Many of us cringe at the very sound of the word psychopath. Most of us equate it with being psychotic, or psychologically unstable; perhaps even with a predisposition to violence. And this can sometimes be true, but unlike in movie scripts, psychopathy isn’t always bad. Psychology Professor Kevin Dutton, of Cambridge explains that psychopathic characteristics alone do not make serial killers; it takes a particular set of circumstances to drive a person (even a psychopath) to destructive behaviour. Thanks to the psychological sciences we now know that the wrong combination of nature and nurture can be the perfect monster-making recipe; if a person suffers mental trauma during childhood, for example, and exhibits the traits of a psychopath (lack of fear and good emotional control) we get Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer. Dutton contends that in some instances, the correct combination of good experiences with some of the psychopathic traits can make successful CEOs, great politician, and even exemplary citizens.
This is something that I have held close to the chest for a long time now. At least since my own experience with the PCL-R (Psychopathy Check List – Revised); a clinical diagnosis tool created by Canadian psychologist Dr. Robert Hare, used to evaluate the extent of psychopathic traits and characteristics in an individual. My own score was much higher than I could have expected. I should find it important at this point to remind those who read this that I have no violent tendencies, and I have feelings that can at times be very strong, like my contempt for willful ignorance (religion and new age ideologies) and the atrocities that are committed in its name. Love is to me a very nice emotion to embrace, and often drives me to do more for those objects of my affection. But it is also important to note that I am not controlled by these feelings; I have never been, they don’t drive my behaviour.
Now, I do not tell people about my PCL-R scores – it takes too much effort to explain it to most – and even when I manage to do so successfully, my presence is met with worrisome skepticism.
That’s all for now, perhaps I will take the time to delve into this issue in the near future, but there is much to be done before then.