Thursday, October 22, 2009


When you think of a psychopath does the image of Norman Bates, his decayed mother, and a creepy roadside motel come to mind. Or maybe you prefer the Vince Vaughn version.
The aspects of the disease, defined as a psychological construct that describes chronic disregard for ethical principles and antisocial behavior, is more prevalent in society as a whole than you might think. Estimates of the percentage of the general population that may be afflicted by this disorder range from 1 to 18, which translates to anywhere between 3 million to 54 million people in this county alone... 67 million to 1.2 billion on the planet.
Notice that the above description says nothing about violence. Robert Hercz points out in, Psychopaths Among US:

we now understand that the great majority of psychopaths are not violent criminals and never will be. Hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us. Your boss, your boyfriend, your mother could be what Hare calls a "subclinical" psychopath, someone who leaves a path of destruction and pain without a single pang of conscience.

The "Hare" Hercz refers to is Dr. Robert D. Hare, a psychologist renowned in the field of criminal psychology, psychopathology, and psychophysiology. Dr. Hare has spent over 35 years researching psychopathy and is the developer of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), which is the current means of identifying, or classifying those who suffer from psychopathology.
In the December 2007 issue of Scientific American Mind, the authors Scott O Lillenfeld and Hal Arkowitz, in their article, "What Psychopath Means," point out:

Most psychopaths are male, although the reasons for this sex difference are unknown. Psychopathy seems to be present in both Western and non-Western cultures, including those that have had minimal exposure to media portrayals of the condition. In a 1976 study anthropologist Jane M. Murphy, then at Harvard University, found that an isolated group of Yupik-speaking Inuits near the Bering Strait had a term (kunlangeta) they used to describe “a man who … repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and … takes sexual advantage of many women—someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment.” When Murphy asked an Inuit what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, he replied, “Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking.

The symptoms for these disease include the following:

Grandiose sense of self-worth

Superficial charm

Criminal versatility

Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others

Impulse control problems


Inability to tolerate boredom

Pathological narcissism

Pathological lying

Shallow affect


Aggressive or violent tendencies, repeated physical fights or assaults on others

Lack of empathy

Lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt or mistreated others

A sense of extreme entitlement

Lack of or diminished levels of anxiety/nervousness and other emotions

Promiscuous sexual behavior, sexually deviant lifestyle

Lack of personal insight

Failure to follow any life plan

Abuse of drugs including alcohol

Disregard for conventional moral right and wrong
Being the honest individual that I am I have to admit that I have at times displayed as many as many as ten of the symptoms of the 21 described above, and currently exhibit 3 (Impulse control, Inability to tolerate boredom, and disregard for conventional moral right and wrong, the optimum word being "conventional"), I can still maintain that I've never come close to being a psychopath. I suspect that most of the world's population displays many of the above characteristics without being psychopaths. What's the difference between me and others who show some of the qualities above, and a true psychopath? I believe it's lack of empathy, the ability to feel what others feel, or may feel.
Lillenfeld and Arkowitz continue:

Some investigators have even speculated that “successful psychopaths”—those who attain prominent positions in society—may be overrepresented in certain occupations, such as politics, business and entertainment. Yet the scientific evidence for this intriguing conjecture is preliminary.

I have stated elsewhere that I believe the modern conservative movement, the ideals they represent are adopted by those whose ability to connect with a truly unbiased information source are extremely limited, or our psychotic in nature (delusional beliefs not associated with the real world, which by the way can be severely exasperated by direct and repeated propaganda input), or psychopathic at it's worst. These can plainly be seen by the current Republican membership in Congress, the media that actively supports the extreme right, and the legions of low information followers that the Republicans seemingly can so easily manipulate, most often against their own best interests.
But how can I prove this supposition? I can't, and never will be able to clinically prove that the majority of Republicans in Congress are psychopaths. To do that they would have to be submitted to the regime of tests Dr. Hare invented.
But they sure act like it. How else can you explain the vote on Senator Al Franken's amendment, termed the "anti-rape amendment," with 30 Republican Senators, 75% of the Republicans in the Senate, voting against it.
To be continued.

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