In my dissertation I concluded that Antony Hopkins portrayal of a psychopath (Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs) was the best one in showbiz. I didn't quite phrase it like that, but that's the gist.
So I guess you want to know what a Psychopath is, right?
Well, a person who is a psychopath is usually identified by Robert Hare's psychopathy checklist. They get an interview, looked at for a while and possibly some poking and prodding (ok, maybe not) and then marked up against 20 traits, each of which is scored out of two, 0 being that they show none of this trait, 2 being that they most definitely show this trait. 1 is a.. yeah, sometimes they do that.
Here are the traits for you. Try scoring yourself. It's fun, I promise.
Disclaimer: it's not that much fun, but it is interesting. Also, everyone exhibits some of these traits, if you score 0 you're lying to yourself. It's only when many of the traits, in high levels, are in one person that you have to worry. Even then, they might just be mean.
Factor 1: Personality "Aggressive narcissism":
-Grandiose sense of self-worth
-Lack of remorse or guilt
-Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
|The Silence of the Lambs film poster, from Google.|
-Failure to accept responsibility for his or her own actions
Factor 2: Case history "Socially deviant lifestyle.":
-Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
-Poor behavioral control
-Lack of realistic long-term goals
-Early behavior problems
-Revocation of conditional release
Traits not correlated with either factor:
-Promiscuous sexual behavior
-Many short-term (marital) relationships
Yes, yes I did just copy and paste from Wikipedia. But trust me, it's correct. Strait from the Hare's mouth. Aha, see what I did there?
If you get 33 or more, you're probably a psychopath. However it has to come from both of the categories.
Now you know what a psychopath is, I must stress to you that it is completely different to a Sociopath. They are NOT THE SAME THING. Though some characteristics are similar, these, errr.. states? are different.
For one, sociopathy is more of an anti-social personality disorder. Though psychopathy also is, psychopaths are actually less able to form normal-appearing relationships with others, and often any relationship is short-lived. Psychopaths are also generally more erratic and impulsive, whereas sociopaths are more controlled and calculating.
In essence, a psychopath is someone who does not feel. I've seen many interviews with them. In one a man was describing killing his brother. He said it with an eerie lack on emotion. That's the main thing that i think defines a psychopath, their lack of emotion. They don't know and don't care about right or wrong, good or bad. They would help an old lady across the street if it meant something was in it for them. That's an interesting thought.
To end, an interesting fact about Antony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter:
He rarely blinks in the film. This was done on purpose because in real life psychopaths do not blink as much as other people (apparently).