Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sans empathie, sans conscience

"The psychopath is unfamiliar with the primary facts or data of what might be called personal values and is altogether incapable of understanding such matters. It is impossible for him to take even a slight interest in the tragedy or joy or the striving of humanity as presented in serious literature or art. He is also indifferent to all these matters in life itself... He is furthermore, lacking in the ability to see that others are moved.

"It is as though he were colour-blind, despite his sharp intelligence, to this aspect of human existence... He can repeat the words and say glibly that he understands, and there is no way for him to realize that he does not understand."

-- Hervey Cleckley in The Mask of Sanity, quoted in Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare, professor emeritus UBC. 

Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) and Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-L), a method now used worldwide. The Checklist describes the key emotional and interpersonal characteristics of psychopaths: they are glib and superficial, egocentric and grandiose, lack remorse or guilt, lack empathy, are deceitful and manipulative, and have shallow emotions.

"Some researchers have commented that psychopaths 'know the words but not the music,' a statement that accurately captures their cold and empty core. Not only are psychopaths unconcerned about the impact of their own behaviour on others -- or of possible retribution -- they more often than not will blame their victim if they are caught."

-- Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.