Psychopaths know how to avoid responsibility, yet they crave dominance and control. They usually try to ingratiate themselves with people in a position of power, in the hopes of sharing their authority. They use their sharp minds to find weaknesses in others, which they can exploit to their own advantage. When a psychopath finds his victim, he becomes a parasite that drains the victim´s resources, until they have no power whatsoever. Power without responsibility is the psychopath´s ultimate goal.

In my new book, California: State of Collusion, I discuss some of the characteristics of psychopaths. In the legal profession, I have found that it can be useful to be able to spot psychopaths in positions of power.

Personally, I have encountered psychopath cops, judges, politicians, and prosecutors. Some of the characteristics they share are well-documented in the book:

“Psychopathic personality is a disorder that can be generally described as characterized by detached emotions, reduced inhibition, high-stress tolerance, Machiavellianism, lacking empathy, lacking guilt, egocentricity, charm, manipulation, impulsivity, and a reckless disregard for others. however, it is these very same traits that define the psychopath, that can propel a person (in certain careers) to a position of authority.”

This ability to attain positions of authority is portrayed in depth in another book, Confessions of a Sociopath, written by diagnosed sociopath M.E. Thomas. The author believes that the world needs sociopaths (a term that can be interchanged with psychopath in this context) to occupy certain positions in society. This idea is in line with some of the research I discuss in my own book, which has clearly established that psychopaths are extremely likely to become CEOs, cops, or lawyers.

While the general public imagines psychopaths as completely deranged serial killers incapable of functioning in society, there are countless real-life examples of psychopathic cops, for example, who feel no remorse in killing an unarmed teenager and then going home to share a nice supper with their family. The same goes for judges who knowingly destroy an innocent person’s life, prosecutors who destroy exculpatory evidence, and the like.

M. E. Thomas is, indeed, a lawyer. In some of the most honest and shocking passages of her book, she confesses:

“I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for, pushing for and ultimately inducing people to give me what I want, whatever it takes… I became a connoisseur of insecurities and used that knowledge to manipulate junior associates and senior partners alike… I didn’t feel insecure about my backdoor methods. If anything, I was proud of them. I felt entitled to what I got. Some people might call it manipulation, but I like to consider it simply using what God gave me.”

Psychopaths like these walk among us every day. Because I have been a criminal defense lawyer for many years, I can generally spot them from a mile away, but not everyone has as much experience with these despicable individuals as I do.

There are, however, some traits that can help the layman identify a sociopath/psychopath. If someone exhibits several of the traits listed below, chances are, they fit the bill, and you would do best to stay away from them.

COMMON PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

1. Charming on the surface

A psychopath will have an engaging conversation. They appear confident and are never self-conscious. They use their charm to achieve their goals, while inadvertent strangers mistake their attention for a genuine interest in a particular person or group.

2. Distorted idea of self-worth

They can be opinionated and arrogant. They believe they are superior and are angry at the world when they do not get what they feel they deserve.

3. Easily bored

Psychopaths are in constant need of stimulation. They welcome risk and adrenaline rushes. It is generally very difficult for them to complete dull, repetitive tasks.

4. Deceptive

Like the hero’s enemy in a tragic plot, they will craft elaborate lies to get what they want, no matter who suffers along the way. They are extremely convincing liars.

5. Manipulative

Using deception, pity, and elaborate cons as a means to an end, psychopaths can manipulate people into doing what they want, even in situations where it would seem impossible at first glance. They will find their victim’s weaknesses and prey on them until their thirst for destruction is satisfied.

6. Incapable of empathy and remorse

It is useless to plead with a psychopath showing them how they have hurt you. They can experience no empathy and they do not feel remorse for killing, destroying lives, or destroying relationships.

7. Impulsivity

When they are annoyed or angry, psychopaths have a hard time concealing it. They often act on impulse and are prone to threats, as well as verbal and physical abuse.

8. Promiscuous lifestyle

They have a hard time staying in a relationship and generally prefer having multiple sex partners. They can be unusually open about their sexual conquests. Violence in sex and sexual assault are not uncommon behaviors among them.

9. History of juvenile delinquency and early mental health problems

Adolescence is a difficult time for psychopaths. There is a high incidence of detention at an early age. Many psychopaths were treated for some behavioral problem during their teenage years.

10. Inability to take responsibility for their actions

A psychopath never thinks he or she is responsible for the evils they have caused. They are usually in denial, and they put that denial at the service of their manipulation of others.

If you are unfortunate enough to cross paths with a psychopath in law enforcement, you will certainly need to enlist a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who knows how to deal with them, because the deck is stacked in their favor, they have all the power and all the resources, and in many cases, their sole purpose is to crush defenseless, law-abiding citizens.

I disagree with Thomas that we need psychopaths in certain professions, but the fact is, they are all around us, and many of them wield a great deal of power over a large number of people. I fight psychopaths in the justice system on a daily basis, and though they keep cropping up like the plague, I am still as motivated as the first day I set out to defend an innocent person against a corrupt system.