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Years ago, I had a stalker where I worked. While I knew the stalker was the young high school graduate that was working at the company, he seemed harmless at first, so I didn’t pay too much attention to it.
However, the signs soon piled up, and I realized I had missed the dangerous signs of a psychopath, and I began to feel threatened.
The moment I realized he wasn’t “all there” and had no emotional connection at all was the day there was a car accident outside the office. I rushed out to help the injured, and I ended up sitting with a critically injured young boy.
In all the chaos and trauma, I remember looking up, straight into my stalker’s eyes, and realizing that he had no feelings about the situation at all.
He wasn’t in shock. He was excited by it, and he looked at the injured and those helping like someone studying bugs under a microscope.
As I started seeing more signs of him being a psychopath, I realized he was fixated on me, and I was in danger. I made the hard call to resign my job and move as far away from him as I could. Have you ever had dealings with a psychopath?
There are signs that can warn you of the danger you are in. Here’s what to look out for.
What Is a Psychopath?
People use the term psychopath quite loosely, and often incorrectly. However, the truth is that people display various psychopathic behaviors, which categorize them with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).
If you suffer from ASPD, you tend to be confrontational to society, prone to violent and socially unacceptable behavior, and a mastermind of manipulative schemes.
A psychopath is someone who doesn’t care about doing or being as society accepts, but instead of being a free-thinker, they are obsessed with their own needs, placing these above everyone else’s needs.
Psychopaths may even escalate their drive for self-fulfillment to the point of negatively affecting others, even reaching the point of murder or worse.
Psychopath vs Sociopath
There is often some confusion between a psychopath and a sociopath, and while neither are true diagnoses of mental illness, both types of disorders are highly dangerous to the people around them.
Psychopaths and sociopaths are typically behavior patterns that group under the ASPD spectrum.
A simplified way to understand the essential differences between psychopaths and sociopaths is that a sociopath still functions somewhat normally, and they mostly violate societal rules because it excites them.
However, a psychopath is someone who intentionally inflicts pain on others because it makes them feel better.
So, a psychopath knows that what they’re doing is wrong, but they don’t care. Sociopaths bend and break rules, often not fully realizing the extent of the damage they do.
Psychopaths are more dangerous than sociopaths, and they often pick a victim to torment or pursue, which is what happened to me when I was dealing with the stalker at my old job.
He was a psychopath who thrived on the raw emotions of others because he didn’t have the capacity for real emotions. Inflicting pain was a hobby for him, and all that mattered was his ability to manipulate others.
11 Dangerous Signs Someone Is a Psychopath
There are a few signs you can watch out for that can show you someone is a psychopath.
It’s important to be aware of these signs, and while these aren’t a medical diagnosis, they can help you prepare and begin to protect yourself from the machinations of a psychopath.
1. Look for a Behavior Pattern
Just because someone acts destructively or “crazy” doesn’t mean they are a psychopath. Chances are they may have psychopathic tendencies, but they may actually fall into a different class of personality disorder.
The true sign someone has a form of psychopathy is when you notice a pattern of behaviors.
When they engage in some of the behavior that is signs of psychopathy, they do so repeatedly. It’s not a “mad dog moment,” and the person isn’t just having an off day. The signs need to persist over a long term.
So when you consider whether someone is a psychopath, look for patterns of behavior. Repeating signs and repetitive behavior patterns are a true indication their strange behavior is ingrained and hint at a deeper malaise.
2. Their Patterns of Behavior Can Be Unpredictable
Okay, so this one may seem opposed to the first sign, but when you put them together, it shows you the chaos that rules in a true psychopath’s mind.
While a psychopath is known for repetitive behavior, their behavior can also be impulsive and unpredictable.
A psychopath can suddenly explode into action and seemingly have deep feelings. They have an almost “knee-jerk” reaction to the world around them, acting totally out of character, and unsettling the people around them.
Suddenly shouting, breaking into song, running upstairs, randomly moving body parts, and uncontrollable laughter are all signs of unpredictable behavior.
When these combine with other signs, you could be dealing with a psychopath on the verge of an impulse control episode.
Psychopaths can’t control their impulses. If they want something, they will lie, steal, cheat, and manipulate without feeling to get it. An impulse problem can also happen for a moment, such as laughing at thoughts they find funny.
A psychopath that’s under more pressure than normal may suffer more unpredictable episodes than if they are in moderate control of their impulses and their actions.
Remember, they know that what they do is wrong, so they can hide their actions, making them extremely dangerous.
3. They Turn on the Charm
Dealing with a psychopath can often include being the victim of their charm. Like a child who smiles and pretends to be nice so they can get the candy they want, a psychopath can pretend to like you and care about you to get what they want from you.
The real harm in this is the false expectations they create, which leaves you hanging if you depend on a psychopath, only to have them fail you again and again.
Psychopaths move mountains for themselves and won’t so much as shift a toe for others if there’s no gain in it for them.
Sadly, instead of seeing them for being selfish, we often believe their charming lies and polished exterior. This is a fatal mistake. Never believe a psychopath.
Case in point, I later learned that the young man who stalked me was going for psychological evaluation and treatment.
He was diagnosed with social anxiety depression, simply because he was able to run circles around the psychologist treating him. He could charm his way out of anything, often with dangerous results.
4. Criminality Is Normal to Them
If a psychopath believes something will benefit them, they instantly do it, with no regard to right or wrong. The moral codes of society seem to have no influence on them.
The young man who stalked me also had no concept of right or wrong. He casually lied about everything, stole his mother’s car and sold it for cash, then booked a flight for himself to a foreign country because he felt like it.
Law is a suggestion to them, and they often purposefully ignore the laws of men. Psychopaths thrive on breaking the law and proving how “clever” they are. They manipulate the system, operating in the gray area of law so they can satisfy their needs.
What makes this so dangerous is that if you’re not careful, they will take you down with them, or worse, blame you for their heinous acts.
5. Guilt and Regret Are Only Words
Most people will show some signs of remorse when they do something that’s wrong or that hurts another person.
It’s rare to see someone show no sign of comprehension of regret or guilt, and in these cases are usually psychopaths.
When this young man’s mother confronted him about selling her car, he looked her dead in the face and smiled.
He said that he needed the money, and he knew he could do it, so he did. Guilt didn’t even feature in his mind. Regret was for the weak, according to him.
If he could act like that with something as small as stealing a car, what else could he do without batting an eye?
6. They Have No Fear
Because psychopaths don’t have any concept of consequences, they also lack fear. They often engage in dangerous behavior, such as speeding, running traffic lights, extreme sports, and reckless behavior.
They are fearless, not because they are brave, but rather because they are simply not concerned with what happens if they mess up.
This lack of fear is also part of the reason why they engage in “wrong” behavior, as they have no fear of consequences. They will commit a crime because they don’t even think of what happens if they are caught.
Their lack of fear turns into a kind of arrogance, and they tempt fate again and again, practicing more and more risky behavior because they love the thrill and they believe themselves uncatchable and infallible.
7. Temper Tantrums
Seeing a grown man throw a tantrum is not pretty. Yet, that’s exactly what this young man did when he was pushed into a corner.
He could become so worked up that he actually foamed at the mouth. And when enraged, his eyes would instantly become bloodshot and he’d cry (always tears of anger, never regret or sorrow).
Psychopaths are known for being almost child-like in their lack of temper control. They often have tantrums until they learn to fully master their pretense act that they fool the world with.
Yet, even their temper shows and adolescent behavior often plays into their manipulation tactics, if they can win sympathy from the people they manipulate.
8. Sexually Promiscuous Behavior
What I haven’t shared is that there was a substantial age gap between myself and the man stalking me. He was almost 18 years younger than me at the time, and yet, he was very sexually geared up and tried his best to seduce me.
In itself, this isn’t a sign of psychopathy, but his statement that he had no problem with any age, gender, or race, as long as he could get some, was worrying.
For a psychopath, any sexual behavior or instant gratification of their baser urges is fair game. I often think of the violent scenes of sexual promiscuity in the movie American Psycho, which so clearly illustrate this sign of psychopathy.
And even more worrying, sex and death often go hand in hand for psychopaths, and there are many rapists and murderers who engage in promiscuous behavior followed by murder to satisfy their animalistic needs.
9. They Lack a Future Plan
Most of us have a goal for the future. We plan on starting a family, reaching a career goal, or achieving a lifetime achievement of some kind.
But psychopaths are so consumed with their momentary needs and blinded by their delusions of grandeur that they don’t plan for the future.
Since they have no concept of consequences, have no fear, and don’t believe in obeying the law, psychopaths often end up with prison time.
Criminality seems to attract psycho people. Besides, being responsible and planning for the future is too “grown up” and mature for psychopaths to find thrilling.
Oh, they can plan a crime or scheme with great accuracy and detail, but this is not the same as having a future plan.
10. Sadism and Ruining Lives
Because psychopaths have a feeling of self-entitlement, they don’t believe there’s anything wrong with harming others.
They will intentionally “do unto others before they do unto them.” For a psychopath, there's a real thrill in causing pain and suffering to others.
I could see the joy on the stalker’s face when he saw the pain of the people around the accident site. He thrived on the pain, suckling at it like an evil spirit.
Later, when he caused such financial ruin and pain to his mother, he also expressed no sorrow or remorse. Instead, he seemed really pleased with his plans and how things played out.
Psychopaths are sadists who enjoy inflicting pain and harm. Look into their eyes, read the truth there, and beware of falling for their lies.
11. Psychopaths Can’t Love
No matter how they lie, how they charm, or what plans they come up with, the truth that can’t be denied is that a true psychopath can’t love.
To love someone means you step out of your shoes and set aside your own needs to help someone else thrive. You do this because that person matters to you, and their happiness brings you joy.
A psychopath can’t step out of their shoes since they don’t have empathy (or can only fake a small measure of it).
Psychopaths aren’t able to work for someone else’s joy. Like elemental beings, they can only focus on their own needs and instant gratification.
Selfless acts of love are beyond a psychopath’s ability to experience or even fake.
Instead, when they see someone who is happy and in love, they are more likely to try and sabotage that as they don’t want others to have what they don’t. Psychopaths are innately jealous.
Remember: They need to feel like they are the best, and love means you put someone else ahead of yourself.
Breaking Free of a Psychopath’s Grasp
I had to move and leave my life behind to get away from the man stalking me so I could get clear of his psychopathic obsessions.
However, this isn’t always possible if you are already in a relationship with a psychopath or have a family member who is a psychopath. So what do you do then?
There are a few steps you can take to survive any contact with a psychopath and remove their power over you:
1. Keep It in Writing
When dealing with a psychopath, it’s important to have evidence of EVERYTHING.
They aren’t only capable of ruining your life, but they can mess with your mind, so having proof of what was said or what agreements you have can save you from future manipulations.
2. Act, Don’t React
Your emotional reaction to their deeds and manipulation is what a psychopath gets off on. When you are upset or angry or sad, it gives them power.
They enjoy making you react and lose control. So don’t let a psychopath provoke you, rouse you, or make you do things without thinking.
Always remain calm and decide what your actions will be. Don’t get provoked and react, as this surrenders control to them.
3. Limit Information Access
The less a psychopath knows about you, the better. To keep them out of your personal life (and out of your head), turn the conversation back to them.
Let them babble on about their “greatness” and avoid talking about you.
When they push, tell them that you won’t discuss your private life, and walk away if they won’t accept it. Psychopaths are often bullies, and they won’t easily accept no as an answer.
Regardless, keep your high ground, lock your life behind iron bars, and never believe a psychopath cares about you—they don’t.
Final Tip: If It Gets Too Much, Get Help
If the psychopath is more than you can handle, get professional help from a psychologist, your colleagues, boss (unless they’re the psychopath), support organizations, and family members.
Remain calm when you explain the situation, and keep track of everything so you don’t feel overwhelmed and lost in this chaos.
Final Thoughts on Signs of a Psychopath
Having a psychopath pursue you is dangerous, threatening, and very serious. Never make light of what your gut is telling you.
Look for the signs and patterns of signs, keep a written record of what you see, feel, and what’s happened. And above all, if you feel overwhelmed, get help.
Psychopaths rule through isolation of their victims, so don’t let them push you into their trap. You are strong, and you can get out of their grasp.
There is help out there, but get your facts down and stay safe.
For more on the weird things a psychopath does, read our guide on 13 weird things psychopaths do to watch for.
And if you're looking for more articles about different personality types, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 21 Signs and Characteristics of a Difficult Person
- 13 Steps to Get Along with Difficult People
- 11 Characteristics of a Superficial or Shallow Person