Just in Time for Halloween: How to Spot a Psychopath

The devil's in the details -- the way someone talks can reveal his (or her) sinister side

We’ve all gotten that not-so-sane vibe from people we’ve met: the creepy coworker with a staring problem or the neighbor who makes your dog snarl. But figuring out whether those people are harmless or all-out psychopath is well, pretty much impossible. Or has been, up until now.

According to MSNBC, researchers at Cornell University and the University of British Columbia have found that the language -- and possibly even the texts and tweets -- used by psychopaths is as revealing as a set of fingerprints at a crime scene. Psychopaths are known to be cunning and manipulative, but their speech can unwittingly give them away.

When researchers interviewed 52 convicted murderers -- some psychopaths and others just your usual run-of-the-mill killers -- they found distinct differences in their speech patterns. Psychopaths are a special kind of crazy, and they have their own language to prove it. Here’s what to look for when trying to spot a psychopath:

1. Psychopaths tend to use the past tense more often, helping them disassociate themselves from their actions. Psychopaths are big on detachment.

2. Psychopaths speak with very little emotion, and can justify everything. They see everything as a means to an end, so they tend to use cause-and-effect words like, “so,” and “because.” For example, if I were a psychopath, I might say, “She wouldn’t stop screaming, so I had to shut her mouth for good.” I mean, from an A+B=C standpoint, the logic is pretty rock-solid.

3. Apparently, psychopaths are major foodies

4. Psychopaths are very deliberate and measured in their speech. They like to control their image, so they tend to use verbal stumbles like “uh” and “um” more often. Um, does that mean all teenagers are, um, psycho? Uh, okay, just checking.

5. Psychopaths, it turns out, are not all that into love, spirituality or relationships.  Instead, they talk a lot more about basic needs for self-preservation like money, food and drinking.

So, if you know someone who speaks psychopath, we recommend un-friending them on Facebook at the very least. Also, you probably don’t want to go into the woods with them alone at night because you could trip and fall as you’re running away. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

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