05/14/2013 06:40 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2013

Tamerlane -- Namesake for a Mass Murder?

Imagine a mass murderer who, to make a point, massacred enough people to build 28 towers constructed with human skulls. The goal was to cow the citizenry of the territories he invaded -- to intimidate people to pay egregious taxes. This monster wannabe, who was attempting to re-enact the role of a previous monster/mass murderer... Genghis Khan. He marched on Isfahan, from his native Uzbekistan, with a huge army. The people surrendered and he let them live. But then, when his tax collectors levied impossibly high taxes, he brought his army back and killed hundreds of thousands, including the tens of thousands it took to source the skulls for the towers.

The man's name was Timur, or because of a never-healed foot wound acquired during a battler -- "Timur-e-Lang," meaning "Timur the Lame." The anglicized version is Tamerlane. He lived from 1336 to 1405

I recently interviewed psychiatrist Donald Black, M.D. discussing his book on sociopaths -- Bad Boys Bad Men. He told me that the worst kind of sociopath is the narcissistic sociopath. As the publisher of a website that sees 200,000 to 800,000 unique visitors a month, ( I encounter my share of sociopaths, and I wanted to understand the psychodynamics of this worst kind -- because they are the plague of many websites, particularly the comment sections. Doing some web research, I found this list of some of the worst ones, which listed Tamerlane along with Ted Bundy, Johan Rudolph Mengele and Vlad the impaler, to name a few.

One has to ask -- Did the parents of Tamerlane Tsarnaev know the history of the namesake of their son? Did they intentionally name their son after a mass murder. After all, the name is somewhat unique.

Whether the parents knew or not, I wonder, did Tamerlane Tsarnaev Google his name? Did he discover his namesake? Did he see that a monster could carve out a page in history that stood the test of time for over 600 years? Did it give him ideas? Did it inspire him?

We may never know the answer. We won't even know if he was a sociopath or psychopath. And THAT we should know.

Different psychological and psychiatric experts differ on whether there's a difference between psychopaths and sociopaths. But we know that there are about a million psychopaths and eight million sociopaths in the U.S., at the least. The dumb ones, the more maladapted and most brutal ones sometimes get caught. But the high functioning ones roam the world as predators without consciences or empathy, hunting for prey to exploit or just hurt. They operate in corporations, in government on websites, in non-profit organizations, as bullies in playgrounds, as stalkers of celebrities and cyber-stalkers in chat rooms.

Scientists are beginning to learn more about these threats to the public. Brain scans, questionnaires, psychophysiological assessments, language pattern analysis are all being used to detect psychopaths and sociopaths. The work can't proceed fast enough. My impression is that these predators are highly dangerous, highly destructive and injurious to society, wreaking pain, crime and hurt. These pathological predators should be identified and treated similarly to the way sexual predators are treated. We need an ambitious, aggressive goal set -- raised to a level of importance as great as the moon landing program, the war against cancer -- and we need to do it right away. Making it happen could be what it takes to shift the balance back to a caring culture.

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