Thursday, June 16, 2011

Truth or Myth: The Psychopathic Stare. (Part 5)

Dr. Robert Hare writes ('Without Conscience'):

Many people find it difficult to deal with intense, emotionless, or "predatory" stare of the psychopath. Normal people maintain close eye contact with others for a variety of reasons, but the fixated stare of the psychopath is more prelude to self-gratification and the exercise of power than simple interest or empathic caring.


Some people respond to the emotionsless stare of the psychopath with considerable discomfort. Normal people maintain close eye contact with others for a variety of reasons, but the fixated stare of the psychopath is more a prelude to self-gratification and the exercise of power than simple interest or emmpathic caring. ... Some people respond to the emotionless stare of the psychopath, with considerable discomfort, almost as if they feel like potential prey in the presence of a predator.

The words he use are typical for how many so called victims describe psychopaths, but non-victimized people describe it in the same manner, though perhaps generally with slightly less dramatic words.

An example is how author James Clarke in 'Last Rampage' describes a convicted murderer named Gary Tyson:

But Gary's most striking physical feature--the thing most people noticed and never forgot--was his deep-set, expressionless ... eyes. It was as if his eyes had no connection with any emotion he expressed. Whatever his mood--whether he was angry, jovial, or anything in between--his eyes remained the same. Empty. It was impossible to tell what Gary was actually thinking or feeling looking at his eyes ... His stare was riveting, unsettling, with a mlign intensity. What people remembered most about Gary were those cold, hard eyes.

Oddly, this is almost word to next what a very few people have said about me. I'm happy to be able to say that it has happened only on a very few occasions that I have been described that way, and usually people remember quite different things about me.

Another description by a "victim" is much more like how people typically see me. Again, from 'Without Conscience':

I found it difficult to look at his eyes because they confused me. I didn't know what was behind them and they didn't tell me what he was thinking or what his intentions were.

From 'Echoes in the Darkness' by Joseph Wambaugh:

His gaze was so intense it could transfix, so his eyes were variously described as "poetic", "icy" or "hypnotic", depending upon his moods.

This comes closest to the way my eyes and my gaze is most often described. I hear it so often that I'm inclined to think it's likely to be how people really see me, and it fits well with how I intend them to see me.

As I've mentioned, psychopaths are not all alike, and intelligence level differs. Most who are familiar with psychopaths have met the simple, petty thieves types who have no self understanding and who walks like elephants all over the place (I'm often surprised at how these folk manage to succeed at anything at all).

I would like to finish this article with a few words of caution:

Psychopaths, like other people, are not all alike, not in how we look at people, and not in how we behave or what we like or don't like, etc. We're different people.

What's more, neurotypicals - those we call 'normal people' - can have a peculiar stare as well!...

Sometimes when I'm talking with someone, exchanging courtesies, I notice that even though they smile and say nice things and are clearly very interested in me, they have this unblinking gaze that follows my every move. I imagine some people would feel uncomfortable when somebody looks at them like this. In a way it's not unlike the way I sometimes look at people. The difference is only that they make sure to signal good will, and I sometimes do the opposite, or I don't signal anything. But I generally have the impression that those who look at me like this are merely being very anxious. It's not a controlling or soulless stare, it's a slightly frightened stare. I have no idea if it is me personally who make them uncomfortable or uneasy, or if it's how they generally feel when they meet new people. It's most likely a little bit of both.

So don't try to label or judge people by their stare or lack of stare... Because, it's basically not possible and you won't succeed. The way someone stares at you is not in itself useful as a basis for determining whether s/he is a psychopathic individual. You need to take the whole context of the situation in which you notice it into consideration.


I didn't want to use Ted Bundy as an example of the psychopathic stare, but he remains the best example that I can find without having to do extensive searches, and I'm late. I really didn't want to include him, for he annoys me, I don't like the fact that he does look like me as I looked on that picture when I was 16, and as I no doubt still look from time to time. I didn't want to include him because he happens to be a serial killer, and that is far from 'typical' for a psychopath.
But now that I've chosen to use him anyway, I'll add that he didn't always have this slightly awkward stiff gaze. It seems to be a kind of gaze that pops up from time to time.

Here is a picture of Gary Tison. I can't see anything odd about his eyes or the way he looks at the camera. Maybe others can see it. Robert Hare above writes about reasons for maintaining close eye contact. And I think this is pretty much all it is: Remaining close eye contact. There's generally nothing special about my eyes or other psychopaths' eyes, but we use our eyes differently, and that's what creates the illusion of a "cold" or "emotionsless" stare. I've included the picture of Gary Tison to have at least something other than Ted Bundy.


I can pretty much tell when I have 'the stare' now, but I have to be focusing on myself or I won't notice. That's when others may see it, but mostly there're other things going on, I'm talking, gesticulating, etc., so my stare isn't what they'll remember. Of course, once in a while someone does, clinicians especially will of course make note of it.



Anonymous said...

Notice with the eyes of most serial killers, serial rapists, the eyes turn away when they stare forward. There is a definate deadness to the eyes that normal people just don't have.

Good examples of the stare.

Zhawq said...

The eyes 'turn away'?

I'm sure it's true when you say there's a 'deadness' to some psychopaths' eyes that normal people don't have, for you're certainly not alone about finding this to be the case.

I have to assume it's me who for some reason just can't see it. Maybe the reason is that I can't feel those emotions that I speculate to play a role in how normal people's eyes look.

And to me normal people's eyes and psychopathic people's eyes look the same. The only difference I can see is in the different kinds of situations that they'll each tend to use more intensive stares or hold an eye contact longer.

- Psychopaths will also tend to more often do both of these with people they've never met before or who they know only briefly, whereas most normal people save the intense and close eye contact for people they know intimately or people they're somewhat well acquainted with.

Thank you for the links. I'll make sure to check them out!... '^L^,

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read your blog. ( Your site look awesome! )
Many things sounds so familiar..

Some people have said to me that I have that intensive, frightening stare sometimes. I hate it, because it frighten others and push them away ( sometimes it's a good thing. ), and love it, because I can use it, when I want to.( and because it frighten others ;) )They also keep saying me that I am a psychopath or "crazy", ( I have a little problems with anger...etc.)
but I'm not sure about that..

I afraid I'm too shy. :)
( At least people think I am. I just think they are stupid. Because I'm a quiet person it doesn't mean that I am shy, does it? I don't fear anything. I just don't like to talk to people all the time..That's all. )
Hope I'll find the answers some day.
I will keep reading your blog anyway. Bye!


p.s.( English is not my first language, btw.. So, if someone can't read this.. Sorry for your loss. ;) )

Bella said...

Does anyone notice the glee in bundy's stare ? It's like he's been given a task no one knows about, and no one else but him knows exactly the way to solve it; he's getting a private rush from it, taking pleasure in the secret that he has the answers but no one around him does. He's like a covert little smartypants.

Zhawq said...

Anon 6:25,

People believe in stereotypes, and that can be annoying. I've experimented with being 'quiet', and I could hardly believe the reactions I got. Some people actually thought I was slightly unintelligent, because "He doesn't say anything! So obviously he's got nothing to say".

The stare can be controlled. If you're already quiet of nature, you have the opportunity to pay more attention to when you tend to use the stare unknowingly. You can see it by people's reactions.

When that happens, excuse yourself, keep that stare (maybe look down while doing it) and walk to the rest room and see how you look in the mirror. Then work on changing it, practice 'relaxed' looks. It is actually possible to have a strong, confident look while being relaxed too. It just takes practice.

Don't be afraid to practice! Even neurotypicals do it, they just don't talk much about it, and perhaps they also don't do it quite as much as we - and other neurological minorities - do it.


Does anyone notice the glee in bundy's stare ? It's like he's been given a task no one knows about, and no one else but him knows exactly the way to solve it; he's getting a private rush from it, taking pleasure in the secret that he has the answers but no one around him does.

This is actually a very good, and even almost precise, description.

I know it because I have had the very same expression myself many, many times - especially when I was younger.

When I saw him the first time, I read Ted Bundy as if it was myself I was looking at. And that's part of what I find so annoying about him. But even more it's because I can see the incredibly stupid mistakes he made.
He had everything going for him, even after he had so many kills in his past and were caught. He escaped not once, but twice, and both fucking times he blew it! He could've stopped killing but was so infatuated with himself, how poor him had been wronged and scorned by a girl and proven he was not to be denied. He was the type who gets spoiled by power and that was his undoing. Even so he gets an extra chance not once, but twice, and yet he blew it! That stupid, at least, I am definitely not!
And what's more, I am also not a serial killer or a spoiled fuck who runs amock on every woman he sees because poor him has been scorned by a woman once.

No, I'm not anything like him, but I can see through him because of certain aspects he had in common with me - and with many, many psychopathic people out there. It's not like it's rare, really. Only the way he used (abused) those traits is rare!

But I'm ranting...

He's like a covert little smartypants.

Yep. Well said.

Thanks for your input!... '^L^,

(I truly cannot abide him!)

Anonymous said...

"No, I'm not anything like him, but I can see through him because of certain aspects he had in common with me"

Doubt it, there will only be one Ted bundy. It's easy to sit on a blog and say things but to actually cause all that mayhem whilst captivating the world with your enigma takes a different animal, the guy had adonis dna.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment, Zhawq.
And your advice too.

I think I practice my facial expressions almost every time I look in the mirror, but it has always been just some kind of routine to me..

But maybe I should practice more.. I don't know. At least, it would be fun.

And yes, it really annoying me too, when people think I am stupid or something, just because I don't talk much.. But good thing is, they trust you more, when they think you are dumb and "harmless". And that's fine with me..

Anyway, I got a whole lifetime to show them, how wrong they were.. If I want to. ;) But in this moment, I don't feel I need to prove anything to anybody.


Anonymous said...

Seriously, what would/do you do if you encounter a person that may be more enlightened about psychopathy/sociopathy, and can "smell" a psychopath coming at them from a distance. What would you do if that person, in response to your psychopathic stare, just laughed in your face and told you that you needed more practice for your stare expression?

Robin Morrison said...

Agh. Can't stop reading. The so-called stare is, I think, little more than a side-effect of not feeling anxiety as normal people do. Most people can;t handle direct eye contact for long unless the circumstances have been relaxed to a level of trust were constant eye contact feels comfortable or, conversely, situations where phony 'direct eye contact' is de rigeur. Job interviews, shmooze parties, et cetera.

If s/p's feel minimal anticipatory fear, and fear is (as I believe) the primary reason most folks don't stare ('nice people don't stare', our mothers told us), then an s/p would feel little reason not to stare.

This, in turn connotes power not through anything reptilian or hypnotic but simply because the lack of fear expressed by such a frank and unapologetic stare is itself somewhat overpowering.

Assuming you are truly a psychopath, Zhawq, (and the internet being what it is, I remain skeptical; lots of people out there pretending to be anything but who they really are), I'm sure you've heard more times than you can remember people saying, 'Stop staring at me!' or, more often the case, 'What the fuck are *you* looking at!' This is one our most common responses to a frank gaze.

Another is to look away and avoid eye contact.

A third is to return the stare, hard, usually with our head slightly cocked, and our forehead wrinkled with disdain in sort of an unvoiced WTF r u lookin at!

When one considers that psychopaths are reported to have difficulty recognizing fearful facial emotions, it is easy to see how they would keep staring at someone, not catching the cues. ON the other hand, psychopaths allegedly have about the same skills in recognizing angry facial expressions, so more assertive and aggressive discouragements of their staring would be recognized and usually shunned: angry people are not good targets for manipulation except to focus their anger on some target.

The one person I've known who I'm fairly sure was s/p-ish did have a frank expression in his eyes, but it was not cold and affectless, just direct and penetrating, something he disarmed with a great smile on a very handsome face atop a terrifically athletic build about 6'4" tall. Girls fell over for him, and I often saw him verbally abuse them in a superficially playful way that nonetheless conveyed a lack of concern for their feelings. The difference between felt but concealed contempt and expressed contempt (however felt or not) is enormous.

Emotionally, it's the same between a loaded gun with the safety on and a loaded gun with the safety off aimed at your heart and fired.

Assuming, again, you're genuinely a self-perceived and clinically diagnosed psychopath, I'll state that this business of The Stare is at least partly a legend based on self-aggrandizement. Indirect aggrandizement by shrinks who write books and make lecture tours as experts on psychopath, and direct aggrandizement by psychopaths being told their stare discomfits people and reading in books advising people how to 'avoid the hypnotically malign snakelike stare of the psychopath'.

But we humans are so susceptible to aggrandizement. Everyone prefers to be more than less powerful. Probably one reason why s/p's focus so much on it is that they feel less need than most to accept power's counterpoint: responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Listen, I'm a real life Lisa Simpson (meaning I'm the only person in my entire immediate family who has a conscience). When psychos eyes are normal then his stare is hypnotic and intrusive.Psychopaths do have 14 different pairs of eyes that victims of long term encounters with psychos can see. Matt Groening the creator of The Simpsons draws them (the same bizarre eyes) I see on psychos everyday.

Robin Morrison said...

Groovy observation, Anon. I remember Groenig's breakthrough alt newspaper comic strip: Life in Hell. The title almost says it all, yes?

Real life Lisa Simpson. Wow. That is a fascinating perspective. If you share more, I will be very interested.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog you have running here. I'm interested in the subject...
There're a few things I wonder though.
-Have you ever had the 'need' to protect someone?if it suits your interests?
-Can a PS help a specific person, if yes, why?
-i know about the lying, but, isn't more interesting if one gives 'hints' of what's happening?
-the thrill of being a hunt and hunted ar rhe same time, wouldnt that be more exiting?
-Do you give straight answers ever? when a direct question is aimed at you..
-Can PS be in 'denial'?
Many PS bond with someone, how does it work? where the need of living with someone relay?
-How do you react if confronted with 'facts' by a 'target' ?
-What's a PS stand about racism?
Many questions... I know... take it this way, they may contribute to your blog and to your interests
Thank you in advance

Unknown said...

Never been diagnosed but I do believe me and my whole family are at least psychopath-ish. When I was young and much more dangerous, I always had problems getting people into friendly conversations. People would talk friendly to others but would clam up around me. I found I was speaking too directly. Normal people need foreplay, conversational lubricant... Hello, How are you?, Nice day if it don't rain. This just became a habit It DOES work to disarm folks a bit.

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Ettina said...

Mark Dadds, a researcher into childhood psychopathy, has been doing a lot of research into patterns of gaze in psychopathic kids.

Specifically, both psychopaths and people with amygdala damage have difficulty recognizing fear. In people with amygdala damage, fear recognition can be improved by making a special effort to look at the person's eyes - turns out this is true for psychopaths as well. And further research shows that when spontaneously trying to recognize facial expressions, child psychopaths tend to pay less attention to the eyes.

So maybe part of what seems odd about psychopathic gaxe is not making eye contact. Or rather, having learnt that people expect eye contact, making eye contact but not paying attention to the eyes, like what anonymous says about the eyes 'turning away'.


MasterOfDisaster said...

Do female psychopaths also have the stare?

Anonymous said...

When my eyes lock onto someone, they sure as hell know about it.
Secondary psychos can show perfect emotion in the eyes if we wish, weather we feel it or not.
If my eyes look dead I cant be bothered pretending.
I can blend in, if im not angry, and you wouldn't know, if I'm angry people usually feel the danger and feel it more if they catch my eyes.
Have any of you any experience with pitbulls ? I see the same eyes as when I see another person that is similiar to me.
And I know that many of us need only look each other in the eye to know we aren't alone.
Happy hunting

Anonymous said...

Actually, the predatory stare is full, head-on, maniacal gaze. I have seen it on the worst of the homicidal "newsmakers" and on the psychopaths of the moment that I seem to be a magnet for, personally and professionally. Yes, the gaze is real. Yes, it is very reptilian in character. No, it is not "blank" or "dead." That occurs when the psychopath turns away. When he or they are look AT one, they stare to ensnare, or perhaps to terrorize.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I would presume that the gaze is to hypnotize the psychopath's prey. Even in normal males (though that may be an oxymoron in itself), direct eye gaze is interpreted as a sign of aggression--a signal to fight. One could "gaze" back at such a psychopath in an attempt to "stare him down," but I would not want to experience the consequences, expecting the worst. To do this, one should focus on a tiny particle of the staring-psycho's face that is located near, but not directly into his eyes. It will give the impression and have the effect that one is staring back directly, and just as intently, into his eyes. So... stare, if you dare, especially if you don't believe that there are such people as real psychopaths or their predatory stares. As for females, I wouldn't even make eye contact. They are more volatile, from what I've seen riding public transportation, and far too unpredictable, even if they're only psychotic, and not fully psychopathic. All psychos suck to be around. I'd rather look at them through the crosshairs of a scope...

Robin Morrison said...

I don't think we need to mythologize psychos as some kind of super-powered vampiric being intent on sucking people's souls.

They're just different in a way that removes/reduces their emotional motivation to give a shit about other people's well-being for its own sake.

They're often unhappy. One reason is that they have a fully-functioning human personality *except* the most crucial part, compassion, which is the chief bonding agent for positive human cooperation.

The absence this creates is probably part of why most psychos crave excitement and power: to fill the void created by their lack of this crucial foundation stone of human emotional psychology.

I would say that if you;re the kind of person who is naturally not very assertive, perhaps even has difficulty maintaing eye contact, then you would want to avoid people who seem to smile for no obvious reason while looking at you as if you are the center of their world.

But if you're fairly centered in yourself and don't need a lot of validation or affirmation from others, psychos are just rather 2-D people who seem superficially glib but hollow when you delve inside.

lele said...

I think the so-called psychopathic stare is an hindsight. People know someone is a psychopath and suddenly realize he/she has dead eyes. I've met a couple of people with an unsettling stare, and they do not act psychopathic at all (no past stories of wreckage, no controlling personality, etc.) Some people are just less expressive.

Anonymous said...

lele. No. Wrong on so may levels. Many psychopaths don't know who they are, so how would any unsuspecting sheep! You are a lamb not a wolf. Go chew grass.your not cut out for meat.

ps where is our great white hunter ???

Anonymous said...

So I was looking at the back of my Lying Game book, (cause books sometimes have a picture of the author),and Sara Shepard has this creepy stare. I'm thinking she might be one. I mean since her books are such a thrill-ride, she could be writing down things she's done for all I know.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article.

I'm 22. When I was younger I was shy to look people in the eye. But now I stare at people when I'm being stared at.

It's alright to look at someone for 2 or 3 seconds. But if someone looked at you with a blank face, for longer than two seconds, it means this person wants to dominate you.

I live in the U.K and the area I live in is full of crime. People look at you aggressively. Matter of fact this drug dealer from my area always stared at me. The third time I saw him he stared at me and I looked away. Few seconds later I turned my head back around and he was still staring. I got angry and said 'is there a f****** problem?!!'. He was dumbstruck. I walked towards him. We got into a fight. Ever since then he hasn't had the guts to look me in the eye.

And another person who stared at me was my brother's 17 year old step daughter. She's creepy. She's tall. Over grown. Dresses like a boy. Looks like a man :|
She looked at me for more than 5 seconds then looked away. But it was the most strangest 5 seconds ever!

They say eyes are the window to your soul. If you feel nervous when people stare at you and you have problems staring back, next time WEAR BLACK SHADES, it gives you protection from outsiders invading you with their eyes. So the person who stares at you will feel nervous and look away from you when you stare back. Trust me it works.

And if they ask you to take your shades off tell them NO otherwise you'll lose your power and automatically give them control over you. If that's what you want!

Anonymous said...

"What's more, neurotypicals - those we call 'normal people' - can have a peculiar stare as well!"

well, that's also my case. I don't do that intentionally. I daydream a lot, and I'm often deep in thought. Someone literally had to remind me twice: 'Please, will stop staring at me, please!' (I don't know if this is the right espression)
She really had a scared look in her eyes.

I didn't want to scare her, but I did, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

The psychopath i still love and have only maintained no contact since the 11th is still very much inside me. I crave him. Its in his eyes that i told him and knew for a long time held held magic. I want him sexually and find little relief in any of these websites for that aspect of our relationship. I told him to look at me and he of coarse did on his iwn. But during sex or anything up to sex he seemed to have some type if control of me when he looked at me. It seemed likrme magic. I could feel him and still do. I would eye contact that was prolonged if i was angry also because of this magic. I would melt for him.

rureadymatt24.39 said...

Have you ever tried neurofeedback to regarin your emotions (or perhaps you are satisfied with no emotions?). I would be interested in finding out how you like the effects or not. We did this with our psychopath adopted daughter. The electrodes trace the brain signals while you drive cars, planes, or whatever through mazes. The computer then rewards the brain when electric signals are sent to the emotion section of the brain.

Anonymous said...

I can spot psychopaths and sociopaths a mile away by there eyes. Besides length of stares and emotion in the eyes, you can see the connection to the id in the back of the black of the eye. The more of this the more antisocial they are. It's easy when you get used to it.

bellanomore said...

my ex has the psychopathic stare, what was weirder was watching his eyes change color from a brown to deep empty black. I once found this intense and attractive until I found out what he was, now when I see this stare I know the person giving it is nothing but empty , void, soulless. just my opinion !!

bellanomore said...

my ex used to have that stare, what was even stranger was watching the color of his eyes change from a brown to a deep black. completely empty, void, soulless.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea if I'm a psychopath or not. If I am, I'm not technically soulless. I may or may not have "the stare." I have feelings, I think, live, breath, try to make friends and have a personality, even if I do feel detached. Its like watching life from a distance and everything you feel is a dull pain in the back of your mind, constantly aching; it wont go away. A hollow tree? Alive but empty inside? I think the feeling's hollow, but dont know what's missing. Maybe I'm just depressed and I've distanced myself from living...either way, I dont like it.

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Anonymous said...

Good way to distinguish: psychopaths always have that stare and have been told they have a cold stare even as little kids. Neurotypicals have it during tense or sexual situations or when in deep thought.

Anonymous said...

YES FEMALES do have this stare, i am female and people tell me i do it and say my eyes freak them out as it makes me unreadable. when my eyes are like this its because i m not pretending or thinking about anything

Anonymous said...

The social gaze (normal people) is when someone looks directly in 1 eye or in between the eyebrow/ nose area when they stare.

Psychopaths have power gazes or predatory gazes, it happens when you know you can or want to dominate someone, you gaze at an area on their forehead, this creates a feeling of fear and anxiety. It happens automatically but you can use it to your advantage now that you are aware of the biological triggers.

Anonymous said...

To hold someone's gaze is a common intimidation technique, but it isn't that kind of stare Zhawq is talking about. He's talking about a kind of stare that those who have it aren't aware of unless they catch themselves doing it when looking in the mirror, or like Zhawq, when seeing a picture of themselves where they do it.

I knew a guy in college who had that stare and I'll admit at first when I saw it I thought he was crazy. But as soon as I spoke to him (he came to me because I kept my distance) I realized -- or really I thought -- he was just as normal as everybody else. Now I know how wrong I was, but not in the sense that he was crazy or mentally ill. He's a psychopath and was on the local news recently because he'd been running a scam from the very company he was working for. They found out because he used their software and had even made some of his not existing deals from computers inside the company's building.

Anonymous said...

Is Fluttershy a psychopath then?

Anonymous said...

When you become tired of looking and observing your surroundings, you either zone out your eyes (and continue to observe you surrounding through your periphery) or close them. I have been known to "meditate" because I was bored of looking at my classmates and teachers. Very useful when sitting in a semi-crowded "safe" venue, to gain power over the situation, without being noticed.

PrincessaMachiavelli said...

I am a pro-social,self-aware, ethical female psychopath. (Actually dark triad to be accurate.)

Just a couple things I want to address that I believe are true. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

The stare conveys the power of underlying rage, hostility or lust. Basically, the primal instincts are right under the surface. We know how to repress our anger and use it as needed - see instrumental aggression vs. reactive aggression.

Dead eyes are emotionless.

Unfocused eyes that seem to stare into nothingness seem to be dissociation.

When you can see the whites of someone's eyes - that's psychotic or psycho. That term is not used properly nowadays. While some psychopaths can become psychotic - think Odin (especially if a comorbid dx of psychotic depression is delivered) these are two completely separate conditions or states.

Narcissistic individuals have reactive aggression and have the potential to go "batshit" fairly easy. You fart the wrong way and it's a slight to their ego and they let you know about it.

selenameeka said...

I've always been taught that psychopaths have a 'stare' per say, but in many photographs I don't see it. I see it clearly with Ted Bundy and a few other serial killers who were somewhat like him (in that they enjoyed what they did), but that is a rare breed. Most of those people with a 'stare' look bored, stoned, or just irritated to me.

Interestingly, I've been told I have an intense stare sometimes. I am not a psychopath - I have other disorders though that really make me different than a psychopath - but I was raised to look people in the face and at least pretend to give my attention when I listen to them. I've noticed that a lot of people who are my age or younger find my devoted attention unnerving and often look away or down. However, I've found it's useful to learn about people. I watch people very carefully. One because I have horrible paranoia, but two because for years I studied to be a psychologist. I thought that's what you needed to do, especially because I'm very little and I wanted to go into criminal psychology so I was always told to hold my ground. One of the ways to do that is to match someone stare for stare.

I guess the stare would look creepy if you put an emotion behind it like PrincessMachiavelli said (even if the emotion is perceived and not what the person intended). An intense stare with a heady emotion like lust, or a hot/cold emotion like hatred can be unnerving, especially if it's directed at you (or looks to be as if someone were looking right at a camera). To me what makes a stare psychopathic is how somebody reacts to it, not that it's from a psychopath. The reaction doesn't come from the head, because logically the brain will tell you you're not in danger. The response has to affect the body. The look evokes feelings of fright, anxiety, or nervousness outside of what logic says. Does that make sense?

Zhawq said...


"I've always been taught that psychopaths have a 'stare' per say, but in many photographs I don't see it.

Not all psychopaths have this notorious stare, but often those who do have it aren't aware of it and therefore haven't made the small self adjustment that makes your expression more normal appearing.

I still have the unblinking 'stare' where you keep eye contact with someone also after they avoid looking at you, which is also so typical for psychopaths. I do it in situations where I am insistent (I guess you can call it), whether it be because I want to close a good business deal that the other person is unsure about, or if I want to get to the bottom of something that I sense people aren't telling me the whole truth about - or simply if I'm seriously interested in learning about a subject that fascinates me, or, finally, if I am at the verge of becoming what some might call... erh, "abusive".

The latter happens when I feel other's have done harm to something of mine or which is under my protection and can be a sign that my next step will be physical if the other party doesn't submit or apologize properly, i.e.

selenameeka said...


That is really interesting. I know you sort of hinted at that in the articles, but your explanation helps a lot. The use of "insistent" is a really good description of it. The people who have that stare do look insistent on something - whether it be to unsettle those around him or her, or in any other situation. Thank you for clarifying.

This is a little off topic. Your use of the term "something of mine" is one I've seen a lot in your blog, or seen variations of it. Does that mean you see things as possessions (and by things I mean people, places, actual things, anything you consider yours on some level) and not as, say, something to be shared or having it's own control?

Anonymous said...

While we're on the topic of eyes, I'm curious; what would you make of these,( and furthermore, how would you react to them were you to encounter them in a standard social setting? I ask because, though I am personally rather poor in reading and understanding body language, they do not strike me as being archetypally sociopathic despite their distinct and, dare I say, "insistent" quality, and given that, within your post, you seemed only to distinguish between "psychopathic" and "neurotypical" expression, I would be greatly interested on your impression of this individual and any other "outliers" you may have seen or personally encountered.

Tigeresss said...

Funny thing,
when I was reading this,
I was reminded of a few times that I was gazing at a lover or two (maybe it happened on 3 different occasions with different lovers, maybe several times with a few of them) just admiring the physical shape of the body... like the time BPD (one of my ex's) asked me to have his child... and I looked him up and down, knew he would give me a son, and that the age difference from my daughter and my son would be what I wanted, and even though I had already denied a marriage proposal the month before, a child, yes. He would make good breeding stock. My mind, I thought, was amazing enough to overcome any inherent flaws (top tenth percentile). But what I am referring to though, is being caught giving the gaze... and being asked (why do they keep asking???) "why are you staring at me" and then I fall out of my daydream realizing even though I was more looking though him (each him on his own time) but also I guess kind of at him... but I'm not a psychopath... or an empath... I tell everyone I'm a lizard... because I am cold blooded, and (being anemic) I don't create my own heat. Only diagnosis I ever received was gifted.

Zhawq said...


you wrote:
"your explanation helps a lot. The use of "insistent" is a really good description of it. The people who have that stare do look insistent on something - whether it be to unsettle those around him or her, or in any other situation."

Thank you for your kind words. Sometimes it helps to say a few more things since you rarely get absolutely everything covered in a single article.

I may be able to elaborate a little further: I believe that sometimes people find this still gaze unsettling because I (and psychopaths in general) will do it in situations where it to a normal person seems inappropriate.

Example: If somebody has just explained to me that they're in a very unhappy situation, and they begin to weep, I will automatically think about a logical solution and how, or if, the person may be able to apply it practically to their situation. But I will also have a curiosity about the emotions they're displaying, so while I'm thinking I'll be looking at them and perhaps not blink (there's a reason for this: If you don't blink you'll naturally be able to take in more visual input. This is not a pre-considered, but an automatic behavior).

Understandably, to normal people for whom emotions in general is second nature, this will seem peculiar and likely unsettling, because the normal thing to do is to show empathy, to show signs that you share their emotional experience.

"This is a little off topic. .. Does that mean you see things as possessions (and by things I mean people, places, actual things, anything you consider yours on some level) and not as, say, something to be shared or having it's own control?"

I might say that I use the phrase 'something of mine' in the same way that we say 'my friends' or 'my family', but according to common agreement among clinicians it seems that psychopaths do indeed think more in terms of possessions than relationships.

I will not deny that I am very serious about others treating anything of mine with respect, and I am equally serious about this in regard to my belongings or my friends and family. I am also serious about my Readers and their privacy - and my own - be respected, at least within the boundaries of my domain (which is why I have chosen to put it under moderation).

To sum up: I guess that while I definitely understand what it means to 'have' or 'possess' something, I am not entirely sure where to set the line between objects and subjects, things and people.

I hope I've gotten a little closer to providing an explanation. '^L^,

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand the deal with the psychopathic stare.mlooking at the pictures of people with the "stare" I really don't see too many differences between the people with the stare and neurotypicals (maybe it's just me, though).

Anonymous said...

Zhawq is one hell of a text book narcissist. NPD

Dr. Milton Hedwig

Narcomantica said...

I read that psychopaths tend to have a lower heart rate that the rest of the population and that the specifick "stare" actually comes from that. Maybe the psychopath blinks less often and more slowly...I don't know.

If that's what's the stare is about it will not be possible to judge from a picture.

What do you think?

Fran Nowve said...

I also can't see any difference between psychopathic eyes and "normal" eyes. But I think an intense stare can indicate intense interest. I wrote a blog about it. The Eyes Have It.

Anonymous said...

I know a psychopath who definitely has the psychopathic stare. I think he thought it was seductive when he used it on women but it just reminded me of a snake who has their gaze locked upon a mouse. FYI he is currently facing 7 years in prison. Not the most high functioning of psychopaths.

Anonymous said...

I have the thousand-yard stare a lot. I do not want people looking into my eyes they always say they are so pretty. I think they do not deserve to look into my eyes since I can not even look at them without a reflection. I do not stare at people that would be weird, I try to stare through them so I seem normal. People still think I look at them though, anyways I would hate looking at them.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to have found this. I have been wondering if i was the only Psychopath that was self aware. I feel like i need help but I cant ever be honest to someones face when I try to get help. It has gotten to the point that I can lie on psych-evals and they say I'm "normal". I cant help it, there is part of me that knows i need help really bad, but I end up lying to myself and saying that im not any worse then any one else, but i doubt many people think about 7 different way to kill someone they meet, or have plans on how to kill every friend and family member lol maybe I'm i just crazy in a different way and it presents its self as psychopathy. I'll go now nobody will probably care enough to read this far so ill say this here. I need help, I want to kill everything, my best dreams are of the oceans burning and the land stained eternally red from the blood of every living thing. The idea of hurting people makes me sick, but when I get mad i want to do the most twisted things to people. I want to be a hippy but hippies dont stab people.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last poster, psychopathy from what I have read anyway does not usually involve a call seek treatment. I cannot confirm this, but I think psychopathy is egosyntonic. If you were to seek professional care, what would you want to accomplish? Thoughts, even violent ones are not inherently problematic. What is the nature of them? Is there a compulsive element? I suffer from intrusive thinking, I have since an early age, but have not acted on any of them, nor do I want to. My therapist described thought as partly involuntary, and mine in particular as simply creative. Do you experience significant distress? This may be left field and a reach but emotional regulation issues or a reactive disorder may be possible. I have moments in states of anger visualizing harming others (apparently common in those who have ADHD, and I do). Do you only have violent ideation when angered? I find it unfortunate it has taken a year for someone to respond, but hope this reply reaches you and is helpful.