Psychopathy: A Misunderstood Personality Disorder

AlexVia ScienceDaily:

Psychopathic personalities are some of the most memorable characters portrayed in popular media today. These characters, like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Frank Abagnale Jr. from Catch Me If You Can and Alex from A Clockwork Orange, are typically depicted as charming, intriguing, dishonest, guiltless, and in some cases, downright terrifying.

But scientific research suggests that psychopathy is a personality disorder that is widely misunderstood.”Psychopathy tends to be used as a label for people we do not like, cannot understand, or construe as evil,” notes Jennifer Skeem, Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Skeem, Devon Polaschek of Victoria University of Wellington, Christopher Patrick of Florida State University, and Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University are the authors of a new monograph focused on understanding the psychopathic personality that will appear in the December issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Read more here.

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  • Guestblogger

    There is no misunderstanding either you are crazy or you are not.  And it’s obvious our society adores psychos just look at Wall Street  and the majority of CEO’s out there.  Gee I can’t understand why someone has an obsession with grabbing every dollar they can or looking endlessly for any loophole they can find to screw a bunch of people out of money ( or anything in general for that matter ).  Legally they can’t get away with directly killing masses of people in a civilized society …so they went to option no.2  ‘killing’ them economically and legally of course. 

  • Guestblogger

    There is no misunderstanding either you are crazy or you are not.  And it’s obvious our society adores psychos just look at Wall Street  and the majority of CEO’s out there.  Gee I can’t understand why someone has an obsession with grabbing every dollar they can or looking endlessly for any loophole they can find to screw a bunch of people out of money ( or anything in general for that matter ).  Legally they can’t get away with directly killing masses of people in a civilized society …so they went to option no.2  ‘killing’ them economically and legally of course. 

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      The mind is  a complex thing. The infinite ammount of detail we construe as being normal just entails an infinite number of ways someone could be considered insane.

      • Simiantongue

        The infinite amount of detail also changes, often times but not always with consistency. So for example we may be considered psychopathic today but perhaps not tomorrow by some arbitrary measure. That demarcation of either being considered psychopathic or not I think probably only exists inside another observers mind. How are we to know if we are psychopathic or not if we have no second observer with an arbitrary measure? All we have to do is find that observer and eradicate the demarcation and we can rest assured that we cannot possibly be psychopathic. Free.

        So there’s always hope. I find that consoling.
        Seriously though that was insightful. Good comment.

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          Well in some ways the definition of normal has encroached on our human nature.  Anger for example, a genuinely necessary part of the human experience, has been stigmatized outside of normal human relationships, even though certain events might for example justify a bloodthirsty rage now and again.

        • Misterfurious1

          Best response for sure. The problem when it comes to “Mental Disorders” is that most of them are relative. “Mental Illness” is any behavior that society doesn’t accept as “normal.” And what is considered “normal” is constantly changing.

          There are, of course, brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Tourrette’s and Parkinson’s, etc. But behaviors in and of themselves cannot be “diseases” or “illnesses,” because the criteria for determining an “illness” or “disease” or “sickness” doesn’t change over time. The diagnosis for cirrhosis of the liver will be the same 1000 years from now as it is today. About 100 years ago, homosexuality was considered a “disease of the mind.” See the difference?

          The relevance here is that the things we consider psychotic today may be acts of benevolence tomorrow. In many ways, this is already occurring. With Ayn Rand and all the scummy little geeks that adore her, things we used to consider psychotic (blatant disregard for the society as a whole in favor of enhanced egoism and selfishness) are now becoming desirable attributes.

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  • Anonymous

    People really need to start understanding Psychopathy if we are to have any chance of saving ourselves.

  • Milhuisen

    People really need to start understanding Psychopathy if we are to have any chance of saving ourselves.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    The mind is  a complex thing. The infinite ammount of detail we construe as being normal just entails an infinite number of ways someone could be considered insane.

  • JG

    There is a psycho-sociological theory (named wickeds & empathetics) wich holds up that 1 to 2 percent of persons (belonging both  those groups) ‘rule’ the rest 98 or 99 of people of the world, so would be a dangerous matter whether who finance these research developments.

  • JG

    There is a psycho-sociological theory (named wickeds & empathetics) wich holds up that 1 to 2 percent of persons (belonging both  those groups) ‘rule’ the rest 98 or 99 of people of the world, so would be a dangerous matter whether who finance these research developments.

  • Simiantongue

    The infinite amount of detail also changes, often times but not always with consistency. So for example we may be considered psychopathic today but perhaps not tomorrow by some arbitrary measure. That demarcation of either being considered psychopathic or not I think probably only exists inside another observers mind. How are we to know if we are psychopathic or not if we have no second observer with an arbitrary measure? All we have to do is find that observer and eradicate the demarcation and we can rest assured that we cannot possibly be psychopathic. Free.

    So there’s always hope. I find that consoling.
    Seriously though that was insightful. Good comment.

  • http://www.disorders.org/ Disorders

    By better understanding disorders and treatment, people will be more
    empowered in their own recovery and experience a faster progress.

  • http://www.disorders.org/ Disorders

    By better understanding disorders and treatment, people will be more
    empowered in their own recovery and experience a faster progress.

  • 5by5

    I don’t know…. this all sounds like a massive rationalization on the part of a psychopath. 

    Just kidding. :-)

    I was coincidentally just re-watching Philip Zimbardo’s magnificent TED lecture on the psychology of evil, and what is more interesting is how systems can turn individuals with no history of psychopathy towards such behavior, just by the nature of the system itself.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil.html

     This is also why the real burden of responsibility for an event like Abu Ghraib rests with those who CREATED the system that spawned the behavior — ie. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Addington, Yu, and Bush who all established the ground rules that made that atrocity POSSIBLE.

  • 5by5

    I don’t know…. this all sounds like a massive rationalization on the part of a psychopath. 

    Just kidding. :-)

    I was coincidentally just re-watching Philip Zimbardo’s magnificent TED lecture on the psychology of evil, and what is more interesting is how systems can turn individuals with no history of psychopathy towards such behavior, just by the nature of the system itself.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil.html

     This is also why the real burden of responsibility for an event like Abu Ghraib rests with those who CREATED the system that spawned the behavior — ie. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Addington, Yu, and Bush who all established the ground rules that made that atrocity POSSIBLE.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Well in some ways the definition of normal has encroached on our human nature.  Anger for example, a genuinely necessary part of the human experience, has been stigmatized outside of normal human relationships, even though certain events might for example justify a bloodthirsty rage now and again.

  • Misterfurious1

    Best response for sure. The problem when it comes to “Mental Disorders” is that most of them are relative. “Mental Illness” is any behavior that society doesn’t accept as “normal.” And what is considered “normal” is constantly changing.

    There are, of course, brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Tourrette’s and Parkinson’s, etc. But behaviors in and of themselves cannot be “diseases” or “illnesses,” because the criteria for determining an “illness” or “disease” or “sickness” doesn’t change over time. The diagnosis for cirrhosis of the liver will be the same 1000 years from now as it is today. About 100 years ago, homosexuality was considered a “disease of the mind.” See the difference?

    The relevance here is that the things we consider psychotic today may be acts of benevolence tomorrow. In many ways, this is already occurring. With Ayn Rand and all the scummy little geeks that adore her, things we used to consider psychotic (blatant disregard for the society as a whole in favor of enhanced egoism and selfishness) are now becoming desirable attributes.

  • DeepCough

    Psychopathy, like so many other “illnesses” purported by the clinical Psychology racket, is what I classify as a “fake disease.” Obviously, people forget about the sociological allegory inherent in books like “A Clockwork Orange” (the book AND movie). The people engaged in this area of “science” are just looking to paste permanent labels on people based on false correlations and bogus conclusions.

  • DeepCough

    Psychopathy, like so many other “illnesses” purported by the clinical Psychology racket, is what I classify as a “fake disease.” Obviously, people forget about the sociological allegory inherent in books like “A Clockwork Orange” (the book AND movie). The people engaged in this area of “science” are just looking to paste permanent labels on people based on false correlations and bogus conclusions.

  • rtb61

    A normal human state is to have an autonomic empathic response, as a social species it is the necessary means by which members share emotions, a simple straight forward evolutionary adaptation.
    Just like any genetic trait, there are individuals that lack that trait, colour blind, deaf, in fact a whole range of genetic mutations.
    Narcissism for example is the simple straightforward lack of an autonomic empathic response, the individual emotions are out of sync with those around them as they are basically insensitive, emotional development issues that arise from that genetic defect then pretty much define that person’s nature.
    Psychopathy is simply one step further, the complete absence of conscience, in affect the individual lacks empathy with themselves, emotionless a narrow emotional world state of frustration or ego satisfaction and an inherent suspicion and jealously of the emotions expressed around them.  As the individual matures so development problems arise that make them very poor memebers of am inherently social species, they see themselves and other people as things, artefacts, basically furniture to be used and abused.
    Psychopaths know who they are and they are pretty much in every profession especially high income and high power professions and they always seek to protect themselves, whether as politicians, corporate executives or even as psychologists or psychiatrist (powerful positions where they can control and manipulate the emotions of other people).
    Is it possible to cure a psychopath, currently no, it would require genetic manipulation and the rebuilding of their development psyche and the older they are the more difficult it would be.
    Reality is to best deal with them would be to detect them at an early age as possible and simply restrict the harm they cause to others. Seems harsh but current studies indicate psychopaths form around 1% of the general population and around 15% of the prison population, eliminate non-violent drug users from that prison statistic and the psychopath percentage explodes and, this truly indicates the real nature of the problem, is it really acceptable to wait for millions of victims to be produced by psychopath, from school yard bullies to insane vice presidents the torture of humanity is their forte.

  • Anonymous

    A normal human state is to have an autonomic empathic response, as a social species it is the necessary means by which members share emotions, a simple straight forward evolutionary adaptation.
    Just like any genetic trait, there are individuals that lack that trait, colour blind, deaf, in fact a whole range of genetic mutations.
    Narcissism for example is the simple straightforward lack of an autonomic empathic response, the individual emotions are out of sync with those around them as they are basically insensitive, emotional development issues that arise from that genetic defect then pretty much define that person’s nature.
    Psychopathy is simply one step further, the complete absence of conscience, in affect the individual lacks empathy with themselves, emotionless a narrow emotional world state of frustration or ego satisfaction and an inherent suspicion and jealously of the emotions expressed around them.  As the individual matures so development problems arise that make them very poor memebers of am inherently social species, they see themselves and other people as things, artefacts, basically furniture to be used and abused.
    Psychopaths know who they are and they are pretty much in every profession especially high income and high power professions and they always seek to protect themselves, whether as politicians, corporate executives or even as psychologists or psychiatrist (powerful positions where they can control and manipulate the emotions of other people).
    Is it possible to cure a psychopath, currently no, it would require genetic manipulation and the rebuilding of their development psyche and the older they are the more difficult it would be.
    Reality is to best deal with them would be to detect them at an early age as possible and simply restrict the harm they cause to others. Seems harsh but current studies indicate psychopaths form around 1% of the general population and around 15% of the prison population, eliminate non-violent drug users from that prison statistic and the psychopath percentage explodes and, this truly indicates the real nature of the problem, is it really acceptable to wait for millions of victims to be produced by psychopath, from school yard bullies to insane vice presidents the torture of humanity is their forte.