Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Criminal vs. Successful Sociopaths

This was an interesting interview in the NZ Listener with Devon Polaschek, an associate professor in the Victoria University School of Psychology about the differences between criminal and successful sociopaths:

The downside is that the [PCL-R] was developed exclusively for use with criminals, so can’t be used to look at psycho­pathy in any other setting. “You can’t get a high score unless you are involved in criminal acts, so it mixes the two things together: psycho­pathy and criminality. So that limits the availability of a really well-validated instrument for a wider population,” says Polaschek.

Also, the checklists capture people who lack some of the core characteristics of psychopathy and over-pathologise people who have an extensive history of impulsive criminal behaviour that isn’t just distinctive to psychopaths. “The research on non-offender psychopathy could not be said to be an extensive scientific one at the moment, because it just hasn’t been done. The central personality characteristics, while always antisocial – they always have a negative impact on other people – do not necessarily predispose people to criminal behaviour.”

The idea of a lack of guilt or remorse is real. “But again, that’s typical of high-risk criminals, too,” Polaschek says. “In the community, in terms of so-called successful psychopaths, we would assume their core personality characteristics would still be there, the ones like lack of guilt, narcissism and irresponsibility. But we would also assume they have better impulse control because they are not getting themselves in trouble with criminal law.
“If you view psychopathy as I do, as a bigger construct that includes some aspects that could be adaptive and even useful, then certainly there will be CEOs and MPs and lawyers. Also, someone recently did a paper on US presidents – Clinton came up quite high. That’s important, because Clinton was an incredibly competent man, and it does show you that the combination of characteristics doesn’t always include only bad things.

“There are some positive characteristics – stress immunity is one of them – that the broader view of psychopathy would say are not a bad thing in themselves; it’s the fact that they are combined with other things. It isn’t necessarily about harming other people but it enables you to put yourself into novel and challenging situations in a way that other people can’t. Clearly that can go well or it can go badly, but it’s not necessarily a bad characteristic because it depends how the person develops.”


  1. are you make anny money on this ME?

    1. is that your ritirement plan?
      5$ / week is a lot for something like that

  2. Sociopaths are some of the few interesting people around. The 1960's
    was the "sociopatic" decade. Things got off to a "bang" with the
    election of J.F.K. Deciet was the order of the day. Kennady was elected
    with Mafiaosa help. He was an empty-suited deciver a liar from the
    first, who got by with media help. F.B.I director J. Edgar Hoover, a
    homosexual, when it was bad to be one, had all the recorded dirt on
    J.F.K. tucked away. In typical sociopathic fashion J.F.K. over reached.
    He sancitioned C.I.A. and Mafia assinations on other world leaders
    namely Fidel Castrol. The mafia (Who helped Kennady steal the 1960
    election) wanted Cuba back. All the assination attempts failed.
    Then, to make matters worse, Attorney General Robert Kennady,
    (Who assumed the office at the behest of his father Joe, and covered
    up Kennady scandels) double crossed the very people that placed
    John in office. So the Mafia found it more expiedent to take out John,
    so that "If the head of the dog is taken out, the tail drops off." 5 years
    later, Bobby (Who was secretly intimate with Jackie Kennady) was
    taken out himself. That's just a small example of the "socopathic
    intregs" of the 1960's, a period of history that leads the way, as the
    most "sociopathic" and innovative in culture, art and excitement.
    What a come down for us that remember those exciting times. Now,
    the biggest "sociopathic news" is stuff like "The knockout game" and
    "Polor Bear hunting."

    1. Would you say JFK jnr was a psychopath? I don't think so. His wife was likely a narcissist though.

  3. So if Clinton is a psychopath, what does that make Hilary? She's no empath that's for sure. And what of Chelsea married to the son of an ex con?


    Interesting. Check out #6. Ha Ha Ha

  5. Your blog is well informed & utilitarian for me, Keep sharing more about it, I will be come back to your next post, Good luck......

  6. It would seem that the successful sociopaths that obtain power carefully define the boundaries of criminal behavior to exclude themselves. A compassionate, just and socially conscious rewrite of the legal system would put many of them squarely within the definition.

  7. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information. |

  8. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great. criminal defense lawyer Houston


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