Psychopath monotone voice

Psychopath Speech Patterns That Can Help You Spot One, Quick | Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Can you learn how to spot a psychopath before you become a victim?

The term "psychopath" is often used to describe an individual who lacks empathy and is deceitful, manipulative, unemotional (not including uncharacteristic bouts of rage), morally depraved, and presents a blunted or shallow affect.

Psychopaths — or people who exhibit psychopathic tendencies — typically want to manipulate others, are very adept at identifying vulnerabilities, and superficially provide others with the things they may be lacking (like acceptance, flattery, and love).

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You can learn how to spot a potential psychopath by watching for these speech patters.

There are also some body language cues exhibited by psychopaths usually consists of exaggerated hand gestures and contoured facial expressions. They use these to try and convince the listener that what they're saying is true when it's not.

If you are perceptive enough, you may be able to watch for the body language cues and speech patterns that identify a potential psychopath.

Of course, there are other people who have unique speech patterns, a flat affect and unexpected facial expressions who are not psychopaths, so you will need more that these clues, but these are a great place to start when combined with certain dangerous personality traits. 

Psychopaths rarely show emotions — at least not genuine ones.

Studies show psychopaths usually speak in a controlled manner. They don't emphasize emotional words as other people do. Their tone remains fairly neutral throughout the conversation.

Although their affect is typically flat and their voice monotone, they will adjust the pitch to emphasize or convince someone else that they are being "genuine."

Hence, the interest displayed for others is superficial — it's a means to an end designed to gain the trust of another person.

The psychopath may appear cold and unemotional much of the time. However, when they determine that emotion is needed to persuade, trick, or deceive someone else, they can put on the superficial charm and act it out masterfully.

Emotions that are manufactured are often short-lived and quite shallow.

For example, a psychopath may show sadness when learning about the trials and tribulations of others, because they recognize that this is the response that's expected.

They may also show anger if they can intimidate someone or perceive a loss of control over the other person.

Notably, they don't really experience these emotions, they create them.

Most psychopaths lead a parasitic lifestyle and need to charm you to make that happen.

Like a parasite, a psychopath maintains sustained contact with their prey to the detriment of the host organism. They take full advantage of the kindness of others by depending on them to fulfill their needs.

The needs of a psychopath may include using another person to inflate or maintain their ego, financial gains, or gain access to other vulnerable people.

They use people to get whatever they can with no regard for how a person may feel.

Psychopaths lie to make themselves look good or appear superior to others.

Adult psychopaths usually display early psychopathic traits and behaviors in childhood that are usually not recognized or acknowledged until adulthood. They spend most of their life watching and mimicking the emotional responses and reactiveness of others.

This behavior is an attempt to convey something not felt or experienced. The non-verbal behavior of a psychopath is often so convincing — and distracting — that people don't recognize they are being deceived.

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Serial killers and known psychopaths such as Richard Ramirez, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, and Dennis Rader have a lot of other things in common, not just the crimes they committed.

Upon watching several filmed interviews, it was clear to me that they all appeared like the guy next door, the person you were least likely to be afraid of.

They were all very intelligent, articulate, persuasive, and superficially charming.

All of the interviews included extended moments of piercing stares, periods of boredom, jerky head movements when they assumed they were not being believed, pitch changes in voice to punctuate a point, and distracting hand gestures.

The hand gestures, I believe, are performed to distract the listener from the things that are really being said and encourage them to pay attention to the action, not the words.

Every word spoken by the psychopath is spoken slowly, quietly, and deliberately.

Researchers and other mental health experts, such as myself, suspect that psychopaths craft a calm demeanor intentionally because it helps them gain more control over their personal interactions.

By remaining "calm," they are more likely to stay in control of any emotional reactiveness, like rage.

Psychopaths do not select their victims randomly; victims are selected deliberately.

Psychopaths, unlike most people, appear to have an ingrained "victim detector," which allows them to exploit those who appear more vulnerable. They often study a potential prey as one would study for an exam.

They will research the victim’s social information to manipulate those around them and have accurate insight into the other’s emotions. They are also able to accurately identify vulnerability and submissiveness using facial and body language cues.

For example, in a 1985 interview with the infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy, he claimed "that he could tell a victim by the way she walked down the street, the tilt of her head, the manner in which she carried herself."

Psychopathic murderers also differ in other ways of speaking.

Their verbal language is filled with disfluencies. Psychopaths may use phrases like "uh" or "umm" and have multiple breaks in communication or speech.

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Compared with non-psychopaths, they make fewer references to social needs relating to family members as well as friends. The needs of others are not recognized or accepted by the psychopath, therefore they are distanced from this emotional landscape.

They also use more past-tense verbs in their narrative, suggesting a greater psychological and emotional detachment from the person or event.

For most people, attachments start to form during infancy, where they become attached to "objects" — often, these are parents and caregivers.

Psychopaths don't form attachments.

Therefore, it's unrealistic to believe that they can recognize or understand the social needs of others.

Individuals that don't recognize, understand, or respect the needs and emotions of others are incapable of tapping into an emotion they cannot experience, they can only mimic its outward appearance.

So, does this mean that someone who lacks empathy, is superficially charming, and has a disfluent way of speaking is immediately a psychopath?

Not always, but it's important to pay attention nonetheless because whether they're a psychopath or not, you need to protect yourself before you become a victim of their behavior.

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Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford is a psychologist who has engaged in extensive work and research on familial relationships, family trauma, and dysfunctions. To know more, visit Family Matters Counseling Group.

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Can We Identify Psychopaths by Their Speech?

Psychopaths are callous, remorseless, and exploitative individuals. Psychopaths have a characteristic way of communicating. Consider Ted Bundy, a serial killer who could likely meet the criteria for psychopathy: If you watch his 1977 prison interview, available in part on YouTube, you may find something peculiar about how Bundy talks, expresses emotions, and gestures. The question I would like to address in this post is whether we can identify psychopaths by examining how they communicate.

To answer this question, I will summarize the findings of a recent study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, which reviews characteristics of psychopaths’ communication. 1

Psychopathy is sometimes confused with psychopathology (mental illness), psychosis (delusions and hallucinations), and other similar-sounding words, so before discussing the present study, let me very briefly describe what psychopathy means.

Who are psychopaths?

According to Robert Hare, whose checklist (PCL-R) is often used to assess psychopathy, psychopaths are charming, grandiose, impulsive, irresponsible, deceptive, and promiscuous individuals.

In addition, they lack empathy, do not feel guilt, have a limited and shallow emotional experience, and get bored easily. Psychopaths usually focus on satisfying their immediate desires and rarely work on achieving any long-term goals.

How psychopaths communicate

Communication involves give-and-take and shared meanings. People communicate for a variety of reasons (e.g., to share information, for entertainment, to feel a sense of belonging and identification).

The question is: Do psychopaths communicate for the same reasons and in the same way too?

To examine previous findings on psychopathy and communication, Gullhaugen and Sakshaug, the authors of the current study, searched the PsychInfo database and compiled a list which included 34 articles (which included studies on nearly 2,900 people).

Going over this research, the researchers concluded that for psychopaths communication is often characterized by emotional detachment and a desire to dominate and have power over their conversing partner.

Psychopaths are much less interested in relationships as relationships but as a way to take advantage of others. This is not surprising, given that psychopaths think of others mainly as tools and objects needed to satisfy their own desires.

Nevertheless, psychopaths are not always unemotional. Some recent research—including a small investigation which analyzed speech patterns of a few well-known psychopaths (e.g., Richard Kuklinski)—argues that when these individuals do not feel in control during communication, they may unintentionally give us a glimpse of their vulnerable side. For instance, a psychopath might show unexpected/inappropriate emotional reactions (e.g., laughter) when discussing, say, being homeless as a child.

Of course, psychopaths try to avoid situations and topics (e. g., childhood difficulties) that have the potential to trigger strong feelings of sadness, fear, or longing. They try to appear strong and invulnerable and emphasize how dangerous or fearless they are. They rarely talk about their needs; when they do, they talk of needs that are biological (e.g., food) or material (e.g., money), and not social/emotional.

Detailed characteristics of psychopaths’ communication

Based on the research the authors reviewed, some features of how psychopaths communicate, compared to the average person, include:

  • Creating complex and often convincing lies
  • Charming the listener
  • Talkativeness
  • Attempt to dominate the conversation
  • Occasional stuttering when the topic touches on their vulnerabilities
  • Sudden shifts in the subject of conversation when they do not feel in control
  • Leaning in and frequent use of hand gestures
  • Non-genuine emotional expressions
  • Few emotion (especially fear) related words
  • Expression of emotions unrelated to the context/topic
  • Drawing conclusions based on limited information
  • Hinting at factors the listener knows nothing about
  • Black-and-white worldview
  • Tendency to generalize
  • Self-contradictions
  • Omitting essential details
  • Greater use of past tense
  • Greater usage of nouns and personal pronouns
  • Low narrative coherence (but according to one study, only in Whites). 2

Some research examined also suggests that psychopaths show decreased eye contact, though other investigations do not support this finding.3

Source: rawpixel/Pixabay (modifications: Arash Emamzadeh)

In a previous investigation, nearly 25 percent of the variance in scores of psychopathy could be explained by characteristics of psychopaths’ communication—specifically, by increased self-focus and language containing low emotional content.4

We must remember that to identify psychopaths, their communication style and content need to be considered in context and in relation to other characteristics discussed above.1

For instance, imagine hearing a person express anger when recalling not having been able to convince someone to give her money. This seems like a rational enough reaction. But note that what indicates potential psychopathy is not only what evokes but also what doesn’t evoke a reaction: At a later time, you hear the same psychopath speak in a calm manner regarding the murder of the person who refused to give her money (as though the murder was an act as necessary and yet as trivial as, say, closing a bank account).

What complicates identifying psychopaths is that some who are more emotionally intelligent can superficially express context-relevant and appropriate emotions; identifying these individuals would require a careful examination of their patterns of communication and behavior to identify brief moments when their real feelings (or lack of feelings) show.

Concluding thoughts on how psychopathy affects communication

Communication is affected by many factors, including personality traits and disorders such as psychopathy. The review summarized here found that psychopaths’ communication differs from that of other people in multiple ways (e.g., a tendency to dominate, non-genuine emotional expressions). But because psychopaths can charm their conversing partner, it may require extra effort for the listener to see past the complex lies and theatrics to discover the (sometimes frightening) truth about the emotional world of their partner and their motivations for the conversation.

Facebook image: fizkes/Shutterstock

Do you live with a psychopath? Clear signs indicating personality instability

06/09/2019 01:00

Not many people have had to deal with psychopaths on a regular basis. Nevertheless, they are among us and make up one percent of the total population of the Earth. And there is no guarantee that not one of them is next to you. In order not to fall under the influence of such a person, you need to know some of the features that distinguish a psychopath from an ordinary person. nine0005

Psychopaths manipulate people and exploit their weaknesses

All psychopaths are subtle manipulators. And so subtle that the victim is not even able to understand what is happening, and blames himself for everything.

A single glance is enough for a psychopath to assess you and discover your weaknesses. Such people instantly find your weak point and use it to benefit for themselves. A psychopath who is in close relationship with you will collect all the information about you in order to use it to his advantage later. nine0005

They are amazingly charming

You will never meet a more charming person than a psychopath. Although not everyone who is charming is a psychopath, nonetheless, every psychopath is able to win you over immediately. And this is their distinguishing feature.

The psychopath inflicts pain invisibly

Having studied your weaknesses well, the psychopath may not act immediately. However, the information received will sooner or later be used against you anyway. Moreover, neighbors, friends and colleagues may react with disbelief when they hear that someone they knew well has shown himself to be a psychopath. nine0005

They say what you want to hear

Anyone who comes into close contact with a psychopath eventually finds himself constantly being used. When in close relationships, the psychopath tells his partner exactly what he wants to hear. Since this person is charming and has studied the person very well, the victim may not even know the true intentions of his alleged partner or spouse. Relatives and friends of some psychopathic killers often claim that they have never seen any warning signs and cannot believe that it was this person who did this. nine0005

They have no conscience

The psychopath has no conscience. He can inflict pain without the slightest feeling of guilt. Although it can imitate. Psychopaths invent and develop whole scenarios of disgusting actions that they perform with a joy that a normal person does not understand. Psychopaths don't react emotionally to the crimes they commit.

Lack of fear

Many psychologists argue that psychopaths cannot experience fear. Their ability to maintain common sense where many of us would immediately panic helps them cope with difficult and dangerous situations. nine0005

Psychopaths often change jobs

Psychopaths rarely stay in one job for long. They leave themselves or they are fired, in any case, they do not stay in one place. In doing so, they easily find a very plausible explanation for such inconsistency.

Dead, lifeless eyes and monotonous voice

If you look closely into the eyes of notorious serial killers like Bundy, Gacy and others, you will notice that their eyes are empty and lifeless. But at the same time, the person outwardly looks cheerful, charming, optimistic and positive. The voice of a person with a mental disorder is usually monotonous. It's almost impossible to piss him off enough to make him raise his voice. nine0005

Pathological lies and excuses

A psychopath always has excuses, even in situations where they are not required. He is able to very quickly come up with another lie to your question. Even catching a psychopath in an outright lie, you will not wait for remorse or embarrassment. Sometimes it even seems that he himself wanted to be caught.

Features of speech. Everyone lies [How to detect deception by facial expressions and gestures]

A psychopath is most easily recognized by the characteristic manner of speech. The constant use of the past tense in speech can be a signal of mental disorders. Indeed, scientists have found that compared to normal people, psychopaths are more likely to use the past tense than the present, especially when describing their crimes. In addition, their speech is more interrupted and replete with parasitic words like "well" and "hmm" that break their smoothness. The reason seems to be that it gives them time to process their lies. This is an attempt to weigh and control what has been said. nine0005

Researchers at the University of British Columbia concluded that because psychopaths feel empowered and perceive the world and other people as their own, they use the words "because" and "therefore" more often than usual - that is, make statements about causation. investigative connections. This observation proves that it is common for psychopaths to view their crimes as the logical outcome of a certain plan, something that "must" be done in order to achieve a goal. To get what they think is theirs, they also lie and use their charm. Thus, a psychopath may try to gain favor by showering you with compliments and saying nice things. Such people often make a good first impression by being very attentive to the reactions of others and saying what they want to hear. They also ask a lot of questions to quickly find the emotional leverage they can use to control you. Psychopaths try to understand what makes you sad, angry or happy (by the way, they themselves are deprived of these emotions). They have no normal human feelings - no regrets, and certainly no shame. Their verbal manipulation can be stubborn and ruthless. nine0005

In an effort to appear nice and considerate, they often inadvertently give themselves away with some tactless, careless remark or comment. In communication with them, you can even hear unpleasant expressions with a sadistic or gloomy undertone. Never ignore your body's subconscious reactions to such things, because it warns you that something is absolutely wrong with your interlocutor. Also, most psychopaths are cruel to animals, so don't be surprised if you hear any sadistic or genuinely mean language about your pet. nine0005

In addition, studies show that psychopaths are always extremely preoccupied with the satisfaction of such basic human needs as the need for food and nutrition, shelter, clothing, and so on. They use twice as many words related to the satisfaction of these needs and self-preservation than ordinary people. On the contrary, killers without mental disorders talk more about spirituality, religion and family.

If a psychopath commits a crime, he or she often refers to himself as the victim. This is exactly what Eileen Wurnos did, the serial killer who blamed the police (for allowing her to kill so many people) and society (for allowing her to be sentenced to death). So, she said in her last interview on the eve of the execution: “I did not do anything as bad as they say ... And I saved a lot of other people's asses. Suffering and death shone on these people ... ”Charles Manson, while in prison, also spoke a lot in a similar way, shifting the blame to others. Many psychopaths have extremely high opinions of themselves. Both Eileen Vournos and Charles Manson talked about their own exclusivity. Such inflated self-conceit is explained by the presence of a sense of self-exclusivity in psychopaths, which gives rise to irrepressible bragging and self-confidence. So, the psychopath exalts himself and blames others, absolutely unwilling to bear responsibility for his actions. nine0005

Surprisingly, psychopaths are very sensitive to what they perceive as a manifestation of disrespect for their own person. Their response may be verbal or even physical abuse. Probably the creepiest thing I've ever seen in my life is a videotaped conversation between psychopathic killer Richard Kuklinski and psychiatrist Park Dietz. Kuklinski told Dietz that he was angry with the psychiatrist, but could not say why. When Dietz suggested that Kuklinski was irritated by the fact that the doctor was making judgments about him, the serial killer confirmed the psychiatrist's assumption. nine0005

Psychopaths who have not killed anyone are also often on the defensive if they feel someone is judging or criticizing them. They attack you verbally, hurling harsh words at you. When they lie, they are characterized by excessive articulation and deliberately correct pronunciation. This is clearly seen in the last interview of the serial killer Ted Bundy, which he gave a few hours before the execution. When a more peaceful psychopath begins to articulate so clearly and abruptly, using extended sentences without the abbreviations characteristic of colloquial speech, this means that he is most likely lying. A similar speech could be heard in court when, before going to jail for the rest of his days, Bernard Madoff delivered his final "apology".

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