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neutron flux
03-07-2008, 01:11 AM
You've probably heard the story, or at least one like it. Husband kills wife and child, seemingly without remorse, then attempts to pass it off as a murder/suicide. And, remarkably, people believe him. The latest such example is Neil Entwistle, a British computer programmer, who murdered his American wife and 9-month-old daughter in 2006. He was recently sentenced to life in prison.

The trial made for a fascinating and disturbing spectacle. Aptly described by jurors as a complete narcissist, Entwistle put on quite the display during the presentation of a video of the bloody crime scene. But before we see his reaction for ourselves, let's see what the media tells us we see.

The Boston Globe tells us that Entwistle "breaks down" while watching video of his dead wife and daughter. In fact, the description deserves to be quoted in full:

Neil Entwistle's face turned scarlet red and he covered his mouth with his hand, looking down to avert his eyes from the video played today in court that showed the bodies of his wife and infant daughter, found shot to death in bed and frozen in an embrace.

Entwistle trembled and for the first time since his 2006 arrest began to cry publicly, tears running down the cheeks of his quivering jaw. As the 20-minute video played for the Middlesex Superior Court jury, he turned his eyes back at the screen and watched, his hand covering his gaping mouth.

The prosecution played the video taken by State Police investigators as part of the case against Entwistle, who is accused of killing his wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old daughter, Lillian, in Hopkinton on Jan. 20, 2006, then fleeing to his native England. Rachel Entwistle's family and spectators crowding the courtroom could not see the video screen, but it appeared to have a profound impact on the defendant and his family, who were seated on the opposite side of the room.

During the first five days of the trial, Neil Entwistle showed little emotion, smiling occasionally at his parents and younger brother, and bowing his head once during testimony about Lillian. During the video this morning, however, he sniffled and cried, averting his eyes to regain his composure and then looking back at the screen. The classical music the couple used to help Lillian sleep could be heard in the background, wafting from her nursery where it had been left playing.

Mother and daughter were found dead in bed two days after they were killed, tucked beneath a fluffy white comforter in the master bedroom, according to police testimony. Rachel Entwistle was wearing pajamas, lying on her left side, her feet curled up toward her body. Her right arm was across Lillian's chest and she faced her baby, who was flat on her back. Lillian's face had been covered by a pillow and her sleeper sack had been burned slightly by the gunshot in her upper left chest. Blood stained her onesie.

Yvonne Entwistle sat behind her son this morning and could not bear to watch the video, burying her head in her husband's shoulder.

Now here's the video:

http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=lOjqPuw8iMM

It looks like he trying not to burst out laughing all the while pretending he's grieving.

The authors of the above piece of fiction, Franci R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, must be blind, stupid, or simply inhuman, because their observations do not correspond to reality. Let's take a closer look at what they say we see: "Entwistle trembled and ... began to cry publicly, tears running down the cheeks of his quivering jaw. [I]t appeared to have a profound impact on the defendant... [H]e sniffled and cried, averting his eyes to regain his composure and then looking back at the screen."

I have to say, to watch that video and to come away convinced that the scene "appeared to have a profound impact" on Entwistle smacks of supreme credulity. A more honest description would appear as follows: "Entwistle appeared to enjoy himself, using his hand to hide a large grin and occasional laughter. Every so often he appeared to attempt an unconvincing expression of emotion, forcing his eyes into a crude facsimile of sadness. His obvious smile and alert eye movements, however, betrayed his undisturbed composure and lack of guilt or despair."

Even some of the commentators on youtube were convinced by Entwistle's sorry attempt. One said:

He's not laughing for god's sake. Nor was he 'smirking' during the trial.While I don't doubt he committed the crimes, I don't think he can help how his face falls when crying. He had two sides to him, but one side deeply loved his family (makes no sense I know..). Showing him, in the cold light of day, what he has done to those two people he loved would of course cause him to break down. He has received just punishment - a life in a US prison at 29 years old - this is just.

Sadly, this person not only demonstrates their own astounding credulity, but their complete ignorance on the nature of human emotion and its absence in psychopaths. Paul Ekman is an expert on human emotion. He has researched the subject (specifically the facial expressions associated with emotion) for forty years and has written two particularly remarkable books, Emotions Revealed and Telling Lies.

As he shows in Emotions Revealed, the expressions of emotion like happiness and sadness are universal, that is, they are programmed in what Andrew Lobaczewski calls our "instinctive substratum", our phylogenetic makeup. So in a sense, the above youtube commentator is correct. Entwistle cannot control the fact that his face appears to be smiling, but he can attempt to hide it by covering his face and attempting to fake crying, which is what he is obviously doing. He is smiling, but it is NOT because that is just how he looks when he cries. It is because he is thoroughly enjoying himself. He is sadistic and he is a psychopath.

The more honest news reports make that strikingly obvious. While friends say the family gave every appearance of normality, "Entwistle lived a double life", as the Telegraph put it:

He was arrested at Royal Oak station on the London Underground on February 9. When a friend he was travelling with, Dash Munding, told him the police were on their way, Entwistle asked him: "Is there another way off this platform?" or words to that effect, said Mr Fabbri.

Police found he was carrying a page of escort agency adverts torn from a local newspaper as well as a notepad. On one page he had written of his deep love for his family, on another he had scribbled down a plan to sell his story to the "highest bidder".

A month before his family was murdered, Entwistle, 29, was also trawling local escort agency websites and contacting women on a website named Adult Friend Finder looking for "discreet" sex, the prosecution said.

He was also searching the internet for information on bankrupty, "killing and suicide", the court heard.

In other words, a bankrupt Entwistle planned the whole thing in cold blood. First he did a little reading on "murder/suicides" for a plausible story. Then he shot his daughter, Lillian, who was being cradled on the bed by her mother, Rachel. The bullet left the infant's abdomen and entered her mother's breast. Entwistle then shot his wife, Rachel, in the forehead. And in the time before and after, he was shopping for "discrete" prostitutes and planning on making a buck on his story. Everything about this creature screams psychopath, and yet the only media representative to even come close to the truth is Fox News' Keith Ablow. Even then, his analysis leaves much to be desired. He ends his piece with the following nonsense:

Men like Entwistle ... feel like stripping their masks away is tantamount to killing them, because they believe those thin, synthetic disguises are all that keep them from dissolving into nothingness and feeling the full weight of unspeakable emotional turmoil, with roots that always reach deep into their pasts.

Sorry Keith, but you need to reread Cleckley. There's no fear of unspeakable emotional turmoil lying behind that mask of sanity. Psychopaths do not even know the meaning of those words. They hang on to their masks with such conviction because they are predators, and without them, they cannot survive. As Lobaczewski wrote to Laura Knight-Jadczyk:

Their furies are to be understood as the symptomatical responses. For them you are the worst enemy. You are hurting them very painfully. For a psychopath, revealing his real condition, tearing down his Cleckley-mask, brings the end of his self-admiration. You are threatening them with the destruction of their secret world, and bring to null their dreams of ruling and introducing their best social system possible. When his real condition is publicly revealed, a psychopath feels like a wounded animal. In such conditions, suicidal thoughts are common among them.

To defend themselves they are using all the possibilities that nature endowed them with. The unusual creativity of suggestive innuendos, new catchwords and so on, they employ as their typical way. (Look page 167). Therefore, such aggression could be readily foreseen! And so you have an opportunity to study this phenomenon of psychopathic nature.

To let down that facade would reveal that they are little more than unfeeling intraspecies predators that feed off the pain and suffering of others and thus destroy their chances of feeding. Even a psychopath is aware of the consequences of such a revelation. His "dreams" of a boot forever stomping on the face of humanity are crushed.

When I read comments like Ablow's and the youtube commentator's, comments so steeped in ignorance and projection, I get in a bit of a funk. After all, if only people would first accept the existence of psychopathy, we would not be so likely to fall for their cheap "emotional" manipulations. You see, psychopaths are wired differently than normal humans. They do not feel close to others, they do not feel remorse, they do not feel others' pain, they are completely egocentric, and they derive a pathological "joy" from others' suffering.

If only people would realize this, they would not become our leaders. But instead, we have shells of human beings like George W. Bush -- a "man" who is so emotionally and intellectually deficient that he doesn't even pretend to feel normal human emotion -- and Dick Cheney -- a "man" whose contempt for us "others" is so apparent in his frequent contemptuous scowls -- determining the future of our planet. We have psychopaths in the military sadistically murdering and torturing innocent Iraqis. Indeed, we have psychopaths directing the army of the world's greatest superpower. And it has left more than one million innocent people dead.

Neil Entwistle's sick display of joy at the sight of his dead wife and daughter, and his transparent attempt to feign sadness should be apparent to every normal, rational human being. Unfortunately it is not, and we all suffer as a result, and we will continue to suffer, and millions more will die, until we decide to grow up and accept the most pressing truth about our reality. What is that truth? That not only do psychopaths live among us, but through our ignorance we have allowed them to rise to positions of almost absolute power over us. Widespread knowledge of the reality of psychopathy on this planet is the essential first step to securing our future and that of our children. Make it your priority to spread the word.

http://www.sott.net/articles/show/161068-Neil-Entwistle-Psychopath

I thought I would post another psychopathy article:

In the public imagination, a "psychopath" is a violent serial killer or an over-the-top movie villain, as one sometimes might suspect Frank to be. He is highly impulsive and has a callous disregard for the well-being of others that can be disquieting. But he is just as likely to be a next-door neighbor, a doctor, or an actor on TV - essentially no different from anyone else who holds these roles, except that Frank lacks the nagging little voice which so profoundly influences most of our lives. Frank has no conscience. And as much as we would like to think that people like him are a rare aberration, safely locked away, the truth is that they are more common than most would ever guess.

"I don't think I feel things the same way you do."

The man sits at the table in the well-fitted attire of success - charming, witty, and instantly likeable. He is a confident, animated speaker, but he seems to be struggling with this particular point.

"It's like... at my first job," he continues, "I was stealing maybe a thousand bucks a month from that place. And this kid, he was new, he got wise. And he was going to turn me in, but before he got the chance I went to the manager and pinned the whole thing on him." Now he is grinning widely. "Kid lost his job, the cops got involved, I don't know what happened to him. And I guess something like that is supposed to make me feel bad, right? It's supposed to hurt, right? But instead, it's like there's nothing." He smiles apologetically and shakes his head. "Nothing."

His name is Frank, and he is a psychopath.

In the public imagination, a "psychopath" is a violent serial killer or an over-the-top movie villain, as one sometimes might suspect Frank to be. He is highly impulsive and has a callous disregard for the well-being of others that can be disquieting. But he is just as likely to be a next-door neighbor, a doctor, or an actor on TV - essentially no different from anyone else who holds these roles, except that Frank lacks the nagging little voice which so profoundly influences most of our lives. Frank has no conscience. And as much as we would like to think that people like him are a rare aberration, safely locked away, the truth is that they are more common than most would ever guess.

"[M]y mother, the most beautiful person in the world. She was strong, she worked hard to take care of four kids. A beautiful person. I started stealing her jewelry when I was in the fifth grade. You know, I never really knew the bitch - we went our separate ways." - Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us

The word psychopathy dates back in an early form to the 19th century, but as a modern term it's primarily used in reference to the work of Canadian psychologist Robert Hare. Hare's PCL-R tool (Psychopathy Checklist - Revised) was developed to test for a wide range of socially deviant behaviors and personality traits, the most important being the absence of any sense of conscience, remorse, or guilt. The result of this combination is a destructive, self-serving, and often dangerous individual sometimes called "the born criminal."

The psychopath's world is a strikingly skewed one in which the normal laws of human emotion and interaction do not apply - yet it serves as reality for a sizable portion of humanity. Spanning all cultures and eras, roughly one man in every 100 is born a clinical psychopath, as well as one woman in every 300. They are so common that every person reading this sentence almost certainly knows one personally; indeed, a significant number of readers are likely psychopaths themselves.

Many potential psychopaths might not even realize they have the condition, nor has there traditionally been any easy way for others to recognize them. The leading scientific test is Hare's PCL-R, but to be valid it must be performed by a qualified professional under controlled conditions. For those who can't be bothered with such expensive frills, we present the PCL-DI: an alternative, PCL-inspired test guaranteed to appear scientific.

The concept of the psychopath is only the latest and most refined in a long string of attempts to account for a certain pattern of conduct. In the 19th century, psychiatric clinicians began to notice patients in their care who fit no known diagnosis, but who nevertheless displayed strange and disturbing behaviors. They were impulsive and self-destructive. They had no regard for the feelings and welfare of others. They lied pathologically, and when caught, they shrugged it off with a smirk and moved on to the next lie. It was a puzzle - because while there was clearly something unusual about these patients, they showed none of the psychotic symptoms or defects in reason thought necessary for mental illness at the time. Indeed, apart from a tendency to follow foolish and irresponsible impulses that sometimes got them into trouble, they were coldly rational - more rational, perhaps, than the average citizen. Their condition therefore came to be referred to as manie sans délire ("insanity without delirium"), a term which later evolved into moral insanity once the central role of a "defective conscience" came to be appreciated. By the 20th century, these individuals would be called sociopaths or said to suffer from antisocial personality disorder, two terms that are still used interchangeably with psychopathy in some circles, while in others are considered distinct but related conditions.

The psychopath does not merely repress feelings of anxiety and guilt or fail to experience them appropriately; instead, he or she lacks a fundamental understanding of what these things are. When asked a question such as "What does remorse feel like?" for instance, the typical psychopath will become irritated, deflect the question, or attempt to change the subject. The following response from a psychopathic rapist, asked why he didn't empathize with his victims, shows just how distanced such a person can be from normal human emotion:

"They are frightened, right? But, you see, I don't really understand it. I've been frightened myself, and it wasn't unpleasant." - Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us


Arriving at a disaster scene, a psychopath would most likely gather to watch with the rest of the crowd. He might even lend assistance if he perceived no threat to his own safety. But he would feel none of the panic, shock, or horror of the other onlookers - his interest would fall more on the reactions of the victims and of the crowd. He would not be repulsed by any carnage on display, except perhaps in the same sense as serial killer Paul Bernardo when he described cutting up one of his victims' bodies as "the most disgusting thing he had ever done." He was referring to the mess it made.

Despite this emotional deficiency, most psychopaths learn to mimic the appearance of normal emotion well enough to fit into ordinary society, not unlike the way that the hearing impaired or illiterate learn to use other cues to compensate for their disabilities. As Hare describes it, psychopaths "know the words but not the music." One might imagine that such a false and superficial front would be easily penetrated, but such is rarely the case, probably because of the assumption we all tend to make that others think and feel essentially the same way as ourselves. Differences in culture, gender, personality, and social status all create empathy gaps that can seem almost unfathomable, but none of these is as fundamental a divide as the one that exists between an individual with a conscience and one without. The psychopath's psychology is so profoundly alien to most people that we are unable to comprehend their motives, or recognize one when we see one. Naturally, the industrious psychopath will find this to his advantage.

Some psychologists go so far as to label the psychopath "a different kind of human" altogether. Psychopathy has an environmental component like nearly all aspects of personal psychology, but its source is rooted firmly in biology. This has caused some researchers to suspect that the condition isn't a "disorder" at all, but an adaptive trait. In a civilization made up primarily of law-abiding citizenry, the theory goes, an evolutionary niche opens up for a minority who would exploit the trusting masses.

This hypothesis is supported by the apparent success many psychopaths find within society. The majority of these individuals are not violent criminals; indeed, those that turn to crime are generally considered "unsuccessful psychopaths" due to their failure to blend into society. Those who do succeed can do so spectacularly. For instance, while it may sound like a cynical joke, it's a fact that psychopaths have a clear advantage in fields such as law, business, and politics. They have higher IQs on average than the general population. They take risks and aren't fazed by failures. They know how to charm and manipulate. They're ruthless. It could even be argued that the criteria used by corporations to find effective managers actually select specifically for psychopathic traits: characteristics such as charisma, self-centeredness, confidence, and dominance are highly correlated with the psychopathic personality, yet also highly sought after in potential leaders. It was not until recent years - in the wake of some well-publicized scandals involving corporate psychopaths - that many corporations started to reconsider these promotion policies. After all, psychopaths are interested only in their own gain, and trouble is inevitable when their interests begin to conflict with those of the company. This was the case at Enron, and again at WorldCom - and Sunbeam CEO Al Dunlap, besides doctoring the books and losing his company millions of dollars, would allegedly leave his wife at home without access to food or money for days at a time.


The thought of these people wearing suits and working a 9-5 job conflicts with most people's image of psychopaths gleaned from films like The Godfather and The Silence of the Lambs. But it shouldn't be surprising. A lack of empathy does not necessarily imply a desire to do harm - that comes from sadism and tendencies toward violence, traits which have only a small correlation with psychopathy. When all three come together in one individual, of course, the result is catastrophic. Ted Bundy and Paul Bernardo are extreme examples of such a combination.

"Do I feel bad when I hurt someone? Yeah, sometimes. But mostly it's just like... uh... (laughs). I mean, how did you feel the last time you squashed a fly?" - Unnamed rapist/kidnapper

If psychopaths often appear where we don't expect them, neither does the clinical term always apply where we think it might. Nazi Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering is thought to have met the diagnostic criteria, but Hitler's own behavior was frequently inconsistent with that of a psychopath. Columbine killer Eric Harris fit the description, but his accomplice Dylan Klebold did not. In total, only about 20% of a typical prison population qualifies as psychopathic (half of the violent offenders), and the difference from the general population is readily apparent to those who know them well. Even the most hardened of normal offenders can find their psychopathic cellmates unnerving.

The same discovery awaits most anyone who becomes close to such an individual. In romantic relationships, a psychopath may be charming and affectionate just long enough to establish intimacy with a partner, and then suddenly become abusive, unfaithful, and manipulative. The bewildered partner might turn to friends and family with their story, only to be met with disbelief - how could the warm, outgoing individual everyone has come to know possibly be guilty of these acts? All too often, the abused partner blames the situation on themselves, and comes out of the relationship emotionally destroyed.

But from a comfortable distance, the impression given off by a psychopath is often highly positive. The same absence of inhibitions and honesty that makes psychopaths so dangerous also gives them unusual powers of charisma through self-confidence and fabricated flattery. The aforementioned Sunbeam CEO Al Dunlap was a legend in business circles - "a corporate god," some called him - precisely for his ruthless, results-oriented business style and in-your-face, furniture-hurling personality. In social circles, psychopaths are often the most popular friends among members of both sexes. And strikingly, in entertainment media such as films and books, it's not just the villains who tend to have psychopathic personalities - it's the heroes, too.

One doesn't have to look far to find examples of this kind of protagonist. James Bond, the promiscuous, daring secret agent who can ski down a mountainside while being chased by armed attackers without breaking a sweat, is a textbook case. Frank Abagnale Jr., the charming con-man on whom the recent book and film Catch Me if You Can were based, is another highly likely candidate. And nearly every character played by action stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone - the ones who vow revenge on an enemy and rampage about while coolly spouting one-liners - would qualify for a diagnosis.

"I wouldn't be here if my parents had come across when I needed them," he ['Terry,' imprisoned bank robber] said. "What kind of parents would let their son rot in a place like this?" Asked about his children, he replied, "I've never seen them. I think they were given up for adoption. How the hell should I know?" - Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us

The reasons we look up to these conscience impaired people are unclear. Recent Bond film Casino Royale didn't shy away from acknowledging Bond's psychopathic tendencies. Most likely it has something to do with the confidence they exude, the ease they seem to feel in any situation - a trait that comes easily in someone essentially incapable of fear or anxiety. Maybe we're easily suckered in by their natural glibness and charm. Or maybe on some level we envy the freedom they have, with no burden of conscience or emotion.



The psychopaths, for their part, will never know things any other way. Most experts agree that the condition is permanent and completely untreatable. It's been theorized that their situation is the result of a kind of inherited learning disorder: without dread or anxiety to deter them, psychopaths are unable to make the associations between behavior and punishment that make up the building blocks of a normal conscience. That being the case, it is questionable whether a description such as "evil" - which is not uncommon in both the popular and scientific literature - can really be applied to individuals incapable of understanding what it means.

But to those who cross their paths, this may be small comfort.


http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=936#more-936


And another:

"Psychopath! psychopath!"

I'm alone in my living room and I'm yelling at my TV. "Forget rehabilitation -- that guy is a psychopath."

Ever since I visited Dr. Robert Hare in Vancouver, I can see them, the psychopaths. It's pretty easy, once you know how to look. I'm watching a documentary about an American prison trying to rehabilitate teen murderers. They're using an emotionally intense kind of group therapy, and I can see, as plain as day, that one of the inmates is a psychopath. He tries, but he can't muster a convincing breakdown, can't fake any feeling for his dead victims. He's learned the words, as Bob Hare would put it, but not the music.

The incredible thing, the reason I'm yelling, is that no one in this documentary -- the therapists, the warden, the omniscient narrator -- seems to know the word "psychopath." It is never uttered, yet it changes everything. A psychopath can never be made to feel the horror of murder. Weeks of intense therapy, which are producing real breakthroughs in the other youths, will probably make a psychopath more likely to reoffend. Psychopaths are not like the rest of us, and everyone who studies them agrees they should not be treated as if they were.

I think of Bob Hare, who's in New Orleans receiving yet another award, and wonder if he's watching the same show in his hotel room and feeling the same frustration. A lifetime spent looking into the heads of psychopaths has made the slight, slightly anxious emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia the world's best-known expert on the species. Hare hasn't merely changed our understanding of psychopaths. It would be more accurate to say he has created it.

The condition itself has been recognized for centuries, wearing evocative labels such as "madness without delirium" and "moral insanity" until the late 1800s, when "psychopath" was coined by a German clinician. But the term (and its 1930s synonym, sociopath) had always been a sort of catch-all, widely and loosely applied to criminals who seemed violent and unstable. Even into the mid-1970s, almost 80 percent of convicted felons in the United States were being diagnosed as sociopaths. In 1980, Hare created a diagnostic tool called the Psychopathy Checklist, which, revised five years later, became known as the PCL-R. Popularly called "the Hare," the PCL-R measures psychopathy on a forty-point scale. Once it emerged, it was the first time in history that everyone who said "psychopath" was saying the same thing. For research in the field, it was like a starting gun.

But for Hare, it has turned out to be a Pandora's box. Recently retired from teaching, his very last Ph.D. student about to leave the nest, Hare, sixty-eight, should be basking in professional accolades and enjoying his well-earned rest. But he isn't.

The PCL-R has slipped the confines of academe, and is being used and misused in ways that Hare never intended. In some of the places where it could do some good -- such as the prison in the TV documentary I was yelling at -- the idea of psychopathy goes unacknowledged, usually because it's politically incorrect to declare someone to be beyond rehabilitation. At the opposite extreme, there are cases in which Hare's work has been overloaded with political baggage of another sort, such as in the United States, where a high PCL-R score is used to support death-penalty arguments, and in England, where a debate is underway about whether some individuals with personality disorders (such as psychopaths) should be detained even if they haven't committed a crime.

So, after decades of labour in peaceful obscurity, Bob Hare has become a man with a suitcase, a passport, and a PowerPoint presentation, a reluctant celebrity at gatherings of judges, attorneys, prison administrators, psychologists, and police. His post-retirement mission is to be a good shepherd to his Psychopathy Checklist.

"I'm protecting it from erosion, from distortion. It could easily be compromised," he says. "I'm a scientist; I should just be doing basic research, but I'm being called on all the time to intervene and mediate."

And it's really just beginning. Psychopathy may prove to be as important a construct in this century as IQ was in the last (and just as susceptible to abuse), because, thanks to Hare, we now understand that the great majority of psychopaths are not violent criminals and never will be. Hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us. Your boss, your boyfriend, your mother could be what Hare calls a "subclinical" psychopath, someone who leaves a path of destruction and pain without a single pang of conscience. Even more worrisome is the fact that, at this stage, no one -- not even Bob Hare -- is quite sure what to do about it.

Bob Hare has to meet me in the lobby of the UBC psychology building, since he's not listed in the directory. He's had threats, by e-mail and in person. An ex-con showed up one day, angry that a friend of his had been declared a dangerous offender thanks to Hare's checklist. Other characters have appeared in his lab doorway, looking in and saying nothing.

We immediately find ourselves discussing the criminal du jour, the jet-setting French con man Christophe Rocancourt, notorious for passing himself off as a member of the Rockefeller family, who has just been arrested in Victoria.

"I'd sure as hell like to have a close look at him," Hare muses.

Like every scientist, Hare likes a good puzzle, and that was reason enough to make a career out of psychopaths. "These were particularly interesting human beings," he says. "Everything about them seemed to be paradoxical. They could do things that a lot of other people could not do" -- lie, steal, rape, murder -- "but they looked perfectly normal, and when you talked to them they seemed okay. It was a puzzle. I thought I'd try and unravel it."

Hare arrived at UBC in 1963, intending to follow up his doctoral research on punishment. Certain prisoners, it was rumoured, didn't respond to punishment, and Hare went to the federal penitentiary in New Westminster, British Columbia, to find these extreme cases. (He found plenty. In his chilling 1993 book on psychopathy, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, he quotes one specimen's memories: "[M]y mother, the most beautiful person in the world. She was strong, she worked hard to take care of four kids. A beautiful person. I started stealing her jewellery when I was in the fifth grade. You know, I never really knew the bitch -- we went our separate ways.")

For his first paper, now a classic, Hare had his subjects watch a countdown timer. When it reached zero, they got a "harmless but painful" electric shock while an electrode taped to their fingers measured perspiration. Normal people would start sweating as the countdown proceeded, nervously anticipating the shock. Psychopaths didn't sweat. They didn't fear punishment -- which, presumably, also holds true outside the laboratory. In Without Conscience, he quotes a psychopathic rapist explaining why he finds it hard to empathize with his victims: "They are frightened, right? But, you see, I don't really understand it. I've been frightened myself, and it wasn't unpleasant."

In another Hare study, groups of letters were flashed to volunteers. Some of them were nonsense, some formed real words. The subject's job was to press a button whenever he recognized a real word, while Hare recorded response time and brain activity. Non-psychopaths respond faster and display more brain activity when processing emotionally loaded words such as "rape" or "cancer" than when they see neutral words such as "tree." With psychopaths, Hare found no difference. To them, "rape" and "tree" have the same emotional impact -- none.

Hare made another intriguing discovery by observing the hand gestures (called beats) people make while speaking. Research has shown that such gestures do more than add visual emphasis to our words (many people gesture while they're on the telephone, for example); it seems they actually help our brains find words. That's why the frequency of beats increases when someone is having trouble finding words, or is speaking a second language instead of his or her mother tongue. In a 1991 paper, Hare and his colleagues reported that psychopaths, especially when talking about things they should find emotional, such as their families, produce a higher frequency of beats than normal people. It's as if emotional language is a second language -- a foreign language, in effect -- to the psychopath.

Three decades of these studies, by Hare and others, has confirmed that psychopaths' brains work differently from ours, especially when processing emotion and language. Hare once illustrated this for Nicole Kidman, who had invited him to Hollywood to help her prepare for a role as a psychopath in Malice. How, she wondered, could she show the audience there was something fundamentally wrong with her character?

"I said, 'Here's a scene that you can use,' " Hare says. " 'You're walking down a street and there's an accident. A car has hit a child in the crosswalk. A crowd of people gather round. You walk up, the child's lying on the ground and there's blood running all over the place. You get a little blood on your shoes and you look down and say, "Oh shit." You look over at the child, kind of interested, but you're not repelled or horrified. You're just interested. Then you look at the mother, and you're really fascinated by the mother, who's emoting, crying out, doing all these different things. After a few minutes you turn away and go back to your house. You go into the bathroom and practice mimicking the facial expressions of the mother.' " He then pauses and says, "That's the psychopath: somebody who doesn't understand what's going on emotionally, but understands that something important has happened."

Hare's research upset a lot of people. Until the psychopath came into focus, it was possible to believe that bad people were just good people with bad parents or childhood trauma and that, with care, you could talk them back into being good. Hare's research suggested that some people behaved badly even when there had been no early trauma. Moreover, since psychopaths' brains were in fundamental ways different from ours, talking them into being like us might not be easy. Indeed, to this day, no one has found a way to do so.

"Some of the things he was saying about these individuals, it was unheard of," says Dr. Steven Stein, a psychologist and ceo of Multi-Health Systems in Toronto, the publisher of the Psychopathy Checklist. "Nobody believed him thirty years ago, but Bob hasn't wavered, and now everyone's where he is. Everyone's come full circle, except a small group who believe it's bad upbringing, family poverty, those kinds of factors, even though scientific evidence has shown that's not the case. There are wealthy psychopaths who've done horrendous things, and they were brought up in wonderful families."

"There's still a lot of opposition -- some criminologists, sociologists, and psychologists don't like psychopathy at all," Hare says. "I can spend the entire day going through the literature -- it's overwhelming, and unless you're semi-brain-dead you're stunned by it -- but a lot of people come out of there and say, 'So what? Psychopathy is a mythological construct.' They have political and social agendas: 'People are inherently good,' they say. 'Just give them a hug, a puppy dog, and a musical instrument and they're all going to be okay.' "

If Hare sounds a little bitter, it's because a decade ago, Correctional Service of Canada asked him to design a treatment program for psychopaths, but just after he submitted the plan in 1992, there were personnel changes at the top of CSC. The new team had a different agenda, which Hare summarizes as, "We don't believe in the badness of people." His plan sank without a trace.

By the late 1970s, after fifteen years in the business, Bob Hare knew what he was looking for when it came to psychopaths. They exhibit a cluster of distinctive personality traits, the most significant of which is an utter lack of conscience. They also have huge egos, short tempers, and an appetite for excitement -- a dangerous mix. In a typical prison population, about 20 percent of the inmates satisfy the Hare definition of a psychopath, but they are responsible for over half of all violent crime.

The research community, Hare realized, lacked a standard definition. "I found that we were all talking a different language, we were on different diagnostic pages, and I decided that we had to have some common instrument," he says. "The PCL-R was really designed to make it easier to publish articles and to let journal editors and reviewers know what I meant by psychopathy."

The Psychopathy Checklist consists of a set of forms and a manual that describes in detail how to score a subject in twenty categories that define psychopathy. Is he (or, more rarely, she) glib and superficially charming, callous and without empathy? Does he have a grandiose sense of self worth, shallow emotions, a lack of remorse or guilt? Is he impulsive, irresponsible, promiscuous? Did he have behavioural problems early in life? The information for each category must be carefully drawn from documents such as court transcripts, police reports, psychologists' reports, and victim-impact statements, and not solely from an interview, since psychopaths are superb liars ("pathological lying" and "conning/manipulative" are PCL-R categories). A prisoner may claim to love his family, for example, while his records show no visits or phone calls.

For each item, assessors -- psychologists or psychiatrists -- assign a score of zero (the item doesn't apply), one (the item applies in some respects), or two (the item applies in most respects). The maximum possible score is forty, and the boundary for clinical psychopathy hovers around thirty. Last year, the average score for all incarcerated male offenders in North America was 23.3. Hare guesses his own score would be about four or five.

In 1980, Hare's initial checklist began circulating in the research community, and it quickly became the standard. At last count nearly 500 papers and 150 doctoral dissertations had been based on it.

It's also found practical applications in police-squad rooms. Soon after he delivered a keynote speech at a conference for homicide detectives and prosecuting attorneys in Seattle three years ago, Hare got a letter thanking him for helping solve a series of homicides. The police had a suspect nailed for a couple of murders, but believed he was responsible for others. They were using the usual strategy to get a confession, telling him, 'Think how much better you'll feel, think of the families left behind,' and so on. After they'd heard Hare speak they realized they were dealing with a psychopath, someone who could feel neither guilt nor sorrow. They changed their interrogation tactic to, "So you murdered a couple of prostitutes. That's minor-league compared to Bundy or Gacy." The appeal to the psychopath's grandiosity worked. He didn't just confess to his other crimes, he bragged about them.

The most startling finding to emerge from Hare's work is that the popular image of the psychopath as a remorseless, smiling killer -- Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, John Wayne Gacy -- while not wrong, is incomplete. Yes, almost all serial killers, and most of Canada's dangerous offenders, are psychopaths, but violent criminals are just a tiny fraction of the psychopaths around us. Hare estimates that 1 percent of the population -- 300,000 people in Canada -- are psychopaths.

He calls them "subclinical" psychopaths. They're the charming predators who, unable to form real emotional bonds, find and use vulnerable women for sex and money (and inevitably abandon them). They're the con men like Christophe Rocancourt, and they're the stockbrokers and promoters who caused Forbes magazine to call the Vancouver Stock Exchange (now part of the Canadian Venture Exchange) the scam capital of the world. (Hare has said that if he couldn't study psychopaths in prisons, the Vancouver Stock Exchange would have been his second choice.) A significant proportion of persistent wife beaters, and people who have unprotected sex despite carrying the AIDS virus, are psychopaths. Psychopaths can be found in legislatures, hospitals, and used-car lots. They're your neighbour, your boss, and your blind date. Because they have no conscience, they're natural predators. If you didn't have a conscience, you'd be one too.

Psychopaths love chaos and hate rules, so they're comfortable in the fast-moving modern corporation. Dr. Paul Babiak, an industrial-organizational psychologist based near New York City, is in the process of writing a book with Bob Hare called When Psychopaths Go to Work: Cons, Bullies and the Puppetmaster. The subtitle refers to the three broad classes of psychopaths Babiak has encountered in the workplace.

"The con man works one-on-one," says Babiak. "They'll go after a woman, marry her, take her money, then move on and marry someone else. The puppet master would manipulate somebody to get at someone else. This type is more powerful because they're hidden." Babiak says psychopaths have three motivations: thrill-seeking, the pathological desire to win, and the inclination to hurt people. "They'll jump on any opportunity that allows them to do those things," he says. "If something better comes along, they'll drop you and move on."

How can you tell if your boss is a psychopath? It's not easy, says Babiak. "They have traits similar to ideal leaders. You would expect an ideal leader to be narcissistic, self-centred, dominant, very assertive, maybe to the point of being aggressive. Those things can easily be mistaken for the aggression and bullying that a psychopath would demonstrate. The ability to get people to follow you is a leadership trait, but being charismatic to the point of manipulating people is a psychopathic trait. They can sometimes be confused."

Once inside a company, psychopaths can be hard to excise. Babiak tells of a salesperson and psychopath -- call him John -- who was performing badly but not suffering for it. John was managing his boss -- flattering him, taking him out for drinks, flying to his side when he was in trouble. In return, his boss covered for him by hiding John's poor performance. The arrangement lasted until John's boss was moved. When his replacement called John to task for his abysmal sales numbers, John was a step ahead.

He'd already gone to the company president with a set of facts he used to argue that his new boss, and not he, should be fired. But he made a crucial mistake. "It was actually stolen data," Babiak says. "The only way [John] could have obtained it would be for him to have gone into a file into which no one was supposed to go. That seemed to be enough, and he was fired rather than the boss. Even so, in the end, he walked out with a company car, a bag of money, and a good reference."

"A lot of white-collar criminals are psychopaths," says Bob Hare. "But they flourish because the characteristics that define the disorder are actually valued. When they get caught, what happens? A slap on the wrist, a six-month ban from trading, and don't give us the $100 million back. I've always looked at white-collar crime as being as bad or worse than some of the physically violent crimes that are committed."

The best way to protect the workplace is not to hire psychopaths in the first place. That means training interviewers so they're less likely to be manipulated and conned. It means checking resumés for lies and distortions, and it means following up references.

Paul Babiak says he's "not comfortable" with one researcher's estimate that one in ten executives is a psychopath, but he has noticed that they are attracted to positions of power. When he describes employees such as John to other executives, they know exactly whom he's talking about. "I was talking to a group of human-resources executives yesterday," says Babiak, "and every one of them said, you know, I think I've got somebody like that."

By now, you're probably thinking the same thing. The number of psychopaths in society is about the same as the number of schizophrenics, but unlike schizophrenics, psychopaths aren't loners. That means most of us have met or will meet one. Hare gets dozens of letters and e-mail messages every month from people who say they recognize someone they know while reading Without Conscience. They go on to describe a brother, a sister, a husband. " 'Please help my seventeen-year-old son. . . .' " Hare reads aloud from one such missive. "It's a heart-rending letter, but what can I do? I'm not a clinician. I have hundreds of these things, and some of them are thirty or forty pages long."

Hare's book opened my eyes, too. Reading it, I realized that I might have known a psychopath, Jonathan, at the computer company where I worked in London, England, over twenty years ago. He was charming and confident, and from the moment he arrived he was on excellent terms with the executive inner circle. Jonathan had big plans and promised me that I was a big part of them. One night when I was alone in the office, Jonathan appeared, accompanied by what anyone should have recognized as two prostitutes. "These are two high-ranking staff from the Ministry of Defence," he said without missing a beat. "We're going over the details of a contract, which I'm afraid is classified top secret. You'll have to leave the building." His voice and eyes were absolutely persuasive and I complied. A few weeks later Jonathan was arrested. He had embezzled tens of thousands of pounds from the small firm, used the company as a mailing address for a marijuana importing business he was running on the side, and robbed the apartment of the company's owner, who was letting him stay there temporarily.

Like everyone who has been suckered by a psychopath -- and Bob Hare includes himself and many of his graduate students (who have been trained to spot them) in that list -- I'm ashamed that I fell for Jonathan. But he was brilliant, charismatic, and audacious. He radiated money and power (though in fact he had neither), while his real self -- manipulative, lying, parasitic, and irresponsible -- was just far enough under his surface to be invisible. Or was it? Maybe I didn't know how to look, or maybe I didn't really want to.

I saw his name in the news again recently. "A con man tricked top sports car makers Lotus into lending him a £70,000 model . . . then stole it and drove 6,000 miles across Europe, a court heard," the story began.

Knowing Jonathan is probably a psychopath makes me feel better. It's an explanation.

But away from the workplace, back in the world of the criminally violent psychopath, Hare's checklist has become broadly known, so broadly known, in fact, that it is now a constant source of concern for him. "People are misusing it, and they're misusing it in really strange ways," Hare says. "There are lots of clinicians who don't even have a manual. All they've seen is an article with the twenty items -- promiscuity, impulsiveness, and so forth -- listed."

In court, assessments of the same person done by defence and prosecution "experts" have varied by as much as twenty points. Such drastic differences are almost certainly the result of bias or incompetence, since research on the PCL-R itself has shown it has high "inter-rater reliability" (consistent results when a subject is assessed by more than one qualified assessor). In one court case, it was used to label a thirteen-year-old a psychopath, even though the PCL-R test is only meant to be used to rate adults with criminal histories. The test should be administered only by mental-health professionals (like all such psychological instruments, it is only for sale to those with credentials), but a social worker once used the PCL-R in testimony in a death-penalty case -- not because she was qualified but because she thought it was "interesting."

It shouldn't be used in death-penalty cases at all, Hare says, but U.S. Federal District Courts have ruled it admissible because it meets scientific standards.

"Bob and others like myself are saying it doesn't meet the ethical standards," says Dr. Henry Richards, a psychopathy researcher at the University of Washington. "A psychological instrument and diagnosis should not be a determinant of whether someone gets the death sentence. That's more of an ethical and political decision."

And into the ethical and political realm -- the realm of extrapolation, of speculation, of opinion -- Hare will not step. He's been asked to be a guest on Oprah (twice), 60 Minutes, and Larry King Live. Oprah wanted him alongside a psychopath and his victim. "I said, 'This is a circus,' " Hare says. "I couldn't do that." 60 Minutes also wanted to "make it sexy" by throwing real live psychopaths into the mix. Larry King Live phoned him at home while O. J. Simpson was rolling down the freeway in his white Bronco. Hare says no every time (while his publisher gently weeps).

Even in his particular area, Hare is unfailingly circumspect. Asked if he thinks there will ever be a cure for psychopathy -- a drug, an operation -- Hare steps back and examines the question. "The psychopath will say 'A cure for what?' I don't feel comfortable calling it a disease. Much of their behaviour, even the neurobiological patterns we observe, could be because they're using different strategies to get around the world. These strategies don't have to involve faulty wiring, just different wiring."

Are these people qualitatively different from us? "I would think yes," says Hare. "Do they form a discrete taxon or category? I would say probably -- the evidence is suggesting that. But does this mean that's because they have a broken motor? I don't know. It could be a natural variation." True saints, completely selfless individuals, are rare and unnatural too, he points out, but we don't talk about their being diseased.

Psychopathy research is raising more questions than it can answer, and many of them are leading to moral and ethical quagmires. For example: the PCL-R has turned out to be the best single predictor of recidivism that has ever existed; an offender with a high PCL-R score is three or four times more likely to reoffend than someone with a low score. Should a high PCL-R score, then, be sufficient grounds for denying parole? Or perhaps a psychopathy test could be used to prevent crime by screening individuals or groups at high risk -- for example, when police get a frantic "My boyfriend says he'll kill me" call, or when a teacher reports a student threatening to commit violence. Should society institutionalize psychopaths, even if they haven't broken the law?

The United Kingdom, partly in response to the 1993 abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger by two ten-year-olds, and partly in response to PCL-R data, is in the process of creating a new legal classification called Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD). As it stands, the government proposes to allow authorities to detain people declared DSPD, even if they have not committed a crime. (Sample text from one of the Web sites that have sprung up in response: "I was diagnosed with an untreatable personality disorder by a doctor who saw me for ten minutes, he later claimed I was a psychopath. . . . Please don't let them do this to me; don't let them do it to anybody. I'm not a danger to the public, nor are most mentally ill people.")

Hare is a consultant on the DSPD project, and finds the potential for abuse of power horrifying. So do scientists such as Dr. Richard Tees, head of psychology at UBC, a colleague of Hare's since 1965. "I am concerned about our political masters deciding that the PCL-R is the silver bullet that's going to fix everything," he says. "We'll let people out [of prison] on the basis of scores on this, and we'll put them in. And we'll take children who do badly on some version of this and segregate them or something. It wasn't designed to do any of these things. The problems that politicians are trying to solve are fundamentally more complicated than the one that Bob has solved."

So many of these awkward questions would vanish if only there were a functioning treatment program for psychopathy. But there isn't. In fact, several studies have shown that existing treatment makes criminal psychopaths worse. In one, psychopaths who underwent social-skills and anger-management training before release had an 82 percent reconviction rate. Psychopaths who didn't take the program had a 59 percent reconviction rate. Conventional psychotherapy starts with the assumption that a patient wants to change, but psychopaths are usually perfectly happy as they are. They enrol in such programs to improve their chances of parole. "These guys learn the words but not the music," Hare says. "They can repeat all the psychiatric jargon -- 'I feel remorse,' they talk about the offence cycle -- but these are words, hollow words."

Hare has co-developed a new treatment program specifically for violent psychopaths, using what he knows about the psychopathic personality. The idea is to encourage them to be better by appealing not to their (non-existent) altruism but to their (abundant) self-interest.

"It's not designed to change personality, but to modify behaviour by, among other things, convincing them that there are ways they can get what they want without harming others," Hare explains. The program will try to make them understand that violence is bad, not for society, but for the psychopath himself. (Look where it got you: jail.) A similar program will soon be put in place for psychopathic offenders in the UK.

"The irony is that Canada could have had this all set up and they could have been leaders in the world. But they dropped the ball completely," Hare says, referring to his decade-old treatment proposal, sitting on a shelf somewhere within Corrections Canada.

Even if Hare's treatment program works, it will only address the violent minority of psychopaths. What about the majority, the subclinical psychopaths milling all around us? At the moment, the only thing Hare and his colleagues can offer is self-protection through self-education. Know your own weaknesses, they advise, because the psychopath will find and use them. Learn to recognize the psychopath, they tell us, before adding that even experts are regularly taken in.

After thirty-five years of work, Bob Hare has brought us to the stage where we know what psychopathy is, how much damage psychopaths do, and even how to identify them. But we don't know how to treat them or protect the population from them. The real work is just beginning. Solving the puzzle of the psychopath is an invigorating prospect -- if you're a scientist. Perhaps the rest of us can be forgiven for our impatience to see the whole thing come to an end.

Sorry about the length but I tried using code tags but it made everything awkward to read.

izzy
03-07-2008, 01:29 AM
im not sticking up for him - but he does nt look like he is laughing to me

neutron flux
03-07-2008, 01:39 AM
m not sticking up for him - but he does nt look like he is laughing to me

Even if you pause it at 6:12?

izzy
03-07-2008, 01:48 AM
oh not sure - could nt stand looking at his face for that long .. will look