The Psychopath Behind the Mask

I’m fairly sure I’ve met one or two in my life.  I’ve been in many of  the right places except for jail where I imagine they congregate.  Perhaps they weren’t.  It’s so hard to differentiate between an adventurer of high intelligence who might otherwise wind up in the intelligence services and Frank Abagnale.

Frank, of “Catch Me If You Can” fame, seems to be able to see an alternate universe of possibilities where I see limitations because my conditioning prevents me from taking things just because they are there.  I also check my thoughts in real-time to consider the law of unintended consequences.  I suppose this mindset limits any aspirations I might have had to enter politics or work in Wall St.  

I had many candidates in mind for the photo but I believe there are many successful psychopaths who would as easily kill you as look at you but have better impulse control.  They probably work in finance or politics.  But I chose Ted Bundy because he looks like a nice guy (which makes a point) and he’s not likely to hold a grudge and come after me. – carlos  http://www.hare.org/links/saturday.html

This Charming Psychopath

 How to spot social predators before they attack.

Ted Bundy

By Robert Hare, published on January 01, 1994 – last reviewed on June 01, 2010

Jeffrey Dahmer. Ted Bundy. Hannibal Lecter. These are the psychopaths whose stunning lack of conscience we see in the movies and in tabloids. Yet, as this report makes abundantly clear, these predators, both male and female, haunt our everyday lives at work, at home, and in relationships. Here’s how to find them before they find you.

She met him in a laundromat in London. He was open and friendly and they hit it off right away. From the start she thought he was hilarious. Of course, she’d been lonely. The weather was grim and sleety and she didn’t know a soul east of the Atlantic.

“Ah, travelers’ loneliness,” Dan crooned sympathetically over dinner. “It’s the worst.”

After dessert he was embarrassed to discover he’d come without his wallet. She was more than happy to pay for dinner. At the pub, over drinks, he told her he was a translator for the United Nations. He was, for now, between assignments.

They saw each other four times that week, five the week after. It wasn’t long before he had all but moved in with Elsa. It was against her nature, but she was having the time of her life.

Still, there were details, unexplained, undiscussed, that she shoved out of her mind. He never invited her to his home; she never met his friends. One night he brought over a carton filled with tape recorders—plastic-wrapped straight from the factory, unopened; a few days later they were gone. Once she came home to find three televisions stacked in the corner. “Storing them for a friend,” was all he told her. When she pressed for more he merely shrugged.

Once he stayed away for three days and was lying asleep on the bed when she came in midmorning. “Where have you been?” she cried. “I’ve been so worried. Where were you?”

He looked sour as he woke up. “Don’t ever ask me that,” he snapped. “I won’t have it.”

“What—?”

“Where I go, what I do, who I do it with—it doesn’t concern you, Elsa. Don’t ask.”

He was like a different person. But then he seemed to pull himself together, shook the sleep off, and reached out to her. “I know it hurts you,” he said in his old gentle way, “but I think of jealousy as a flu, and wait to get over it. And you will, baby, you will.” Like a mother cat licking her kitten, he groomed her back into trusting him.

One night she asked him lightly if he felt like stepping out to the corner and bringing her an ice cream. He didn’t reply, and when she glanced up she found him glaring at her furiously. “Always got everything you wanted, didn’t you?” he asked in a strange, snide way. “Any little thing little Elsa wanted, somebody always jumped up and ran out and bought it for her, didn’t they?”

“Are you kidding? I’m not like that. What are you talking about?”

He got up from the chair and walked out. She never saw him again.

There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought.

These often charming—but always deadly—individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person’s expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give.

The most obvious expressions of psychopathy—but not the only ones—involve the flagrant violation of society’s rules. Not surprisingly, many psychopaths are criminals, but many others manage to remain out of prison, using their charm and chameleon-like coloration to cut a wide swathe through society, leaving a wake of ruined lives behind them.

A major part of my own quarter-century search for answers to this enigma has been a concerted effort to develop an accurate means of detecting the psychopaths among us. Measurement and categorization are, of course, fundamental to any scientific endeavor, but the implications of being able to identify psychopaths are as much practical as academic. To put it simply, if we can’t spot them, we are doomed to be their victims, both as individuals and as a society.

My role in the search for psychopaths began in the 1960s at the psychology department of the University of British Columbia. There, my growing interest in psychopathy merged with my experience working with psychopaths in prison to form what was to become my life’s work.

I assembled a team of clinicians who would identify psychopaths in the prison population by means of long, detailed interviews and close study of file information. From this eventually developed a highly reliable diagnostic tool that any clinician or researcher could use and that yielded a richly detailed profile of the personality disorder called psychopathy. We named this instrument the Psychopathy Checklist (Multi-Health Systems; 1991). The checklist is now used worldwide and provides clinicians and researchers with a way of distinguishing, with reasonable certainty, true psychopaths from those who merely break the rules.  Full article in Psychology Today…

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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