The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade: Make Us Believe that Evil Comes from Others
|© Red Pill Press|
After reading the book Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes by Andrzej Łobaczewski, I wished to interview the author. However, given that he was sick, he was unable to respond to my questions except in the shortest way, a single paragraph. Fortunately, I was able to interview Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See, editors of the book who discussed the questions with him via telephone and were thus able to speak on his behalf.
I think everyone should read this book because it provides the keys necessary for understanding events that we often can't comprehend. The book describes the origins of "Evil", its true nature, and illustrates how it spreads throughout society.
Mr. Łobaczewski spent years observing those in power whose actions were the incarnation of evil, people described in psychological terms as anti-social, psychopaths, or sociopaths.
Silvia Cattori: Here is what a Swiss psychiatrist said to me about the book Political Ponerology:
I have never read anywhere else the things Łobaczewski speaks about. No other book has treated the subject in this way. It was immediately useful for me in my work. The things he affirms about perverse/pathological behaviour - in conflicts in business as well as in the political sphere where we see more and more conflicts and more and more people of this type - immediately helped me to better understand, for example, the functioning of these individuals who create conflicts in their work and who, wherever they go, pollute the atmosphere.
Why did he choose a title that is so hermetic, Political Ponerology, for a book that should interest not only psychologists and psychiatrists but everyone?
Laura: First of all, let me say that a very strong emotional bond exists between us and Dr. Łobaczewski and we have communicated with him regarding this interview. He is very elderly and his health has been very poor for the past year or so and he regrets that he is not able to respond personally; he made an attempt, but he is presently not even strong enough to write more than the briefest answers to written questions. Even then, after a few minutes of concentration, he is exhausted and his focus wanders. We very much want to protect his health and well-being, but we also wanted to satisfy the request for responses to important issues. Andrzej pointed out to me on the phone that he has full confidence in our understanding of the subject. He repeated that, as he said when he wrote to us, he was looking for someone who was going in the same direction, thinking the same way, that he could hand his work on to - more or less pass the torch, and of all the work had been passed to him by others. He spent years looking for someone and it was our work that met the criteria.
Having said that, let me try to answer your question: Why did Łobaczewski choose that title? The first thing is that the work was originally a series of documents, technical and academic, originating from various sources. As Łobaczewski explains in his introduction, very little of the work is original to him, he is just the compiler. Academics tend to choose titles for their papers that are phrased in academic terminology, and scientists consider it their prerogative to make up new terms to describe their discoveries, (such as physicists coming up with words like quarks, muons, leptons, and so on), so in that sense, the title is entirely understandable. The term, "ponerology" is an obscure theological term that means the study of evil. Andrzej knew this, and decided to reclaim and rehabilitate this word for scientific use since, as it happens, our science really doesn't have a word for the study of "evil," per se. We need one.
Henry: When Łobaczewski sent us the manuscript for his book, we were stunned. We had been preoccupied with the question of why, no matter how much good will there is in the world, there is so much war, suffering and injustice. It doesn't seem to matter what plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. And it has been that way for thousands of years, repeating over and over again.
We had also been researching the question of psychopathy for several years, and had published many articles on the subject on our web sites. We had also transcribed an electronic edition for research of the seminal work on psychopathy by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity, with the permission of the copyright holders because it had gone out of print. It is such an important and seminal text that we made it freely available for download. So we had a good grounding in the question and had some inkling that the question of psychopathy and the dire situation we are facing on the planet were related.
Laura: Let me add that the reason we had been researching psychopathy was, as mentioned above, because we had encountered the phenomenon first hand. We were engaged in working with groups of people and the phenomena that Ponerology addresses in terms of groups and how they are corrupted by pathological deviants insinuating themselves into a group under the guise of normality, was very familiar to us on a small social scale. We had observed it and dealt with it time and again, though in the early days, we were just flying by the seat of our pants. We knew that something strange was going on, we just did not have labels and categories for it. We found some of those labels and categories in texts about psychopathology, but it still did not address the social dynamic.
Henry: But Political Ponerology presents the subject in a radically different way from other texts about psychopathy, suggesting that the influence of psychopaths and other deviants isn't just one of many influences working on society, but, under the appropriate circumstances, can be the primary influence that shapes the way we live, what we think, and how we judge what is going on around us. When you understand the true nature of that influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless - they literally have no conscience.
SC: When you come to understand that the reins of political and economic power are in the hands of people who have no conscience, who have no capacity for empathy, it opens up a completely new way of looking at what we call "evil". Evil is no longer only a moral issue; it can now be analyzed and understood scientifically.
Laura: With Łobaczewski, the word "Ponerology" has been reclaimed from its religious connotations where it never did society as a whole much good, and is the science of evil, of understanding its origins scientifically, and how it can infect individuals and societies like a disease.
When psychopaths are the policy makers in government and the CEOs of big business, the way they think and reason - their 'morality' - becomes the common culture and 'morality' of the population over which they preside. When this happens, the mind of the population is infected in the way a pathogen infects a physical body. The only way to protect ourselves against this pathological thinking is to inoculate ourselves against it, and that is done by learning as much as possible about the nature of psychopathy and its influence on us. Essentially, this particular 'disease' thrives in an environment where its very existence is denied, and this denial is planned and deliberate.
While the title of the book may seem hermetic, it must be understood in the context of the great difficulty Andrej had in getting his work published at all. The first two manuscripts were lost, as he describes in his preface. One was burned minutes before the arrival of the police in a raid on his home, and the second was sent to the Vatican via an intermediary, never to be seen again. The third version, the one published by Red Pill Press, was written while Andrzej was living in the US during the Reagan years. Zbigniew Brzeszinki had offered to help him find a publisher, but after several months, it became clear that he was at best doing nothing and at worst actively working to ensure it never got published. So the manuscript sat in a drawer for over twenty years. It was written for a professional audience and the title was chosen in that context. This is also the reason that the text itself is very dense, and the title accurately reflects that it was not written for the layperson. It was written for professionals and in an academic style reflecting his background.
We are currently working on a more popular version of his ideas.
SC: Łobaczewski has studied these people not from a political point of view, but from a psychological point of view. He has managed to understand how it happens that mad people, ideologues, and repressive powers, in spite of their inhumanity, can obtain the support of large populations. Does not everyone have a perverse/pathological basis, periods when they pass through a perverse/pathological life?
Henry: First of all, it needs to be said that "mad people" don't need the support of large populations, only a powerful minority that can both "drive" the population and control it. Look at the polls in the United States. Bush has been hovering around 30% popularity for years - and that is the population as a whole. But because he is backed by a very powerful minority, the people who own the media, the arms industry and their military supporters, the oil companies, among others, popular discontent doesn't matter. And as long as Bush's politics don't overtly affect the ordinary American negatively, they don't care enough to do anything about it.
Laura: In the U.S. - and elsewhere in the world - even the most oppressed and unfairly treated people are easily controlled by fear, by threats to their affordable materialism: entertainment, sports, gambling, so on. Even the failure of schools, medical care, social safety nets, do not drive people to really question what is going on. It is, as Aldous Huxley wrote, a scientific dictatorship: bread and circuses. In short, most Americans are aware of their oppression, and express this in polls, but those in power have successfully drugged them with a plethora of distractions - fear and pleasure - sufficient to keep them under control.
Henry: There is the carrot and the stick. As long as people can continue living in the illusion, they will do so. When the illusion starts to crack, then the stick comes in.
Laura: People are afraid of making waves for fear of losing what they have, of losing their peace, of having to exert effort to resist. After all, it does take all their time to keep the illusion going, they must slave daily to keep the SUV from being repossessed, and they want to have time for the football game on Saturday.
Henry: They also figure that Bush only has a couple of years left anyway. The system will take care of itself. Łobaczewski's book shows us why this is an extremely naïve way of thinking. The system that is in place is a pathological system that is at odds in a very profound way with the being or nature of most people. People of conscience are being ruled by people with no conscience. This fact is the primary injustice and is the basis for the other ills of society.
Laura: For many years this system has been covert because there were still people in high positions with conscience, but over time, they have all been replaced or disposed of in one way or another, and now the pathology of the system is out in the open, but nobody cares. If you look back over the history of the past fifty years or so, you will find that nearly every public figure who has died tragically was one who had conscience, concern for people, and influence enough to make waves against the pathological types.
Henry: The second part of your question is very important, because it is this idea that we are all somehow perverse or pathological in some ways, that we all have a shadow side as Jung put it, that serves as a major prop to the pathocratic system and makes it possible for psychopaths to hide in the general population. We have been convinced that we are all just animals and that each of us is capable of becoming a Hitler or a Bush or a Mengele, given the right circumstances. We buy into this because we have all done things in our lives for which we are ashamed, for which we feel a sense of remorse. We know those thoughts that come to us in moments of heated emotion, thoughts we wouldn't want anyone else to know or to hear. We sense that we do have this shadow side, a part of ourselves of which we aren't proud. Because we feel this sense of shame and remorse about this aspect of ourselves, we project onto others that they have the same capacity. This projection is where we make the fatal mistake.
There are two issues this raises. First, there is a world of difference between someone who, in the heat of an argument with a significant other, for example, loses control and physically or psychologically abuses that person, and someone who coldly, with calculation and forethought, carries out the same thing. The acts are wrong in both cases. I am not trying to diminish the abuse done in a moment of emotion. But that same person, who loses control momentarily, would be unable to think through and coldly plan out the same act. Something inside of him or her would recoil. In the psychopath, that voice of conscience does not exist. Psychopaths are capable of plotting out the genocide of a people, such as the Palestinians; people of conscience are not. One person may be killed in a heated argument. Many thousands can die from cold calculation.
Laura: One way of understanding this is that studies show that psychopaths not only have higher rates of violent crime, they commit different types of violent crimes than non-psychopaths. One study showed that two thirds of the victims of psychopaths were male strangers while two thirds of the victims of non-psychopaths were female family members or acquaintances - crimes of passion. Normal people can commit acts of violence while in states of extreme emotional arousal, but psychopaths cold-bloodedly select their victims for revenge or retribution or to achieve some end. That is to say that psychopathic violence is instrumental, a means to an end, predatory.
Henry: Secondly, in a society dominated by pathological values, if one can call them that, the existence of a small group of conscienceless people promoting a culture of greed and selfishness creates an environment where the pathological becomes the norm. In a society, such as the United States today, where the president can lie with impunity on matters of life and death, a pathological environment is created where lying becomes acceptable. Violence is acceptable. Greed is acceptable. It is part and parcel of the ideology of the American Dream, that anyone can be a success no matter who you have to hurt to do it. And, it is in what they must do to actually succeed that the seeds of pathology are sown. In that environment, people of conscience who are weak and easily influenced take on the characteristics of the pathological in order to survive and succeed. They see that their leaders lie and cheat, and they figure that if they want to get ahead, then they can lie and cheat as well.
Laura: I call it "Official Culture." Linda Mealey of the Department of Psychology at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, proposes that a competitive society - capitalism, for example - is one where psychopathy is adaptive and likely to increase.
Psychopathy is an adaptive life strategy that is extremely successful in American society, and thus has increased in the population. What is more, as a consequence of a society that is adaptive for psychopathy, many individuals who are NOT genetic psychopaths have similarly adapted, becoming "effective" psychopaths, or "secondary sociopaths." In other words, in a world of psychopaths, those who are not genetic psychopaths, are induced to behave like psychopaths simply to survive. When the rules are set up to make a society "adaptive" to psychopathy, it makes psychopaths of everyone.
Henry: Were that pathological influence removed from society by putting psychopaths into quarantine, by educating people of conscience on the signs of pathology, of what to look for and how to deal with manipulation, by changing the systems created by psychopaths; if through such methods we were able to remove this ponerogenic influence, then the other pole, that of conscience, would be the more influential of the two, and people would gravitate towards altruism and truth rather than selfishness and lies.
If we were able to remove the pathological influence, we might find that our conceptions of "human nature" are wrong and are weighted wrongly because we accept those who are genetically without conscience as "human". Remove them and their acts from the data set, remove their influence from society as a whole, and the higher qualities of human nature capable of conscience might find room for expression in ways that we have never dreamed possible.
SC: How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people? Can you give us the portrait of a true psychopath? Which of their faculties have problems?
Laura: The simplest, clearest and truest portrait of the psychopath is given in the titles of three seminal works on the subject: Without Conscience by Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, and Snakes in Suits by Hare and Paul Babiak. A psychopath is exactly that: conscienceless. The most important thing to remember is that this is hidden from view behind a mask of normality that is often so convincing that even experts are deceived and, as a result, they become the Snakes in Suits that control our world. That's the short answer.
Henry: Popular culture sees psychopaths as characters such as Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs, that is, as serial killers. However, while a certain number of psychopaths are criminals and have had run-ins with the law and some are, in fact, serial killers, there are a great number of them that never fall afoul of the law. These are the smarter ones, and they are the ones that are the most dangerous because they have found ways of working the system to their advantage.
There are a number of traits that we find in psychopaths: An obvious trait is the complete lack of conscience. They lack any sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey. They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their 'problems' or their mistakes. Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate. They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not tell anyone about what they have done. So another trait - and a very important one - is their ability to control the flow of information.
They are also incapable of deep emotions. In fact, when Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an immediate emotional reaction.
Our whole emotional life is a mystery to them, while at the same time providing a tremendous tool for them to manipulate us. Think of those moments when we are strongly affected by our emotions and how our ability to think is impaired. Now imagine that you were able to feign such emotion, remaining cool and calculating, while the person you were exchanging with was really trapped in an emotional cauldron. You could use tears or shouting to get what you wanted, while your victim was driven to despair by the emotions they were living.
They also seem to have no real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires. Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for the rush of adrenaline.
Another trait of the psychopath is what Łobaczewski calls their "special psychological knowledge" of normal people. They have studied us. They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us. But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us. When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some sort of spell over us. It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter what they were doing.
Many of the books written in English on psychopathy talk about psychopaths as a group which share a common constellation of traits. The most widely used scale for measuring psychopathy was developed by Dr Hare. It is the PCL-R. It lists twenty traits that are found in the personality. If the trait is found sometimes, then it is given a 1; if the trait is prominent in the personality, then it is given a 2. The highest total then is 40. People who have more than 30 on the PCL-R scale are considered as psychopaths.
But what Łobaczewski has done is to go further and give a taxonomy of different types of psychopaths and other pathological types, and he shows how their deviations work together to form a pathological system. He has brought out some work from psychologists in Europe that were lost during the years of communism.
Laura: Diagnosis is a contentious issue ; there is a controversy that needs to be explained in order to understand the possibilities of detection. 
Łobaczewski discusses the fact that in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, the psychological sciences were co-opted to support totalitarian regimes and that this was done by psychopaths in power who then set about destroying any possibility of accurate information about the condition being widely propagated. He points out that any regime that is composed primarily of pathological deviants cannot allow the science of psychology to develop and flourish freely because the result would be that the regime itself would be diagnosed as pathological thus revealing "the man behind the curtain."
Based on first hand observations of the phenomenon in question, Łobaczewski states that the repression of knowledge is undertaken in the typical manner of the psychopath: covertly and behind a "Mask of Sanity." In order to be able to control the psychological sciences, one must know or be able to sense what is going on and which fragments of psychopathology are most dangerous. A pathological political regime locates those individuals in the field who are psychopaths, (usually very mediocre scientists), facilitates their academic studies and degrees and the obtaining of key positions with supervisory capacity over scientific and cultural organizations. They are then in position to knock down more talented persons, governed both by self-interest and that typical jealousy which characterizes a psychopath's attitude toward normal people. They are the ones monitoring scientific papers for their "proper ideology" and attempting to ensure that a good specialist will be denied the scientific literature he needs.
The fact is that, over the past 50 years, the concept of psychopathy has been narrowed sharply and now refers to a specific personality disorder though there have been attempts to do away with the classification entirely, switching to "Antisocial Personality Disorder" which can embrace a wide variety of behaviors without necessarily requiring the clinical diagnosis of psychopathy. Robert Hare insists that it is important to understand that psychopathy is not synonymous with criminality or violence; not all psychopaths engage in violence and criminal behavior. At the same time, not all violent persons or criminals are psychopaths.
According to Robert Hare et al, Cleckley, Łobaczewski, and many other experts in psychopathy, a diagnosis of psychopathy cannot be made on the basis of visible behavioral symptoms to the exclusion of interpersonal and affective symptoms because such a procedure essentially makes psychopaths of many people who are simply injured by life or society and allows the true psychopaths who have a well-constructed "mask of sanity" to escape detection. Based on a growing body of literature, many (or most) psychopaths grow up in stable, well-to-do families, and become white collar criminals who, because of money and position, never have their private destructive behaviors exposed to public view and repeatedly avoid contact with the justice system.
Now, getting down to diagnosis and/or detection specifically: There are a number of theories on the The Etiology of Psychopathy such as Psychopathy as an adaptive strategy, as a variant of normal personality, a brain dysfunction, an expression of attachment or pathology in early childhood, a learning disorder, and so on. There is very little empirical evidence to support the idea that the true psychopath is the result of an abused childhood, and much empirical evidence to support that it is genetic. The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of being able to detect even the most devious psychopath.
As Henry has mentioned, in a study of reaction times to various words, emotional, neutral, pseudo words, it was noted that the Event-Related brain Potentials (ERP) in lexical decision tasks among non-criminals indicate that responses to both positive and negative words are more accurate and faster than are those to neutral words. In the brains of these subjects, the central and parietal sites indicated early and late ERP components in respect of emotional words. The late components of the ERP were thought to indicate continued processing of the word.
In this same study, non-psychopathic criminals also demonstrated sensitivity to the emotion laden words. The psychopaths, however, failed to show any reaction time or ERP differences between neutral and emotional words. More than that, the morphology of their ERPs was strikingly different from that of non-psychopaths. The late component of the ERP that was long and large in non-psychopaths was small and brief in psychopaths. It is thought that this reflects the fact that psychopaths make lexical decisions and process information in a shallow way. This is supported by recent brain-imaging studies which show that psychopathic substance abusers have less cerebral activity during performance of a lexical decision task than non-psychopathic substance abusers.
Hare and others have also discovered that the ERP anomalies of psychopaths are not specific to affective language but also include abstract language. Another curious finding noted in two separate studies was an unusually large negative wave that swept over the frontal areas of the brain. A tentative interpretation of this is that it is a reflection of a profound cognitive and affective processing anomaly.
Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans. Psychopaths exhibit unusual inter-hemispheric distribution of processing resources, have difficulty in appreciating the subtle meanings and nuances of language such as proverbs, metaphors, and so forth, have poor olfactory discrimination, possibly because of orbito-frontal dysfunction, and may have what appears to be a sub-clinical form of thought disorder characterized by a lack of cohesion and coherence in speech. All of these cognitive and affective anomalies cannot be explained by any of the other models of psychopathy, and they can be detected with brain scans.
The latter issue: the thought disorder problem, is something that we have been working on, trying to find some general rules so that the average person can make personal assessments after applying some covert tests during discussions with anyone they may suspect has some reason to deceive or manipulate them.
But this is a loaded issue. As Łobaczewski points out, if a psychopath considers himself normal, which is of course significantly easier if he possesses authority, then he would consider a normal person different and therefore abnormal. A normal person's actions and reactions, his ideas and moral criteria, strike psychopaths as abnormal. A normal person strikes a psychopath as a naive, smart-alecky believer in barely comprehensible theories about love and honor and conscience; calling him "crazy" is not all that far away.That explains why pathological governments always have considered dissidents as "mentally abnormal".
The legal system is not set up to deal with this because, of course, the legal system is often a creation of pathological individuals, or at least administered by them. Well - thought out legislation should require scientific testing of individuals whose claims that someone else is psychologically abnormal are too insistent or too doubtfully founded.
On the other hand, any pathological social or ruling system in which psychiatry is used for political reasons presents additional problems. Any person rebelling against a governmental system, which strikes him as foreign and immoral, can easily be designated by the representatives of said government as "mentally abnormal", someone who has a "personality disorder" and who should submit to psychiatric treatment and there are plenty of ways for them to gain control of the testing system. A scientifically and morally degenerate psychiatrist can be found for this.
So, this is a thorny issue.
SC: What are some of the different types identified by Łobaczewski?
Henry: As with most researchers, he makes an initial distinction between inherited deviations and acquired deviations, that is, those who are born with the pathology and those who become pathological because of injuries to brain tissue or traumas when young. Injury to brain tissue can leave scars that then change the individual's ability to perceive and to feel. Those sections of the brain meant to handle those functions can't do it, so the data is rerouted to other areas that were meant for other tasks. He calls those whose characters evolve in distorted ways due to injuries or trauma characteropaths. He then lists several forms of characteropathies: the paranoid characteropath (he cites Lenin as an example); frontal characteropathy, a deviation due to injuries in the frontal areas of the cerebral cortex (Stalin is an example of this type), drug-induced characteropthy, caused by the use of drugs that damage the central nervous system. Then, there are pathogen (disease) induced characteropaths (he suggests that Franklin D. Roosevelt may have suffered from this disorder), as well as certain people with epilepsy (he cites Caesar and Napoleon).
The inherited disorders are: schizoidia or schizoidal psychopathy, essential psychopathy, asthenic psychopathy, anankastic, hysterical, and skirtoidal psychopathy, and those whom he labels 'jackals', that is, individuals who end up as hired guns or mercenary killers. Łobaczewski speculates that this type is a mix of the other types. To give an idea, I'll just touch on two types.
Schizoidal psychopathy is a deviation that produces people who are hypersensitive and distrustful and disregard the feelings of others. They are attracted to high-sounding ideas, but their impoverished psychological nature severely limits their perceptions and turns their so-called "good intentions" into influences for evil. Their idea of human nature ends up perverting their attempts. As Łobaczewski says the typical expression of their attitude to humanity is expressed in what he calls the "schizoidal declaration": "Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea". How many movements, from fascism to communism on to the neoconservatism we see today are based upon that idea! One could easily imagine this statement coming from Leo Strauss, for example.
Essential psychopaths are the type that is closest to the idea of psychopathy discussed by Cleckley, Hare, Babiak, and others. Łobaczewski makes the frightening remark that "They learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to them. They also become conscious of being different from the world of those other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance, like a para-specific variety."
Think about the ramifications of this statement: They are, to some extent, self-aware as a group even in childhood! Recognizing their fundamental difference from the rest of humanity, their allegiance would be to others of their kind, that is, to other psychopaths. Łobaczewski points out that, in any society in this world, psychopathic individuals often create an active network of common collusion, estranged from the community of normal people to some extent. They are aware of being different. Their world is forever divided into "us and them"; their world with its own laws and customs and that other "foreign world" of normal people that they consider to be full of presumptuous ideas and customs about truth and honor and decency in light of which they know they are condemned morally. Their own twisted sense of honor compels them to cheat and revile non-psychopaths and their values. In contradiction to the ideals of normal people, psychopaths feel breaking promises and agreements is normal behavior. Not only do they covet possessions and power and feel they have the right to them just because they exist and can take them, but they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others; what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor. They also learn very early how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of non-psychopaths, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of achieving their goals.
So now imagine how human beings who are totally in the dark about this can be deceived and manipulated by these individuals if they were in power in different countries, pretending to be loyal to the local populations while at the same time playing up obvious and easily discernable physical differences between groups (such as race, skin colour, religion, etc). Psychologically normal humans would be set against one another on the basis of unimportant differences while the deviants in power, with a fundamental difference from the rest of us, a lack of conscience, an inability to feel for another human being, reaped the benefits and pulled the strings.
I think that pretty accurately describes the situation we are confronted with today.
SC: Can you give us examples that will help us understand more generally the problem?
Henry: Łobaczewski's contribution is his analysis of the way the different types of psychopathic types work together to form a system where people who are clinically pathological have the positions of power and rule over people who are psychologically normal.
Early in the book, Łobaczewski describes his experiences in university where he first encountered the phenomenon. He went into the library to get some books on the question of psychopathy and found to his amazement that they had all been removed! This fact demonstrates a self-awareness of their difference amongst at least some of them, and in the case of Poland under communism, of those in a position of power highly enough placed to get books removed from the university library. Laura said reading that passage made the hair stand up on her neck! The implications of this fact are far-reaching in understanding our world, how it got that way, and what we need to do to change it.
But here are some examples of psychopathic behaviour as reported by other authors:
A mother plays a game of hide and seek with her 4 year old daughter. She is holding a large kitchen knife in her hand. She tells the daughter, I am going to count to one hundred, and if I find you, then I am going to cut off your thumbs. The girl, terrified, hides in her closet, and the mother, knowing that is likely where she will be, lets her stay there, terrified, frightened, traumatized, until the very end. When the mother opens the door, she bends down over her daughter and cuts the skin under one of her thumbs.
A family has two sons. One of them commits suicide using a hunting rifle. The next Christmas, the parents offer the very same gun to their other son as his Christmas gift. When asked about why, they respond, "It was a perfectly good gun."
How does such behaviour fit into a belief system that we all have some divine spark within us or that everyone has a conscience? Can you imagine doing such things to your own children?
Our moralizing doesn't give us any means of treating this sickness. It must be understood for what it is. These people cannot be 'healed'. Imagine that same individual in a position of power and you can explain scandals like Enron. Hare reports on psychopaths who go after the elderly. Say an elderly person has been conned out of his or her life savings - obviously by a psychopath. There are other psychopaths who will contact the victim, claiming to be a lawyer who, for a fee, can get the money back. The victim will then borrow money from a friend or relative and lose that to the shyster lawyer.
Laura: One of the main factors to consider in terms of how a society can be taken over by a group of pathological deviants is that the only limitation is that of the participation of susceptible individuals within that given society. Łobaczewski gives an average figure for the most active deviants of approximately 6% of a given population. Of course, this figure will vary from country to country depending on many variables. Western society has a broad selection of susceptible individuals.
The essential psychopath is at the center of the web. The other psychopathies and characteropathies described by Łobaczewski and others form the first tier of the Pathological Control System and it should be noted that they are far more numerous than the essential psychopaths. So, this group is about 6% of a given population. (1% essential psychopath and up to 5% other psychopathies and characteropathies.)
The next tier of such a system is composed of individuals who were born normal, but are either already warped by long-term exposure to psychopathic material via familial or social influences, or who, through psychic weakness have chosen to meet the demands of psychopathy for their own selfish ends. Numerically, according to Łobaczewski, this group is about 12% of a given population under normal conditions. It is difficult, as Łobaczewski points out, to draw a distinct boundary between these latter types and the genetic deviants without the input of genuine, non-psychopathic, science. At this point, the distinctions can only be descriptive.
So it is that approximately 18% of any given population is active in the creation and imposition of a Pathocracy (or the attempt to create and impose same). The 6% group constitute the Pathocratic nobility and the 12% group forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous.
Once set up, the elitist psychopathic system corrodes the entire social organism, wasting its skills and power. Once a Pathocracy has been established, it follows a certain course and has certain "attractive" powers. In a Pathocracy, the socioeconomic system arises from the social structure which is created by the system of political power, which is a product of the particular elitist world view of pathological deviants. Thus it is that a Pathocracy is more a macrosocial disease process created by human pathogens, and it can come to affect an entire nation to a degree that is equivalent to a cancer metastasizing. And just as the process of cancer in a body follows a characteristic pathodynamic process, so does the macrosocial disease of Pathocracy.
It is impossible to comprehend such a pathological phenomenon using the methods of "normal" people which do not take into account the deviant thought processes of human pathogens. Certainly it could be said that the entire world has been governed by a "covert pathocracy" (or cryptopathocracy) for a very long time. Many researchers suggest that there has always been a "secret government" that operates even though the "out in the open" government is not, technically, a Pathocracy. The suggestion is that psychopaths are technically ALWAYS in the background, even in the cycles of history that are NOT pathocracies (i.e. during "good times" in what Łobaczewski describes as the foundation for a hysteroidal cycle that opens the door to an overt Pathocracy).
If we use the term pathocracy for "secret government rule", then all of history becomes a "pathocracy" and the word loses its meaning, so it is important to note that the term "Pathocracy" is the specific phenomenon that comes as a result of the hedonism of good times, and that it is characterized by 100% of essential psychopaths assuming some type of leadership position, out in the open, as occurred in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia and Eastern Europe. And, I should add, is occurring now.
One cannot really designate the issues that confront us today as "political", using the ordinary names of political ideologies because, as noted above, pathological deviants operate behind a complete mask, by deception and other psychological tricks which they practice with great cunning. If we think or believe that any political group that has such and such a name is heterogeneous with regard to its true nature, we will not be able to identify the causes and properties of the disease. Any ideology will be used to cloak the pathological qualities from the minds of both experts and ordinary people. So, trying to refer to this or that as "left" or "right" or "center" or "socialist", "democratic," "communist," "democrat" or "republican," and so on, will never help us to understand the pathological self-reproduction and its expansionist external influences. As Łobaczewski says, Ignota nulla curatio morbi! No movement will ever succeed that does not factor psychopathy and ponerology into its considerations!
SC: The perverse are those who in the face of problems they have created say, "It is the fault of others. I have nothing to do with it."
Henry: Exactly. One example that comes to mind is of the psychopath cited by Hare who killed his parents and then pleaded for sympathy because he was an orphan!
Nothing is ever their fault. They are never responsible for anything.
Laura: I'd like to explain this phenomenon a bit more. The psychopath is an individual who divides the world into black and white, good and evil, and this division is very rigid. The psychopathic structure is organized around a very simple structure: "feels good, is good / feels bad, is bad." But, just because this structure is rigid, that doesn't mean it is rational or stable! Things are good or bad, but what is good or bad depends on the immediate circumstances, i.e. what the psychopath wants at the moment.
But this is not a "defense mechanism," it is just simply that, for the psychopath, the locus of reality is centered in what "feels good" with no reference to any other human being at all except as objects that can serve this need. You might almost say that the psychological structure of the psychopath is equivalent to a newborn infant, and it never develops, never grows up.
An infant has no internal self other than being at the center of a bundle of neurological inputs and outputs that seek pleasure and reject discomfort. Of course, with a grown up psychopath, there are highly developed neurological circuits that have developed in the process of learning what works to get his needs and demands met.
Under the influence of this internal structure, the psychopath is not able to appreciate the wants or needs of other human beings, the subtle shades of a situation or to tolerate ambiguity. The entire external reality is filtered through - made to conform to - this rigid and primitive internal structure.
When the psychopath is frustrated, what they seem to feel is that everything in the world "out there" is against them and they are, good, long-suffering and only seeking the ideal of love, peace, safety, beauty, warmth and comfort. That is, when a psychopath is confronted with something displeasing or threatening, that object (person, idea, group, whatever), is placed in the "all bad" category because, of course, if the psychopath does not like it, it cannot be good!
Now, here's the kicker: when the evidence mounts that some choice or act of the psychopath created a problem or made a situation worse, this, too, must be denied as part of the self and projected as coming from "out there."
That is, anything that is defined as "bad" is projected onto someone or something else because the internal structure of the psychopath will admit to no wrong, nothing bad, no errors. And keep in mind that this is not because they choose to do that, it is because they cannot do otherwise. That is the way they are made. They are like a cat that enjoys torturing a mouse before eating it. That's just what they do.
Psychopaths are masters of Projective Identification. That is, they project into others everything that is bad (remembering that "bad" changes according to what the psychopath wants), and seek in manipulative ways to induce in that other person what is being projected, and seek to control the other person who is perceived as manifesting those "bad" characteristics. In this way, the psychopath gains enjoyment and feels "in control."
Keep in mind that what the psychopath considers to be good has nothing to do with truth, honor, decency, consideration for others, or any other thing than what the psychopath wants at any given moment. In this way, any violation of the rights of others, any foul, evil deed, can be perpetrated by a psychopath and he will still sleep like a baby (literally) at night because he has done nothing wrong!
George Bush and the Neocons can destroy Iraq and call it "bringing democracy" and actually feel good about it. Israeli psychopaths can steal Palestine, murder Palestinians, and justify it with the Bible and feel good about it. Of course they know they are lying when they lie, but inside, they believe that true good is what makes them feel good and safe in this world. And they know that beings such as they are will be morally condemned and attacked by the majority of other human beings if they do not conceal their drive for what they want behind a mask of some high sounding justification.
SC: Is this to suggest that the modern pathocrats, operating in today's so-called 'information society' are no different than the supporters of Hitler? Except that they are more dangerous because they have more sophisticated tools and are able to use the various means of communication in a more conscious way?
Laura: That sums it up very well.
Henry: The pathocratic system, that is, a government staffed by psychological deviants, will produce similar effects whether it is hidden behind the mask of fascism, communism, or capitalism. The ideology itself is unimportant. It merely serves as a cover and a rallying point for a certain percentage of the population who are needed as a support base. This support group believe the slogans and are unable to see behind the mask. A certain percentage of them will interpret the ideological slogans with the eyes of conscience and believe that the aim is to improve our lot. Therefore we get slogans about the brotherhood of man, or of the exploited, empty phrases about justice and freedom, bringing democracy to Iraq, and so on, while the reality is one of powerlessness, division, and enslavement. As certain individuals who support the ideology come to see the gulf between the ideals and the actions of the leaders or Party, some will leave to be replaced by others.
In the world today where information is controlled by a small number of media outlets, and those media outlets have much in common with the pathological governments, greater numbers of people can be influenced and infected with pathological thinking. An example of this is the famous remark made by Madeleine Albright back in 1996 when she was asked about the 500,000 deaths in Iraq, mostly of children, due to the embargo. She responded that she thought 'It was worth it', that is, those deaths were the necessary price to pay to bring down Saddam. That is unquestionably pathological logic, and yet how many Americans would have heard that response and thought nothing of it? Anyone who, on hearing that statement, was not outraged has been infected with pathological thinking, they have been ponerized. Their thinking has become distorted by the pathological infection.
SC: Are the absence of conscience and insensitivity to suffering what distinguishes psychopaths from normal people?
Henry: That is probably the key point that people need to understand. For years artists, writers, philosophers, and others have attempted to understand how it is that our world is an endless stream of suffering. They have attempted to find moralistic explanations. Łobaczewski spends the first part of his book discussing the futility of this approach, suggesting instead a scientific approach based upon an understanding of evil as a societal disease, as the actions of pathological deviants within a society. Without the ability to empathize with others, these people cannot feel that suffering, any more than a cat feels the suffering of a mouse when it toys with it prior to killing it. Bush can order thousands of American troops into Iraq or Afghanistan where they will be killed or permanently maimed, and where they will kill thousands and destroy an entire country, can sanction the torturing of prisoners, can support the actions of Israel in the Occupied territories or Lebanon, and none of the suffering he is causing is real to him. There is no hardware in these people that can process these emotions. They are incapable at the physiological levels of doing so.
Laura: They don't have the hardware to run that program.
Henry: The only suffering the psychopath knows is when his food is taken away from him, and I am using food in a symbolic sense: that is, when he doesn't get what he wants. That is the depth of their emotional life. Anything else that we would read into them comes from our own imagination projecting back onto them our own internal reality.
And we do it all the time because it is very difficult to really grasp that there are people who do not have the rich inner lives that normal people have.
Laura: Actually, when we project our own inner structure onto the psychopath, we are behaving most psychopathically! We are then in a "black and white" world where the nuances of human existence are not being considered. The fact is, everyone is not created equal in terms of intelligence, talent, physical appearance, and so on. And just as everyone looks different, so are they different in their psychological make-up even if there are certain things that are shared as a species. Łobaczewski points out that it is a universal law of nature that the higher a given species' psychological organization, the greater the psychological differences among individual units. Man is the most highly organized species; hence, these variations between individuals are the greatest. Both qualitatively and quantitatively, psychological differences occur in all structures of the pattern of human personality.
Experience teaches us that psychological differences among people are often the cause of problems. We can overcome these problems only if we accept psychological differences as a law of nature and appreciate their creative value. These differences are a great gift to humanity, enabling human societies to develop their complex structures and to be highly creative at both the individual and collective level. Thanks to psychological variety, the creative potential of any society is many times higher than it could possibly be if our species were psychologically more homogeneous.
The normal human personality is in constant flux, learning, growing, changing. A lifelong evolutionary process is the normal state of affairs. Some political and religious systems attempt to induce excessive stability and homogeneity in our personalities, but this is unhealthy for the individual and society from a psychological point of view.
A society that is properly educated, psychologically, will know about and understand differences, and will also know about the main thing that normal humans have in common: the ability to develop a mature conscience. In this way, differences can be celebrated and the creative potential fully optimized.
SC: If we find more and more manipulators and perverse people at all levels, is it because our society favours narcissists and individualists?
Henry: Isn't that what we see with the values of the neoliberals? The entire idea of capitalism is a narcissistic idea. In the United States, which is the model that is held up to the rest of the world, we are told "anyone can become president". It is the myth of individual success. "Look out for Number 1." "If only you work hard enough, you, too, can become rich and successful." "Failure is your own fault."
Faced with this mythology, with this ideology, psychopaths are better prepared to succeed than people of conscience because they have no ethical or moral sensitivities that will put a brake on their actions. They are quite willing to step on anyone necessary to get to the top: backstabbing, lying, spreading stories about their rivals, are fine, with never a moment lost in remorse.
The pushing of neoliberalism on the rest of the world is also a way to ponerize greater portions of the globe. It is a pathological ideology hiding behind an economic pseudo-science.
SC: Are we making a mistake when we imagine that the suffering created by Israel in Palestine and the US in Afghanistan and Iraq would end the day that Bush or Olmert, or any individual, leave power? That the causes are systemic and are even impervious to changes of political party and government?
Henry: Yes. Look at the United States. The two parties are mirror images of each other. To preserve the image of democracy, both are needed, both serve the same masters. But there are no leaders in the US who are standing up and speaking about the genocide of the Palestinians. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are passed over in silence. There is no room for conscience in the US government, in either party, and the control of the press, not to mention other means such as blackmail and threats, ensure that those who might speak up, don't.
Israel is a state founded upon a great lie: that some supreme being declared a small group of people to be "his chosen people" and gave them a bit of real estate in the Middle East thousands of years ago. The great lie of Israel and Judaism is also the foundational lie of Christianity and Islam, the two other monotheistic religions. So we have a great part of the world living since thousands of years with belief systems that are patently preposterous - if the teachings are taken literally and not seen as distorted expressions of some greater, underlying spiritual truth.
How is changing any individual player in this system going to change a dynamic that has been unfolding over thousands of years? The pathocratic structure described by Łobaczewski applies not only to governments, but also to other groups and organizations: anywhere that power accrues. So religious organizations and liberation movements can become ponerized, and what, at its origin, may well have been a tool of liberation becomes a tool of enslavement.
If, as Łobaczewski suggests, the essential psychopaths recognize each other and are able to work together to achieve common aims for their "para-specific species", as opposed to our interests, then we even have a mechanism for explaining a control structure that extends back in time, back into the mists when the first psychopaths set up the first pathocracy. All of a sudden, theories which until now have been belittled as "conspiracy theories" can be looked at in a new light, with a new means of explaining how they could exist. This, I think, is a very important area for further research.
Another question that can be asked is the following: what is the effect on the personality of believing a lie? Is there a pathology that has as its basis accepting a fundamental lie as the cornerstone of a belief system? There have been studies done on "belief" and the character of true believers. But what if the original error is not so much belief as belief in a lie? Is any belief a belief in a lie because our knowledge is imperfect, and once we become fixed on "believing" no matter what, does our personality become distorted?
But to come back to your question, Israel appears to have a special place in the world today. It can ignore international law and not worry it will be called to account. It can unleash brutal attacks on the Palestinians and yet it is always portrayed as the victim - a typical psychopathic tactic. Attacks against Jews across the globe are catalogued and denounced while the same acts committed against Arabs and Moslems are acceptable - another psychopathic trait. We have speculated in other books we have published, such as 911: The Ultimate Truth, that the psychopaths at the top of the pyramid have chosen to use the Jews for a special role in unleashing a great culling of the human population. The idea that there is a great Jewish conspiracy is the cover story put out by the psychopathic pathocrats to cover their own plans. There is a conspiracy, but it isn't Jewish; it is pathological.
SC: Can things only get worse because macrosocial Evil is the same Evil that has been affecting humanity since of the dawn of time? An evil somehow inherent in human nature before which we are impotent?
Henry: The evil is not inherent in human nature - at least not in normal humans who have been educated properly. This issue is one of the most important points made by Łobaczewski in his analysis of the pathocratic system. This systemic evil comes from a small group of people who have no conscience, either because they were born that way, that is, they are genetic psychopaths, or because, due to injuries when young or due to upbringing, their conscience died or withered away.
For example, Łobaczewski thinks that Stalin was a characteropath. That is, he was not born a psychopath, but the pathological traits developed due to injuries when he was young. His type of pathology can be identified. So in fact Łobaczewski's research is liberating because it frees us from the idea that these horrible acts of evil are part of normal "human nature". These individuals are like disease pathogens in a body - like a cancer on society, or like leprosy. Certainly, a body can be eaten up and destroyed by the disease, but it is the disease doing it, not the body itself.
We won't really know what human nature is until the pathocratic influence is removed and a truly human society, that is, one led by and with values in accordance with our highest nature, our conscience, is able to be founded.
SC: We have seen the ease with which a George Bush or a Tony Blair are able to lie. They don't even bat an eye, lying without any shame. Do you think liars like Bush and Blair, who present the traits of the narcissist and the manipulator, are born perverse/pathological?
Henry: We are not psychologists, and we are not going to give any diagnosis of individuals. We note, however, that there have been stories that Bush used to blow up frogs with firecrackers when he was a kid. He is also completely irresponsible. Nothing is ever his fault. Blair has the smooth charm that is remarked upon so frequently by psychologists researching the question of psychopathy. They are, as far as I am concerned, pathological figures. But what is important is the system, the pathocratic system. Individuals perform different roles in the system according to type.
Are these traits intrinsic to the individual and can they be corrected?
Henry: Correction depends on many variables.. Before we can think about correcting these abnormalities, we need to find ways of protecting ourselves from their influence. That means first admitting that such people exist and are found in positions of power, and second, learning to recognize the signs of their manipulations and the pathological traits of our own thinking in order to free ourselves from their influence.
Laura: As Henry says, there are many variables. When speaking of psychopaths, specifically, the general consensus today is that they are not only incurable, they are un-treatable.
The first problem is that if you want to treat a problem, you have to have a patient. The word patient comes from Latin, and means "to suffer." A patient, by definition, is someone who is suffering and seeks treatment.
Psychopaths do not experience distress and do not think that anything is wrong with them, they do not suffer stress or neuroses, and do not seek out treatment voluntarily. They do not consider their attitudes and behavior to be at all wrong, and do not benefit from the many treatment programs that have been set up to help them "develop empathy" and interpersonal skills. The psychopath recognizes no flaw in his psyche, no need for change. They will, however, participate in treatment programs in prisons in order to gain their release.
When the recidivism rate of psychopaths and other offenders who had been in treatment was examined, it was found that the rate of general recidivism was equally high in the treated and untreated group, 87% and 90% respectively, however the rate of violent recidivism was significantly higher in the treated group than the untreated group; 77% and 55% respectively. In contrast, the treated non-psychopaths had significantly lower rates of general and violent recidivism; 44% and 22% respectively, than did untreated psychopaths, 58% and 39%. So it seems that treatment programs work for non-psychopaths, but actually make true psychopaths worse.
A Canadian journalist reporting on this study wrote: "After their release, it was found that those who had scored highest in terms of 'good treatment behaviour' and who had the highest "empathy" scores were the ones who were more likely to reoffend after release."
That's the psychopath for you: they can fake anything to get what they want.
The question is: how can therapy make someone worse? Robert Hare's conjecture is that group therapy and insight-oriented therapy actually help psychopaths to develop better ways of manipulating, deceiving and using people but do nothing to help them understand themselves.
Freud argued psychopaths are untreatable in psychotherapy precisely because having a conscience is a prerequisite for being able to use psychotherapy. It is the conscience, and the related capacity for concern for others, that drives the serious scrutiny of one's motives, which underlie one's behaviour. Yet psychopaths lack conscience and concern by definition.
SC: How can one tell if one is not himself a psychopath? That we haven't been influenced ourselves by the effects of their perversion/pathology while they occupy positions of power in an administration where we find ourselves - in a trade union, a political party or elsewhere?
Laura: As to the first part of your question, let me just say that it's not an unusual question - for a normal human - but by now you probably have figured out that if a person thinks they might have something "wrong" with them, they aren't a psychopath! Remember: The psychopath simply cannot conceive of anything being wrong with him or herself.
Henry: It is very possible - in fact, terrifyingly common - to become ponerized, as Łobaczewski puts it, that is, to become infected with this evil. It happens when you begin to accept pathological thinking as normal. We used the example of Madeleine Albright above. Look at professional sport, for another example. It is now accepted as normal that intimidation on the field is a legitimate part of a sport like football. We saw during the World Cup last year that Materazzi provoked Zidane ruthlessly during the final match. People think nothing of it. They accept it is part of the game today. However, such verbal violence has nothing to do with the game of football. It is only a part of the game because the world of professional sport, and by example, the world of sport as a whole, has become ponerized. What is pathological has become accepted as normal.
And as soon as one area is accepted, that infection spreads. When we begin to accept pathological forms of thought as our own, as normal, our ability to think degenerates.
SC: When you say there are about 6% of these perverse/pathological in the human population, how did you arrive at this number?
Henry: Łobaczewski's 6% comes from his analysis and that of the other members of the group with whom he was working. But that was for Poland. It is possible that the numbers differ from country to country depending upon their particular histories. If we look at North America or Australia, areas colonized to some extent by people either being forced to leave their homes, criminals, or adventurers, we can ask whether or not the prospect of conquering continents might not have appealed to certain types more than others. Does the history of the American west for example, and the genocide of the indigenous peoples, not point to a higher incidence of psychopathy? Perhaps the level in the United States is higher today because of it.
Laura: A recent study of a university population suggested that perhaps 5% or more of this sample might be deemed psychopathic. This was a careful study designed to ferret out psychopaths that are not criminal but are, instead, successful individuals within the community. This study also demonstrated that psychopathy does occur in the community and at what might be a higher than expected rate; and psychopathy appears to have little overlap with personality disorders aside from Antisocial Personality Disorder. Obviously, work needs to be done in order to understand what factors differentiate the law abiding (although not moral-abiding) psychopath from the law-breaking psychopath. This highlights one of the major problems of the research to date which has focused primarily on forensic samples.
SC: Does it include men and women in general?
Laura: Although the vast majority of psychopaths are male, there are female psychopaths. The ratio is more than 1/10 males versus approximately 1/100 females according to one estimate.
SC: How did you establish that it was more frequent among men? This means that in the general population, almost one person in ten has tendencies, more or less strong - to create a climate of conflict?
Laura: This has been established as an average from various studies. As the study cited above, a university population (psychology students, by the way, which ought to give us pause!) gives a figure of 5% or more, we might think that it was the sample - people involved in studying psychology, an easy way to power over others - that gave such high numbers. On the other hand, this study may have netted individuals with psychopathic behaviors who were not necessarily true psychopaths. Of course, the figure could be higher in one place than another, higher in one profession than another, and so on. The one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that psychopaths, because of their nature, rise to the top in whatever milieu they find themselves. So do not imagine that they are down there, in the gutters of society, and that you will not encounter them or be affected by them.
SC: This percentage seems very low. Does it cover only the perverse who have a dominant position and who sow discord and disorder wherever they go?
Henry: It may seem low because in a ponerized society, many people become infected with the disease. They see what others are doing, and not being strong enough themselves to follow their own moral code, if that code differs from that of their neighbours, they follow the herd. These people are the support base for the status quo. They may not be psychopaths themselves, but they support and defend it.
Another aspect to maintaining the support base is the use of fear, from overt threats of imprisonment and torture to the kind of fear from being marked as different, as "opposing the president" and the like.
Laura: Also keep in mind the 12% of individuals who are susceptible to the influence and thinking style of the psychopaths. In the end, you have a total of 18% or more of any given population that seeks to subdue and control the rest. If you then consider that remainder, the 82%, and keep in mind the bell curve, at least 80% of the remainder will follow whoever is in charge. And since psychopaths have no limitations on what they can or will do to get to the top, the ones in charge are generally pathological. It is not power that corrupts, it is that corrupt individuals seek power.
SC: Conflict seems to be a form of food for this type of perverse/pathological personality. Because it permits them to project their aggression, their violence on others and avoid to put themselves into question?
Henry: You might say that, having no emotions of their own, they feed off of their power to stir up the emotions of others. They get a kick out of the power it gives them. It makes them feel superior to be "above" such emotional displays.
SC: Łobaczewski's analysis of lying is very powerful. When he demonstrates that the liar is always right, he is very convincing. There is in this a new matrices for understanding how psychopaths function. He explains very well this mechanism of the lie. The lie is their way of functioning and winning. I would like to know more about this mechanism of the lie and its effects. How does it work? Are these liars in all fields?
Henry: Lying is a very successful strategy because very few people think that there are hardcore liars in society who lie as a matter of course.
Think of a divorce or some other case before a judge and jury. Most of us will go into the proceedings with the idea that the truth is somewhere in the middle. The two opposing sides in a case will tell their stories, each embellishing their story a bit, each putting themselves in the best light, and the judge or jury will assume the truth is somewhere in the middle.
But what happens when one of the people is a liar and the other is a person telling the truth? The liar is at an advantage because the judge or jury will still expect that the truth is somewhere in the middle. So someone who is the victim of a liar and manipulator cannot come out ahead. Telling the truth cannot get that person 100% of the justice he or she deserves, while lying will always get the perpetrator something.
Daily life is like that trial. We are always going to give others the benefit of the doubt, if you are a moral person. The liar and manipulator will never do that and will use the good will of the person of conscience against him.
Lying is therefore always a winning strategy. That, in itself, can be an indicator that we are living in a pathological system!
Laura: When you consider the infantile internal structure of the psychopath, it's not so difficult to understand the lying aspect. The psychopath isn't really even lying, he is just "creating reality" so that it conforms to what he wants.
Let me try to explain. The psychopathic reality exists by fiat: they declare things to be so. To them, these declarations represent what reality is. The present declaration may contradict what they said a moment ago. This means nothing to them. They make no attempt to deal with the contradiction because, for them, there is no contradiction. Remember, the psychopath cannot process abstractions such as space and time, and what they said a moment ago, under one set of influences, is now past, and therefore no longer exists.
Psychopaths demonstrate a total lack of understanding of what we call "facts." Normal humans really have difficulty conceiving of this because to us, facts are a basic part of our lives. We live by them, base our assessments and decisions on them. We establish facts, and then test things and establish more facts. When we debate, we start with facts and show how we derive our conclusions from those facts.
Psychopaths do not do that. But, because they are projecting their own internal structure onto the psychopath, most people do not understand this. Normal humans who are thinking psychopathically try to convince themselves that there is some other reason for this bizarre mental condition. When psychopaths do not deal with facts, we think that they are doing it intentionally, that they are playing a game with us. We think that they do know what facts are but don't want to admit it.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Psychopaths do not know what facts are. The concept of a fact is, in fact, an abstraction that they cannot grasp. One example of this is a case cited by a psychotherapist. He asked his patient, a psychopath, to look at a chair which was situated about six feet away near a wall. He then asked her to describe the chair. She did, in rather complete detail, except for the legs. The chair she described had no legs.
The therapist pointed this out, and asked how the chair could be suspended in air, with no legs to support it. She said: "I put it there." Therapist asked: "If you look away, will it fall to the floor?" She said: "No. If I look away, the chair is no longer there." Therapist asked: "If you look away - and it turns out the chair is still there?" She ignored the question.
The popular "you create your own reality" idea of the New Age is one example of how psychopathic thinking has permeated our society. The principle is: "If enough people believe something to be true, then what they believe is what reality IS."
In response to this, one can rightly point out: "There was a time when everyone, as far as we know, believed the sun revolved around the earth. That didn't make it so." But, if you ask a psychopath: "Are you saying at that time the sun did, in fact, revolve around the earth - and it was only in obedience to a change in what people believed that the earth came to revolve around the sun?" you will be ignored or accused of twisting the "facts." A normal human would naturally think that the psychopath's refusal to answer the question, their shift to attacking you for misrepresenting the facts and them, is a tacit admission that what they are saying is wrong. But you would be wrong about that. They go right on making declarations and pronouncements about what they are insisting is reality in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Ron Suskind, former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill, wrote:
"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
They aren't really lying - they're creating "new realities." Nothing of what we call reality is real to them. When a normal human being talks about a chair, the reference is to a chair that sits there on its own legs. It's there whether anyone sees it or not, whether anyone mentions it or not, whether anyone "declares" it to be there or not. It has its own sovereign existence. But that is not so for the true psychopath. The psychopath with his/her infantile internal structure cannot comprehend that anything else exists on its own separate from them. It is only their acknowledgement that makes it real, and they only acknowledge what is significant to them in terms of what they want, what will make them feel good.
When a normal human demands that the declarations of the psychopath should be evaluated, the psychopath will declare that the one making such a demand has no integrity which really means that their position - the psychopath's declaration - is not being supported !
From the psychopathic point of view, the world is like a holodeck. They "declare" things into being. Everything is a hologram. They program the holograms. They interact with them in any way they choose. They have them under total control. When they decide to cancel a hologram, it vanishes.
A hologram is not supposed to think for itself. A hologram is not supposed to measure, evaluate, appraise, etc. Most importantly, a hologram is not supposed to critique its master.
When this does happen, they first chastise it to bring it back into line. If that doesn't work, they "vanish" it. And if they must kill it to do so, that's what happens.
Experience has shown no matter what we say, no matter what we point out, no matter how much evidence is given, it has no meaning for psychopaths. They have one goal: to fool us into classifying them as normal humans so they can continue to deceive us, control us and use us for their own power and glory because that is what makes them feel good.
SC: There is therefore a constant interaction; the perverse/pathological cannot dominate alone and need allies. Therefore he must form clans and unite them, offering advantages to those who serve his interests? Advantages that then tie them to them, keep them in their pockets? In other words, if the system is perverse, then everyone becomes perverse and all is lost?!
Henry: Yes, and no. There are inherent weaknesses in the pathocratic system. What it takes is time. Łobaczewski describes the dynamic in the Eastern countries under communism. The pathocrats are incapable of anything genuinely creative. They depend upon people of conscience for their creativity. Now, a society without creativity will eventually perish. When the major positions of power in that society, in government, in industry, in business are filled by pathocrats, the downward cycle begins.
At the same time, normal people begin to see the society for what it is and devise survival strategies. They begin to recognize that their leaders are not like them.
Unfortunately, as one society comes to its senses, there is another ideology masking another set - or even the same set - of deviants ready to take its place. When communism fell in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries, the capitalist pathocrats were ready and waiting to take the spoils, and even some of the communist pathocrats were able to find a comfortable new home in the "new" capitalist democracies.
The question is, has such a process already started in the US, which we would suggest is the centre of gravity for the pathocracy today. Given that the pathocrats seem driven by an agenda to reduce the population of the world by millions if not billions of people by war or other means, we have to ask if we will have time for this cycle to play out. We are not very optimistic.
But even if a particular expression of the pathocracy falls, the system itself remains in place, rearing its head elsewhere, in the new "centre".
SC: The example that goes in this direction is Iraq. Bush wanted war at any price. Bush lies and he wins. He finds allies of the same stripe as himself, like Blair and Berlusconi. The people who denounce their crimes and fight them lose. It seems to be a perfect example of what he is describing in his book. It is hard to believe sometimes how it is that there are so few people capable of seeing what is going on and able to denounce the consequences. Is it impossible to say no to these monsters?
Henry: How do you say "no" when the media is completely controlled by other pathocrats? You can take to the streets, as millions of people did before the invasion of Iraq, but that doesn't matter because the pathocratic political leaders really don't care what people think. They could care less if there are thousands or millions of people protesting their policies - they have the military and scary weapons at their disposal. The media, then, distorted the message of those who dissented and painted them as traitors. They are still painted as traitors four years on and after it has become plain as day that the war was wrong and that Bush and company lied on every point.
Yet the United States is still in Iraq and it is politically impossible to demand more than that future troop reduction should be "discussed".
So one issue is how many people, in such a controlled environment, see reality, and the second is in such a reality, how do people who do see the lies react and respond to bring about change?
The majority of people have had their consciences crushed, have accepted so many compromises, that they are incapable of thinking or feeling things correctly. They believe that there are countless numbers of Islamic fundamentalists ready to bomb their homes and schools, no matter how absurd that idea really is, and in spite of the fact that the majority of such bombings are false flag operations. The well established fact that intelligence agencies carry out bombings and then blame their opponents - it is impossible to argue that this type of thing is not regular practice - becomes less believable to people in the United States, the UK, and elsewhere, than the fairy tale that there are hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists ready to blow themselves up in the name of Allah!
Think back to what Łobaczewski writes about the befuddled thinking that occurs when someone is in the presence of a psychopath. Via the media, that befuddlement spreads beyond immediate personal contact and becomes a plague on society as a whole. Society itself becomes diseased.
And for those who are struggling to find their mental health, who see the lies, the force they are facing is so overwhelming that they may easily give up. The job appears too great.
Laura: Is it impossible to say "no" to these monsters? No. Difficult? Yes.
Those individuals who think that change can be effected via legal or political processes fail to understand that both the law and politics, by and large, are created and controlled by pathological types, and are set up for their benefit, not the benefit of the ordinary human being. So it is that law and politics are insufficient avenues for counteracting a pathological society that has been created by the efforts and influence of deviants.
Another important thing to remember in regards to seeking solutions via legal or political means is that the cunning of the pathological deviant is far superior to that of normal human beings. Most people are familiar with the idea of the exceptional cunning of the madman, but psychopathy, in its several varieties, has an additional element: the Mask of Sanity.
Recently we saw Cindy Sheehan wake up to the fact that the Democratic Party is just another ideology behind which psychopathy operates. She decamped and has now, as I understand it, decided that the 911 Truth Movement is the right place to be. I'm sorry to have to inform her that psychopaths are vectoring that show also. You didn't really think they would commit crimes like 911 and not cover their backsides by instigating and controlling a "truth movement," did you?
Again and again I receive letters from political action groups asking for money and support. I've given money and support and also written endless letters and emails telling them that their "political actions" aren't going to amount to a hill of beans if they do not factor psychopathy into the equation. They were all so sure that getting the Democrats back in control was going to change everything, and the fact is, nothing has changed. All that money and effort wasted. And now people are realizing it even though we have been saying it all along.
So, I'll say it again - and keep saying it - until the knowledge and awareness of pathological human beings is given the attention it deserves and becomes part of the general knowledge of all human beings, there is no way that things can be changed in any way that is effective and long-lasting. That is the first order of business and if half the people agitating for Truth or stopping the war or Bush or whatever would focus their efforts, time and money on exposing psychopathy, we might get somewhere.
In the end, again, the real problem is that the knowledge of psychopathy and how psychopaths rule the world has been effectively hidden and people do not have the adequate, nuanced knowledge they need to really make a change from the bottom up. Again and again, throughout history it has been "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
When you are dealing with psychopaths, you are dealing with the criminal mind and when such minds are in positions of absolute power - as they are today - there is nothing to restrain them - and nothing will restrain them, you can take that to the bank.
Bush (or, more precisely, his handlers) have almost absolute control of all the branches of government. You can notice this if you observe carefully that no matter what illegal thing Bush does, no one will really take him to task. All of the "scandals" that have come up, any one of which would have taken down any other administration, are just farces played out for the public, to distract them, to make them think that the democracy is still working.
There are only two things that can bring a psychopath under submission: 1) a bigger psychopath; 2) the non-violent, absolute refusal of all others to submit to their controls no matter the consequences. If every single normal person in the U.S. (and elsewhere) simply sat down and refused to lift a hand to further one single aim of the psychopathic agenda, en masse, if people refused to pay taxes, if soldiers refused to fight, if government workers and corporate drones refused to go to work, if doctors refused to treat psychopathic elites and their families, the whole system would grind to a screeching halt.
But that can only happen if the masses of people KNOW about psychopathy in all its horrible details. Only if they know that they are dealing with creatures that really aren't human can they have the understanding of what they must do. And only when they get miserable enough that the misery that the psychopath will inflict on them in the beginning of their resistance pales in comparison, will they have the will to do this. That, or the understanding of the world the psychopaths are creating for their children in which case love for the future of humanity will motivate them to resist.
SC: Did Chirac, after saying no for Iraq, make major concessions to Bush for fear of becoming the straw man? Do the perverse need straw men?
Henry: Imagine that you are a politician with a conscience facing a world dominated by people who are willing to use every trick in the book to retain power: blackmail, intimidation, threats. To what extent was the scandal in France over Chirac's finances while he was mayor of Paris used to bring him into line? We can only speculate.
We know that Bush was illegally spying on US citizens. Was he doing this to collect data that could be used to blackmail and intimidate opposition politicians or journalists who were asking too many questions? I think it would be naïve not to consider this possibility.
Laura: I sometimes joke that nowadays, you can probably figure out who the good guys are by who gets the worst press! But it really isn't that simple. We can't forget that the real war is between the Controlling Psychopathic Elite and Normal Humans. Do the perverse need straw men? Sure, it's part of the show that they all put on for the rest of us. Just as it is one of their tricks to create false flag attacks to direct hatred against those they wish to destroy, so is it entirely within their style of operation to play "good cop vs bad cop." That's Machiavelli 101.
SC: The dynamic you describe is also apparent in the use of the media. Journalists who uphold the tenets of the Tel Aviv-Washington Axis have complete freedom for supporting these wars. Are they, too, part of the monsters? Should we put these liars in the media among the 6%? How is it that the public doesn't see that they are impostors?
Henry: Once the system is in place, those who are morally weak will rally to defend it in exchange for personal privileges. Their self-interest makes them open to contagion. Therefore it is not necessary for every individual to be one of the many types listed by Łobaczewski. There are thousands of morally corrupt and weak individuals willing to do the bidding of those in power if it means fame and fortune or even just a decent living and being left alone.
Which is not to say that the media is free of psychopaths, characteropaths, or the other types delineated by Łobaczewski.
SC: To protect ourselves from evil, then, it seems that each of us must ask ourselves if we are in the presence of one of these twisted people who lie and are only out for their personal interest. But people can't believe that these perverse/pathological are people who feed on evil, who feed on conflicts. Your book describes this expertly: conflicts are their food; they love this conflict, they need this conflict to exist. A normal person cannot imagine that in society there are a certain number of people who cannot do other than feed on evil. Do you think that normal people sense that something is not right but they can't quite understand they are victims and that they suffer because of the lies and manipulations of the perverse/pathological?
Henry: Yes. But it takes someone with a strong character to stand for what he or she knows is right in the face of widespread social opposition. We also have the tendency to give others the benefit of the doubt because we project our own ways of thinking and behaving on them. If we are not aware that there are people who are either genetically incapable of empathy and feeling for another, or whose conscience has been crushed and destroyed because of their life experience, (and they cannot be fixed), and if we do not know how they function and manipulate, we will remain victims.
As someone who has been part of organizations and associations working for social change, you have probably seen the same dynamic play out. The good and sincere work of many can be destroyed by the actions of one person. That doesn't give good odds in bringing some sort of justice to the planet! Only when those who are psychologically normal come to understand that we have a natural predator, a group of people who view us as 'a para-specific variety', will they be open to learning about this human-like race.
Laura: If there is any work that is deserving of full time efforts and devotion for the sake of helping humanity in this present dark time, it is the study of psychopathy and propagation of that information as far and wide as possible. For anyone who wants to really do something, let's get the knowledge of social pathogens out to the people, let's learn how to identify them first, and then we can decide how to proceed from there.
SC: Normal people, those who have a conscience, work to find a compromise between the two. Would you say that being kindly towards them is a mistake because the perverse/pathological have no conscience whatsoever, are without scruples, and are not shy about taking positions of power, even if they are incompetent?
Henry: We talked about this earlier when we described society as a trial, with everyone looking for the truth somewhere in the middle. As long as there is some idea of compromise, the people of conscience will always lose. These psychological deviants have to be removed from any position of power over people of conscience, period. People must be made aware that such individuals exist and must learn how to spot them and their manipulations. The hard part is that one must also struggle against those tendencies to mercy and kindness in oneself in order not to become prey.
SC: Normal people need to retain the awareness that not all people are fundamentally good and don't necessarily take decisions that are good for society. The perverse/pathological don't care at all about morality, for them, only their personal objectives count. They can lie without feeling the least bit implicated in what they say. Taking the case of Bush for example. He can say anything at all and is not at all ashamed about lying. The perverse/pathological have no scruples about lying, about destroying a country, an entire people, as long as it serves their interests?
Henry: The idea that "all men are created equal" and we are all fundamentally good is drummed into us from the time we are born. We are taught that God made us in his image, and that we all have the divine spark within us.
But science is showing us that this religious fairy tale is not true. Mankind has a natural predator, the psychopath, and this predator is invisible because there are no easily discernible markings that set him apart.
Moreover, throughout history we have been divided into groups on the basis of physical, cultural, religious, or whatever other easily recognizable distinctions psychopaths can point out to us, while our real enemy has remained masked.
We have even come across books about psychopathy that attempt to present the case that we are all psychopaths! So we see that there is a move towards damage control. Łobaczewski discusses the use of psychology and psychiatry as a tool of the pathocracy under communism. Well, we see the same thing today in the United States. There are deviants who become psychologists or psychiatrists and who try to rewrite psychology from the viewpoint of the pathological!
SC: Is one of the weak points of our society the tolerance with which we view these monsters? This permits them to create more conflicts and kill more innocents.
Henry: Is it tolerance or ignorance? People are not aware that there exist a category of people, people we sometimes call 'almost human', who look like us, who work with us, who are found in every race, every culture, speaking every language, but who are lacking conscience - and if there is anything that really separates humans from animals, I would suggest it is that: conscience.
We are tolerant of others, in spite of the most horrible crimes, because we project our own inner states on them, assuming that when they go through the motions of expressing remorse, they are remorseful. But for these deviants, there is no remorse, there is only play-acting, a bit of theatre designed to fool us into thinking they are 'like us'.
SC: The only thing to do, then, is to continue to speak the truth. And to tell ourselves that even if those who lie always win against the truth, that in the long run, when more and more people are saying the same thing, little by little this truth may be able to get people to think?
Henry: The truth is the only thing worth working towards. What separates us from the psychopath is our conscience, and our conscience must become the voice of truth. True conscience - if we listen to it - raises us above the example of animal behaviour set by the pathocrats. Think of the horrors at Abu Ghraib. Had the conscience of those soldiers not been sleeping (assuming they had them), they would have refused to carry out those atrocities. If the voice of conscience could be heard by the billions of people who have one, there would be no more war. Other means would be found to resolve differences. If we listened to our conscience, there would be no hunger because we would feel the pain and suffering of those dying without food and we would be unable to not do something about it. And we need to think in our own lives of the ways we kill our own conscience and begin to make painful choices to listen to it before it goes out forever.
If we could really understand the difference between someone with conscience and someone without, we could see how our world has been infected with this pathology throughout its history. With this knowledge, and an application of this knowledge in full conscience of what we are doing, a new world could truly be born.
SC: In conclusion, there are manipulators everywhere. They form a part of society that is structured according to this model, a structure that permits them to behave according to this perverse psychological functioning anywhere they intervene. They are twisted people, held by no moral code, ready to do anything to defend their interests. They are more and more numerous. They are not necessarily linked to any specific ideology. And at the moment when we begin to suspect that someone is part of this percentage of twisted people, do we need to take a different attitude?
Henry: Yes. We need to learn how to say no to the manipulations. That means we need to learn the ways we are manipulated and refuse to do the dance.
Laura: On the whole, a capacity to cheat, to compete and to lie has proven to be a stupendously successful adaptation. Thus the idea that selection pressure could ever cause saintliness to spread in a society looks implausible in practice. It doesn't seem feasible to out-compete genes which promote competitiveness. "Nice guys" get eaten or out-bred. Happy people who are unaware get eaten or out-bred. Happiness and niceness today is vanishingly rare, and the misery and suffering of those who are able to truly feel, who are empathic toward other human beings, who have a conscience, is all too common. And the psychopathic manipulations are designed to make psychopaths of us all.
Nevertheless, a predisposition to, conscience, ethics, can prevail if and when it is also able to implement the deepest level of altruism: making the object of its empathy the higher ideal of enhancing freedom and altruism in the abstract sense, for the sake of others, including our descendants.
In short, our "self-interest" ought to be vested in collectively ensuring that all others are happy and well-disposed too; and in ensuring that children we bring into the world have the option of being constitutionally happy and benevolent toward one another.
This means that if psychopathy threatens the well-being of the group future - which it is doing - then it can be only be dealt with by widespread refusal to allow the self to be dominated by it on an individual, personal basis. Preserving freedom for the self in the practical sense, ultimately preserves freedom for others. Protection of our own rights AS the rights of others, underwrites the free will position and potential for happiness of all. If mutant psychopaths pose a potential danger, then true empathy, true ethics, true conscience, dictates using prophylactic therapy against psychopaths.
And so it is that identifying the psychopath, ceasing our interaction with them, cutting them off from our society, making ourselves unavailable to them as "food" or objects to be conned and used, is the single most effective strategy that we can play.
1. On one side of the controversy, there is the traditional description of psychopathy derived from the old European tradition discussed by Łobaczewski, combined with the North American Tradition of Hervey Cleckley, Robert Hare and others. This is in general agreement with the experiences of practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, criminal justice personnel, experimental psychopathologists, and even members of the lay public who have had personal encounters with psychopathy.
On the other side of the issue, is what is called a "neo-Kraepelinian" (named after Emil Kraepelin) movement in psychodiagnosis which is closely associated with research coming out of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. This latter view is most closely aligned with the diagnostic criteria of the U.S. psychiatric manual known as the DSM-III, DSM-III-R, and DSM-IV. The fundamental approach of this school is that assessment of a psychopath rests almost entirely on publicly observable or known behaviors which flies directly in the face of what is actually known about psychopaths: their ability to mask their true nature. The argument is that a clinician is incapable of reliably assessing interpersonal or affective characteristics. Another assumption is that early onset delinquency is a cardinal symptom of ASPD. This tends to put heavy emphasis on delinquent and antisocial behavior, i.e., publicly observable behaviors that may have no bearing on the internal make-up of the individual.
Anyway, the DSM-III decided that psychopaths belong in the classification "Anti-social Personality Disorder."
The criteria of the DSM-III for ASPD was decided by a committee of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III Task Force and was revised only slightly by another committee for the DSM_III-R. The DSM-IV criteria were also decided by committee, with little regard for empirical research. These criteria are less behaviorally focused and thus, somewhat resemble the criteria for other DSM-IV personality disorders.
Because of the problems with the DSM-III and DSM-III-R diagnosis of ASPD, the American Psychiatric Association carried out a muti-site trial to gather data in preparation for DSM-IV. The field trial was designed to determine if personality traits could be included in the criteria for ASPD (which relies only on publicly viewable behavior), without reducing reliability. The intention of those clinicians who lobbied for this was to bring ASPD back into line with clinical tradition and to end the confusion between ASPD and Psychopathy.
The results of the field trials demonstrated that most of the personality traits that reflect the symptoms of psychopathy were as reliable as the behavior specific DSM-III-R items, thus invalidating the original premise for excluding personality from the diagnosis of ASPD/psychopathy. More than that, that Hare's PCL-R actually measures the latent trait of psychopathy across its entire range! Similar analyses of the field trial data show that the ASPD criteria was less discriminating of the psychopathy trait, particularly at high levels of the trait! In other words, the ASPD criteria set up by the DSM-III-R was designed - intentionally or not - to exclude the most psychopathic psychopaths!
Despite the fact that, after this study, there was an empirical basis for increasing the content-related criteria of ASPD in DSM-IV, this did not happen ; the criteria adopted for DSM-IV were not even evaluated in the field trial.
The DSM-IV text description of ASPD (which it says is "also known as psychopathy") contains references to traditional features of psychopathy but is incongruent with the formal diagnostic criteria in many ways.
One of the consequences of the ambiguity inherent in DSM-IV ASPD/ psychopathy criteria is that it leaves the door open for court cases wherein one clinician can say that the defendant meets the DSM-IV definition of ASPD, and another clinician can say he does not, and both can be right! The first clinician can use the formal diagnostic criteria exclusively while the second clinician can say "yes, the defendant may meet the formal criteria, but he or she does not have the personality traits described in the "Associated Features" section of the DSM-IV text". In other words, a good psychopath with a good lawyer can commit any crime and get away with it. This failure of the DSM-IV to differentiate between psychopathy and ASPD can (and undoubtedly will) have very serious consequences for society.