Is Your Husband a Psychopath? 8 Traits to Identify The Enemy Within

The typical psychopath is a machiavellian predator incapable of empathy, remorse, or impulse control. While the media usually portrays psychopaths as ruthless serial killers, the majority of the people who exhibit psychopathic traits do so in more subtle ways. Psychopaths do not hesitate to exploit others to get what they want. 

They tend to be extremely charming, while they may be secretly ruining the lives of the very people they are trying to charm. "Functional psychopaths," researcher Kevin Dutton explains, "use their detached, unflinching, and charismatic personalities to succeed in mainstream society."

Psychopaths make up about one percent of the general population and about 18 percent of the prison population. Interestingly enough, psychopaths are more likely to be released or paroled than non-psychopaths. They are the embodiment of the phrase, “get away with murder.” A psychopath can convincingly appear innocent regardless of the scope of his crimes.

The psychopathy checklist developed by Robert Hare is considered the gold standard for identifying psychopaths. Though the original model dates back to the 1970s, forensic psychiatrists and psychologists use it regularly. Hare, who maintained a psychopathy research lab at the University of British Columbia for many years, has made many interesting discoveries, identifying many professions and positions that commonly attract psychopaths.

This article is entitled, “Is your husband a psychopath?” rather than, “Is your spouse a psychopath?” You may be wondering why. Statistics have consistently shown that there are more male than female psychopaths. When it comes to the incarcerated population, for example, the psychopathy rate among men, approximately doubles that of women. It is thus to be expected that there should be more psychopathic husbands than psychopathic wives.

While some psychopathic husbands are easy to identify, others can maintain a facade of normalcy for many years. Meanwhile, they can slowly ruin their spouse’s life in a myriad of subtle ways. In some cases, they will only show their true self when they are alone with their prey, making it difficult for victims to persuade others that something is amiss.

8 Signs that Your Husband May Be a Psychopath 

No sane person would willingly marry a psychopath. These toxic individuals usually wait until after marriage to reveal themselves. There are many prominent examples of psychopathic husbands in movies, including Sleeping with the Enemy, starring Julia Roberts, and Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez. Considering the current rate of violence against women, these scary portrayals of violent and deranged husbands are more realistic than one would want them to be.

The term psychopath, however, should not be used lightly. A husband who cheats, lies, or abuses his spouse is not necessarily a psychopath. This detailed checklist may help you identify some of the most common traits of a psychopathic husband. Although only a medical professional can diagnose psychopathy, identifying its traits can be helpful, especially if you are going through a complicated divorce.

1. A History of Childhood Abuse and Behavioral Problems

Most psychopaths have had a complicated childhood and/or adolescence. Many of them have been in trouble with the authorities during their youth. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied convicted male offenders to analyze the link between childhood abuse and psychopathy. The researchers found that “severity of overall childhood maltreatment was linked to the severity of both psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder in adulthood.”  

2. Inability to Handle Criticism or Take Responsibility for Their Mistakes

Psychopaths will likely manipulate you into feeling guilty, often without reason, but they are unlikely to see their own failings or acknowledge their own mistakes. A psychopathic husband will often blame you for any problems in the relationship, and he will try to make you feel inferior every chance he gets. 

3. Sexual Promiscuity  

Research by the University of London found a high rate of promiscuity among psychopaths. 

Incapable of emotional connection, psychopaths cannot truly trust or depend on a partner. Their narcissistic personality prevents them from experiencing and valuing the human connection that occurs during intimacy. They seek pleasure, regardless of what the other person may feel. Often, they find pleasure in another person’s pain.  

4. A Disproportionate Sense Of Self Worth

Psychopaths tend to talk about themselves in a grandiose way. If your husband appears overly focussed on his own accomplishments, this could indicate they have psychopathic traits. 

A diagnosed psychopath once wrote, “I was convinced that I was the most adept person [at my previous job] – an honest-to-god savant. I had no statistics to back this up, I simply felt it. I would constantly remind others of their ‘incompetence’ while touting my own superiority. . . Looking back, I can see that such a perspective was flawed.  However, I still exhibit my own grandiosity. . . Rarely do I truly acknowledge the other person that I am interacting with. They are merely a toy bowing before my presence. Even with years of psychotherapy, I have to force myself to acknowledge that I am in the presence of another human being with their own wants and needs, hopes, and desires. Because I elevate myself so highly relative to others, this becomes extraordinarily difficult to remember.”

5. Questionable Morals

Socially acceptable morals are generally based on respect for other people and empathy; two things psychopaths lack. A Woody Allen character once said that a great artist creates his/her own moral standards. Psychopaths do exactly that, except they can alter these parameters to suit their designs and desires at any given moment.  

6. Superficial Charm

Psychopaths can be friendly and engaging. They will use their apparent confidence and charm to get what they want. While they may appear to be genuinely interested in others, this is usually a means to an end.  

7. Lack of Empathy  

No matter how many times you explain to your psychopathic husband how he hurt you, this will not trigger any feelings of remorse. Whatever and whoever they may have destroyed, psychopaths cannot empathize with other people’s feelings.  

8. A Preference for One of The 8 Professions Below

If your husband is in one of the professions listed below, he is more likely to be a psychopath. Researchers have found that the prevalence of psychopaths is not only higher among convicted criminals than in the general population; many respected professions and positions of power appear to be extremely attractive to psychopaths.

  1. CEO An Australian study found that about one in five CEOs are psychopaths. Resilience to chaos is one of the common traits of psychopaths. They enjoy creating chaos for everyone else because they know it cannot affect them. Being a psychopath ready to destroy anyone to achieve one’s own means can be an ideal way to climb the corporate ladder, often all the way to the top. When competing against a psychopath, people who are not manipulative are at a disadvantage because they have to rely on their skills alone.
    Source: Bond University
  2. Civil Servant / Politician Civil servant is one of the top ten careers most often chosen by psychopaths. Specifically, becoming a politician is a very appealing choice for psychopaths, who are adept at manipulating others and have an endless thirst for power.
    Source: Oxford psychologist Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.
  3. Religious Official The power, authority, and opportunities to exploit others implicit in careers in the clergy are very attractive to psychopaths. From God comes absolute power; a psychopath’s favorite cup of tea.
    Source: FBI, Kevin Dutton’s Great British Psychopath Survey
  4. Law Enforcement Officer Power, guns, and the ability to harm others, potentially with impunity, make jobs in law enforcement extremely attractive for psychopaths. According to Joachim Hagopian, “Generally any line of work characterized by a hierarchical infrastructure that places those in positions of power ruling over others with relative impunity proves to be the most fertile ground attracting those with a psychopathic personality.”
    Sources: Kevin Dutton’s Great British Psychopath Survey, Joachim Hagopian (Global Research)
  5. Surgeon Research has found that the rate of psychopathy among surgeons is higher than that of the general population. Psychopaths’ ability to remain calm and indifferent during a crisis may be one of the reasons they thrive in this profession. On the other hand, being in a position of power is always attractive to them.
    Source: The Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 
  6. Wall Street & Financial Services Industry Professional According to Christopher Bayer, a therapist who works with Wall Street professionals,  financial psychopaths are a common occurrence. Robert Hare found that at least 10 percent of finance professionals were psychopaths. Bayer believes the rate is even higher. According to CFA Magazine, “A financial psychopath can present as a perfect well-rounded job candidate, CEO, manager, co-worker, and team member because their destructive characteristics are practically invisible. They flourish in fast-paced industries and are experts in taking advantage of company systems and processes as well as exploiting communication weaknesses and promoting interpersonal conflicts.”
    Source: Robert Hare’s research, CFA magazine, The Atlantic
  7. Media Person In his research, Kevin Dutton found that media person on TV/radio was one of the top three career choices for psychopaths. Narcissism is one of the traits of psychopaths, and it is one that may well find satisfaction in the fame and acclaim that may come with a high-profile media job. Judging by the spate of machiavellian sexual predators that have recently fallen from grace in the U.S., there seems to be no shortage of psychopaths in the industry.
    Source: Kevin Dutton
  8. Attorney In his research, Kevin Dutton found that the rate of psychopaths in the legal profession was only second to their prevalence in CEO positions. In his famous book about psychopaths, Dutton relates that a successful lawyer told him, “Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere. But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination.” In another book, Confessions of a Sociopath, a law professor, who published the autobiographical work under a pseudonym, explains that being a sociopath helped them succeed as an attorney, “I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for, pushing for and ultimately inducing people to give me what I want, whatever it takes… I became a connoisseur of insecurities and used that knowledge to manipulate junior associates and senior partners alike… I didn’t feel insecure about my backdoor methods. If anything, I was proud of them. I felt entitled to what I got. Some people might call it manipulation, but I like to consider it simply using what God gave me.”
    Source: Kevin Dutton’s research

Still not certain whether you may have been married to a psychopath? Check out this illustrative video describing 10 of the most common traits of a psychopath.