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LS: How to Spot Psychopaths: Speech Patterns Give Them Away


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How to Spot Psychopaths: Speech Patterns Give Them Away

NEW YORK — Psychopaths are known to be wily and manipulative, but even so, they unconsciously betray themselves, according to scientists who have looked for patterns in convicted murderers' speech as they described their crimes.

The researchers interviewed 52 convicted murderers, 14 of them ranked as psychopaths according to the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, a 20-item assessment, and asked them to describe their crimes in detail. Using computer programs to analyze what the men said, the researchers found that those with psychopathic scores showed a lack of emotion, spoke in terms of cause-and-effect when describing their crimes, and focused their attention on basic needs, such as food, drink and money.

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To examine the emotional content of the murderers' speech, Han**** and his colleagues looked at a number of factors, including how frequently they described their crimes using the past tense. The use of the past tense can be an indicator of psychological detachment, and the researchers found that the psychopaths used it more than the present tense when compared with the nonpsychopaths. They also found more dysfluencies — the "uhs" and "ums" that interrupt speech — among psychopaths. Nearly universal in speech, dysfluencies indicate that the speaker needs some time to think about what they are saying.

With regard to psychopaths, "We think the 'uhs' and 'ums' are about putting the mask of sanity on," Han**** told LiveScience.

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Interesting article! I have an interest in psychopaths, from a clinical point of view. I just don't understand them and their thinking. This article explains a lot.

I'm also interested in sociopaths because as a general rule, we encounter them more in our daily lives than we do psychopaths. Both are to be avoided if one wants a sane life.

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So here's the checklist (21 items).

Factor 1: Personality "Aggressive narcissism"

Glibness/superficial charm

Grandiose sense of self-worth

Pathological lying

Cunning/manipulative

Lack of remorse or guilt

Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)

Callousness; lack of empathy

Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor 2: Case history "Socially deviant lifestyle".

Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

Parasitic lifestyle

Poor behavioral control

Lack of realistic long-term goals

Impulsivity

Irresponsibility

Juvenile delinquency

Early behavior problems

Revocation of conditional release

Traits not correlated with either factor

Promiscuous sexual behavior

Many short-term marital relationships

Criminal versatility

Acquired behavioural sociopathy/sociological conditioning (Item 21: a newly identified trait i.e. a person relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive)

A value of 0 is assigned if the item does not apply, 1 if it applies somewhat, and 2 if it fully applies

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If you are interested in this subject, take a look at this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Psychopath-Test-Journey-Through-Industry/dp/1594488010

I think that being labeled a "psychopath" is pretty much crap. That test is so subjective, most of us could fall victim to several of those factors at some point of our lives.

How do you judge Glibness, sense of self-worth, Pathological lying, Cunning, lack of empathy, ect?

Have you ever cut off someone in traffic that was driving too slow because they were talking on their cell phone, and not cared because it was their fault for not paying? If so, you are demonstrating:

Lack of remorse or guilt

lack of empathy

Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Shallow affect

Impulsivity

Irresponsibility

Poor behavioral control

Possibly even showing signs of:

Criminal versatility

Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

Grandiose sense of self-worth

Juvenile delinquency

Early behavior problems

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If you are interested in this subject, take a look at this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Psychopath-Test-Journey-Through-Industry/dp/1594488010

I think that being labeled a "psychopath" is pretty much crap. That test is so subjective, most of us could fall victim to several of those factors at some point of our lives.

How do you judge Glibness, sense of self-worth, Pathological lying, Cunning, lack of empathy, ect?

I thought of 3 people I knew almost immediately. All 3 were troubled youths, all 3 did time in jail. All 3 could sell you just about anything, and could charm (and have) their way out of just about any situation. I think when judging people with this scale, you have to take into account what you know about their failures, and their troubles with the law. Everyone lies, etc. at some point, very few end up in jail.
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Interesting article! I have an interest in psychopaths, from a clinical point of view. I just don't understand them and their thinking. This article explains a lot.

I'm also interested in sociopaths because as a general rule, we encounter them more in our daily lives than we do psychopaths. Both are to be avoided if one wants a sane life.

How are you differentiating between a psychopath and a sociopath? I think they generally are used to mean the same thing, though sometimes people tend to use "psychopath" to describe a violent sociopath.

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That's the archived stuff which only goes up to 2008. For anything after that look here:

http://raising-a-psychopath.blogspot.com/

Wow. I just spent the past hour reading that entire blog. I was completely hooked. Riveting stuff.

---------- Post added October-24th-2011 at 09:52 PM ----------

"Said" as in "typed". Of course we've never met.

Then I still have no idea what you're talking about, but am relieved that you're not stalking me. :pfft:

(Of course, if you were stalking me, that's the kind of answer you'd be expected to give... hmmm...)

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How are you differentiating between a psychopath and a sociopath? I think they generally are used to mean the same thing, though sometimes people tend to use "psychopath" to describe a violent sociopath.

I think that sociopaths are generally not as criminally inclined as to be locked up will defeat their purpose in life, which is I think to just live a happy go lucky life that includes manipulation to get what they want, they are narcissists, they don't have a conscience and want all attention focused on them. The psychopath is criminally inclined added to the above, like you said violent. As I'm not an educated psychologist or psychiatrist, I only know what I read. I think what is so fascinating to me is that they just don't care about anything but themselves and will do anything to get what they want. I have been personally involved with sociopaths and it is an experience I don't want repeated, so I like to know what to look for in these types of people.

BTW, the list pretty much suits Casey Anthony to a "T" from what has been reported about her and the evidence presented in the trial. Contrast her happy smiles and laughter after her acquittal and Amanda Knox's tears and almost collapse in her acquittal in her appeal. Very telling, very different reactions.

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