Monday, October 11, 2004

Without Conscience

Dr. Robert D. Hare, considered one of the world's foremost experts in the area of psychopathy, is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. His book Without Conscience is now translated also in Finnish.

The pioneer of the research of psychopathy was Dr. Hervey Cleckley who released in 1941 a book called The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality. Later on, Dr. Robert D. Hare came up with his Psychopathology Checklist to assess the main characteristics of psychopathic behaviour.

The psychopathic (or sociopathic) syndrome consists of many different symptoms. In every-day use of this term people normally consider psychopaths as dangerous and hardened criminals they have learned to know from media, but reality is far more complex. A psychopath has a good self-esteem, he is self-centered and dominating. A psychopath can be a person with short attention span, of impulsive and unpredictable behaviour; with no real emotional ties to other people, a parasite taking from others but never giving anything back. He feels no empathy nor love; neither guilt, remorse or shame. A psychopath may be great in pretending these emotions, but not able to really feel them.

Psychopathy is characterised as a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissism and psychopathy are not exactly the same thing, even though they are close to each other. Robert D. Hare says that what is common to a narcissist and psychopath is that they both love themselves, but only a psychopath takes advantage of other people.

Hare emphasizes that there are psychopaths in any communities and social classes. He estimates there are two per cent of them in populace. Psychopaths are often those well off in society; great manipulators with fluent verbal output and charming appearance. A psychopath loves power and considers himself intelligent and bright, but mostly only has an average IQ.

What is problematic considering his environment is that it is really hard to recognize a psychotic there. These modern times favour those values that are characteristic for psychopaths: selfishness, greed, superficial human relations and elbow tactics.

Excerpt from Hervey Cleckley's The Mask of Sanity

Antisocial Personality, Sociopathy, and Psychopathy

See also:

Psychopathological Cult Leaders