psychopathic behavior is around us in all walks of life.
According to popular wisdom, psychopaths are crazed and bloodthirsty serial killers. The reality is not so simple. While many psychopaths do commit violent crimes, not all psychopaths are criminals and not all criminals are psychopathic. Psychopaths are found in many walks of life and are often successful in competitive professions. However they are also ruthless, manipulative and destructive. Equinox reports on techniques developed by psychologists to work out whether a person is psychopathic and shows how
brain scientists are coming close to mapping the malfunctions in the brain that
cause a person to be a psychopath. In America, one person in 100 is likely to be
a psychopath. However psychopaths are thought to be responsible for half of all
reported crimes and to make up between 15% and 20% of the prison population.
Psychopaths who have been convicted of appalling crimes explain with disturbing clarity what motivated them in their violent and destructive behavior. They speak without shame, guilt, remorse or empathy with their victims.
Though they are articulate and, at times, plausible and charming, they lack the range
of emotions experienced by the rest of society. They know the difference between right and wrong but they do not feel it.
Robert Hare, Professor of Psychology at the University of Vancouver, has devised a system of assessment called the Psychopathy Checklist. In specialized interviews, psychologists assess individuals on a scale of 0 to 40 for a series of character traits, including callousness, superficial charm, lack of empathy and many others. Anyone whose score is greater than 26 is diagnosed as psychopathic.
1. Glibness, superficial charm
2. Grandiose sense of worth
3. Need for stimulation; prone to boredom
4. Pathological lying
5. Cunning, manipulative
6. Lack of remorse or guilt
7. Shallow affect emotional range
8. Callous, lack of empathy
9. Parasitic lifestyle
10. Poor behavioral controls
11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
12. Early behavioral problems
13. Lack of realistic long term goals
16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
17. Many short term marital relationships
18. Juvenile delinquency
19. Revocation of conditional release
20. Criminal versatility
Psychopathy is among the most difficult disorders to spot. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, they lack conscience and empathy, making them manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal. They are an object of popular fascination and clinical anguish: psychopathy is largely impervious to treatment.
It is important to note that the vast majority of people with antisocial tendencies are not psychopaths.
Resource: Psychology Today, topdocumentaryfilms.com, wikipedia