Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Truth or Myth: The Psychopathic Stare. (Part 4)

The Psychopathic Stare refer to not one, but at least two characteristics that people notice about some psychopaths' gaze.

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.

___

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should consider posting a picture of just your eyes during this stare. I was recently in a new situation today, and I noticed a odd look on a few faces, there eyes seemed to be wide open in an unnatural way, yet somehow I got the feeling that it wasn't noticeable to the average person. I'm interested in what you think to be the key qualities that make the "reptilian gaze." The looks weren't necessarily negative, like someone who might bulge their eyes and stare intensely during rage, it was just a wide eyed intensity that seemed out of place to me. You should definitely include a bunch of real life visual examples of the stare. I'm don't know if you're familiar with the TV show "How I met your mother" but there was a GREAT example on one episode where a character who likes to be called "The Captain" is demonstrated to have a creepy stare, and often jokes about murder. Here is a quick link, http://images.buddytv.com/articles/thecaptain-creepy.jpg this is different from the stare I saw today, in that it was less intense, and more about the eyes being open unusually wide, or tall... The character "barney" on that TV show is also a great example of what I refer to as "the lovable psychopath" because of the way his psychopathic behaviour is portrayed in a positive and entertaining life, as if everyone should have a crazy impulsive and manipulative friend that gets them into all sorts of trouble and keeps you updated on all the women he has tricked into sleeping with him. Thats all for now!

TheNotablePath said...

It's more been described to me as boring a hole into someone's soul, seeing something more than what the eye should be able to see, with an animal/feral factor to it. Paralyzing not so much because it is hypnotic (in a seductive way), but because it is far more intense than what people are used to dealing with.

This does seem to reflect my exploitative and intense nature, though. The face reflecting the true self. A predator's gaze which lets someone know just how vulnerable they really are with me. And that feeling can be intoxicating, no doubt at all.

Zhawq said...

Anon,

You should consider posting a picture of just your eyes during this stare.

I might have considered doing this if it wasn't because I'm too much into protecting my privacy. Eyes are just as easily traced as are hand prints, so I'm afraid I have to decline.

It's not a bad idea, though.

But I have another problem with it: What kind of stare would I go for? There's only one kind that I can really spot in myself and which shows on photographs (it's not unlike the stare Bundy has on the picture on Part 5 in this article).

I guess I could imagine sitting in front of a subject, but would it work? Yeah, it would. But still, I'm not sure it would be noticeable on a still photo.


Notable,

It's more been described to me as boring a hole into someone's soul

Yeah, there're many colorful descriptions. In my view these descriptions tell more about the dramatic strain in the viewer than it does about me. Or you. *s*

Ettina said...

I actually tried to deliberately make this expression when I was younger, in the hopes that it would make the kids who bullied me uncomfortable. I have a suspicion that my eyes looked more 'crazy' than 'psychopathic', but it did make them squirm at times when I stared at them intensely in class. (Though I suspect this only encouraged them to bully me.)
My natural pattern of gaze is to make slightly less eye contact than normal, and make more eye contact when they're talking than when I am. I've been told my eye contact is a little odd, but not nearly as much as some other autistic people. Personally, I find it hard to notice anything different about my eye contact, because I find it hard to tell where other people are looking unless it's really obvious.

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Anonymous said...

I have this stare, but I am NOT a psychopath. I don't know what I am exactly. I can go from being very emotional to being ice cold. And during these colder periods I often catch people frozen when I look at them (well, I'm kinda pretty too, not to brag).

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PrincessaMachiavelli said...

The infamous 'stare'... May I insert a photo here?

Zhawq said...

PrincessaMachiavelli:

May I insert a photo here?

You certainly may. '^L^,

Tom Arrow said...

It's fascinating how much variety eyes can have. There was a time where I was trying to stare everybody down, but I wasn't very refined about it. I simply angrily gazed at everybody. One guy told me I shouldn't buy an assault rifle.

I reckon that people don't usually go deeper into it, because language has only the single word "stare".

In the course of studying my emotions, I was at the restaurant today. There was a group of three persons; one man and two women. He was obviously a wuss, but the women seemed to pretend to enjoy his humour, touching his arm; it was really unbelievable (in the literal sense).

There was a strong emotion keeping me from observing them. I would describe it as a very strong pressure on my chest that almost took my breath away. After the group reciprocated my eye contact a few times, the pressure went away. What I felt was dominance.

That gave me an idea about status symbols.

Since our society engages in egalitarianism, people are made to ignore / suppress their instincts in regard to status. But our minds cannot work without status - therefore we have entertainment. We see status in every decent production from Hollywood. And the actors have a certain look or possess certain items. Yet officially something like status doesn't exist. The discrepancy was never obvious to me.

It came to me that our minds have big trouble with a big society. I for once always had these feelings, yet the dominance and let's call it low self-worth were alternating. And usually that would depend on the way people presented themselves through their outfits, fitness and body language. But these are only indicators. Unlike a tribe, society has no firm hierarchical structure, therefore there is no real power that would result from those symbols, rendering them useless for the keen observer.

After a time of staring at the group, the man came over with Dutch courage and told me that I was unpolite and asked whether I understood. I was friendly and told him that I understood. He asked me why I did it. I told him I was curious about people. He went on telling me that it was unpolite, not okay, "you just dont do it" and that he asks me not to do it. I simply kept eye-contact without answering. Isn't manipulation funny once you look through it? He didn't ask me a question. He simply expected me to apologize. It was very exciting and interesting studying his eyes for signs of aggression or weakness. But the alcohol made him pretty confident, I think. After a while, he asked me whether I had anything to say. I told him that I didn't. He said it's a pity, stood up and went back.

I was amused.

Yet I also felt the pressure on the chest again, this time much stronger. I had lost the fight by refusing to actually challenge him.

Tom Arrow said...

And that brought me to the conclusion that in today's society, the only real way to settle status is by brute force, since no real status exists. But laws make sure to prohibit such behavior, therefore one is only left with manipulation, which weakens people overall. Everybody is everyone's master and slave. If one person asks another to do something, he cannot enforce it; the other person must submit by free will. Same the other way around.

One can trick the system, though. Manipulation works with symbols, in the end. Anchors in one's mind. And since Hollywood makes sure to provide anchors through the way Vin Diesel & Co look, one can tap into other's minds by resembling traits of these people - aggressive look, tattoos, dark leather clothes. And suddenly people go out of your way on the street. Like in the matrix. Really freeing.

By the way, I think your comment system is not the greatest. I would love email notifications for example. Also, it would be great to have the ability to reply to particular comments.

As far as I know, Blogger supports Disqus. It's a system I use myself and a lot of people already have a Disqus account and thus can comment and automatically receive notifications by mail. It's also very clear and well-structured.

Best regards,
Tom

Anonymous said...

I've stumbled across the phrase 'psychopathic stare' used as a scientific term in a book and went to see what it looked like - but was utterly dissappointed. Although your article is very interesting and was very fun to read as well, I really can't seem to spot any difference to any other person's stare, which is quite frustrating. Maybe it just goes unnoticed in Fotos and maybe I didn't have the luck to encounter such a stare in the real world, yet. Hopefully the colorful descriptions not only in the comment section but also in the article will help me pinpoint it in the future, cause I really want to see it.

But another question, I'd love to see answered:
You mentioned that you not only identify yourself as a psychopath, but also that you're aware of that kind of stare...Have you ever tried spotting other Psychopaths in the streets?
(I'd love to bombard you with a lot of questions, to be honest, but I'll restrain myself. It would probably be very rude.)

Just my curiosity, so feel free to leave this unanswered if it'd make you uncomfortable.

Also, please excuse my lack of big words and even bigger theories. I'm just normal and english isn't even my first language.


Anonymous said...

Psychopaths know who the other psychopaths are without the "stare"... generally you don't get to witness the authentic face because they hide behind their mask.

Psychopaths can see through everyone. Just how it is.

Green Eyed Psychopath said...

I have been told that I have beautiful eyes & I actually won Best Eyes for my high school's Senior Superlatives. For as long as I can remember, I have known that for me, being nice is what I have the most success with & I have gotten really good at it. I guess that's why all these years later I can perfectly make my eyes look genuinely interested. People subconsciously view a smile with "squinty eyes" to be genuine & vice versa. Reading this post & the comments made me realise that when I'm around people, I usually default to "squinty eyes", esp when I'm not paying attention, tired, zoned out, etc. I guess it's become almost 2nd nature so that I don't slip up & let people realise that I couldn't care less about them or anything else. In fact, the few times I have slipped up, I have been asked what was wrong or if I was high (on something that would make a normal person zone out but not necessarily have droopy eyes). However, when I'm alone, I definitely have the "stare"! Lol

Anonymous said...

It's certainly more than a stare. Anyone can have a stare. It's the thought process behind that stare that defines the psychopath.