American Psycho – Fact Or Fiction?????
What are YOUR first impressions and thoughts when YOU hear the word PSYCHOPATH??????
MAYBE; serial killing monsters who are mainly men.
OR ARE THEY??
What about the psychopaths that don’t fit into this assumption?
It is estimated that 1 in 25 people are psychopaths; these people are never convicted of crimes, never serve jail sentences and aren’t necessarily men or murderers.
Who are these 1 in 25?
Your neighbour, boss, relative, lover, colleague. A Doctor, Priest, Lawyer, Politician and anything else in between.
Psychopathy traverses all barriers of class, society, religion, ethnicity and gender.
In other words YOU definitely know a psychopath. YOU have definitely associated with a psychopath.
Yet, no doubt YOU aren’t or weren’t aware of it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT????
Then how is it possible to spot a psychopath?
This question alone denotes that psychopaths are by nature the enemy, the evil mad person who stands alone in the crowd, the criminal, the violent killer made famous in many Hollywood films.
YET ARE THEY??? NO, THEY ARE NOT.
There has to be some sign, some psychopathic traits?
The lists below highlight traits attributed to, and shared by all psychopaths.
Facet 1 Interpersonal
- Glibness/superficial charm
- Grandiose sense of self-worth
- Pathological Lying
Facet 2 Affective
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Emotionally shallow
- Callous/lack of empathy
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Facet 3 Lifestyle
- Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Lack of realistic, long-term goals
Facet 4 Antisocial
- Poor behavioural controls
- Early behavioural problems
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Revocation of conditional release
- Criminal versatility
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Many short-term marital relationships
- Promiscuous sexual behaviour
See any traits you recognise yourself as having??? Don’t worry; recognising yourself as possessing one, two or even three of these traits doesn’t mean YOU are a psychopath, the enemy of humanity.
In fact many of these traits, the traits of the enemy, are VALUED not REVILED in today’s society. They are HIGHLY conducive to being SUCCESSFUL in the business or political world. They are a prerequisite to progress, to leadership.
So if these character traits can be applied to a majority of people, how useful are they to identifying a psychopath?
Though the above table belongs to a well acknowledged ‘gold standard’ for accessing and diagnosing psychopaths called Psychopathy Checklist-Revised; the research was derived from criminal samples obtained by Hervey Cleckley. The origins of this information comes from people who may well have been murderers; and as we now know not all psychopaths are murderers.
This table alone is not in-depth or comprehensive, it has been subject to criticism as it is often seen as ‘labelling’ and only relevant in specific contexts.
Even the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has never listed psychopathy as the official term for a personality disorder. According the DSM; criteria and psychopathy are not synonymous.
It seems when all the research and diagnostic tools have been exhausted, still no one can be quite sure what makes a psychopath and how these traits make that person a danger. No one really knows how to ‘spot’ a psychopath in the real world, especially when these people are part of the very fabric of the world we all live in.
Maybe a definition of a psychopath could help?
“(Psychiatry) a person afflicted with a personality disorder characterised by a tendency to commit antisocial and sometimes violent acts and a failure to feel guilt for such acts. Also called sociopath”.
Well, if we relied on that dictionary version, not not really.
Let us recap the generic traits often stated as being identified with psychopaths;
Lack of remorse
Dr Hare’s Checklist
They look very like traits idealised within the perfect leader of industry or Government to me.
Yet, Dr Robert Hare may have managed to finally define what makes a psychopath. He has worked 35 years researching psychopathy. He has developed the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV), the P-Scan, the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV), and the Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD).
He is also a co-author of the Guidelines for a Psychopathy Treatment Program. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, has demonstrated reliability and validity. This document is rapidly being adopted worldwide as the standard instrument for researchers and clinicians dealing with psychopaths.
Yet, is this checklist anything more or different than what has already been said?
WHAT DO YOU THINK???
How do people become psychopaths?
Well, no one becomes a psychopath. Research at least, believes that people are born with this behaviour or brain. I make reference to the brain as tests have demonstrated that the brain of a psychopath lacks the ‘normal’ processing abilities, and responses to emotive images and words. Psychopaths don’t register other people’s anguish, anger, fear and pain as other people do. They understand these emotions, but don’t feel them.
Researchers also argue that environment has nothing to do with psychopathic traits; a person either is or isn’t a psychopath. Basically it is biological and even genetically determined, but not nurtured or created.
Again; WHAT DO YOU THINK???
Surely there has to be a ‘cure’?
Well, Dr. Hare believes there could be. His team has been working to develop an actual not theoretical treatment program, but specifically for violent psychopaths. The premise of this treatment is to encourage psychopaths to be better by appealing not to their (non-existent) altruism but to their (abundant) self-interest.
It is designed to modify behaviour by convincing them that there are ways they can get what they want without resorting to harming others. Basically; violence is bad, not for society, but for the psychopath themselves.
Yet, regardless if this treatment works, it can only be applied to the violent minority of psychopaths.
What about the remainder of the 1 in 25 never convicted as criminals?
Self-protection through self-education perhaps…………….,
Know your own weaknesses to prevent them being used against you by the psychopath lying in wait…………,
Learn to recognise the psychopath (by above checklists); yet even experts are regularly taken in by their charm.
Basically your guess is as good as mine.
When all is said and done there is NO solution.
No scientist or Psychiatrist can cure or fully treat a psychopath.
Therefore we just have to accept the inevitability and existence of; THE PSYCHOPATH NEXT DOOR.
PLEASE let me have YOUR opinions on this subject…………
What do YOU think of categorising people in such ways???
What do YOU think about psychological checklists??
OR – MAYBE YOU KNOW A PSYCHOPATH??? What are YOUR experiences???