Are You a Psychopath? Or, a Stoic?
– by Coach Colle Davis
There are two rare and very different conditions which appear so similar they are often mistaken for each other. One is a psychological condition and the other is demonstrated by a person practicing a philosophy. One is a disorder and the other is an order.
These two personality types appear to the casual observer to be the same because the behaviors displayed look so much alike. A person who is unfeeling as part of their psychological make up 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.
- Psychopathy 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 murders which is good to know. Most murders are not psychopaths, better to know. Some murders 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 Stoic 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 occur 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 have 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. Both conditions are displayed by very intelligent people. 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 very long memories. Sound fun? Not unless you are comfortable in your own 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 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 you, “How much time do you have to listen?” Stoics live in the moment and will share with you 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 approaches zero. If and when one pops into your life you, be prepared. One small question clears up the confusion. LOL
Need help with the quirks in life? Give me a call to see how coaching can benefit you. Call today for your free session with Colle Davis, 804-464-3532 (EST).