Psychopaths are happy to break the law if it increases their wealth and power – especially when they know they will probably get away with it, or pay a paltry fine and be on their way.
“What Else Explains America’s Bizarre, Shocking Indifference to Everything That Matters?”
While I don’t think the United States has a monopoly on psychopaths, I do make the case in the book that capitalism has made it easier for psychopaths to get their hands on wealth and power. I also talk about how psychopaths in positions of political power can bring an entire country to exhibit psychopathic behaviours, and I think the United States is a good case study.
“A culture of the pursuit of profit at all costs”, how the former chairman of the NSW gambling regulator has described Crown Casino, sounds like a symptom of a psychopathic culture. In the book we talk about how psychopathic leadership can create psychopathic organisational cultures, whether that organisation is a business or an entire country. Look at the 66 million people in the United States who voted this week for Donald Trump as an example of how a large chunk of a country can easily be swept along with psychopathic values like putting the economy ahead of the safety of the population.
“Just to say Trump is “unfit” and “dangerous” is not enough and the public will not understand. We need to tie his psychopathology to his presidential behavior in the observable, in the concrete. [In my view], his pandemic response and his attack on democracy are where his psychopathology is evident.”
Alan D. Blotcky, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama (source)
While Trump might be the most prominent potential psychopath in the world today, I still believe the bigger issue we have to face isn’t one man, but the system that allows psychopaths to hold extreme power and wealth. Trump is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem.
Probably no surprise if you’ve read the book, but new research by Pavel S. Blagov Ph.D. which is about to be published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science suggests that “people who scored higher on the psychopathic subtraits of meanness and disinhibition tended to show less interest in social distancing and hygiene”. (source)
Blagov is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Whitman College.
As the Black Lives Matter protests continue around the world, I’ve been doing a series of interviews on the Bullshit Filter podcast with members of our American audience, trying to get their perspectives on the causes and solutions of the current wave of anger towards police.
One of the fastest and simplest solutions I can see is to run every cop through a psychopath test to identify which of them need are more likely to do others harm. It doesn’t require entirely re-thinking policing or new kinds of legislation and it’s hard for anyone to argue with. By its very nature, policing is a career choice that would seem attractive to psychopaths, as it offers an enhanced level of personal power. While I’m sure most cops are good people, trying to help their community, it makes sense that a higher-than-average percentage of them are going to be psychopaths.
So I’d like to see a movement pushing for every police department to implement psychopath tests and then to come up with a range of strategies for what they are going to do with the cops that get a high score. Perhaps they could be required to have desk jobs; or be partnered up with someone who has a low psychopath score; or be subjected to regular review by a panel of confirmed non-psychopaths.
This isn’t going to solve all of the problems of police violence – not all racists are psychopaths – but it would have to make a huge difference and I think it would be a terrific place to start.