Lifestyle Viral and Trending 20 Mar 2021 Inside the mind of a ...

Inside the mind of a psychopath

Published Mar 21, 2021, 12:04 am IST
Updated Mar 21, 2021, 12:04 am IST
Experts clarify if psychopathic tendencies can be determined by answering a single question
Picture used for representational purpose
 Picture used for representational purpose

Social media is known for the ease with which it feeds factual and fake information — no matter whether you need it or not. Recently, a TikToker named Sophia Boi shared a clip of a ‘simple test’ that could examine if you have — wait for it — psychopathic tendencies. (Yes, you read that right.)
According to, on which the video was shown, Sophia did start the video with a disclaimer that she is not a professional and that the test is not a diagnosis. However, that did not stop the video from going viral, hitting 3,000,000 views in a matter of days. (Surprise, surprise, eh?)

What the test is all about


The test sets off against an imaginary scenario. Anyone taking the test is required to close their eyes and imagine they are walking through a dark, creepy forest. In Sophia’s video, she tells the viewers, “I want you to close your eyes and imagine you’re walking through a dark, eerie forest. I’ll give you a moment to close your eyes and imagine. Now, your heart is pounding and you hear sounds all around you. Suddenly, you hear and feel breathing behind you, and you whirl around in terror. Now, what do you see?” The options she then shares as answers to the question are, “a) a wild animal, b) a pale person of the opposite sex, c) a shadowy figure, d) a dog, e) nothing, f) a giant bug.” Interestingly, Sophia says the answer that reflected psychopathic tendencies according to ‘test’ is anything but the obviously scary ones; in fact it is option (d) — a dog. In her video, Sophia even ‘explains’ that people who possess psychopathic tendencies often say dog for some reason. “The dog answer could be indicative of a masking behaviour. Dogs are fluffy and non-threatening. And maybe this is the psychopath trying to prompt in the mind of the interviewer this manipulative self-serving answer,” she adds.


More than one question to a psychopathy

Dr Purnima Nagaraja, mental health professional, Dhrithi Wellness Clinic, responded to our queries about the validity of the test. “The video may have gone viral, but it is still not accurate. One cannot evaluate a personality disorder by just one question, and definitely not the many facets of the psychopath or antisocial personality disorder,” she adds. In fact, the mental health professional also points out that every question has different interpretations. “When one says ‘wild animal’, he/she could be hyper alert. If one says some funny creature from outer space, then he/she supposedly lives in a fantasy world,” explains Dr Purnima. “Human personality is like the skin of an onion and very multifaceted. One’s coping skills are in tune with the circumstances that one faces.”
Then elaborating on why videos like these go viral, Dr Purnima states these videos are very fascinating. “However, psychopathy is a type of personality disorders, and there are several tests for personality and psychopathy in adults and adolescent children.”


Separating facts from chaff

So how does one differentiate between right and wrong information doing the rounds? “It is hard to differentiate between what’s true and what’s fake,” admit the mental health professional. “A reader might find everything right in psychology. But it’s a good idea to read scholarly articles and verify facts before one believes any of it.” However, consultant neuro-psychiatrist Dr Charan Teja Koganti believes there is no other way to verify facts related to health besides doing so with a doctor. “Once you Google for anything all kinds of myths and rumours come up, which interferes further with their mental health,” he says, adding that around 50% of the world’s population uses social media and that the average Internet user spends around an astounding 6 hours and 43 minutes daily just being online.” Nevertheless, some of the sites Dr Charan Teja recommends to fact check include and WHO, which according to the doctor, provide fair information.


Common viral fads on social media

Stigma regarding
Mental health issues being one’s own fault
Body image issues
‘Perfect’ looks
Diet fads
Myth that addiction is a lack of willpower
Advertising products that make you stop consuming alcohol
People with schizophrenia have a split personality
Videos claimed to identify psychopathic tendencies/personalities

Dos & don'ts on social media

Monitor time spent: Set a time limit on your phone when using apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Mute keywords that trigger or upset you: If there’s something that makes you constantly feel drained or depressed, it’s okay to hide it from your timeline.  You can also filter out offensive comments and select words or phrases from your live feed as well.
Follow accounts that make you feel good: By following inspiring accounts on the social media. Accounts that leaving positive messages or have content that perks you up.
Take regular breaks from your desktop: Step away from your desk, get a glass of water, have a little walk, stretch, meditate and take some deep breaths. It’ll help you break the intensity of involvement online.


Don’t follow accounts that supply untrue or graphic information: Platforms such as Instagram offers features that help you to either mute or unfollow an account, for both its posts and stories.
Don’t compare: While scrolling on your pages, you may find people doing better than you, in terms of the content they put up, the followers they have, etc. Don’t fall into that trap of making comparisons.
Stop late-night notifications: Most social media apps also have a feature to help put an end to notifications at night and the constant pings by setting a “bedtime”.


—  As told by Dr Charan Teja Koganti, consultant neuro-psychiatrist

Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad