The Emotional Intelligence of a Psychopath

Last Updated Aug 14, 2011 8:12 PM EDT

There I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room when I spied the article heading on the front cover of a magazine: "HOW TO SPOT A PSYCHOPATH". The article was a reprint; first appearing in The Guardian as an extract/book review of The Psychopath Test by John Ronson.

The article discusses Tony, a person who had been convicted and sentenced for seven years for GBH. Tony had decided to fake insanity by copying movie characters such as the one Dennis Hopper played in Blue Velvet. He was successful in getting out of jail but was transferred to the Dangerous and Severe Personality Unit at Broadmoor. He soon realised he had made a mistake, particularly when he realised that he had subsequently been classified as a psychopath using The Robert Hare Checklist.

This decision, that Tony was not mentally ill but a psychopath, was confirmed by Professor Antony Maden, the head clinician at Broadmoor, who said this was exactly the kind of deceitful and manipulative act you would expect of psychopath. Tony had so far spent 14 years appealing this decision with repeated tribunal inquiries but all his efforts had come to nought.

Ronson is charmed by Tony and begins to wonder if the only difference between a Broadmoor and Wall Street psychopath is that the latter is born into a stable, rich family. Finally, Tony wins an appeal and is to be freed. Madden says that while Tony does have a very high level of some psychopathic traits in that never he takes responsibility, always blames others for events, is a manipulative bully and is always lying, Tony does not set out to do serious harm for its own sake.

The moment of truth comes at the end of the article when Tony tells the author that everyone is a bit psychopathic including the author himself. He also tells the author that he fancies a married woman who he is going to have to get divorced,

Those who read my blogs know that a reason I am a great fan of the Humm is that it is perhaps the only profiling system that helps you recognise the corporate psychopath. We call such people Hustlers and this component is frequently found in successful people such as Rupert Murdoch.
But the line I liked is that we all have a little psychopathy or Hustler in us. This is so true and in this case I "borrowed" the magazine to write this blog.