Do psychopaths kill animals? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Do psychopaths kill animals?” and study who psychopaths are, how their brains work and how they treat animals in order to help understand the answer. 

Do psychopaths kill animals?

Yes, psychopaths often kill animals. The following are 3 insights into why psychopaths kill animals –

  • Practising on animals. 
  • Targeting the weak. 
  • Generalised deviance theory.

These 3 insights into why psychopaths kill animals will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at who a psychopath is.

Who is a psychopath?

A “psychopath” is someone who is ruthless, unemotional, and morally twisted. The word is commonly used in professional and legal settings, despite the fact that it is not a recognised mental health condition.

While psychopathy is not a diagnosis in and of itself, it shares many of the characteristics of antisocial personality disorder, a broader mental health disease characterised by people who regularly act out and defy regulations. 

Psychopaths, on the other hand, make up a small fraction of those who suffer from antisocial personality disorder.

Common Traits of Psychopaths.

Psychopathic conduct differs widely from one person to the next. Some are serial killers and sex criminals. Others, on the other hand, may be effective leaders. It is entirely dependent on their characteristics.

It’s critical to distinguish between psychopaths and persons who exhibit psychopathic characteristics. It’s possible to have multiple psychopathic characteristics without really becoming a psychopath.

People with psychopathic characteristics don’t always act psychopathically. Psychopaths are defined as those who have psychopathic features and also engage in antisocial conduct.

Psychopathic traits include –

  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Narcissism
  • Superficial charm
  • Impulsivity
  • Callous, unemotional traits
  • Lack of guilt
  • Lack of empathy

According to one study, around 29% of the general population possesses one or more psychopathic traits. Only 0.6 per cent of the population, however, meets the definition of a psychopath.

Signs of a Psychopath.

Psychopathic characteristics can appear in childhood and worsen with time. Some of the most prevalent indications of a psychopath are listed below.

Superficial Charm.

On the surface, psychopaths appear to be likeable. They’re typically skilled conversationalists who tell stories that make them appear attractive. They might also be witty and charming.

Need for Stimulation.

Psychopaths thrive on the thrill of the chase. They want a steady flow of activity in their life and usually desire to live in the “fast lane.” Their demand for excitement frequently entails breaching rules. 

They may relish the excitement of getting away with something, or they may relish the possibility of being “caught” at any time. As a result, they may find it difficult to stay interested in tedious or repeated jobs, and they may be irritable with routines.

Pathological Lying.

Psychopaths lie to make themselves appear nice and stay out of danger. They also lie to cover up their earlier deceptions. 

They occasionally have trouble keeping their stories straight since they forget what they’ve stated. When confronted, they simply alter their tale or modify the facts to suit the scenario.

Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth.

Psychopaths have a distorted self-perception. They consider themselves to be powerful and entitled. They frequently feel justified in following their own set of rules, believing that the laws do not apply to them.

Manipulative.

Psychopaths are masters at persuading others to do what they desire. They may take advantage of a person’s remorse while lying to get someone else to complete their task for them.

Lack of Remorse.

Psychopaths are unconcerned about how their actions affect others. They may forget about an offence or believe that others are overreacting when their feelings are wounded. 

Finally, they have no remorse for inflicting misery on others. In fact, they frequently explain their actions and place blame on others.

Shallow Affect.

Psychopaths aren’t known for displaying many emotions, at least not authentic ones. They may look cold and emotionless for long periods of time. When it serves them well, though, they may present a theatrical exhibition of emotions. These tend to be short-lived and shallow.

They may, for example, display fury to scare someone or display melancholy to influence someone. However, they do not actually feel these feelings.

Lack of Empathy.

Psychopaths have a hard time comprehending why someone else could be fearful, unhappy, or nervous. They are unable to read people, thus it makes no sense to them. Even if it’s a close friend or family member, they’re entirely unconcerned about others who are suffering.

Parasitic Lifestyle.

Psychopaths may have sob tales about their inability to earn money, or they may frequently claim to have been abused by others. 

Then they take advantage of others’ generosity by becoming financially reliant on them. They take advantage of individuals to obtain everything they can, regardless of how they may feel.

Poor Behavioral Controls.

Psychopaths frequently struggle to obey rules, regulations, and policies. Even if they want to obey the rules, they rarely do so for very long.

Promiscuous Sexual Behavior.

Psychopaths are more prone to cheat on their relationships since they don’t care about the people around them. They could have unprotected intercourse with random strangers. They might also use sex to acquire what they desire. For them, sex is not an emotional or loving act.

Early Behavioral Problems.

The majority of psychopaths have behavioural issues from a young age. Cheating, skipping school, vandalising property, abusing narcotics, or becoming aggressive are all possibilities. Their misdeeds tend to worsen with time and are more significant than those of their peers.

Lack of Realistic, Long-Term Goals.

A psychopath’s ambition might be to become wealthy or famous. However, they frequently lack the knowledge necessary to make these things happen. Instead, they insist that they will obtain what they want without having to put out any effort.

Impulsivity.

Psychopaths react to situations based on how they feel. They don’t take the time to consider the dangers and advantages of their decisions. Instead, they desire instant pleasure. 

As a result, individuals may quit a job, terminate a relationship, relocate to a new location, or purchase a new automobile on the spur of the moment.

Irresponsibility.

Promises have no meaning for psychopaths. They aren’t trustworthy, whether they vow to return a debt or sign a contract. They may neglect to pay child support, go heavily into debt, or forget about their responsibilities and commitments.

Psychopaths refuse to take responsibility for their own issues. They believe that their problems are always the fault of others. They typically play the victim, and they like telling stories about how others have used them.

Many Marital Relationships.

Psychopaths may marry because it is advantageous to them. They could desire to spend a partner’s money or share their debt with someone else, for example. However, their behaviour frequently leads to divorce as their spouses come to see them from a more realistic perspective.

Criminal Versatility.

Psychopaths typically see rules as recommendations and laws as impediments to their progress. Their illicit activities might be quite diverse. 

Criminal offences such as driving infractions, financial violations, and acts of violence are only a few instances of the wide range of crimes that may be committed. 

Of course, not all of them end up in prison. Some people may run shady enterprises or participate in unethical behaviour that does not result in an arrest.

Revocation of Conditional Release.

When psychopaths are released from jail, they usually do not follow the terms of conditional release. They may believe that they will not be caught again. Alternatively, they may find methods to justify their actions. They could even blame others for “being caught.”

What are these 3 insights into why psychopaths kill animals?

Practising on animals. 

The relationship between psychopaths and animal abuse has been demonstrated. It’s long been assumed that psychopaths began their careers by abusing and killing animals.

Jeffrey Dahmer, the “Milwaukee cannibal” who mutilated 17 people three decades ago, began by chopping up dogs and cats and impaling their heads on poles. Ted Bundy is a notorious serial killer. 

David Berkowitz—along with a sizable majority of other serial killers—shares another trait: They practised on animals for years before turning their wrath on humans.

Ian Brady, the 1960s Moors killer who tortured and killed five children, boasted of killing his first cat at the age of ten, then went on to burn another cat alive, stone dogs, and chop off bunnies’ heads before turning his attention to people. 

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables used to shoot pigeons with air guns and tether rabbits to railway lines so they could watch them get run over – until they killed James Bulger, a toddler, in 1993.

The connection between early animal mistreatment and later violent and aggressive crime has been confirmed for decades, and some have suspected it much longer. 

However, a new academic study has shown further grim evidence of the psychological impact of watching animal cruelty on youngsters, prompting broad attempts to intervene and prevent those at risk of exacerbating the trauma by playing it out against both animals and people.

Romania was used as a case study to establish “the connection,” but the psychology of moving from watching or experiencing aggression to doing it is a global issue. 

According to numbers released by the Ministry of Justice last year, 13 convicted murderers, 22 child rapists, and 99 persons convicted or warned for child cruelty had also been convicted or cautioned for animal cruelty offences in the preceding decade. 

Animal cruelty was detected in hundreds of sex offenders and others convicted of violently harming others. “Animal cruelty was a greater predictor of sex assault than past convictions for murder, arson, or weapons offences,” Australian research concluded in 2002.

Animal maltreatment is strongly linked to interpersonal, human-to-human violence, according to the FBI. Psychopaths usually torture or kill tiny animals from a young age, and males who abuse children or commit domestic violence frequently injure family pets. 

Targeting the weak. 

In a 2016 interview, John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, said, “If someone is abusing an animal, there’s a strong probability they’re also hurting a person.”

People who abuse animals go target someone they consider to be weaker, according to Dr. Chris Hensley, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Many psychopaths experience rejection from their parents or someone they care about, whether it’s a perceived or genuine rejection. Instead of going after the person who rejected them, they’ll go for something lesser, which is usually an animal. It’s all about power.

Some study proposes a ‘graduate’ idea, in which killers start with animals and progress to humans later—and it’s usually someone they believe to be weaker than themselves, such as prostitutes, hitchhikers, or the elderly.

Generalised deviance theory.

Others believe that animal and human abuse begin simultaneously, which is known as the ‘generalised deviance theory.’ This is where a child may beat another child before returning home and smacking their pet.

Since 1980, the majority of investigations have demonstrated a relationship between childhood animal cruelty and adult interpersonal aggression.

It is also recognised that it can occur simultaneously with child or elder abuse. In a domestic violence situation, it’s fairly prevalent, especially if the victim’s animal is involved.

There have been several instances of domestic violence perpetrators killing not just the person they are assaulting, but also their pets. It’s possible that the pet is seen as an extension of the victim.

Children who commit acts of animal cruelty must receive treatment. It’s critical to concentrate on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Do psychopaths kill animals?” and studied who psychopaths are, how their brains work and how they treat animals to help determine if psychopaths kill animals. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

People Who Are Violent Towards Animals Rarely Stop There. PetIndia.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.petaindia.com/issues/companion-animals/link/#:~:text=The%20FBI%20has%20found%20that,diagnostic%20criterion%20for%20conduct%20disorders.

Dalton, J. The link is established between serial killers and animal cruelty. (2019, August 2). Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/domestic-violence-animal-cruelty-abuse-neglect-murder-children-dogs-a9018071.html

Do all serial killers start off killing animals? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Do-all-serial-killers-start-off-killing-animals

Watts, S. First They Tortured Animals, Then They Turned to Humans. (2018, January 3). Retrieved from https://www.aetv.com/real-crime/first-they-tortured-animals-then-they-turned-to-humans

Futterman, A. Are Kids Who Abuse Animals Destined to Become Serial Killers? (2021, March 19). Retrieved from https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/are-kids-who-abuse-animals-destined-to-become-serial-killers

Macdonald triad. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2022, January 11). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macdonald_triad

Wade-Palmer, C. Serial killers who started on animals – the red flags that show murderous traits. (2021, June 19). Retrieved from https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/serial-killers-started-animals–24327756

COLD HARD FACTS ABOUT ANIMAL ABUSE OFFENDERS. National Coalition On Violence Against Animals, NCOVAA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ncovaa.org/facts/

Melson, G. F. Do Mass Killers Start Out by Harming Pets? (2013, February 20). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-the-wild-things-are/201302/do-mass-killers-start-out-harming-pets

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