Can a Psychopath Cry? (Signs and Symptoms of Psychopathy)

In this brief guide, we will look at the question “Can a psychopath cry?”, as well as other subjects related to psychopathy, like can a psychopath get depressed, if a psychopath can be cured and some signs and symptoms of a psychopath.

Can a Psychopath cry?

The question “Can a psychopath cry?” is asked often, because when a psychopath is trying to be manipulative and trying to get something out of someone, they may often cry, as they will use pretty much everything in their arsenal to try and emulate emotion, especially of the type that is likely to get them what they want. So, yes, Psychopaths can cry.

However, the chances that a psychopath is genuinely crying are very little, as these individuals are not capable of the normal range of human emotions, especially emotions like crying that is a function of feeling sad, shameful, guilty, or low in some way.

A psychopath may cry if they believe it is required in a situation, but chances are also that they won’t be particularly good at it and they will likely falter, and it may even give them away.

There is something hollow and very off about the psychopath’s emotional displays, and it usually rubs people the wrong way, and research about this indicates that this feeling of something being off is actually our primal instinct telling us that something is wrong with this individual and that we may be in some kind of danger.

In animals, fake behavior of any kind tends to be brushed off by other animals of the same species, and the theory behind this is that they are able to recognize the potential danger behind this fake display.

Our primal and old part of the brain, which is still somewhat in touch with our primitive roots, tends to recognize the same, only, this feeling comes to us as a tinge or shiver, rather than a full-fledged thought that we need to get away from this person because of such and such reason.

We are primed to recognize real emotion from the time we are babies, and we may not realize it but we do this every day, in every interaction we have, so when someone like a psychopath cries insincerely, some distant part of our brain goes “run this isn’t real and it’s bad!”.

Signs and Symptoms of Psychopathy 

Psychopathy was defined by Hare, who created the most reliable tool for psychopathy, in a theory he developed based on an earlier model by Cleckley, and Hare’s model was a two-factor model of psychopathy.

According to Hare’s Two-factor model, a psychopath is someone who is “selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others.”, and the second factor is that they have the behavioral traits like “chronically unstable, antisocial lifestyle, and social deviance”.

Apart from the Two-factor model, some generally accepted signs and symptoms of Psychopathy may be derived from the signs and symptoms of the antisocial personality disorder, which according to MayoClinic are:

  • “Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical, and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority, and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression, or physical harm
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations”

“Adults with antisocial personality disorder typically show symptoms of conduct disorder before the age of 15. Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violation of rules”

These are more clinical in nature, and not many people may be comfortable recognizing the signs and symptoms of psychopathy as stated above, so here are some symptoms of psychopathy that have been observed in the general population.

They tend to use past tense a lot

When talking to them, do they often talk about the past, or even the future, or just avoid talking about the present? If so, then coupled with other issues mentioned above and later, they may have symptoms of psychopathy.

Psychopaths tend to avoid the present, unintentionally, because they are somewhat detached from it, research indicates.

They employ a lot of cause-and-effect sentences

Lilian Glass, a language expert with the FBI who specifically works in the field of deception, says tha “Because psychopaths are entitled and see the world and others as theirs for the taking, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that they used more words such as “because” and “so that’,” which shows that they have a tendency to rationalize their own actions al the time, even to themselves and even unintentionally.

They don’t take responsibility

This does not mean that they will just pawn it off or evade it in a sheepish manner, they may very honestly and bluntly refuse to admit that they had any part in something that has gone wrong or something that someone else is mad about.

A psychopath is looking out only for themselves, no one else matters but them, so when something goes wrong, there is no way they will ever take responsibility for it, and they may only deny even if you keep asking.

They don’t share the blame

Similar to the last point, a psychopath will never share the blame for a problem, they are more likely to pawn it off to someone else who cannot complain, or they may just say that they simply did not know about it or had no part to play in that scenario.

A psychopath also suffers from a complete and utter lack of remorse, and if they do make a mistake, there is no way they will ever admit it because it simply does not fit in with their schemas.

They may contradict themselves 

This is something that is actually common to most liars, not just psychopaths, but because they lie so much, psychopaths have no way of keeping everything straight in their heads, and therefore they may contradict themselves very often.

They can’t cry; even in a fake way

A lot of times when criminals cry in court or in front of the media it has the opposite effect and people actually lose all faith in them instantly.

The reason behind this is that a psychopath has no reference point to use when they want to emulate emotions or normal emotional things like crying, and therefore when they pretend to cry, they may do what they think it should be like not what it is like for real.

Lillian Glass explains it best saying “When [Susan Smith] gave a press conference and cried about her missing children, her fake tears were actually what raised suspicions that she was the one who actually took their lives,”

She also adds that psychopaths will wipe each eye or wipe their tears off in some way, not like a genuinely turmoiled and sad person would, she says, “When people cry genuine tears they cry with both eyes, and so they will tend to wipe both eyes at once.”

Can Psychopaths be Depressed?

The question about whether psychopaths can be depressed may be answered in a couple of different ways, as some research indicates that with the right IQ level and level of maturity, a psychopath may have a tendency to get depressed.

On the other hand, a vast majority of researchers still maintain that due to their tendency to be so detached and not being able to feel the normal human range of emotions, psychopaths cannot possibly feel things that may be required to get depressed.

It has also been seen that psychopaths that score above 30 on the psychopathy checklist, as well as have a high IQ, tend to have a higher risk of getting depressed.

According to the psychoanalytic theory by Freud, the mind is said to be structured into three parts: Id, Ego, and Superego, where the superego is the moral center and Id is the instinct or pleasure center.

Knowing what we do about psychopathy, it may be fairly easy to understand that their superego may not be too developed, and they may be run predominantly by the Id.

The psychopath may not feel guilt and remorse due to the same reason, their superego or internal moral compass simply does not exist, and their id and ego are not completely separated, which means that they have a distorted sense of self that is not regulated in any way whatsoever.

Usually, in order for there to be a possibility of Depression, there should be some sort of separation between the actual self and ideal self-representation. 

This separation does not exist in the psychopath, therefore, there is little possibility of depression.

The only case in which the psychopath may experience depression is if they mature and they finally reach a stage where their sense of self develops in a healthy way or if they feel an internal loss of self in some way, in which case they may feel a sudden jolt which may cause a sort of anhedonic depression.

Can Psychopaths be Cured?

Sadly, right now there exists simply no method to cure psychopathy, the maximum that may be done is to limit the dangerous effect these individuals may have on the society or on people around them by changing their behavior in minimal ways and teaching them social skills the way they may be taught to someone who has a skills deficit because that is technically what they have.

Some studies on the neurobiology of psychopathy have shown that psychopaths have less gray matter in the paralimbic region of their brain, and if this is the case for all psychopaths, and it is a significant finding that is not just limited to that sample, it can bear great news in terms of ta treatment.

If psychopathy has neural correlates the possibility of treatment increases exponentially, as anything from drugs to neuroplasticity may be used to help these individuals access the range of emotional responses they may need.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at the question “Can a psychopath cry?”, as well as other subjects related to psychopathy, like can a psychopath get depressed if a psychopath can be cured and some signs and symptoms of psychopathy. Please feel free to send us any questions or comments you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can a Psychopath Cry?

Can psychopaths feel sad?

A psychopath cannot feel sad, they may only be able to emulate emotions like anxiety, fear, and sadness, but research is strongly in favor of the fact that they simply do not have the same responses to emotional stimuli as the rest of the people.

Psychopaths are capable of feeling emotions like happiness, joy, surprise, and disgust, however.

Can a psychopath feel love?

No, a psychopath cannot feel love for anyone but themselves, according to Perpetua Neo, a psychologist, “Narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths do not have a sense of empathy. They do not and will not develop a sense of empathy, so they can never really love anyone.” 

Can psychopaths care about someone?

No, psychopaths cannot care about someone, as they are incapable of thinking about someone other than themselves.

A psychopath may learn to emulate caring about some time if they don’t feel like ruffling feathers, but they will never really feel it for real.

Citations

https://psycnet.apa.org/getdoi.cfm?doi=10.1037/a0026260

https://www.businessinsider.in/7-Signs-Youre-Working-With-A-Psychopath/articleshow/25333368.cms

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/hidden-suffering-psychopath

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.