Have you ever gotten frustrated with someone’s indifferent reaction or maybe even the harmful way one person treated another and thought, “That person is a psychopath!” Merriam Webster defines “psychopath” as “a person who is mentally ill, who does not care about other people, and who is usually dangerous or violent; a person affected with antisocial personality disorder.” According to an assessment by Dr. Robert Hare, a criminal psychologist, more of us may fall somewhere on this spectrum than we would like to admit.
Hare developed the PCL-R, which looks at twenty characteristics and scores individuals based on if each characteristic partially of fully applies to them. The highest possible score is 40, with a score of at least 30 qualifying for the diagnosis of psychopathy. Some of the traits include; grandiose sense of self-worth, impulsivity, emotional shallowness, juvenile delinquency, and promiscuous sexual behavior. Most of the men and women who earn at least some scoring on this test function well at work and in relationships, even using their personality as an advantage in fields like business, sports and the military.
I strongly recommend you read the entire article written for The Telegraph by writer Tom Chivers highlighting this assessment and some of the recent conversations about its use. The piece includes an interview with neuroscientist James Fallon, who recognized his own psychopathic traits following a review of his brain scan, an encounter that Chivers describes as a “strange experience.” Chivers also looks into legal and medical analysis of what should be done with the knowledge that a person has psychopathic tendencies. How do we best protect innocent people who may become victims of these individuals without violating a person’s rights just because his brain may be wired to a certain disposition?
With so much about the brain still unknown even to top experts, every glimpse into that most complicated of organs is fascinating.
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