Psychopathy…closer than you might think?

Psychopaths make up about 2% of our population, 1.5 % being male and .5% being female. While our prisons are chock full of psychopaths it might surprise you to learn that they hold only the smallest percentage of the whole and the majority of them walk among us?

The psychopathy spectrum is broad and the ones who commit the most violent crimes are the smallest percentage at the most extreme end of that spectrum. Unfortunately the rest of them live to con, swindle, manipulate, control, and wreak emotional and psychological havoc on those of us who encounter them. When we think of psychopaths we think of Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirrez, Jeffrey Dahmer, but there are people all around us who do cold and heartless things that we cannot understand. They are just nowhere near as severe as the ones mentioned above.

Psychopathic personalities are most often charming, confident, witty, disarming, but it’s all an act and everything they do is geared toward their own gratification. When you cease to be of use to them they simply discard you and move on. Sadly our society provides ample opportunity, and even rewards behaviors that are typical of the psychopath. Big corporations often encourage employees who possess a win at all costs, get the job done no matter what kind of attitude with promotion and a place on the fast track heading toward the top.
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/201472-Psychopaths-Among-Us-ABC-Report

One of the pitfalls of our Capitalistic society is that it provides a fertile feeding ground where callous, deceptive personalities can flourish. Just think of some of our politicians, CEOS, Healthcare corporations denying benefits and letting people die, Big Banks, even perhaps some of our presidents?

The very thing that makes us good people is why we are often vulnerable to these predatory individuals. It is too difficult for us to fathom a person doing something cold and unfeeling without remorse, especially if that person is an adolescent or a child. We need there to be a reason. It is our very nature to want to find an excuse. Oh…. they were abused…or oh…something horrible happened to them at a young age and they just weren’t able to bond. But the truth is…many of us are abused, neglected, and have horrible things happen to us in our childhoods and we don’t disconnect from society or become heartless and cruel.

So I believe there has to be a genetic platform for psychopathy to occur, and I am in good company. Sometimes there is no obvious reason. I believe that some people can just be born with a deficit of emotion. It is because we are unable to wrap our heads around this that we often overlook the red flags that should alert us to the imminent danger when dealing with such people. Most of us have either encountered or will encounter in our lifetime, either directly, or indirectly, someone who falls somewhere on the psychopathy spectrum. My goal with this article is to raise awareness and direct those of you who read to resources that will give you some tools to identify someone who suffers from a deficit of emotion. Whether in the workplace or a social group or in an intimate relationship these people leave a wake of emotional and psychological destruction. If you do encounter such a person I strongly suggest you RUN!!!!!!

I wish I had.

I highly recommend (Without Conscience….the disturbing world of psychopaths among us)
by Dr. Robert D Hare, PhD.

I feel it should be required reading for anyone who is about to date or work for a major corporation or even just navigate life.

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  • http://thetrumpetsummons.blogspot.com/ Larry Conley

    Dani,

    Timely article. I am working on a dissection of Romney’s serial lying and this idea of “almost a psychopath” plays a part in this effort.

    I fervently hope the American people wake up before November 6, 2012, and before they do something immensely stupid and harmful.

    Larry

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  • Dani Heart

    I hope you are right Larry about Romney. If you think of a scale between 1-10 and ten is a serial murderer, but maybe there are lots of 8’s out there not diagnosed that aren’t killing people but causing mayhem.. I think that’s kind of how it is. There are people who have less emotion, maybe not enough less to be serial murderers, but enough less to be what we perceive as uncaring/cold. I stopped short in my article of inventing a new term, but maybe I shouldn’t have? I liken psychopathy to something more people can probably understand, I want to call it EDD (Emotion Deficit Disorder) because that’s the main part that’s missing that makes all of the other bad behavior possible, and that I think more people can wrap their heads around. These people are harmful even though they may not be severe enough to be out and out killers, they are CEOS, politicians, Wall Street brokers, and they do cause much harm but manage to stay on the right side of the law, or at least not get caught or punished. In raising awareness I was hoping to get people interested enough to read more about it and arm themselves against those types that aren’t locked behind bars. My reference to possible presidents was a jab at Bush. I recently watched a Michael Moore film that said when 9/11 was happening Bush was reading to elementary school children when the first plane hit, and he kept reading while the second plane hit, didn’t leave to address his country’s needs in the situation room, where I think most presidents would have been during something like that, he kept reading. How cold and unfeeling is that. He was told what was going on and he chose to keep reading. The film goes on to infer that he possibly knew what was going on, and made no bones about illustrating Bushes ties to the Bin Laden family. Scary scary stuff. sighs.. We have to hope that it isn’t true?

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  • http://www.firkroy.blogspot.com/ Dan LaFollette

    Good article Dani,

    I once interviewed for an inside sales position for Semantec and at one point mentioned that I was a pretty nice guy. Both the sales manager and his sidekick almost in unison said “I’m not!” So I could see that they valued something other than playing nice. From my many years of working in the corporate world I would have to say that psychopathic personalities do rise to the top, and it’s pretty scary.

    On your comment to Larry you mentioned about the Autism spectrum. I just want people to NOT connect autistic people or get them confused with psychopaths. My son is autistic and my wife is an autism specialist and they are two completely different things. But I would agree that psychopaths (like the rest of us) are on some sort of spectrum or another. Life would be very boring if we were all alike.

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    • Dani Heart

      Thank you Dan. I edited my response to Larry. I don’t mean at all that the two are related I was only trying to use an example of a scale that people would be familiar with.. I too, have mild Autism. They are completely different. I am trying to think of another way to give an example of a scale that is familiar to people. hmmm Your experience with those interviews is sad but doesn’t surprise me. sighs… I so appreciate your taking the time to comment. :)

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      • http://www.firkroy.blogspot.com/ Dan LaFollette

        Thanks Dani, I actually spend a good deal amount of time thinking about how things have changed and why our society has been steadily getting more and more self centered, with psychopaths leading the charge.

        We used to all get our information from the same places, and news used to be more about reporting about what happened as apposed to editorializing everything. Now news comes from everywhere and some elements of our society sit in echo boxes of their own beliefs and don’t hear anything remotely like reality. At the center of those echo boxes are the psychopaths pushing and pushing to get thing their way.

        It’s crazy I tell ya! Crazy! :)

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  • http://juliangallo66.blogspot.com/ Julian Gallo

    Nice one, Dani. I would recommend a documentary to you called “The Corporation”, which shows how some multi-national corporations behave with all the same symptoms as a psychopath. It takes the warning signs, one by one, and shows the similarity in their behavior. Fascinating and related to something you noted earlier in your piece. I have also read somewhere -- where exactly, I can’t remember, and I don’t know how true it is -- a study that was taken that revealed that 1/4 of American citizens suffer from some kind of mental illness. That’s frightening. Again, don’t know if that’s true but I’m sure the study is available on-line somewhere.

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    • Dani Heart

      I just put (The Corporation) into my Netflix queue. I am looking forward to watching it. I am listening to the podcast and it is wrapping up. Julian I Loved loved loved the poem you recited. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my first article. :)

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      • http://juliangallo66.blogspot.com/ Julian Gallo

        I found your article fascinating and when you mentioned the CEOs, it immediately brought that film to mind. Trust me, you’re going to love it. It’s truly something to see and I think if more Americans watched this film, they’d be less inclined to be cheerleaders for the 1%, that’s for sure. It’s a real eye opener.

        Thank you for listening to the show tonight & thanks for your kind words on the poem. Hope you have a great evening -- and I look forward to more of your articles as well. :-)

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  • http://www.garrycrystal.blogspot.com/ Garry Crystal

    Do psychopaths know they are psychopaths and would they actually care if they did know. The Corporation is a great film when it comes to explaining how these companies work, and i’ve worked for at least one that operated in this manner, weight off my shoulders when I walked out of that place.

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  • http://castlehearttimes.blogspot.com Dani Heart

    Garry.. to answer your question I think they know they are different… just as any of us knows we are different when we don’t fall into the majority. They don’t believe there is anything wrong with them.. though. They think people with emotion are the ones carrying around all the baggage. This is largely why traditional psychotherapy doesn’t help them. It only serves to give them more excuses for their behavior and teach them better ways to manipulate others. I think the only effective way to help them would be through conditioning… just like with our kids… when you exhibit the desired behavior you are rewarded, but the problem is until our society as a whole stops rewarding the ugly behavior they will continue to demonstrate it, because it is in their best interest to do so. So it’s a double edged sword. sighs.. In regards to if they would care if they did know… define care..LOL and I think you have your answer. :) They are concerned about only that which meets their desires..so the only way to get good behavior is to reward it, and sadly our society doesn’t. Example…an article I read a week or so ago… a grocery store clerk stopped a man from hitting his girlfriend in the grocery store.. how was he rewarded.. suspended without pay until further notice. He may end up getting his job back… but what does that say about society as a whole. Nothing good. Glad you are out of that awful company too. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. :)

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    • http://www.garrycrystal.blogspot.com/ Garry Crystal

      Yep, when you talk about rewards and think about how many of our politicians are lauded for their (what looks like) psychopathic behaviour there is definitely something wrong. I would say that many of them get what they deserve in the end but unfortunately that’s just not the case.

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