“They often make use of the fact that for many people the content of the message is less important than the way it is delivered.
A confident, aggressive delivery style – often larded with jargon, clichés, and flowery phrases – makes up for the lack of substance and sincerity in their interactions with others … they are masters of impression management; their insight into the psyche of others combined with a superficial – but convincing – verbal fluency allows them to change their personas skillfully as it suits the situation and their game plan.
They are known for their ability to don many masks, change ‘who they are’ depending upon the person with whom they are interacting, and make themselves appear likable to their intended victim.
Psychopathic workers very often were identified as the source of departmental conflicts, in many cases, purposely setting people up in conflict with each other. The most debilitating characteristic of even the most well-behaved psychopath is the inability to form a workable team.”
Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, Snakes in Suits
First, let me say that I am aware of the recent paper that seeks to ‘measure’ the level of psychopathy in various cities and put forward a list. I read it, and found the methodology used to be wanting in anything like objective rigor.
I also have a bias against specifically diagnosing individuals or groups at a distance, especially by using anecdotes and non-quantified impressions, which are often just selective experience and bias.
This can be ‘fun’ to read and share, especially when they are used to confirm popular cultural or group bias. And there is rarely a lack of people who are willing to engage in such faux analysis for paychecks or clicks.
I am also not hinting around that Trumpolini or any other particular popular figure is a psychopath. It might be feasible to spot a sociopath at a distance, by the kinds and qualities of their behaviours. But I could not presume to make such a specific diagnosis like psychopathy at a distance.
Although it does seem fairly evident that Trump himself is a narcissist— many politicians and popular figures who did not become famous by accident may be. I mean, the guy is a flamboyant New York real estate developer and reality TV star. The key question in this regard is ‘what kind?’
A psychopath is someone who has an organic brain disorder that causes them to lack empathy and what we call conscience. A sociopath is someone who knows what is right and wrong, but have learned to ignore their feelings and turn off conscience for their own purposes. They may have been desensitized by childhood abuse, or a prolonged series of traumatic experiences.
So why bring this topic up at all?
Because it strikes at the heart of all those Utopian schemes that assume that people are naturally good and rational. Many people are. But there is a significant portion of the population that is not. And in order to curtail their destructive tendencies laws and regulations are created and enforced. And when those laws and justice itself is under assault, which is almost always, the answer is to reform the system of law, not to abolish it.
Cunning predators are not afraid of chaos and lawlessness. They count on it. It serves their needs. And so they foment it as a part of their overall assault on society, and the social fabric. All that matters to them are their own lusts and powers.
And the average person is at a disadvantage at the hands of a demagogue, because they cannot even imagine someone who they think are like themselves being that coarse, that out of proportion, that evil. But over time they can be desensitized and lied to long enough so that they too can become less than human, compartmentalized, and tolerate monstrous things that would ordinarily horrify them.
This is from sources on the web, and is based on Robert Hare’s psychopathy checklist.
1. Look for glib and superficial charm. A psychopath will also put on what professionals refer to as a ‘mask of sanity’ that is likable and pleasant. It is a thin veneer.
2. Look for a grandiose self perception. Psychopaths will often believe they are smarter or more powerful than they actually are.
3. Watch for a constant need for stimulation. Stillness, quiet and reflection are not things embraced by psychopaths. They need constant entertainment and activity.
4. Determine if there is pathological lying. A psychopath will tell all sorts of lies; little white lies as well as huge stories intended to mislead. Psychopaths are gifted or dull, high functioning or low performing like other people. An untalented psychopath may harm a few; a highly talented psychopath may lay waste to nations. The difference between the psychopath and others lies in their organic lack of conscience and empathy for others. The sociopath is trained to lack empathy and conscience. The psychopath is a natural.
5. Evaluate the level of manipulation. All psychopaths are identified as cunning and able to get people to do things they might not normally do. They can use guilt, force and other methods to manipulate.
6. Look for any feelings of guilt. An absence of any guilt or remorse is a sign of psychopathy. They will often blame the victim. They will rarely admit that they were even wrong.
7. Consider the level of emotional response a person has. Psychopaths demonstrate shallow emotional reactions to deaths, injuries, trauma or other events that would otherwise cause a deeper response. Other people are satisfaction suppliers, nothing more.
8. A lack of empathy. Psychopaths are callous and have no way of relating to others in non-exploitative ways. They may find a temporary kinship with other psychopaths and sociopaths that is strictly utilitarian and goal-oriented.
9. Psychopaths are often parasitic. They live off other people, emotionally, physically, and financially. Their modus operandi is domination and control. They will claim to be maligned or misunderstood to gain your sympathy.
10. Look for obsessive risk taking and lack of self-control. The Hare Checklist includes three behavior indicators; poor behavior control, sexual promiscuity, and behavioral problems.
11. Psychopaths have unrealistic goals or none at all for the long term. Either there are no goals at all, or they are unattainable and based on the exaggerated sense of one’s own accomplishments and abilities.
12. Psychopaths will often be shockingly impulsive or irresponsible. Their shamelessness knows no bounds. You will ask, what were they thinking? And the answer was, they weren’t because they did not care.
13. A psychopath will not genuinely accept personal responsibility. A psychopath will never admit to being wrong or owning up to mistakes and errors in judgment, except as part of a manipulative ploy. They will despise and denigrate their victims once they are done with them. If they have any regret it is that their source of satisfaction supply has ended and they must seek another.
14. Psychopaths lack long term personal relationships. If there have been many short term marriages, broken friendships, purely transactional relationships, the chances the person is a psychopath increase. Watch especially how they treat other people in weaker positions and even animals.
15. Psychopaths are often versatile in their criminality. Psychopaths are able to get away with a lot, and while they might sometimes get caught, the ability to be flexible and adaptable when committing crimes is indicative.