oes your boss have killer instincts?
Is your neighbor great company as long as you do what suits her?
Is your lover or spouse a control freak?
Your boss may have no empathy; your neighbor may not care what you think; and your lover or spouse could be driven only by self-gratification. They’re all psychopathic traits, but chances are unlikely you should worry about getting murdered.
Statistics show that 4-5 out of every 100 men and women have psychopathic traits. Most of them will NEVER murder or resort to violence. The latest research concludes that psychopathy is not about “you have it or you don’t,” but an assortment of traits on a spectrum – a scale – that ranges from the boss with killer instincts to the serial killer who dines on his victims.
Psychopathic traits include lack of empathy, ruthlessness, narcissism, no conscience, drive for self-gratification, and the ability to step over or manipulate anyone in the way. Add a lot of charm and impulsivity and you have quite a force in today’s world. These traits compel someone to get what he or she wants – whether it’s money, power, political office, celebrity . . . or murder.
Most people high on the psychopathic spectrum aren’t murderers; they’re hard-nosed individuals who get self-gratification in other ways. Think Bernie Madoff – a man who scammed everyone, from relatives to close business associates. There’s Dick Fuld, The Gorilla, who was CEO of Lehman Brothers and one of several men responsible for the financial collapse that kicked off the Great Recession in 2008, and Lance Armstrong who rode over anyone and anything to be #1.
At the extreme end of the spectrum are Ted Bundy, The Lady Killer (believed to have murdered nearly 30 people) and Dexter Morgan (the fictional character from the Miami Police Department who “chops up” bad guys) – both used their charm and lack of conscience to achieve their goals.
Most of us have a conscience, take responsibility, and empathize with others. We tend to believe that everyone is like us. It’s difficult to imagine people without those traits. That’s what makes us human, right?
People on the spectrum may take advantage of that. There’s no guilt because they just don’t care. Their only focus is on what they need to achieve their goals. As long as murder is not on your resume, perhaps it’s not so bad to have a few psychopathic traits, especially if you want to move up in your world.
Is it good, bad, right, or wrong if you don’t care who you crush, manipulate, or shove out of your way on the ladder of success? Sometimes those qualities are the perfect formula for a leader. Would you rather have a U.S. President who is assertive or indecisive? Would you like to go to war with a General who is confident or hesitant? Will you invest your money in a company with a fearless CEO or one who wavers, stuck in uncertainty?
This blog is about all of them – from James Fallon, Ph.D, a respected neuroscientist and author of The Psychopath Inside, who discovered that he was on the spectrum to The Iceman, a mob hit man who purportedly killed 200 people. It includes you and the people in your life – many of whom have psychopathic traits. It’s also about us – Dr. Jeri Fink, Therapist and Donna Paltrowitz, Researcher – co-authors of 6 novels that explore psychopathic killers, people on the spectrum, and their prey.
Stick around. You’ll be surprised by the good, bad, and ugly that shows up.