Psychopaths don’t have the caring part of empathy, but they are better than average at the “mind reading” part where they can predict other people’s behavior in order to manipulate it.
It’s a real paradox. Some years ago, I interviewed a psychopath — and I can’t work out for the life of me whether he being manipulative or telling the truth — it was probably a bit of both, but he said, ‘If you had a deaf guy standing watching a building burn down and had a child in the building screaming in pain and the deaf guy didn’t go in, you wouldn’t hold him to blame. Imagine if you’re emotionally deaf. You can hear the sound, but it doesn’t do anything for you. You don’t feel that emotional kick in the backside to go in and do something.’
By Maia Szalavitz