How to spot a psychopath

I thought this was an interesting read. … psychopath

1 Like

[quote=“Tempo Gain”]I thought this was an interesting read. … psychopath[/quote]

Great article Tempo Gain. You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.

An extreme example of something that’s actually fairly common, in my experience. I worked in a high security unit in a psychiatric hospital for a few years. We always had at least a half a dozen patients that were in for psychiatric assessment before their court cases. Usually they would be flipped back to the prisons, but occasionally they were right nutters and would be returned to us after court for “the governor’s pleasure.”

[quote]Susanna Lobez: One of the real consequences of mental illness in the legal system is where somebody is found to be unfit to stand trial, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

Now there is currently a report that has been handed down in Victoria, Tony Fowke, which is critical of this detention at the governor’s pleasure, because of course it can be, quite often, years and years before the Cabinet, on the advice of the parole board, gets around to releasing these people. What are your thoughts about this area?

Tony Fowke: Well I think it is a problem area. People are put away for the governor’s pleasure, and there is no automatic review. This is particularly so in Western Australia. They are reviewed by the parole board, and there is no way of questioning the decision of the parole board in Western Australia, so that the person that is in prison is kept very much in the dark as to what their situation is. And they can often spend many years longer than the offence that they’ve committed would carry a penalty for.[/quote]
The best curtailing I’ve seen to this sort of horrid situation was when a psychiatric nurse colleague advised a young (17 years old) male patient that had been sent for psychiatric assessment and got caught up in the system that his best chance of getting back into the prison system, and thus having a finite time attached to his incarceration, was to thump the psychiatrist. He duly did and was returned to the remand centre that afternoon, appeared in court for his initial crime the next day and was released on probation! He was never charged for punching the psychiatrist. Fark me, that kid really smacked the bastard! :laughing:

Mind you, back then no one would dream of charging a patient in a mental hospital for assault, but they might now.

Another dangerous roll of the dice were people opting to be locked up for a period to save money. They’d act mad, or say they were, get locked up, and thus fed, housed and even given cigarettes and clothes, etc, and after a month or two, would suddenly come good and manage to get themselves discharged. On discharge, social workers would usually wrangle them back to wherever they came from, so if it was someone from the east coast of Australia, they’d get a ticket back on the state. They would have accumulated welfare money while in the hospital, and would use that to keep on living and traveling. Occasionally, this plan could go tits up as some eager beaver psychiatrist would twig to it and question the sanity of someone doing such a thing.

Mind you, that was then. It was very easy to get someone locked up back then, and much more difficult today given the far fewer hospitals and spaces for psychiatric patients. In a tragic flip on this one I recall a Vietnamese woman that kept reporting to the hospital admission unit that she wanted to be treated because she kept having thoughts of harming her baby. She was basically told she wasn’t mad enough. She ended up chopping up her baby with a cleaver, then ending up in the hospital at the “governor’s pleasure.” In her case she was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis. She was treated with medication and was fine after a few months, although not surprisingly had to deal with serious depression when she’d fully realised what she’d done. It took her many years to get out of the system.

The push in psychiatry to “treat people in the community” while perhaps well intentioned, ultimately proved a huge farce as politicians leaped upon the opportunity to cut health budgets. They closed the “asylums” - it’s worth dwelling on the potential positives implied in that term for a moment - and emptied patients into the suburbs with very minimal support or back up. In some instances, it worked, but it also came at the cost of a huge increase in the number of mentally ill that are homeless or wound up in prisons.

In the most cynical examples of this “community” approach, we saw long term patients from hospitals being closed in Sydney popping up in Western Australia and being collected off the streets by the very conservative state police force and sent to the state mental hospitals. Realising they didn’t have the wherewithal to get from Sydney to Perth themselves, we’d ask how they got there and they’d often say, “I was asked where I wanted to go, I said I’d always wanted to go to Western Australia and they put me on a bus.” We dubbed it the “geographical cure.” NSW was the first state to embark on the 'back to the community" approach, and here they were “curing” people in their mental health system by sending them to states that were slower in closing down the big hospitals!!!


That was a very entertaining article, Tempo Gain – thanks for sharing it!

Do books like these get to Taiwan (for example Cave’s Book shop) or do you have to order it online?

Things only a psychopath could think of:

In finance they are endless. Finance uniquely lends itself to psychopathic behavior because the basic principle of finance markets is to sack some one – take them for all they have and if they don’t have the where-with-all to stay with it sue them in to the boot. Where it gets genuinely creepy is with the little old ladies and there dependency on term deposits. The term deposit system could only have been conceived of by a psychopath. You search for the best deposit rate and then when you get it sure as the pope is catholic it reverts on maturity to the lowest rate. It is the perfect scam to confuse and muddle little old ladies. It has got me in the past and I pretend I’m across these things but if you are 85 and still looking after your finances you had better not be dosing on the couch.

A fascinating read. Thanks, TG. :thumbsup:

Let me second that. Excellent article.

(Boy, are we in trouble!)

Oh yeah. Finance. Right up there with lawyers. Lots of psychopaths there.

You can say what you want about psychopaths, but I always find them to be a great ride.

They’ll often show up in eslite or Page One after a year or two, but you certainly can’t count on it. (And that’s why I got a Kindle.)

We should allow the calling of ‘Psycho’ on forumosa based on the criteria to see if we can’t weed out a few of these creeps. I’ve cut and paste the list of traits here.

Item 1 Glibness/superficial charm (sandman)

Item 2 Grandiose sense of self-worth (threadkiller)

Item 3 Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom (tommy)

Item 4 Pathological lying (fox)

Item 5 Cunning/manipulative (fred smith)

Item 6 Lack of remorse or guilt (Robin in the Sun)

Item 7 Shallow affect (tommy)

Item 8 Callous/lack of empathy (sandman)

Item 9 Parasitic lifestyle (jimmy)

Item 10 Poor behavioural controls (sandman)

Item 11 Promiscuous sexual behaviour (tommy)

Item 12 Early behaviour problems (guyintaiwan)

Item 13 Lack of realistic long-term goals (threadkiller)

Item 14 Impulsivity (tommy)

Item 15 Irresponsibility (Robin in the Sun)

Item 16 Failure to accept responsibility for own actions (Mucha Man)

Item 17 Many short-term marital relationships (Some of those guys in the divorce threads)

Item 18 Juvenile delinquency (tigerman)

Item 19 Revocation of conditional release (tainancowboy)

Item 20 Criminal versatility (HG)

Could someone give me an ordinary, real-world example of the behaviour of somebody with ‘shallow affect’? I don’t get what it means.

That’s a bullshit list. I’m up for every category except the marital relationships one. ME! Pick ME! MEEEE! Or I’ll come round your place with a machete when you’re asleep. OK, I have no machete. But I DO have a ukulele and I’m not afraid to use it.

Surely you’d feel remorse if you smashed up your ukulele.



Shallow affect: Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.


I wonder how psychologists actually use this list as a diagnostic tool. Some of the things mentioned are objective: revocation of parole, criminal behavior (if caught), many short-term marriages - but a lot of them would depend on the reporting of the subject, who by definition is charming and a glib, manipulative liar. If you like someone, he’s fine; if you don’t like someone, you see all these signs of psychopathology in him.

‘affect’ means emotional response. ‘shallow affect’ or ‘flattened affect’ just means an emotional response more limited than you would expect (either positive or negative). It sometimes occurs in child-abuse victims who have ‘switched off’ as a defense against abuse. Star Trek’s Mr Spock is a caricature of shallow affect. It doesn’t mean the same thing as the colloquial ‘shallow’.

They don’t. The actual diagnostic tool is a questionnaire with a manual detailing its correct use; the tool purports to measure those things in the list. But you won’t ever see it published. The official reason is that it’s a medical diagnostic tool and that it could be dangerous in the wrong hands; qualified personnel only. The actual reason is that it allows psychologists to experience a “grandiose sense of self-worth” :wink: Also … it costs a lot of money to buy the test kit.

I think this needs correction!

[quote]Item 2 Grandiose sense of self-worth strike[/strike] Maoman[/quote] :laughing:

It’s very important to bear in mind that there’s a scale at work here. Psychologists plot personalities on this sort of scale. The most cringeworthy of their determinants is “border-line personality disorder.” That’s mental health “professional” speak for a right arsehole.

We’re all guilty at some plot on a bar graph of the following. The key point is at what end of the scale.

For good old fashioned Hollyweird psychopath (AKA sociopath) you just can’t beat “Lottie, the curse of Millhaven.” Perfect crux nabbed by Nick. Remorse. The essential component of a psychopath is the lack of remorse. They can’t empathise with other people, so they can’t possibly feel their pain, even when they caused it.

[quote]Now I got shrinks that will not rest with their endless
Rorschach tests
I keep telling them they’re out to get me
They ask me if I feel remorse and I answer, why of course!
There is so much more I could have done if they’d let me!

So it’s Rorschach and Prozac and everything is groovy
Singing la la la la la la la lie
All god’s children they all have to die
La la la la la la la lie [/quote]

Another interesting and related NYT article
Can you call a 9-year-old a psychopath?