The Mask of Sanity – 20 Questions to Detect A Psychopath

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The Mask of Sanity – 20 Questions to Detect A Psychopath

The Mask of Sanity – 20 Questions to Detect A Psychopath

This Psychopathy Checklist is a diagnostic tool used in clinical, legal and research settings. It was designed for prison inmates but psychopaths are in all walks of life – as John Ronson recently found many Fortune 500 CEOs scored highly! The key tools of the psychopath are charm, an inflated idea of their own importance and a lack of empathy. Admittedly these attributes can bring success, but their unstable personalities cause havoc on the people around them.


The short test is here. For each question score a 0 if it does not apply, 1 if it applies somewhat, and 2 if it fully applies. The cut off score for psychopathy is explained at the end of this post. Enjoy!

1. Superficial Charm: Charming, unselfconscious and never tongue-tied.

2. Sense of Entitlement: Believe they deserve special respect. Demands special treatment.

3. Needs Excitement: Craves the new, loves risk, bores easily, changes jobs and relationships rapidly.

4. Pathological Lying: Convincingly dishonest, uses excuses, half-truths, deceptions, lies, and fantasies.

5. Manipulative: Will use and cheat others for personal gain.

6. Lack of Guilt: Callous and remorseless use of others. Cold towards those they upset.

7. Shallow Affect: Exploitative, mimics emotion to get what they want but can be cold and cruel.

8. Lack of Empathy: It’s all about me! Never considers other’s needs, wishes or fears.

9. Parasitic Lifestyle: Pattern of intentional, manipulative use of others to provide what they want.

10. Poor Control: Unable to control irritability, impatience and anger; often acts hastily.

11. Promiscuous: Brief affairs and relationships, or in multiple relationships at once.

12. Early Problems: Prior to 13, a pattern of lying, theft, vandalism, bullying, drugs or alcohol use.

13. No Long-Term Goals: Inability to execute long-term plans, a nomadic existence, aimless.

14. Impulsive: Unable to resist temptation or frustration, with no regard for the consequences.

15. Irresponsible: Wide gap between what they say and what they do. Ignores commitments.

16. Denial: Denies responsibility, blames others, manipulates with denial and excuses.

17. Short Relationships: Is inconsistent and undependable, leading to short relationships and friendships.

18. Juvenile Delinquency: From 13-18 a pattern of exploitation, aggression or manipulation.

19. Revocation of Probation: A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to non-compliance

20. Criminal Versatility: Involved in different offenses – proud of getting their needs met.

So how did you score? The cut-off for a diagnosis of psychopathy is 30 in the USA and 25 in the UK.

John Ronson talks about his findings in ‘Psychopaths Make The World Go Round” here:


Related topics Psychopath
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