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Auntie SparkNotes: I Think I'm a Psychopath

Auntie SparkNotes: I Think I'm a Psychopath

Dear Auntie,

According to Wikipedia, psychopathy is defined as “a personality disorder characterized by shallow emotions (in particular reduced fear), stress tolerance, lacking empathy, coldheartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsitivity, and antisocial behaviors such as lacking guilt”.

Auntie, I do believe every word of that refers to myself.

I’ve never really understood deep emotions, never been able to empathize with those of others… I lie and I manipulate and I always seem to get what I want, I never keep a promise I can break, never feel guilty afterwards, and, yes, I’m terribly egocentric.

And the worst part is… I’m not sure I care.

Shouldn’t a person have some sort of reaction to finding herself technically qualified as a psychopath? Logically, I know that I should be concerned on some level― the same way that, logically, I knew I should nod and smile when my friend got her dream role, and, logically, I know that hugs and whispered reassurances help my other friend feel better during her depressed spells. But actually caring? No. That I can’t do.

I’ve always followed the rules to the letter, but that’s mainly because I have no reason to break any, especially when obedience comes with lenience and trust that can become very useful. And maybe I’m a horrible person. But see, I’m fine with that. The problems I anticipate have to do with drastic measures― because, honestly? If someone got in my way, and I wanted them out, I can’t see myself hesitating.

Okay, everybody stop what you're doing, turn in your internet, and go home: the award for Scariest Letter Ever To Show Up At SparkLife Headquarters goes to this person!

And as for you, Sparkler... well, assuming it would be a waste of time to appeal to a sense of empathy you claim not to have, then kudos to you for self-awareness, I guess? And while I have no idea whether your self-diagnosis is accurate, it's also not impossible. By most estimations, psychopaths make up 1% of the population, which means that most people will encounter one at some point in their lifetimes—and since those who fit the description are charming, intelligent, and expert manipulators, nobody is ever the wiser.

Y'know, just in case we all needed something else to keep us up at night.

But still: the only way to know whether you're really and truly a cold-blooded clinical sociopath who's incapable of empathy and deep feeling, or whether you're just a particularly callous person who's never had any incentive to be otherwise (but could be, under the right circumstances) is to take this question to a qualified mental health professional. It might be a challenge—you'd have to be honest, tough as that may be for you—but if nothing else, it would be interesting; if you're really as self-involved as you claim, you'll probably learn some fascinating things on the only topic that really matters to you.

And in the meantime, a word of advice: people like you, who are gifted, grandiose, and remorseless manipulators, tend to do very well for themselves... as long as they channel their predatory appetites into the world of business, where crushing your enemies like bugs is acceptable behavior. Start actually crushing people, on the other hand, and you'll end up in prison—where psychopaths make up an incredible 20% of the population, in part because their egocentrism and overconfidence makes them much more likely to be caught. Remember that. Because much as I'd like to see you try not to be a callous monster-person, I guess the next-best thing is to keep you from being a criminal one.

What do you guys think? Scariest letter ever? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, advice, mental illness, mental health

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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