Are You a Psychopath? Or, a Stoic?
– by Coach Colle Davis
Psychopathy and stoicism are two rare and very different conditions that appear so similar they are often mistaken for each other. Psychopathy is a psychological condition, and stoicism is demonstrated by a person practicing a philosophy. Psychopathy is a disorder, and stoicism is order.
These two personality types appear to the casual observer to be the same because the behaviors displayed look alike. A person who is unfeeling as part of their psychological makeup looks stoic because they do not respond in a normal or expected way.
A stoic person who is not responding to the slings and arrows of life may look like a psychopath because they do not respond in a normal manner. A person with high EQ also appears to be immune to feelings.
Psychopathy is a condition where a person is unfeeling or unable to feel emotions/feelings. It is hardwired into that person’s mind. Not all psychopaths are murderers, which is good to know. Most murderers are not psychopaths, better to know. Some murderers are psychopaths, interesting and not relevant.
A psychopath lies without remorse (remember, they don’t feel anything) and will say anything to get what they want.
25% of male offenders in prisons have psychopathic personalities.
Psychopaths speak in past-tense indicating they are detached from the present.
Stoicism is a philosophy based on not letting feeling interfere with one’s life. The phrase ‘a rock in the river’ is often used to describe how they respond or react to the world around them. They let it flow past them and are not disturbed. The philosophy of the Stoics is their choice in life as a way of being. It is not a psychological condition; it is a life choice. A stoic chooses a life of truth and does not make promises unless they are certain they can deliver on their word. People in top leadership positions in companies and governments practice stoicism.
Responses by other people to these two different conditions are similar and predictable. When the expected response fails to cause confusion, anger, and resentment come into play, triggering a reaction to this indifference. Normal humans have predictable and standard responses to life’s events. Indifferent behaviors cause people to shun those who display these traits.
The psychopath has a cold, calculating heart and mind and needs to be treated with caution and care because they are unreliable and unpredictable. The Stoic functions without care for others’ feelings and needs to be celebrated and encouraged, but they can be easily misunderstood and (generally) do not have close relationships. Both sets of behaviors are scary and cause people to dislike or shun those displaying these qualities.
The test to see which is which can be tricky. Very intelligent people display both conditions. Both types enjoy a superb command of the language; their ability to ask hard questions makes them difficult to be in rapport with, and they tend to have long memories. Sounds fun? Not unless you are comfortable in your skin and can take on someone who forces you to examine your deeply held beliefs.
- Suggestion: Approach people who exhibit these behaviors with great care. The skills and talents needed to deal with them are not taught anywhere except by a top-level executive coach.
- Better suggestion: See if you can tell the difference and sort for the Stoics; they are more reliable and even-tempered because they do not let life bother them.
- Here is a clever trick to use when interacting with a suspected psychopath or stoic. Examine how they process information. Lean toward them, lower your voice, and ask them, ‘What are you getting out of life?” The psychopath will be hard-pressed to answer the question. A common behavior for them is to step back before trying to answer.
The Stoic will ask, “How much time do you have to listen?” Stoics live in the moment and will share the wonders of what is around them and enjoy many facets of nature (trees, fishing, rivers, lakes, birds, gardens, etc.)
Sadly, psychopaths are common and total about 1% of our population.
Stoics are so rare the chances of coming across more than a couple in your lifetime approach zero. When one pops into your life you, be prepared. One small question clears up the confusion. LOL
Contact me if you or someone you know needs help in these areas. I am a Senior Level Master Coach and Certified Hypnotist with nearly 40 years helping corporate clients. Reserve your free twenty-minute Zoom call with me; your life will never be the same. 804-467-1536 EDT firstname.lastname@example.org