A country run by psychopaths

| June 12, 2011 | 61 Replies

At Common Dreams, David Schwartz points out that the United States is now run, for the most part, by psychopaths, people who are “smart, personable, and engaging, but who have no consciences . . . [They] suffer no remorse, no guilt, no shame.” They look normal from the outside, and you can only really know them by the effects of their actions. In short, they are quite capable of appearing affable, and their PR machines are well-tuned to make it look like these psychopaths “care.” The problem is that they have become busier than ever creating a world in their own image and likeness, and we are all paying a huge price for this, both in actual damage, but even more in lost opportunities to invest in an economically and socially sustainable version of America.  He points out that the corporate/government of the United States has become “a perfect habitat for psychopaths.” He quotes Kurt Vonnegut, from A Man Without a Country, in point out the main problems with psychopathic leaders:

. . . they are so decisive. They are going to do something every fuckin’ day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t give a fuck what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich!

The pyschopaths in charge of the U.S. have the perfect skill sets for destroying most of the country in order to profit from it:

In a country in which much of human culture has been rendered into machines for the manufacture of money, psychopaths are the ideal leaders. They are very focused. They are outcome oriented. They are frequently charming, and usually very bright and able. They can lay off thousands of people, or deny people health care, or have them waterboarded, and it does not disturb their sleep. They can be impressively confident. Psychopaths can be dynamic leaders of enterprises, but are handicapped by their lack of feelings for relationships. They may be accomplished captains of industry, or senators, or surgeons, but their families are frequently abused and miserable. Most psychotherapists have seen the wives or husband or children of such accomplished people.

Since psychopaths are usually very smart, they can be quite competent at impersonating regular human beings in positions of power. Since they don’t care how their actions affect people, they can rise to great height in enterprises dealing with power and money. They can manufacture bombs or run hospitals. Whatever the undertaking, it is all the same to them. It’s just business.

Our existing political/corporate/media dystopia has now become so incredibly inhospitable to well-intentioned empathetic normal people rising to leadership positions that it’s difficult to envision how to bring about substantial and lasting improvement anymore.  In short, very few good people are willing to destroy their families and reputations running for national office. The trick is to reverse this trend.  I would attack the problem by getting private money out of the elections system.  I would do this by promoting clean-money elections, for instance.  This particular problem is where the United States Supreme Court has become, perhaps, the most nefarious contributor to the problem (and see this statement by Bernie Sanders).  And note that the United States Supreme Court has already dealt a death knell to meaningful clean-money election systems.

Of course I’m not arguing that our political and corporate leaders are diagnosed psychopaths; rather, they are functional psychopaths.  I’m assuming that their psychopathy is situational, though it’s not necessarily conscious, and it’s driven by the money and authority/threats of which the politicians and corporate leaders are exposed every day. That’s my assumption–that if you yank these terrible decision-makers out of their current environments, they would be defanged. They might make decent child-rearing tax-paying neighbors. I agree with Hannah Arendt that the majority of heinous evil flows from the failure to think, consequently the failure to empathize. These people are daily exposed to situations that very much encourage them to wear attentional blinders. This situation also reminds me of the Milgram experiment , where authority figures similarly functioned as attentional blinders, leading to terrible decision-making. I’ve written extensively on my belief that many dramatic “moral lapses” result from ill-advised attentional strategies; we engage in heuristics to get us through the day, for good and bad, and our attention is easily warped by the existence of money and power.  For a lot more on low level lapses leading to “moral” lapses, consider also this excellent talk by Phillip Zimbardo. The bottom line is that Washington DC is a toxic stew into which we immerse vulnerable human beings, some of them severely damaged goods even before they set foot in DC.

I wish I could say that the People will rise up to clean out this insanity, this psychopathy, but they would need a vigorous, wide-open, well-intentioned media to carry this out, yet our media is largely corporate-owned, which means that it is extremely hard for non-monied outsiders to get any momentum.  The logical next-step would be to use the powerful tools of the Internet to consolidate the power of ordinary citizens to deal with this issue, but the People are so wrapped up in abject consumerism that it is difficult to get sufficient numbers of people to care, and the FCC has been more than happy to sell out on net neutrality, putting at risk what is perhaps the last potential means to take on the psychopaths in an organized way.

These are all extremely difficult hurdles, but they are surmountable, especially when the psychopaths bring us down to a low enough point . . . I believe, they are close to doing when they blatantly propose “reforming” Medicare and Social Security in ways that pisses off even members of the Tea Party.

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Category: Corruption, Orwellian, Politics, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (61)

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  1. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Niklaus- Quite right, psychopaths are estimated to be about 1% of the population, but their drive for power and opportunities for manipulation means that they tend to be over-represented in prestigious occupations– doctors, priests, lawyers (present company excepted, I hope :)), politicians, etc…

    Erich- Great Gaiman quotation, it neatly sums the situation all up. You talk about the need for campaign finance as a driver of psychopathic behavior, but I wonder if the money requirements are a symptom, rather than a cause? You're right though, I don't know any normal people who desire to run for Congress. I suspect that Congress' horrible polling numbers are at least partially due to the (subconscious?) recognition among the American people that most of those in Congress simply do not share values with the rest of the country.

    Karl- I wouldn't say that I've researched Bilderberg in a serious or in-depth manner, but I don't know that it's truly possible to do so given their penchant for extreme secrecy. If you ask those who attend the conferences, they will say that it's simply a chance for the world's movers and shakers to get together and have frank and off-the-record discussions. Even if that is the unvarnished truth, that seems troubling enough to me.

    I understand your antipathy towards Soros, but Erich's right- why not spread it around–say, to at least include the Koch Brothers? They've got at least as much to dislike about them as Soros does.

  2. Niklaus Prirsig says:

    What makes you think the corruption can only be challenged at the international level. The fact is, international law is weak, as the various entreated nations voluntarily abide by international laws, and they only volunteer when the law suits their national interests. When the national interests are controlled by global corporations who can leverage a nations military to enhance their profits, international law might as well not exist.

    It becomes important for the people of each nation to control their governments and to disenfranchise the fictional corporate persons. Corporations can quickly shift their operations to a venue that favors their greed.

    Consider the case of Walmart in Germany. In the US, WalMart relies heavily on backdoor subsidies and negotiated tax exemptions from local governments to boost profitability. They gain a decidely unfair competitive advantage against local small businesses. In Germany, their business model wouldn't fly.

    Back in the late 1990, Walmart entered the German market by buying out a couple of grocery store chains. In 2006, after repeated failed attempts at gaming the the public trust of the German government to give Walmart the same type of government advantage they enjoy elwhere, they sold all their German stores and no longer do business in that country. Aparently Walmart can't compete on a level field.

    Germany strictly enforces their anti trust laws, whch provide a level field and healthy competition in their retail markets, What if that happens here?

  3. Karl says:

    Brynn,

    I am not so blind as to think that there is not inside of all of us an unscrupulous selfish person just waiting for the opportunity to possess wealth and/or the power to use it for what ever one wishes. This is not a matter of atheist vs. theist, liberal vs. conservative, progressive vs. reactionary, socialist vs. neocon, communist vs. capitalist, or have vs. have nots.

    This is a matter of what's to be done with individuals, corporation's, foundation's and even many non-profit's (Including governemnts) that are not required and/or accountable to report the sources of their income. When one's source of income is the destruction of anothers presumed equity this is amoral. The matter is one hundred times complicated when there is no international ability to regulate the use of hedge funds and currency speculation.

    When gambling for fun becomes gambling with the undesired destruction of the loss of others equity this must be internationally regulated.

    This is how ponzi schemes suck the equity of others out of their supposed "good" investments and into the hands of those without any sense of a moral conscience when it comes to fianancial markets and equity.

    What is needed is honest moral accountanting that can not be bought off one way or another and that is required to specifically state if hedge funds, currency speculation, and/or other ponzi use of investment monies have directly resulted in equity theft.

    This would require individuals, corporations, universities foundations, not for profit organizations, unions, governments and even some churches with more then ________ million dollars in receipts to accurately report the sources of their income.

    Receipts that are not from the loss of equity of others would be treated as usual, but any funding that is from hedge funds, currency speculation or other direct loss of equity to others would be taxed at 50% for the first year. The second year this would jump to 75%. E

    All finacial entities with more than ______________ million dollars in receipts would be required to have annual audits by IRS approved accounting firms which they would be required to pay for themselves if irregularities were found. They would not choose the IRS approved auditors, but they would not pay for the audits unless a clear violation of accounting priciples revealed the corrupt use of other peoples' presumed good faith equity.

    The banks that saw their mortgage holders equity vanish before their eyes should be required to reveal what role they had in the use of bank note derivatives. The Boards of Directors and CEO's of these corporations should be fined and/or put in jail. These audits should be retroactive for as many years as the law will allow.

    If the debts can not be forgiven, those responsible for it, either as a direct agent or simply a regulator group allowing it should be held accountable one way or another. If found to be integral parts of the housing debacle, these legislators, regulators and CEO's should be allowed a modest living, but the rest of their gains in income for the past seven years should be stripped from them.

    I am not just a progressive basher, although I have little use for where progressive policy has gotten us.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    More evidence that psychopaths are running our government: Michelle Bachmann speaks out–ignorantly–on evolution.

    <iframe width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Damah0KH-Co?rel=0&quot; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    More evidence of psychopathy in our leaders, this time concerning the immense power of Big Oil: http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/06/17/37457.ht

  6. grumpypilgrim says:

    After seeing where (mainly) Republican U.S. citizens, voters, politicians, etc., put their priorities, I'm starting to believe psychopathy is deeply embedded in the gene pool. Given the large number of Americans who descended from immigrants who came here to steal land from the Native Americans, strip that land of its available resources, pocket the profits, then leave any resulting mess for their neighbors to clean up, I have to wonder how many of those immigrants, and their offspring, were psychopaths. Seems to me the U.S., for most of its history, would have been a very attractive place for psychopaths.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Grumpy: That is perhaps the most sardonic thing I've heard in a long time. And now you have me wondering whether it is at least a little bit true.

  7. Karl says:

    Nearly anything can be considered a little bit true, but to the psychopath anything that is only just a little bit true can be discounted more and more as basically insignificant in their value system.

    Erich is a little bit conservative, Grumpy isn't grumpy all the time, and Theism can't be totally useless all of the time, are all a little bit true.

    What turns into problems for many people (not just psychopaths) is that they don't ever learn to logically consider what their full fledged faith in those things that eliminate any and all of the value of the things that are at least a little bit true, send them on a spiral of self deception. If you deny what is obviously a little bit true, what will you actually believe in its place?

    The logical flaw in the reasoning of the psychopath begins when they discard the little bit true in favor of pursuing whatever is required to make the little bit true no longer capable of being honestly considered on its own merits.

  8. grumpypilgrim says:

    Further to Erich's reply to my previous comment, one of the topics I've been considering recently is the degree to which U.S. economic power today is merely a transitory result of the fact that its citizens, for the past two centuries, have been able (for the first time in human history) to rapidly pillage the natural resources of a previously untapped continent. In the process, its citizens have largely exhausted those resources while, simultaneously, created massive and unsustainable (global) environmental damage. I ask myself, "What sorts of people would do that? What sorts of people would *flock here* to do that? Might they be psychopaths?"

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Grumpy. How often has it happened in history that a nation has been founded on the idea of what seemed to be unlimited expansion, and it proved true for many decades? If you were living in a "landlocked" situation, your culture (and I will focus on culture) would have presumably developed strategies for living within its geographical means. We didn't have the need for that here in American. We could exploit and move on. That is our model for developing cities. When you encounter problems, abandon the problem, tear up precious farm fields and throw together new homes 50 miles from the city center.

      As far as the genetic component, I don't have any reason to think there is anything peculiar going on. Then again, this country presented a filter to those who might come here. The type of people who it would most attract are those with a willingness to travel and explore, perhaps more so than in some other places.

      What we do seem to have are a lot of people who are ultra-willing to use-up and move on, which does seem much more dysfunctional in the long run than people who seek to preserve what they have for their children and grand-children.

      Talk about "family values" . . . Is there anything more family-oriented than leaving a lush planet for one's descendants?

  9. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich, I very much agree with your observations. I especially appreciate your point about cities — indeed, it is the same slash-and-burn behavior that has characterized much of U.S. expansionism.

    As regards the genetic component, I can't help but be disheartened by the gigantic disparity between the U.S. and most European countries when it comes to social issues. Americans talk family values, but most Europeans have far more benefits when it comes to having, raising, educating, vacationing with, curing the illnesses of, etc., their kids.

    However, perhaps I was wrong to blame it on psychopathy. Perhaps the problem is Puritanical Protestantism.

    Hmmm…I wonder how much the two have in common….

  10. Erich Vieth says:

    Reddit comment regarding Rupert Murdoch hearing currently before Parliament:

    "Behavioral scientists take note: today's Parliamentary hearings will be a clinic on how high-functioning sociopaths can procure sympathy, deflect blame, and dodge accountability for heinous crimes by mimicking genuine human emotions, feigning humility and injury, and, above all else, scapegoating."

    http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/itrnv/b

  11. Erich Vieth says:

    At Free Inquiry, David Stamos describes the characteristics of psychopaths:

    “First we need to be reasonably clear on what psychopathy is. Following the work of Hare in his must-read Without Conscience (1995), psychopathy is not a form of insanity or even a mental illness, given the clinical meanings of these terms. Nor need psychopaths be lacking in rationality. Conceivably a psychopath could have the genius of an Einstein and function quite well in the world. There is no twisted logic necessarily involved with psychopathy, no warped thinking that is so obvious in the mentally ill and insane, no hallucinations, no depression, no dysfunctionality necessarily.

    Psychopaths are defined in terms of something else—a cluster of features, most of which are deficiencies. This means that psychopathy is a matter of degree. Many of us might score relatively high in one or more of these defining characteristics, but that does not necessarily mean that we are psychopaths. On the other hand, there are those who score so high on the Psychopathy Checklist that they are considered full-fledged psychopaths. They are, so to speak, the interesting ones.

    And they are more common than one might think. According to Hare, roughly one in every one hundred humans is a full-fledged psychopath. Imagine that. There you are in a lecture hall with a class of roughly 240 students, and in that room there are probably two or three full-fledged psychopaths.

    What distinguishes psychopaths from normal people? Principally, it is a total absence of what we typically take to be moral qualities: sympathy, empathy, compassion, guilt, remorse, conscience, loyalty, truth telling, and a sense of fairness. . . . They register no emotional response when they see a person bleeding and screaming in pain or a dead body mangled from a car accident. And it is no different if they are the cause of the screaming person or the mangled dead body.

    Psychopaths are also highly narcissistic. Not only are they extremely self-centered, but they also think of themselves as being of a higher nature than the rest of us. To them, normal individuals are made weak by sympathy and empathy and refrain from getting the most that they can from life because of conscience, guilt, and remorse. To psychopaths, we are like sheep. They, on the other hand, are like wolves—animals of prey. The sheep exist for the sake of the wolves. The sheep are to be manipulated, used, and even killed if the situation is right. All that matters is that the wolf be gratified.”

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=31-5-stamos

  12. Erich Vieth says:

    Update about a prominent psychopath:

    “Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Bachmann traveled the state as an education activist, she went by “Dr. Michele Bachmann,” even though she had never obtained nor sought the advanced degree that’s a prerequisite for the title.”

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/michele-bachmann-not-doctor-phd

    Bachmann is still making this false claim on the campaign trail: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/06/fox-news-asks-michele-bachmann-are-you-a-flake-.html

  13. Dave Ziffer says:

    I find the thread here in which you guys are trying to equate people of a libertarian bent with psychopathy quite disturbing. I too read Hare’s excellent book and this notion never occurred to me. Actually if you want to go looking for a link between psychopathology and political ideology, I recommend you look a bit further to the Left. Like to the most accmoplished mass murderers in all of human history: Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc. And yes Hitler was a man of the Left – he was the leader of the National SOCIALIST German Worker’s Party; where the idea that he is “right-wing” came from is beyond me. The difference between Libertarians and Socialists/Communists is pretty clear to me: Libertarians seem heartless because the feel that people are better off looking after themselves. Socialists/Communists (at least the really effective ones) seem heartless because they murder, imprison, and torture people who disagree with them by the tens of millions. Makes Michelle Bachmann seem kinda tame, huh?

  14. Erich Vieth says:

    From Orion Magazine:

    Here are the monuments that matter, I tell her: the offices of Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon; the JPMorgan Chase tower up the block; around the corner, the AIG building. The structures dwarf us, imposing themselves skyward.

    “Linked together like rat warrens, with air conditioning,” I tell her. “These are dangerous creatures, Léa. Sociopaths.”

    She doesn’t know what sociopath means.

    “It’s a person who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. Socio, meaning society—you, me, this city, civilization. Patho, like pathogen—carrying and spreading disease.”

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6470

  15. Erich Vieth says:

    “Psychopaths “generally lack empathy and interest in what other people feel or think,” according to the study. “At the same time, they display an abundance of charm, charisma, intelligence, credentials, an unparalleled capacity for…manipulation, and a drive for thrill seeking.” That Wall Street should harbor more than its share of psychopaths, then, will come as no shock to those frustrated by the entitlement and greed of the one percent. The study also shows how easily psychopaths can pass, however, blending into our lives as co-workers, friends and even romantic partners.”

    And here are five recent books regarding psychopaths.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/psychology-book_n_1315990.html#s747891&title=How_can_you

  16. Erich,

    Are you familiar with the field of ponerology? Is it the field most suited to address the topics raised by what you discuss on this page. I hope more people interested in improving health and sustainability will take an interest in it.

  17. Erich Vieth says:

    Politicus claims that Mitt Romney’s inappropriate smirks betray a sociopath:

    No one is laughing now. In fact, while I’d suggest that all successful politicians have a touch of the narcissist in them and very strong egos, it’s looking as if Mitt Romney’s teflon heart is a bit sociopathic. That is to say, he consistently relies upon a double standard of pity, especially when wrong. Today, instead of admitting that he got it wrong, Romney doubled down on his callous attack. However, when Mitt Romney is attacked, we get perilously close to Sarah Palin Blood Libel levels of self-pity (often carried out publicly courtesy of his wife, who has claimed, for example, that Obama wants to kill Mitt).

    Psychology Today notes that sociopaths rise in power and authority, so we will find more of them at the top. How to tell when you’re dealing with one?

    Playing victim systematically, crying crocodile tears of victimhood without ever making more than perfunctory efforts to demonstrate commensurate pity to others-the closer one’s record gets to 100% on such behavior, the closer to certain “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you’re dealing with a real sociopath. They’re virtually never wrong and they’re always victims.

    Mitt Romney evinces other traits of a sociopath. He’s shown consistent contempt for those who seek to understand him and he is an authoritarian, secretive, and paranoid personality who demands that we “trust him” on everything while refusing to tell us his policies or show us his taxes.

  18. Erich Vieth says:

    From Alternet:

    “Some researchers have directly linked the global financial crisis of 2007 to a growing prevalence of psychopaths in senior management of the financial sector. Dr. Clive Boddy believes that increasingly fluid corporate career paths have helped psychopaths conceal their disruptive workplace behavior and ascend to previously unattainable levels of authority. Boddy points out psychopaths are primarily attracted to money, status and power — currently found in unparalleled abundance in the global banking sector. As if to prove the point, many of the world’s money traders self identify as the “masters of the universe.”

    What little research has been done in field indicates that individuals with psychopathic traits are five times more common in senior management than the general population. And while psychopaths are tireless self-promoters, they are in fact poor performers and toxic managers. A study by Dr. Paul Babiak of 203 senior managers found those with psychopathic scores on screening tests scored lower on leadership, team building, performance and effective management. They are also 25 times more likely to engage in workplace bullying than normal humans.”

  19. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich wrote (on Aug. 14, 2011), “According to Hare, roughly one in every one hundred humans is a full-fledged psychopath….”

    This election year, we keep hearing about the top 1% (in terms of income), who seem to be more than willing to watch the entire country go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” if they don’t keep their rapacious Bush-era tax cuts (the same tax cuts that massively drove up the U.S. federal deficit and helped tank the global economy). Erich’s comment also concerns 1% of the population. It would be interesting to know how much the two populations overlap.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Yep. The ratio lines up nicely. And I keep thinking: What kind of person would run for office? What kind of person would inflict this on their family? There are exceptional people, few in number, but I keep thinking that most of the people willing to put this kind of effort into such a corrupt enterprise are not normal.

  20. I also wish more attention was paid to THIS 1%. It could be an interesting public education campaign to use the 1% meme and point out that there is another 1% that people should be more aware of that may be more important to recognize than the top 1% in wealth.

    I often comment how telling it is that we see public education campaigns on so many other conditions and every activist cause you can think of, but I’ve never seen one about not only psychopathy but even Borderline, Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder either. Not one time have I seen a major public ed campaign on any of those – it’s like a blind spot in the culture.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Ponerology: To the extent that we as a society are “sick,” it might well be because those least trustworthy to lead clamor to the top with vigor, shoving aside ordinary folks. And many of us are introverts who never have a chance in the current system. I like your suggestion about the public campaign. This warning shot needs to be fired, because it’s not obvious what the problem is, and we do need to focus on it (as well as the many dangerous triggers, including a political system shamelessly awash in money.

  21. Erich,

    As someone who has studied personality types a lot, I don’t know if introversion, per se, is as big an issue as you say. Many leaders in our culture are introverts. Introverts can be very powerful people. They just prefer to work mostly from behind the scenes. We have had introverts in very high political positions for a long time, even at the presidential level.

    There are both introverts and extraverts who are bold and compassionate. And there are also both introverts and extraverts who have dangerously low levels of empathy and are cutthroat power seekers. I think it would be misguided to focus on that trait, per se.

    But public education, focusing on psychopathy, sociopathy and the cluster B disorders (or whatever replaces them in the new manual that is expected at some point), is needed badly. And what I think you’re getting at is that this should include some education about the importance not of being extraverted, but of being courageous and bold in resisting the detrimental influence of these conditions.

  22. Erich Vieth says:

    At heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list in full is: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions, a tendency to boredom, a parasitic lifestyle, a lack of realistic long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, lack of behavioural control, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, a history of “revocation of conditional release” (ie broken parole), multiple marriages, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy.

    . . .

    This brings up the issue of treatment. “Psychopathy is probably the most pleasant-feeling of all the mental disorders,” says the journalist Jon Ronson, whose book, The Psychopath Test, explored the concept of psychopathy and the mental health industry in general. “All of the things that keep you good, morally good, are painful things: guilt, remorse, empathy.” Fallon agrees: “Psychopaths can work very quickly, and can have an apparent IQ higher than it really is, because they’re not inhibited by moral concerns.” So psychopaths often welcome their condition, and “treating” them becomes complicated.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10737827/Psychopaths-how-can-you-spot-one.html

  23. Erich Vieth says:

    On the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths:

    Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long. It is difficult but not impossible for sociopaths to form attachments with others. Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, although they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard and spontaneous rather than planned.

    Psychopaths, on the other hand, are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature. When committing crimes, psychopaths carefully plan out every detail in advance and often have contingency plans in place. Unlike their sociopathic counterparts, psychopathic criminals are cool, calm, and meticulous.

    The cause of psychopathy is different than the cause of sociopathy. It is believed that psychopathy is the result of “nature” ( genetics) while sociopathy is the result of “nurture” (environment).

    http://www.alternet.org/how-tell-sociopath-psychopath

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