Tag Archives | Psychopathy

On Why We Love Sociopaths

340x_screen_shot_2010-11-03_at_6.28.33_pmWhat does the ascendance of the sociopath as a pop culture figure mean? The New Inquiry on our ever-growing fascination with “disconnected” characters:

My greatest regret is that I’m not a sociopath. I suspect I’m not alone. I have written before that we live in the age of awkwardness, a strong case could be made that we live in the age of the sociopath. They are dominant figures on television, for example, and within essentially every television genre. Cartoon shows have been fascinated by sociopathic fathers (with varying degrees of sanity) ever since the writers of The Simpsons realized that Homer was a better central character than Bart. On the other end of the spectrum, the flagships of high-brow cable drama have almost all been sociopaths of varying stripes: the mafioso Tony Soprano of The Sopranos, the gangsters Stringer Bell and Marlo of The Wire, the seductive imposter Don Draper of Mad Men, and even the serial-killer title character of Dexter.

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Is One Out Of Ten Wall Street Workers A Psychopath?

MCDAMPS EC020With clinical psychopaths dramatically overrepresented in finance, one can only assume that mentally healthy workers must learn to imitate psychopathic behavior to remain employed. Via the Huffington Post:

One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is likely a clinical psychopath, writes the trade publication CFA Magazine. In the general population the rate is closer to one out of every 100.

Journalist Sherree DeCovny pulls together research from several psychologists for her story, which helpfully suggests that financial firms carefully screen out extreme psychopaths in hiring.

A clinical psychopath is bright and charming, writes DeCovny. He lies easily, and may have trouble feeling empathy for other people. He’s more willing to take dangerous risks…the outcomes matter less than the gambles themselves — and the chemical rush of serotonin and endorphins that accompanies them.

This is hardly the first time that mental illness has been equated with a certain capacity for professional success — especially in the financial sector, where some stock traders have actually scored higher than diagnosed psychopaths on tests that measure competitiveness and attraction to risk.

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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.

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Weeding Out the Psychopathic 1%

HannibalMitchell Anderson writes in the Toronto Star:

Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy.

Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for.

A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions …

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Identifying Psychopathic Killers By Their Own Word Choices

ShiningVia ScienceDaily:

As words can be the soul’s window, scientists are learning to peer through it: Computerized text analysis shows that psychopathic killers make identifiable word choices — beyond conscious control — when talking about their crimes.This research could lead to new tools for diagnosis and treatment, and have implications law enforcement and social media.

The words of psychopathic murderers match their personalities, which reflect selfishness, detachment from their crimes and emotional flatness, says Jeff Hancock, Cornell professor of computing and information science, and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology.

Hancock and his colleagues analyzed stories told by 14 psychopathic male murderers held in Canadian prisons and compared them with 38 convicted murderers who were not diagnosed as psychopathic. Each subject was asked to describe his crime in detail. Their stories were taped, transcribed and subjected to computer analysis.

Psychopaths used more conjunctions like “because,” “since” or “so that,” implying that the crime “had to be done” to obtain a particular goal.

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On Living As A Real-Life Psychopath

americanpsycho2Wondering what it would be like to walk in Patrick Bateman’s shoes? From author Jon Ronson, a letter he received in response to The Psychopath Test, his much-talked-about book published a couple months ago, from a young psychopath (who felt no or guilt or emotion, but an overwhelming urge to prey on others). Can you empathize?

I just saw your interview on Australia’s ABC 7:30 report on ‘The Psychopath Test’ and wanted to share my experience. I hope that it can remain confidential for the time being, seeing as it is quite personal.

But, when I was 19 (I’m 26-27 now) I went into long-term therapy – for psychopathy.

My case was rather unusual in that I self-referred. The mental health agency had not had a walk-in of this kind before. In the lead up, I had found myself becoming overwhelmed with a predatorial instinct that I could not shake – I’d sit, watching crowds of people go by, driven to mania by what I saw as their limitless inferiorities.

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Jon Ronson on How to Spot A Psychopath (Video)

American PsychoThe Guardian has an excerpt of Jon Ronsom’s new book The Psychopath Test:

It was visiting hour at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and patients began drifting in to sit with their loved ones at tables and chairs that had been fixed to the ground. They were mostly overweight, wearing loose, comfortable T-shirts and elasticated sweatpants. There probably wasn’t much to do in Broadmoor but eat. I wondered if any of them were famous. Broadmoor was where they sent Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, and Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.

A man in his late 20s walked towards me. His arm was outstretched. He wasn’t wearing sweatpants. He was wearing a pinstripe jacket and trousers. He looked like a young businessman trying to make his way in the world, someone who wanted to show everyone that he was very, very sane. We shook hands.

“I’m Tony,” he said. He sat down.

“So I hear you faked your way in here,” I said. (Read More in the Guardian)

Ronson also created a video about his new project:

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Official Culture in America: A Natural State of Psychopathy?

Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Laura Knight-Jadczyk wrote back in 2003:

When I first moved abroad at the age of 21, I quickly realized that I was, like most Americans, abysmally ignorant with regard to politics. I discovered – to my great dismay – that in my host country, most of the average people around me – shopkeepers, hairdressers, taxi-drivers – knew more about what was going on in the USA and the rest of the world than I did; a LOT more! I had no IDEA of the things that were going on that were common knowledge to other peoples in the world. And here, it wasn’t simply a matter of having a different opinion than others. It was a matter of an almost complete lack of INFORMATION within the very country that promotes democracy as the rule of an “informed citizenry.” I realized with striking clarity exactly how ignorant I was at that point, and I admitted it to myself.

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Pathocracy: Is Civilization the Creation of Psychopaths?

Clinton Callahan, writing for Dissident Voice back in 2008:

I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question: Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice? It doesn’t seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination.

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