According to Scientific American, psychopathy or psychopathic disorder affects approximately 25 percent of prison inmates in the United States. Psychopathic disorder is often mistaken for psychosis -- a condition in which a person breaks from reality through delusions and hallucinations. However, psychopaths are very much aware of reality and in control. They suffer from a personality disorder, sometimes conflated with antisocial personality disorder, that renders them emotionally and morally disconnected from other people, despite typically being highly functional in society. Because of their disconnection, psychopaths have little moral qualm about using or hurting people to get what they want.
Psychopaths typically appear to be ordinary people. They are usually socially capable, if not charming, and easily initiate relationships. They rarely appear "mentally ill" and instead hold jobs, have homes and live much the way any "average" person would. For yet undiscovered reasons, psychopaths are predominantly male. Most figure out how to charm women and often engage in numerous casual relationships and take advantage of women's emotions for sexual satisfaction and personal gain.
Once a person gets past a psychopath's veneer, she may notice a lack of depth and considerable detachment. Psychopathic personalities are frequently shallow and without much interest or understanding of human emotions. They have little ability to posit how another person might feel or to describe their own feelings. In part, this is because they don't have much emotion or attachment. Once in relationships, they can be callous, distant and even emotionless. This is among the reasons psychopaths are known to have strings of short-term relationships.
The classic psychopath disavows all responsibility for whatever he's done. He feels no sense of blame or remorse for mistakes or hurtful actions. As a result, psychopaths frequently have criminal records. When caught, a psychopath is likely to use the experience to figure out how to avoid being caught again rather than take it as an opportunity to learn and reform. Similarly, psychopaths have no remorse about using and hurting others. This allows them to conduct manipulative ploys without difficulty or regret.
Psychopaths begin exhibiting signs as young as childhood, but more often during adolescence. Destructive behaviors, getting in trouble with authority figures and problems with other kids are all signs. Juvenile criminal records are common among psychopaths. These initial encounters with the law and penal system often teach them how to succeed as adult criminals. Psychopaths are not always violent. However, those who are violent have frequently captured media attention, such serial killer Ted Bundy.