The Reader has probably guessed that I am one of the psychopaths who can have this 'psychopathic stare'. But it isn't as simple as saying I have a cold or soulless stare. There seem to be more than one kind of stare associated with psychopaths.
One is the consciously controllable kind of stare, which is also one of the more common ways that some psychopaths use their gaze to control people. But how consciously the individual uses it differs greatly, and I've no doubt that the simpleton "conman" I met when I first arrived in a major city tried to use it on me, but he had no real awareness of what he was doing. Had he known, and had he taken the time to analyse his performance and the reaction of his subjects, he'd have realized how exaggerated his mannerisms were and would've learned to make his stare fit the individual situation and the individual subject.
I use this technique myself sometimes, and very successfully. This is not because of my eyes as such, it's because I have the psychological expertise and experience that tells me how and when it will be useful to use this kind of behavior to make people react and do what I want them to.
But there's another kind of psychopathic gaze that is harder to pin point.
I used to have a kind of very unsettling stare in my youth, which I may still have once in a while. I like to think I'm very good at controlling it, and most of of the time there's nothing odd about the way I look at people, at least not in the sense that we're talking about a 'creepy' stare that holds people. But it wasn't always like that. I actually used to be a rather typical example of the psychopath with the cold and creepy stare... but, as always, I'm not really typical about anything, and I'm also not typical in regard to psychopathic staring, for once I realized that I had such a stare, I made sure to change it, and I did it fast.
The way I found out was when I saw a photo of myself. It had been taken at the very moment where I made the stare, briefly turning to look at the camera. I was 16 at the time, and my friends had commented on that odd stare I sometimes had, telling me it sometimes made people feel I was paralyzing them by the way I looked at them. I had never been able to understand what they meant until I saw this picture, because I remembered exactly the situation in which it had been taken and knew how I had been looking at somebody else, and then at the camera.
I decided to change it the instant I made this realization, and in the following weeks I practised how to not stare like that, even in the situations where it felt natural to me to do it.
It wasn't as easy as to never ever stare at anybody like that again, of course. After all, it's my natural way of looking at people when I feel intense, and sometimes, especially in new territory, new locations, and new situations, I will sometimes take myself in doing it again. Sometimes I can tell I'm doing it by the way people look back at me. But mostly I have a pretty good control with how I look at people now, and I've become much more aware of how it affects people.
Again, for the sake of honesty, I have to say that lately I've begun to wonder about how atypical I actually am, and if it's not more my former ignorance about psychopathy that is still speaking when I say, and think, I'm not typical. There certainly do seem to turn up one trait after the other that sounds boringly typical in regard to psychopathy traits and behavior.
And to add to this notion, there are certain remarks and statements that I remember hearing and reading about myself, which could mean that I do indeed also have the unemotional, cold stare.
In Part 5, the final part of this article series, I will give some descriptions about the psychopathic stare as other people see it, and about how I fit into the picture.