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Not Your Psychopath

by manilla


A/N: Hi, this paper isn't completely finished (no conclusion), but please review the best you can! Thank you! It means a lot.

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People with Antisocial Personality Disorder be described as people who seem to have little regard for others’ emotions in order to get what they want, but there is research supporting that this lack of regard to emotion comes from their poor decision-making skills. People who have Antisocial Personality Disorder that can belong into two categories (psychopathy, sociopathy), whose differences are debated. For the purposes of this paper, the term ‘psychopath’ will be used because it’s a clinical term noted in the DSM without controversy.

The public’s general perception of a psychopath is a “murderous madman”, with such examples titled “unforgettable”. Two of these characters include Silence of the Lambs’s Hannibal Lecter or the psychopathic murder Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. These perceptions, however, for the majority with Antisocial Personality Disorder are false (“Research and Innovation”).

Psychopathy is one of the most difficult mental disorders to spot and diagnose. For years they were defined as unable to process human emotion such as empathy, remorse, or regret (Reuell). Yet because these people are so manipulative, they have to have acquired an understanding of another’s thoughts. Questions are posed after because even though psychopaths understand people, they still choose to inflict harm on others (Hathaway). Psychopathic traits are also placed on a low-to-high spectrum, measured in the degree to how much a person shows such traits. Having the disorder is not a simple yes or no answer (“Research and Innovation”).

The true name of psychopathy as a mental illness which the DSM labels is Antisocial Personality Disorder, which also includes the term sociopath, which is not a real disorder in itself. “Psychopathy” and “Antisocial Personality Disorder” can be used interchangeably, but “sociopath” is not a clinical term (Meyers). “Sociopath” and “psychopath” can also be called the same thing. Or, sociopaths may be referred as one with antisocial leanings because of environmental factors, like the community they grew up in, while the antisocial traits of psychopaths come more naturally inside of the person. A “chaotic or violent upbringing” can also contribute to the level of psychopathy in a person already prone to behave that way (“Psychopathy”).

It is known that psychopaths are cruel and manipulative and depending on the case, may enjoy inflicting pain upon others (J, Antonia). One of their traits is arrogance, which includes self-entitlement, and are convinced that they’re at the top of everything they do. Another trait is big risk-taking, because psychopaths have little regard for safety that usually belongs to another person. To further advance their motives, they lie, cheat, and steal. Their plans are done in advance and leave little traces of clues behind, making them extremely intelligent con artists that horror movies enjoy portraying. Surprisingly, they’re labeled initially as charming, drawing people in with their wittiness and well-told stories that shine the psychopath in a positive light. People are said to walk away from them feeling “pretty good” (Morin). Psychopaths are compulsive liars to convince others and maybe themselves that they are near perfection. Also, it’s possible for them to change the “outlet” of their proneness to violence into another form, like harming animals (J, Antonia). As mentioned previously, psychopaths are capable of feeling emotion, but predicting the outcomes of their choices is something they may not be capable of (Reuell). This relates to the fact that psychopaths are big risk-takers.

Scientists believe that either two paths lead to psychopathy - one by nature, or one by nurture. A child can be a psychopath “by nature”, meaning that they show these traits without cause. An example of “by nurture” is that some children are raised without proper support or care from their parents, therefore forcing them to raise themselves in difficult circumstances. This can turn them, as a defense mechanism, into violent or cruel people. Experts also suggest that removing the child from that environment can also save a child from becoming a full-on psychopath. Other traits alone can’t influence psychopathy: Researchers emphasize that unsympathetic or insensitive children aren’t always going to be psychopaths. Estimates include that there’s an 80% change of a child not becoming one (“When Your Child is a Psychopath”).

Psychopaths have differences in their amygdala. That’s the organ in their brain that controls emotion and aggression. Therefore, they can’t learn from punishment, not ever acquiring a social conscience. This relates to their lack of empathy and seemingly-little remorse (J, Antonia).

In children, psychopathy is similar as in adults. Being caring or empathetic is used for manipulation purposes solely. According to researchers, about one percent of children exhibit these traits; a similar amount to the percentage of those with autism, whose differences from psychopathy will be discussed later, or bipolar disorder. With a psychopath’s usual charm and intelligence, people won’t even suspect that the described child has Antisocial Personality Disorder because they’ll “mimic social cues” so adeptly (Hagerty).

“Inside a Mind of a Sociopath” is a book written anonymously by M.E. Thomas. In this writing, she admits that people like her, sociopaths, can be dangerous. She also confesses that they’re incapable of feeling genuine guilt or remorse and are power-hungry, but what she doesn’t agree to is that they’re evil. Because of the media, cases are shown where psychopaths/sociopaths are tried for a crime, people, with the little information they have, only see that side of them. On love, Thomas says that love is a mixture of emotions such as affection, adoration, infatuation, or attraction. She states, “...our particular cocktail of love is going to look different or feel different to us [people with Antisocial Personality Disorder], but it’s still there”. (“Inside A Mind of a Sociopath”)

Antisocial Personality Disorder has been confused with autism, probably because they both share common traits. Both people with Antisocial Personality Disorder and autism are self-centered, lack or choose to ignore people’s emotions, therefore making rash decisions without considering them, and they “fail to see common elements in different situations”. The main difference between the two is that people with Antisocial Personality Disorder are independent usually, but only small percentage of people on the autism spectrum are able to live and support themselves as adults (Samenow).


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Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:57 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Hey manilla,

I saw your wall post so I'm here to take a look at your lovely psychopathic essay ;) Let's get started...

People with Antisocial Personality Disorder be described as people who seem to have little regard for others’ emotions in order to get what they want, but there is research supporting that this lack of regard to emotion comes from their poor decision-making skills.


I'm not sure I understand what your "but" is supposed to mean here. You start with a solid opening bit, but then the "but" makes it sound like you're getting ready to contradict that statement. Like "...described as people who seem to have little regard for others' emotions in order to get what they want, but in reality this just isn't true." would make more sense. Here you have a "but" but then go on to basically support that statement that they do not, in fact, have much regard for others' emotions, and instead start explaining why that is. I think an "and" might serve you better here?

Also the "be" doesn't make a lot of sense either. I think you're missing a word there? Like "can be" or something??

For years they were defined as unable to process human emotion such as empathy, remorse, or regret


Your "they" here is pretty vague.

Estimates include that there’s an 80% change of a child not becoming one


I don't understand what this sentence is supposed to be saying. Do you mean that if a child is removed from an abusive situation then their risk of developing psychopathy decreases by 80%? Or...? I'm just really not clear what this is supposed to mean, or how they're able to measure this.

“Inside a Mind of a Sociopath” is a book written anonymously by M.E. Thomas.


??? How?? Was it anonymous if you then give us an author's name? That means that it was not, in fact, anonymous after all??

lack or choose to ignore people’s emotions


I think you're missing some words after "lack" because it doesn't really make sense how it's written now. Do you mean like "lack the ability to recognize or choose to" instead?

The main difference between the two is that people with Antisocial Personality Disorder are independent usually, but only small percentage of people on the autism spectrum are able to live and support themselves as adults


Hmm, you really want to check your source here. The autism spectrum is really wide, ranging from mild Asperger's to really severe developmental delays -- and a very large number of people who have a form of autism are fully independent when they get older. This sentence doesn't seem to be correct.

~ ~ ~

Okay! So overall, I liked this essay, but I did have a couple of over-all things that I wanted to mention.

1) Cohesion

This is a big one you might want to look at for this essay. You had a bunch of really interesting information included here, but I wasn't entirely sure what your point was? Like I know you said that this doesn't have the conclusion -- but I really wasn't sure what your thesis even was for this essay?

Like I don't know what the point was. It felt like you just hurdled a bunch of random facts at us about psychopathy with no clear connection to one another and I was left walking away, while informed, really confused what your point was. Was the point that we should stop stereotyping them? That we should pay closer attention to try to identify them? That we should fear them? Since I have no idea what you were arguing I have no idea if you got your point across -- but I'm leaning towards no. By the time someone gets finished reading your essay they should have a clear idea of what you think they should believe about the topic -- and right now I really don't know what it is that you want me to believe about psychopathy.

2) Topics

I touched on this in the first point, but I would encourage you to go through your paragraphs and try to figure out what you're trying to convey in each paragraph. What psychopathy is? What people perceive it to be? How it affects the individual's life and relationships?

Identify what it is that you're trying to accomplish with each paragraph and then edit so that those topics actually end up coming close together. That'll make it feel like less patched-together information being thrown haphazardly at us.

3) Consistency

Again this sort of ties back to the first point that I raised, but parts of your essays seemed to contradict other parts of it. We start out by defining psychopaths as people unable to process human emotion -- and then later talk about how they can in fact be loving and kind and be able to control to an extent the manifestations of their disorder.

I think if you identified the topics of each paragraph, as I mentioned, and restructured this so that you could be like "it's commonly defined as ____ (source), however other people have claimed that blah blah blah (source)" to handle your conflicting sources would be a way to make it clear what point you're trying to make while still handling your material fairly.

~ ~ ~

I think that's all I've got for you, though! I hope this wasn't too harsh! I was purposefully critical because I assumed that this was for a class and I wanted to be as helpful as possible because of that. I do think you have an interesting premise and I hope that your revisions go well and that you get a good grade!

Good luck!

~Shady 8)




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Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:46 am
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alliyah wrote a review...



Hi manilla, I am here to review your essay!

I just took a course in ministry and care for those with mental illness this last semester, so hopefully that helps me review your piece!

I'll give some specific feedback as I see it, and then some general feedback.

paragraph 1
Good introduction to topic as well as defining important terms - might be helpful to cite the DSM's definition of psychopathy too for people to have reference to right away.

People who have Antisocial Personality Disorder that can belong into two categories (psychopathy, sociopathy), whose differences are debated.

^ In this sentence I wouldn't use "whoose" because it sounds like the people who are diagnosed are debating the diagnosis rather than than other folks. => Could phrase instead, "People who have Antisocial Personality Disorder can belong into two categories, psychopathy or sociopathy, though these difference are often debated by doctors/experts/researchers/academics in the field."

Also I note that you use the DSM as an excuse to not use person-first language in your essay, saying it's uncontroversial - I would actually say that it isn't. Many people working with people who are diagnosed with Psychopathy in the US still try to use person first language, preferring to say, "a person diagnosed with psychopathy or a person with psychopathy" rather than a "psychopath" because - using person first language is a way of humanizing the person, and remembering that their diagnosis doesn't define their personhood. I think it is fairly common still, to just use "psychopath" instead -> but I think you could do a better job explaining why you don't think that's controversial, or why you are personally are making that language decision. You could even explain that in a footnote if you don't want to disrupt the flow of the essay.

paragraph 2
"The public’s general perception of a psychopath is a “murderous madman”, with such examples titled “unforgettable”.

^the second part of the sentence doesn't make sense to me, who is titling what unforgettable? I think you may also want to say "Many in the public" rather than assume all of the public's impressions without evidence to back it. Or even just say "Media portrays those with psychopathy as being "a murderous madman"" rather than public.

You also say the perceptions are false, and then cite a research paper? It'd be more convincing if you maybe used a statistic of how few people with mental illnesses, or psychopathy actually commit violence. I think I read recently that people with mental illnesses are statistically more likely to be the victim of a crime, than have a crime committed against them. That type of statistic would be convincing in your essay rather than just saying the perceptions are "false".

paragraph 3
Explaining the terms of your essay is good, but this paragraph might make a bit more sense near the beginning because it isn't making any sort of argument but is just explaining therms that the rest of your essay relies upon.

paragraph 4
"It is known that psychopaths are cruel and manipulative and depending on the case, may enjoy inflicting pain upon others "

^^ I believe this sentence contradicts the whole point you made in paragraph 2. I think this whole paragraph could benefit from some disclaimers. like "people often ____" or "psychopaths often _____". Note every person with the same mental illness diagnosis is not the same. The J, Antonia source sounds a bit biased in my opinion, and I can't imagine that there is research that says all people with psychopathy are "cruel and manipulative". Many many people who suffer from psychopathy I believe are actually pretty well acclimated to their environments and can live successful and productive lifes. I had a hard time reading this paragraph because it just seemed pretty one-sided. If you had some more statistics, research, or even antidotal examples it'd help support your arguement better.

paragraph 5
This was a pretty interesting paragraph, and seemed to have good internal support.

paragraph 6 & 7
Paragraph 6 seemed like it needed an opening paragraph saying why that information matters. LIke "many people wonder how psychopathy develops" or something like that.
I didn't see the reason for separating paragraph 6 & 7 either since they covered the same topic.

paragraph 8
Interestingly this paragraph seems to support the point your made in paragraph 2 about media/public false portrayal, but contradict the point you made in paragraph 4 where you said everyone who suffers from psycopathy is cruel.

paragraph 9
This paragraph seemed like a continual of paragraphs 5-8.

General Comments
Two main pieces of feedback are be careful about over-generalizations of either the public or people with psychopathy - especially because people with psychopathy are real people, not just hypothetical, so how you talk about them matters and contributes to their correct or incorrect portrayal in the greater world.

And then secondly, I think the organization of this essay could use a bit of work. Your information was primarilly about two/three subjects.
1) Media/Public Portrayal of People with Psychopathy
2) Humanity of People with Psychopathy
3) Definitions of Causes of Pschopathy

the paragraphs internally were organized but weren't organized within the essay itself. It felt like paragraph 5, 6, 7, 9 should all go together, and then 2,4,8 should go together -> although you may need to address why paragraph 4 contradicts paragraphs 2,8 -> you could say that it's an alternative view point but I think you should address that you're making two different arguments within the paper. And then paragraph 3 felt like an extension of the introductory paragraph.

Overall you have a lot of information here, I am very curious what this J, Antonia evidence comes from, you may want to double check it's nuances or reliability. I'd also be curious to how you're going to pull the strings together for a conclusion.

Hope this didn't seem too harsh, just passionate about some of the subjects, and like critiquing essays. Let me know if you have any questions about my review!

Good luck in editting!

~alliyah




manilla says...


Thank you so much for your constructive review!



manilla says...


Thank you so much for your constructive review!



manilla says...


Thank you so much for your constructive review!



alliyah says...


You're welcome!




The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.
— Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest