Psychopath. The word screams social incompetence of the worst degree, a term that those not affected with said mental illness generally have no desire to voluntarily interact with. Yet, it seems, men and women continually find themselves dating–or actively getting intimate–with these very people. Rationally speaking, how is this even possible? Are we, as humans, that stupid?
Not quite. According to Dr. Ronald Schouten and Dr. James Silver, co-authors of “Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy?”, there are a fair number of people–approximately one out of ten, according to their research–who are not full-blown Psychopaths, but exhibit an alarming degree of “psychopathic tendencies.” Referred to as “Almost Psychopaths,” they exhibit an alarming number of undesirable traits without fully moving over to the dark side. Furthermore, their ability to mask the almost-disorder is logically greater than that of a fully classified psychopath.
Even scarier, realizing you’re dating an “almost psychopath” is often a slow and arduous process, which as explained by this book except, could even take years to uncover:
The realization that someone might be an almost psychopath (or full-blown psychopath) probably won't come out of the blue like a bolt of lightning. It sneaks up on you, on odd experience, betrayal, or deception at a time. It's like the old story about the frog in the pot: if you place a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and the heat is turned up gradually, the frog will stay put until you've made frog soup. But if that same frog is thrown into a pot of hot water on the stove, it will jump out immediately. (Or so we're told; we actually haven't tried it-nor do we plan to.)
Keeping this in mind, are there any ways a Bro could detect red flags early enough in hopes of avoided a complete catastrophe? After speaking with Dr. Schouten, I’ve learned that although it’s very possible for a girlfriend to sneak on by, there are a number of “if you see this, get the hell out” qualities that everyone should be on the lookout for.
Lying: A no brainer, really. Schouten notes that the lies can start out rather innocently, but can then snowball into full-blown attacks of “deception aimed at manipulating the other person.” Schouten notes the differences in the types of lies, which include reflexive lying (“they’ll just come up with a story), and predatory lying, which is more aim-based.
Abuse: Physical abuse is an obvious red flag, but verbal abuse is often just as big, if not a bigger indicator. Insulting and demeaning comments can often be aimed at preventing a partner to grow within the confines of a relationship. In the book, the authors discuss a wife who was duly subject to verbal abuse from a husband that consistently belittled her aspirations and desires, to the point where it got rather ugly.
Blame: Not accepting responsibility for one’s actions demonstrates the social detachment often found in “almost psycopaths” Schouten warns to look out for excuses such as, “I was late because my roommate blocked car in. I was late because someone screwed up at work…that whole pattern of blaming other people for their own mistakes and problems.”
Meanness: “(Meanness) to you, to a clerk at the store, to the waiter…a callousness and indifference to the feelings of other people.”
Lack of Remorse: It’s easy to tell when someone truly feels sorry for something. Empty words aren’t uncommon amongst almost psychopaths, but they are often simply that.
Perception of Right and Wrong: Schouten warns against those who have a blatant disregard for what is right and wrong, relative to the decision that benefits them. Even if the situation deals with something outside the confines of your relationship, it can only be a matter of time until the same thought processes applies to something involving you. This is perhaps one of the more telling signs.
Schouten noted that with the advent of social media, cyberstalking is now relatively common practice amongst almost psychopaths, which although often difficult to detect, is yet another red flag. He also believes that social media has in many ways benefitted the almost psychopath tremendously– “I think from that obsessive following standpoint, it makes it much, much easier to do.”
So the real question is, are you safe from an “Almost Psychopath?” Want to learn more? Be sure to check out a copy of the book today!