I was recently watching a series of Psychology lectures from Yale University. I’m not sure where I got them. I think the Internet might have been involved.
Anyway, the lecturer, Professor Paul Bloom, briefly asked a very interesting question: where are all the genius-level psychopaths?
We know where the stupid ones are: they are in prison.
We know where the average ones are: they are on the run from the cops.
But we have no idea where the really, REALLY smart ones are. We never see them.
Except maybe we do.
Because maybe they are the ones in charge…
Now first off I need to explain a few things about the term “psychopath”.
The first thing is that psychologists don’t actually use that term any more.
No, they don’t use the term “sociopath” either.
Both terms are essentially meaningless at this point, at least from an academic perspective.
But the actual diagnosis that is used is “Antisocial Personaltiy Disorder” which is quite a mouthful. So in this post I shall use the term “psychopath” if I feel like it.
The second thing is that the term “psychopath” has never meant that the person is a killer. Some people with Antisocial PD are violent, but that isn’t a necessary part of the disorder. The most important part is that the person uses and mistreats others for their own gain.
So on that note let’s look at what the essential features of Antisocial Personality Disorder are:
1) Disregard for the Law
2) Repeated lying or misleading others for own gain
3) Failure to properly plan ahead
4) Irritability and/or aggression
5) Reckless disregard for the safety of others
6) Lack of responsibility
7) Lack of remorse
Despite his obviously mental problems Dick Cheney became the second most powerful man in America.
Maybe that’s what has happened with all of them, the psychopaths that is. Maybe all, or at least many, of the really intelligent psychopaths get away with their behaviour because they use their lack of morals or remorse to become powerful, and thus free from prosecution or censure.
Seem implausible? Well take a look at this:
Given Nigeria’s history of corruption and human rights abuses it should come as no surprise that they soon accepted the offer, and dropped all charges.
And these examples of immorality in business are far more common than you might think.
In 1995 Shell ordered Nigeria (again) to arrest and execute a group of human rights activists including the great Ken Saro-Wiwa. They were rounded up, show-trialed, and hanged by the neck until dead.
In 2006 Trafigura illegally dumped toxic waste in Cote dIvoire, killing 15 people and putting 100 000 in the hospital.