Probing the mystery of psychopathy

"A Psychopath Walks Into A Room. Can You Tell? (NPR May21, 2011) Arresting title, that, for an interesting proposition:

"Robert Hare, the eminent Canadian psychologist who invented the psychopath checklist, … recently announced that you're four times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor's office," journalist Jon Ronson tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Of course, some allowance should be made for the fact that bosses are noticed/hated much more than other folk, and big bosses are larger than life.

The effect one comes away with is that psychiatry has not done a better job than traditional wisdom in explaining things like: Why do the wicked prosper? Also, diagnosis about personalities is not better than judgment about actions in deciding how to think about such problems. Put another way, what's the point of saying "Hitler was a psychopath" as if that explains something that the catalogue of his known atrocities doesn't?

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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