Psychopath vs. Psychotic
Technically, psychopaths aren’t legally insane. They know the difference between right and wrong. They are rational, often highly intelligent people. Some are capable of great charm. Indeed, the scariest thing about them is that they seem so normal. The most striking feature of the psychopathic personality is his utter lack of empathy. He is incapable of love, caring, and feeling sorry for anyone but himself. Other people are simply objects to be exploited and manipulated for his own profit and pleasure. At their worst, they have monstrous dreams of torture, rape, and murder that they pursue without the slightest compunction. Such extreme criminal psychopaths are devious, cold-blooded predators who hide their evil hearts behind bland, plausible facades. Because they feel no guilt or remorse, psychopaths are able to maintain an uncanny cool in situations that would cause a normal person to break into a cold sweat. For example, when one ofJeffrey Dahmer’s handcuffed and bleeding victims managed to escape and run out into the street, Dahmer calmly talked the police into returning the young man to his custody. He then led him back to his hellish lair and slaughtered him.
Psychosis is defined as a severe mental disorder characterized by some degree of personality disintegration. Psychotics live in a nightmarish world of their own. They suffer from hallucinations and delusions-hear voices, see visions, are possessed by bizarre beliefs. They have lost touch with reality. Unlike psychopaths-who appear to be normal, rational people even while leading grotesque secret lives-psychotics match the common conception of insanity. The main forms of psychosis are schizophrenia and paranoia. For the most part, serial killers aren’t psychotic. There have been some notable exceptions, however-like the paranoid schizophrenic Herbert Mullin.