Experts believe that up to 1.6 percent of U.S. residents are psychopaths. Additionally, some studies suggest that as many as 12 million Americans have sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies. In other words, it is not only possible, but actually likely, that you have met a psychopath- and you might even be dating one.
Some of the latest research into psychopathic behavior indicates that these individuals are much less likely to be susceptible to the so-called ‘contagious yawn’. Scientists discovered a long time ago that the main reason people near you end up yawning in response to your yawn is because they feel empathy for your tiredness. Of course, not everyone will yawn along with you in every situation, but what does it mean if they never do?
A research team, led by Brian Rundle, recently published the results of a study they conducted with 135 individuals. Participants who rated the highest on the ‘cold-heartedness’ scale of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised test were also the least likely to yawn in response to others. This does not mean that they never exhibited the contagious yawn. However, it does showcase the possibility that people who very infrequently yawn with others could potentially have psychopathic traits.
According to the Huffington Post, Rundle characterized psychopaths as being “partly defined by a lack of empathy and compassionate understanding of the feelings of others.” Rundle went on to make it clear that a lack of contagious yawning is not enough to classify someone as a psychopath. To date, the research has been limited to only one study. Therefore, it is not possible to make a firm determination about anyone based on whether or not they tend to yawn along with others. It is something you should be aware of, though, especially if you have other reasons to suspect that your partner might be a psychopath.
What Are the Main Traits of a Psychopath?
If someone is a psychopath, they are likely to have a charming personality that helps hide their lack of empathy and emotional attachments. These individuals are able to gain trust easily because they are typically masterful at manipulating others. Although they do not feel the same emotions as non-psychopaths, they will learn early on that it is vital to mimic the behavior of everyone else. Due to this, psychopaths can end up in long-term careers and relationships without the people around them recognizing them for who they really are.
Is There A Difference between a Psychopath and a Sociopath?
A lot of people use the terms psychopath and sociopath interchangeably, but the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has them listed as separate conditions that are both classified as Antisocial Personality Disorders. Psychology Today says that there are numerous similarities and differences between the two conditions.
Psychopaths and sociopaths both tend to have an inability to feel remorse, and they may completely disregard the rights and feelings of others. It is also common for these individuals to have a violent personality, and they do not feel connected to social mores or laws.
The main difference between psychopaths and sociopaths is their ability to fit in with the general public. As previously mentioned, psychopaths can have successful careers and fool people into believing that they are just like everyone else. On the contrary, sociopaths tend to have a lot of difficulty holding onto a job, and they are also prone to emotional outbursts. A sociopath can form a close relationship with one person or a small group, but they will not care about the rest of society.
From a criminal standpoint, sociopaths are much more likely to be caught and prosecuted because they tend to do things on the spur of the moment without any planning. Meanwhile, psychopaths are methodical and will have every minor detail planned out before they break the law.
How Does Someone Become a Psychopath?
Brain scans have shown that people who are psychopaths actually have a different brain from those who do not have this disorder. Scans have shown that psychopaths have low activity in key areas within the temporal and frontal lobes, which are the areas responsible for morality, empathy and self-control. With this in mind, it would be reasonable to assume that everyone with the psychopathic brain is easily identifiable as a psychopath- but this is not actually the case.
In one fascinating instance, a neuroscientist studying the brains of psychopaths discovered that his brain featured the key indicators of psychopathic traits too. This was surprising because the man in question, James Fallon, has a stable, successful career and family life, and he has never engaged in any violent behavior. Fallon does admit that he manipulates others and is motivated by power, but he does not appear to have many of the other traits that people immediately attach to psychopaths.
Some researchers believe that people with the psychopathic brain need a trigger event such as a traumatic childhood before they will turn violent or become a criminal. It is also well-known that these individuals lack impulse control, which can lead to gambling and drug abuse. Current statistics also indicate that 24 percent of high school students abuse prescription medication. The number of psychopaths among this group is almost certainly very high, and they are also more likely to pressure others into engaging in risky behaviors.
Is Your Partner a Psychopath?
Because psychopaths are so clever and manipulative, it can be really difficult to determine if you are dating one. So be sure to pay close attention to whether or not they yawn along with you at least part of the time. You can also learn a lot more about this personality disorder by adding a book such as The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson to your summer reading list.
Featured photo credit: Image by www.christiancrush.com via flic.kr
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