Were these "leaders" psychopaths? *
• Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot, who caused more than 100 million deaths and destroyed countless lives?
• Bernie Madoff, operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history?
• Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and others who led Enron to injure many?
What current national and corporate leaders are psychopaths who use charm to gain power and then abuse it to hurt others? Which of them will you vote for in upcoming government and shareholder elections? Consider this:
• It is estimated that one percent of the adult male population (over one million people in the U.S.) are psychopaths ("Female psychopaths are thought to be much rarer.") About 25% of the North American prison population is estimated to be psychopaths.
• Psychopaths are likely to be attracted to (and may be overrepresented in) certain occupations, such as politics, entertainment, and business. "Traits that may be desirable in a corporate context, such as ruthlessness, lack of social conscience, and single-minded devotion to success, may be considered psychopathic outside of it." In a recent study of corporate psychopathy, "The prevalence of psychopathic traits... was higher than that found in community samples." (Corporate psychopathy: Talking the walk, Paul Babiak Ph.D., Craig S. Neumann Ph.D., Robert D. Hare Ph.D.; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bsl.925/abstract) Psychopaths are also attracted to careers in law enforcement, the military, and medicine. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/10/081110fa_fact_seabrook?currentPage=all)
• "Psychopathy consists of a specific set of personality traits and behaviors: Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, they have casual and callous interpersonal and romantic relationships. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback, and they have difficulty inhibiting their impulses." (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-psychopath-means)
• "The brains of psychopaths appear to be wired to keep seeking a reward at any
cost", according to Vanderbilt University research. (http://www.physorg.com/news187775822.html)
Among the serious problems we face, from world hunger to nuclear proliferation to climate change, one of our most serious may be that some leaders we depend on to address these problems are psychopaths that charm us to get power and then abuse it to hurt us and others - people we can't trust to address these problems. Until we recognize this problem and take steps to address it, psychopaths will continue to charm us as they destroy countless lives and contribute to the destruction of civilization and the environment upon which our lives depend.
According to Wikipedia: "Psychopathy is most commonly assessed with [Robert D. Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)], which is a clinical rating scale with 20 items. Each of the items in the PCL-R is scored on a three-point (0, 1, 2) scale according to two factors. PCL-R Factor 2 is associated with reactive anger, anxiety, increased risk of suicide, criminality, and impulsive violence. PCL-R Factor 1, in contrast, is associated with extraversion and positive affect. .... The test can only be considered valid if administered by a suitably qualified and experienced clinician under controlled conditions." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopath) ("The Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL-SV) is a 12-item scale based on a subset of PCL-R items.... [that] can be used in psychiatric evaluations, personnel selection, and community studies. Cutoff scores indicate when to follow up the screener with the complete Hare PCL-R."(http://www.hare.org/scales/pclsv.html))
Voters and others involved in selecting government and corporate leaders might seek insight into which candidates may be psychopaths by consulting the following, which, according to wikipedia, are Hare's
The following findings are for research purposes only, and are not used in clinical diagnosis. These items cover the affective, interpersonal, and behavioral features. Each item is rated on a score from zero to two. The sum total determines the extent of a person's psychopathy.
Factor 1 Aggressive narcissism
- Glibness/superficial charm
- Grandiose sense of self-worth
- Pathological lying
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Emotionally shallow
- Callous/lack of empathy
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavioral control
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Lack of realistic, long-term goals
- Juvenile delinquency **
- Early behavioral problems
- Revocation of conditional release **
Traits not correlated with either factor
- Many short-term marital relationships
- Criminal versatility **
Remind you of anyone?
How many current world leaders are psychopaths - more than one percent? Are psychopaths overrepresented - are two or more of the leaders of the 195 countries in the world psychopaths? How many business leaders; news personalities/entertainers; national, state and local politicians; and other of our "leaders" are psychopaths?
Mark Twain once said: "Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles...." If you consider further that some of our governmental and corporate leaders are psychopaths, much more may be explained. And yet more may be explained if you consider how many of the leaders (and others) upon whom we depend have other Antisocial Personality Disorders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder) - "approximately 4 percent of the population suffers from "Sociopathy". (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/take-all-prisoners/200912/your-conscience-the-sociopaths-weapon-choice)
* "Psychopathy was, until 1980, the term used for a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with strongly amoral conduct but masked by an ability to appear outwardly normal. However the publication of DSM-III changed the name of this mental disorder to Antisocial Personality Disorder and also broadened the diagnostic criteria considerably by shifting from clinical inferences to behavioral diagnostic criteria. However, the DSM-V working party is recommending a revision of Antisocial Personality Disorder to "Antisocial/Psychopathic Type", with the diagnostic criteria having a greater emphasis on character than on behavior. The ICD-10 diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization also lacks psychopathy as a personality disorder, its 1992 manual including Dissocial (Antisocial) Personality Disorder, which encompasses amoral, antisocial, asocial, psychopathic, and sociopathic personalities.
"Despite being currently unused in diagnostic manuals, psychopathy and related terms such as psychopath are still widely used by mental health professionals and laymen alike. In particular, NATO has funded a series of Advanced Study Institutes on psychopathy both prior to DSM-III and since. Researcher Robert Hare has been a particular champion of the term and his Hare Psychopathy Checklist is the standard tool for differentiating between those with Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) and the subset who are psychopaths. According to this scale, the prevalence of APD is two to three times that of psychopathy."
** "The PCL-R had its origins in a criminal milieu because of the high prevalence of psychopathy in criminals and the ready availability of the collateral information required for reliable and valid assessments. The PCL-R was designed to discriminate psychopathic individuals from other criminals--a job it does very well--but this does not mean that criminality is essential to the construct of psychopathy...."
"Several of the 20 items (juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility) are directly related to criminality. One item (revocation of conditional release) is scored only if the individual has been charged with or convicted of a crime and has had a chance to violate the conditions of a release into the community. Otherwise, it is omitted and the scores based on the other items are prorated to a 20-item scale.... If the PCL-R is used as intended, it is possible for an individual to obtain a threshold score (30) with evidence of antisocial behavior but without any direct evidence of criminality." The Role of Antisociality in the Psychopathy Construct: Comment on Skeem and Cooke (2010), Robert D. Hare and Craig S. Neumann, Psychological Assessment, 2010, Vol. 22, No. 2, 446-454