. Some psychologists believe that if treated while the individual is very young, it is possible to “cure” those people from psychopathy. But there is no proof that psychopaths can be cured into becoming normal. “There is no cure for psychopathy. No pill can instill empathy, no vaccine can prevent murder in cold blood, and no amount of talk therapy can change an uncaring mind. For all intents and purposes, psychopaths are lost to the normal social world.” (“Mechanisms of Disinhibition (MoD) Laboratory”). Psychopaths become individuals with no moral code of ethics and lie to achieve goals, even kills.

Psychopaths can be heartless and extremely harmful to people’s lives. They live as normal individuals and people can’t tell who they are and what they look like. The image society has of a psychopath is very general and wide. Usually people will claim that someone with schizophrenia is a psychopath, but someone that is ill in that matter does not fit into the group. Even thieves are judged as psychopaths by some. People often confuse those groups due to a lack of understanding, and the psychopaths end up being labeled in the same group as people with other mental disabilities.

Works cited

  1. Arends, J. (n.d.). Sociopath vs. Psychopath: What’s the Difference? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from
  2. Babiak, P., & Hare, R. D. (2006). Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. HarperCollins.
  3. Blair, R. J. R. (2008). Fine cuts of empathy and the amygdala: dissociable deficits in psychopathy and autism. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(1), 157-170.
  4. Bromberg, W., & Zeligman, R. (2012). The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murderers. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.
  5. Mosley, J. (2014, November 4). Born to Kill? Our Genes, Our Crimes. The Telegraph. Retrieved from
  6. Spearing, R. (2018). Schizophrenia: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
  7. Viktus, J. (2009). Case Studies in Abnormal Psychology. Wiley.
  8. Walsh, A. (2013). Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer. New York: HarperCollins.
  9. Wynn, R. (2012). The Psychopath: An Essay on the Criminal Mind. Fountainhead Press.
  10. Youngs, R. (2017). Understanding and Treating Psychopathy: A Reference Guide. Praeger.

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