How to recognize psychopaths and what happens when they are in power - ForumDaily
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How to recognize psychopaths and what happens when they are in power

At some point, a few years ago, I ceased to be surprised at many human actions. I no longer shouted in righteous anger, “How can that be so? And where is a person's conscience? "," But if it were so with him? "," How can you lie like this without a twinge of conscience? "

Фото: Depositphotos

I just realized at one point that in nature there are people who have no conscience, they are not able to experience a feeling of empathy, the truth for them is not an absolute - but that information, the publication of which is beneficial at this particular moment. Moreover, such people can be very attractive and have extraordinary intelligence.

Psychologists call them psychopaths or sociopaths and estimate that in any society there are no more than 1-2%. The ancient Greeks became interested in such types. The philosopher Theoprastus in the III century BC wrote about the "unscrupulous person" who borrows money and does not give, lies and cheats.

A modern description of the psychopath appeared in the book “The Mask of Normality” by the American doctor Girvey Clicky in 1941. He described him as a person with a developed intellect, but with a poverty of emotions, who does not at all consider how his actions affect other people. Such people, writes Klikli, are simply unable to understand the many feelings that other people have, because they themselves are alien to these emotions.

The current guru in the study of psychopaths is a Canadian psychiatrist Robert Hare, the author of the same name survey for their detection.

Here are a few identifying signs of a psychopath (list incomplete and in arbitrary presentation), which offers Hare. Has promiscuous sex. Trades in crime. Parasitic on relatives and friends. It has a superficial charm. Believes in own uniqueness and superiority. Doesn't think about tomorrow. Any work on him is quickly bored. He lies and does not blush. He likes to breed for money. Do not think about the consequences of their actions. In all his troubles someone is always to blame. Not able to repent and correct. Stale soul. Can't control myself, impulsive. It is absolutely impossible to rely on him!

If some feature is missing, then the psychiatrist gives the patient 0 points, if there is a little - 1, and 2 - if it blooms wildly. With 30 points or more - a psychopath, that is, the presence of all sins at once is not necessary. True, Khare himself is very worried when his questionnaire is used at home, and asks not to do this, so as not to offend innocent people.

But American psychiatrist Michael Levenson has no complexes about this - anyone can find his test for self-diagnosis on the Internet. I passed it and now I have irrefutable proof of my kindness and sincerity.

Psychopaths are different from ordinary people and on a physiological level. Bob Hare conducted an interesting experiment in a Canadian prison. He gave the subjects an electric shock (then it was still possible) by attaching them to instruments measuring the level of stress.

So it turned out that the psychopaths did not strain at all about the painful shock, even if this experiment was repeated, and they knew exactly what to expect. They did not sweat, their heartbeat did not increase. By the way, Bob asks that this experience not be conducted at home either.

The journal Science, where he sent a report on the experiment, did not believe that the brain EEGs he provided belonged to living people, writes English journalist Jon Ronson in his book “The Psychopath Test.” The fact is that the amygdala, a part of the brain and limbic system involved in the formation of emotions, had practically no effect in psychopaths. The main physiological difference between a psychopath and a normal person is the absence of fear and anxiety. They don't think about the consequences because they are not afraid of them.

Therefore, in the Western world, it is easier to find a psychopath in prison. In the UK there are 20% of them, and among those who have committed particularly serious crimes - 50%, writes Kevin Dutton in the book “The Wisdom of Psychopaths”. Correctional work has no effect on them; their recidivism rate, compared to ordinary criminals, is stratospheric.

Moreover, 85% of the prison population has the so-called antisocial personality disorder. This is kind of like a “light psychopath” - a type who also thinks only about himself, but he still has some emotions. (All psychopaths have antisocial personality disorder).

Now, it would seem, if psychopaths can be identified by EEG, by test, then why not test everyone and put psychopaths in prison after they reach the age of 18?

The problem is that among prominent people - presidents, TV stars, heads of large enterprises, surgeons, special forces soldiers, lawyers - there are also many people with psychopathic personality traits. And, if they do not commit crimes, then society can benefit greatly from them.

Dutton found that most people with a high level of psychopathy love to do business. Many of them are in politics and ... on television. But among kindergarten teachers, nurses, general practitioners, craftsmen and women beauty salon workers there are practically no people with inactive amygdala.

And, according to the author, to succeed in some professions, the character traits inherent in psychopaths are a huge help. For example, the same surgeon. If a person feels compassion for the patient, worries, and thinks about the possible consequences of every movement with a scalpel, then it will be difficult to carry out a successful operation. And a psychopath - chick-chick and you're done. And there’s nothing to say about special forces soldiers.

However, in the US, the issue of identifying psychopaths is a matter of knowledge. The magazine for cadres strongly recommends its readers to study the book “Snakes in Costumes: When Psychopaths Go to Work” by Paul Babiak and the same Hare. It describes in detail how to weed out a candidate who is willing to put at risk the entire financial system of the world for the money on a new yacht. Since this is exactly what happened in 2008, it can be assumed that the personnel officers did not read the book attentively.

Scientists are still arguing about why some psychopaths become homicidal maniacs and others become astronauts. One version is that homicidal maniacs are psychopaths with difficult childhoods. According to another, “successful psychopaths,” unlike recidivist thieves, have innate internal discipline, and are also in an environment where certain rules of behavior are required.

All psychopaths know that they are different from ordinary people (everyone is weak, and they have nerves of steel!). But they are forced to resort to mimicry, to disguise themselves - for reasons of decency, to squeeze out a tear at a funeral and to restrain the impulse to steal a purse from an absent-minded widow. If a society has moral canons and fair laws, then psychopaths do not cause much harm to it.

The system fails when it is impossible to cope with the psychopath; they concentrate on the very top and begin to dictate their values ​​to society. Then theft and the parasitic way of life is not considered a shameful phenomenon, but a matter of pride. Then the ability to admit one’s mistakes and apologize is considered not as a strength of spirit, but as a weakness of character.

Then the victims are automatically guilty, because they gave themselves to be divorced or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then the completely immoral actions of one state in relation to another are called “geopolitical interests”. People may not be psychopaths themselves, but in a deformed society they will accept and share these values.

The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service "Voices of America".

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