Monday, May 20, 2013

Psychopaths Among Us . . .

This video comes with no description or explanation, but it's an excellent look at psychopaths (anti-social personality disorder in the U.S., although the ASPD diagnosis covers 2 or 3 times as many people as the criteria for psychopathy) - not the serial killer types, but the ones who exist below the radar of most people who do not interact with them personally.

This self-test will ballpark your tendencies toward psychopathy (it's based on psychologist Robert Hare's widely used psychopath diagnostic tool, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)).

There are a lot of psychopaths and sociopaths in corporate executives, lawyers, and even government. They are also highly represented among long-term sexual abusers, those who are manipulative and focused on power, and those who lack emotional authenticity, have poor affect regulation, and either play the victim role or refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

Here is a brief outline of essential traits for psychopaths:

Psychopathy Checklist-Revised: Factors, Facets, and Items

FACTOR 1 - involves interpersonal or affective (emotion) personality traits and higher values are associated with narcissism and low empathy as well as social dominance and less fear or depression

Facet 1: Interpersonal
  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning/manipulative

Facet 2: Affective
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Emotionally shallow
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

FACTOR 2 - involves either impulsive-irresponsible behaviors or antisocial behaviors and is associated with a maladaptive lifestyle including criminality. The two factors correlate with each other to some extent.

Facet 3: Lifestyle
  • Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsiveness
  • Irresponsibility

Facet 4: Antisocial
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Early behavioral problems
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Revocation of conditional release
  • Criminal versatility

OTHER Factors:
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior
Here is more on the distinction between Factor 1 and Factor 2 individuals:
The unique features of Factor 1 capture the unemotional-predator concept of psychopathy, widely thought to reflect a low-fear temperament as a core risk factor for this pattern of behavior. However, a low-fear temperament does not inevitably lead to adult predation (multifinality). Fearlessness in a prosocial personality represents a positive outcome, not unlike the fictional character of James Bond (or the “hero” as described in the article). A second trait (in addition to fearlessness) of what the authors call “feckless disregard” toward others is a critical minimal component of Cleckleyan psychopathy, and many authors would require a more severe callous predation. This feckless disregard may totally reflect a failure of socialization, in which the low-fear temperament represents a challenge to socializing agents, who are unable to produce a positive developmental trajectory. Alternatively, it is quite possible that another temperament dimension of affiliation (closeness to others) may be important, such that the combination of low fear and low affiliation constitutes a major challenge to socializing agents. Additionally, peer groups may influence whether a criminal trajectory is involved. Thus, we have three possible contributors (fearless temperament, low-affiliation temperament, the results of socializing agents) that come as continuous variables and interact to produce a developmental outcome involving behavior that we call psychopathic. 
The unique features of Factor 2 reflect a dimension of lifelong disinhibition or impulsivity combined with high negative affect (anxiety, depression, fear, anger, alienation) and antisocial behavior. Theories about these processes focus on a failure of a regulatory system that normally inhibits maladaptive behavior and emotional responses. The strength of reward-seeking and emotionally reactive temperaments that are regulated by this system are also important—for example, unregulated strong reward seeking will cause more problems than unregulated weak reward seeking. Socialization processes also are important. Again, we have multiple, continuously variable conditions that can, in nonoptimal combinations, result in antisocial behavior that will be labeled as psychopathy by the PCL-R. 
In neither developmental model is psychopathy an entity or single thing that is powerfully different from those who do not quite meet the criteria. Also, the two models indicate heterogeneity of the etiology of those diagnosed as psychopaths by the PCL-R (equifinality). The monograph’s discussion of whether the antisocial outcomes of Factor 2 processes represent a “true” psychopath makes clear that deciding who is a psychopath is a matter of theoretical preference.
[Fowles, DC. (2011, Dec). Current Scientific Views of Psychopathy. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, vol. 12 no. 393-94. doi: 10.1177/1529100611429679]

Here, then, are the two videos that are the point of this post.

Part 1:
a Video from fishead on Vimeo.

Part 2:
a Video from fishead on Vimeo.
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