This post has persistently been the most popular thing I have written. Accordingly, I have put it in the more prominent spot in the top menu.
A question posed on Quora got me thinking. “Why would people pretend to be a psychopath?” The question was answered by one of the most respected people on Quora on the subject of psychopathy, Athena Walker. Her own credentials as a psychopath are impeccable and her answers usually very intelligent. She deservedly gets many “upvotes.” I agree with most of what she says but not everything. For example, she denies that psychopaths are grandiose or narcissistic. I know I am those things and I think most of us are.
I have included below Athena’s answer as well as my own response (and the responses of others). While writing my response, I realized this is a big enough issue to warrant full treatment in a blog post so here it is. First, the Quora exerpt:
From Your Quora Digest ·
Athena Walker, Psychopathy is present from the first breath one takes, to the last.
That’s a very good question, and one that a number of us psychopaths have wondered about. Probably because they have no idea what they mean when they say that. There are several misunderstandings when it comes to psychopaths. Perhaps it has to do with the idea that they have in their heads about what they believe us to be.
Maybe they want to be devoid of guilt. Maybe it’s so they have no fear for the sense of power. So if they are in a confrontation, they might feel like they have an upper hand. They wouldn’t be intimidated and instead be in control.
Perhaps they want to be without sadness or remorse, or heartbreak. There are a number of people that seem to think that we are all super geniuses that all have our secret caves where we plot world domination…….. yeah, we don’t, and no, we’re not. Psychopathy in no way relates to intelligence. Where this thought came from eludes me. We can be of low, average, to high intelligence. Nothing about the condition makes us want to be super villains.
Really, it seems to come down to the idea of psychopathy being very attractive, or conversely I have noticed a new trend, and that is the idea of psychopaths being the tragic victims. Somehow it has become a romanticized emo ideation that we are dark lost souls just wanting to be loved. Now, I thought super genius/villain was bad, but tragic dark horse hero wanting someone to save us, that one is even worse.
To both of them, no…………..just no.
The underlying question is what is a psychopath? How do we identify the “real” ones? Who can say which one is genuine or which one “pretend?” I don’t think anyone really pretends to be one. Some people may falsely believe themselves to be one. People falsely believe themselves to be many things but psychopathy seems to be the one self-diagnosis most often challenged by other psychopaths (self-diagnosed or otherwise). As you say, Athena, psychopathy is glamorized. Therefore, calling oneself one is seen as a form of self-aggrandizement. Like someone is claiming an honor he/she may not deserve. Even you, Athena, was recently accused of being “fake.” Apparently, nobody is immune to this accusation. The fact that there is so much confusion, even among professionals, doesn’t help the situation. The fact that so many self-identified psychopaths on the social media are not properly “diagnosed” by a psychiatrist or psychologist also contributes to the confusion.
Other people’s responses:
I lost it at “emo ideation”. That was a great answer, haha!
The question of self-identity is always a sensitive one. As I said above, many self-identified psychopaths have never been psychiatrically diagnosed. Many don’t want to be. A label can impact one’s future prospects in our society. Yet it is clear to me that some of them are “real.” I don’t need a shrink to tell me. I think we “know” each other just like gays have gaydar enabling them to recognize others of their own kind. Speaking for myself, I have the ASPD diagnosis. I don’t really consider ASPD identical to psychopathy. This has been a much debated point by the top experts in the field.
People don’t even have consensus about the meaning of commonly used words. The difference between “psychopath” and “sociopath,” for example. Most use the former to mean an inborn condition of the nervous system and the latter to be acquired by environment. Some consider psychopaths more cool and self-contained and sociopaths more impulsive and out of control. Others say the reverse. Without a consensus, it’s deuces wild. Under the circumstances, calling anyone a “fake” strikes me as presumptuous. Having been properly diagnosed by a professional doesn’t even end the discussion. For example, even Athena Walker, who is diagnosed, has been questioned:
Everything she writes strikes me as exaggerated and untrue. I doubt a real psychopath would care enough to answer questions in depth.
That’s the dumbest reason to call someone a fake. Answering questions in depth can be fun. What do you do for fun? Call people fake?
Athena is right about the public image of a psychopath being larger than life. Either we are the epitome of evil or we are brilliant and all-powerful. Perhaps both. Perhaps our grandiosity and the public’s inflated view is what accounts for the presence both of wannabes and the tendency to be skeptical of any claims of psychopaths. Maybe we were better off when we were in the closet. But then it would left to Hollywood and the psychiatric profession to define us. And I’m sick of that.
19 thoughts on “Will the Real Psychopaths Stand Up?”
here is a thought love:
reasearch doesn’t say there’s any correlation let alone causal between psychopathy and intelligence. studies with a sample not only from prisons but from all walks of life show that they may in fact be inferior, and that people miscontrue intelligence with the capability of what you can do, accpet to do to a person when you are that cold sympathy wise.
you are sick in the brain. a part of your brain that is supposed to work, just doesn’t work.
there are people with an anomalous brain who have made great contributions to humanity but none if it has to do with being a psychopath.
you glamorize yourselves, in fact. i wish you didn’t jump to every question about psychopathy on quora or elsewhere and pollute all those question that in fact require responses from experts in neurology and cognitive science, etc.
you are diagnosed by these people and funnily enough wave your little diagnoses as something to be bragged about. well, then, let these guys talki not you.
you are a fad. these years are your 15 secs of fame. better write a book about it and be filthy rich before it all fades away, my dear.
Excuse me. Quora directs its questions to me. If you don’t like psychopaths answering Quora you should take it up with them. There are things we know better than any “expert” such as what it is like to be ourselves. Since you are so besotten with experts, read statements by Robert Hare to the effect that we are not disordered. You accuse me of glamorizing myself but I notice it is you reading my blog. Thanks for dropping in. Haters like you remind me of the importance of my mission to bring true awareness to those members of the public with brains.
ahahah keep on tailing. for me, though, i just used some keywords and then there you popped up. you know what those words are? “athena walker”, “fake”. that’s how you promoted your beloved friend in google indexing, many congratulations, and good luck with that. and this is not hate. this is frustration by not even you but quora in which all psychopathy questions are invaded by people like you, i had to skim through all that just to see it was to no avail. one last reminder: you are diagnosed by those people, so they know you better than you, unless you know how to read an fmri scan. without them, god forbid, you wouldn’t have a name. it’s all you got, isn’t it? go on marketing yourself like that, fake altruism-red flag in itself- with info contradicting real research at some points undermines the mask tho. goodbyyes.
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Why… Just why do you even bother saying this?
For goodness sake! If you want to read what professionals say about psychopathy, they are easy enough to find. I, myself, have included links to the most significant ones. I haven’t dissed them on this page but I merely said that they and the Hollywood media shouldn’t be the only source of information about us. Everyone should speak for her/himself about what he/she is. That doesn’t negate the legitimacy or importance of pros. It adds to our knowledge. After all, the pros got their information by talking to us. Oh. Did we forget?
Quora solicits our answers because people want to read them. Not you, as it seems, but many others. It’s also possible that professionals don’t want to answer questions from Quora. Here’s a reading list for you: “Without Conscience” by Robert Hare, “The Mask of Sanity” by Hervey Cleckley, “The Wisdom of Psychopaths” by Kevin Dutton. Start with these.
I’m not sure I know what you are trying to say with, “you are diagnosed by those people, so they know you better than you, unless you know how to read an fmri scan. without them, god forbid, you wouldn’t have a name. it’s all you got, isn’t it? go on marketing yourself like that.”
I was given a name at birth. It’s on my birth certificate. What kind of name am I getting from doctors? Are you talking about my diagnosis? That’s all I’ve “got?” What does that even mean? And, finally, I’m not “marketing” myself. People who market something are trying to sell something. I give information away for free. Take it or leave it. I know why I’m writing this blog. Do you know why you’re writing these comments? If you think I have nothing to say worth reading, why are you even here?
athena walker is living a fantasy world. The fact that she doesnt realize that shes acting is the worst part of it. A real psychiatrist would flatter out her BS.
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You’re entitled to your opinion. Calling psychopaths “fake” seems to be a popular sport. Peace.
Pretending to be a psychopath seems to be a popular sport too. You are absolutely fake and so is Athena Walker. The ludicrous nonsense she spouts is just embarrassing.
Pretending to be something we’re not? How psychopathic of us! Sorry you got embarrassed, Maddyph. A psychopath wouldn’t be susceptible to embarrassment. Too bad.
Athena Walker has been proven to be a narcissist and not a psychopath. I DID however find a true psychopath on youtube, search Psychopath Dave. one of his psychiatrists is Dr. Todd Grande, who is Dr. Hare’s understudy.
The issue is, in many comments, Athena Walker pretends so well to be a psychopath, yet on her radio interviews the nervousness in her voice is outstanding.
People have screenshots where they have asked a question about her proving her psychopathy “diagnosis” with brain scans and they are almost always instantly deleted.
Simple, she knows she is not a psychopath and if someone outs her very publicly then Quora will lose what they deem as an asset to teh site.
A true psychopath would not be the top answer person on Quora because quite honestly, they wouldn’t care about other people’s questions, to them it would mean very little about a question someone else asked, if it didn’t do something for them or give them a reward, they wouldn’t be interested.
It is called the band wagon effect. Athena Walker has gone out and hunted down interviews and done so many emails to try and convince people she is a psychopath and viola, people like you eat it right up, wanting to pretend to be special and something they are not.
Many reputable psychiatrists have done videos on youtube and stated very correctly that Athena Walker is not a psychopath.
I have to agree with that assessment. Why would a person having a tough time dealing with people, who has to minimize contact with them or pretend chase interviews or answer questions with people they can’t care about, even if they tried?
Anyone who has lived the life of one would never glamorize the condition.
The truth is, the normal person has to deal with nervousness and general incompetence due to internal social conflicts. Others have no such conflicts but this can show through behavior , usually negatively, if not managed. In truth, neither group has a real advantage.
Psychopathy was a result of a study, and a theory. An assessment of a very narrow scope of tunnel vision, even more so after Robert Hare took over.
The preoccupation with psychopathy, and all the quackery that has come out, is the reason that science should be practised by those who want to know the truth. Not those who want to gain control or profits by it.
If you believe this “psychopathy ” slop, you are getting conned big time. Those “high-scoring psychopaths” are doing the most damage.
You are getting conned to socially destroy everything around you, and you aren’t even getting paid to do it.
It used to be long ago, that one did destructive things for money. Nowadays, they do suicidal things for free.
This dude, “Psychopath Dave,” has a psychiatrist? I wonder why. Most of us don’t bother with it. Not that I’m calling him “fake.” Frankly, I consider that lame. Being called a “fake” is an occupational hazard of anyone who comes out as a psychopath. As for Athena’s interviews, I do not “eat it right up.” Anyone with the guts to publicly talk about herself should be taken at her word unless she says something that blatantly contradicts her identity. Where are these “reputable psychiatrists” on You Tube who talk about Athena? I never found any.
I just watched a National Geographic special on Psychopath Dave.
Let me know when Athena Walker gets one (will never happen).
Psychopath Dave is the most diagnosed psychopath in the world.
Athena Walker is… nothing.
Lol @ “those of us who come out as a psychopath.”
None of you are psychopaths.
“Anyone with the guts to publicly talk [sic] about herself should be taken at her word unless she says something that blatantly contradicts her identity.”
And what identity would that be? Athena Walker is a fake psychopath using a fake name, and it’s obvious.
Thanks for your contributions to the discussion. I’m sure your criteria for identifying psychopaths would have a great deal of validity if only you would share them.
I’ve discussed in elaborate detail on Quora why Athena Walker is 100% fake. I’ve also touched on the central traits that sociopathic people tend to exhibit, to answer your question.
You can read all about it here:
(My answer appears just under Athena Fraudster’s nonsensical reply.)
In my answer’s comments, a guy asked me who, in my estimation, qualifies as a genuine ‘psychopath’ online, and then remarked, ““I’d guess most of the real ones are banned quickly or don’t write enough.”
Here’s my response to him:
I think you’re touching on something fundamental here. Anti-social PD is characterized by recklessness, impulsiveness, and (and this is important) a failure to abide by social norms (hence ‘anti-social’). Most people with ASPD receive a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder in childhood, and that behavior persists into adulthood. These people are repeat offenders, often found in prisons, psych wards, and drug rehab centers. Psychopathy is merely the extreme end of the ASPD spectrum, though it isn’t recognized clinically (it is recognized in the prison system, however).
Athena Walker hasn’t indicated any of these traits. People who interview her report that she’s amicable and easy to get along with. She’s a top writer on Quora, which means she has no trouble complying with the rules of a website, even when she’s anonymous. And, by her own admission, she’s law-abiding and productive.
So what are we really talking about here? AW claims she’s a ‘high-functioning’ psychopath – a non-violent, productive citizen who’s got the brain of a psychopath.
Okay – so where are these brain scans? They would’ve had to have been performed in order for her to receive such a diagnosis, as someone who doesn’t exhibit any of the essential traits, and basically tells just-so stories about her psychopathy. Brain scanning is no cheap process either, and may not even be covered by insurance plans. It’s something that’s usually reserved for criminals and test subjects in research studies – not Jane Blow in the middle of an interview with her teenage psychologist.
AW won’t release her medical records to the public. In response to the question “Why won’t self-identifying psychopaths release their records?” (or something to that effect) she rather hilariously stated that she’s afraid of stalkers (ironic for someone who claims she doesn’t feel fear like other people – another b-s superpower claimed by fakes). She even posted a conversation she purportedly had with someone who hacked her account, found her location, and then promised not to reveal it. The person’s name was ‘John Smith’ and the profile was completely blank. I read the conversation four times and it appears to me that she was talking with herself. I assume she did this to avoid having to perform potential damage control in the future.
On the question “Is Athena Walker a real name?” she responded and said ‘yes’. Someone pressed her in comments, basically asking why she’s not afraid of someone [she knows irl] looking her up and discovering she’s a psychopath. In another comical reply she said, “There are a lot of Athena Walkers,” basically implying it’d be impossible to identify her. This was more obvious BS – I did a search for Athena Walker and her Quora page was one of the first hits. It also turned up an interview she gave with a UK radio station (linked in my answer). Anyone who knows Athena Walker would have no doubt it’s the same person who’s claiming to be a psychopath all over the internet. The real reason she’s not worried about this is because Athena Walker isn’t her real name.
I’m no detective my friend. But this is just too easy. The only thing that escapes me about this situation is how she’s managed to get away with it for so long.
Yes – the online behavior of a real psychopath likely consists of a lot of trolling and banned accounts. The pop psych people who claim that these unicorn psychopaths (high-functioning, law-abiding, productive citizens with psychopathic brains) are a common thing have a heavy burden of proof to meet. The whole thing about personality disorders is that they are disruptive, afflictive, and usually co-morbid with other mental illnesses (usually anxiety and depression, and they’re also fairly reliable suicide predictors).
Hmmm…. What was the question?