Can a Psychopath be Made?

No, not at all. You can’t turn a baby panda into a monster through maltreatment. Hold on! This question requires deep analysis.

In my opinion (based on observation, clinical experience, and review of the literature), it’s the other way around.

Two Scenarios

If you think that an innocent person can become malicious through neglect, unfair upbringing, or maltreatment, you might be wrong. As I already said, it’s the other way around. The person in question may become more sensitive, mild, timid, shy, and reserved. This can happen to a neurotypical person (the term neurotypical refers to people who show empathy). They may lose confidence in themselves. They may develop stimulus generalization (responding to unthreatening situations with fear). They may start reacting with fear to the harmless stimuli only because those stimuli were thought to be related to the original stimulus that harmed that person. Empathetic people become even more empathetic after suffering at the hands of others.

The other scenario can be that a person has all the psychopathic genes and gets maltreated by parents, members of the family, or peers. In this case, the answer is yes. But remember that they’re already psychopaths, at least genetically.

What Shapes and Fashions Us?

Psychology and criminology both share an immense influence on sociology. However, with the advances made in biology, especially neuroscience, the researchers have found that genetics and structural differences in brain parts greatly impact how a person behaves. Still, it is thought that our genes shape 50% of our personality, and 50% of it is fashioned by the environment we live in.

The latest advancements in biology confirm that genes account for at least 90% of a person’s behavior. The environment’s role is less than 10% in defining our behavior. It means that we are only what we inherit.

If you’re familiar with research related to gene expression, you already know that environment seems to trigger unexpressed genes. Environmental influences can’t make or create genes. They can only bring them to the surface by activating them. So what’s the biggest culprit in your opinion? Certainly, it’s not the environment.

If a person is born with psychopathic genes, they may live almost a normal life, not resorting to violence or going on their killing spree. However, aggressive behavior is still there. They may be manipulative and without shame or guilt, showing little empathy to those around them. Unless and until triggered by the environment, they can lead a normal life.

If a person with psychopathic genes gets triggered by their environment, they may do everything a psychopath can do. They may leave no stones unturned to prove their genetic predisposition.

Is the Environment Even Involved?

While it’s common for us to hear that most psychopaths went through harsh upbringing or other environmental stressors before they began a full-fledged psychopath. However, that may not always be the case. In many instances, psychopaths don’t have a harsh upbringing or other factors that could lead them to become serial killers or dangerous people. If genetic predisposition is there, there’s no guarantee that it can’t be triggered by itself.


Psychopaths are born and not made. If you’re a normal person, you can’t defeat your conscience and demolish your in-build moral compass to become a psychopath. There’s no way you can get rid of excessive empathetic feelings towards others. Even if you try so, you may end up developing more empathy and kindness for others.

If you’re born with psychopathic genes, you’re already a psychopath. Long story short, the environment has little to do with making a person psychopath.


High Ranker is a self-taught psychologist and a freelance writer. He graduated in botany and likes to describe himself as a nature lover. He spends most of his time exploring different subjects and navigating existing academic research. He has a profound interest in health sciences and issues related to scientific research. When he's not writing something, you can find him talking to random people, reading a book, or gardening at home.

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