Tag Archives: crime


15 Sep

Ok, since reading the “Psychopath Test” by Jon Ronson, I have thoroughly renewed my fascination with psychopathy. (Read it, by the way. It’s hilarious – which isn’t what you’d expect from a book about psychopaths…)

So what are psychopaths? These images inevitably creep into my mind…

Trying to remember the criteria I googled “psychopath test”, and found several links* encouraging me to check whether I am a psychopath, including a relatively detailed “self-assessment” by some psychotherapist in Austria*. No, I didn’t bother.

Anyway, rather than a simple “yes” or “no” regarding gaining psychopath status, the ‘diagnosis’ is based on achieving an above-average score in a particular set of criteria, usually the Hare Psychopathy Checklist , including:

  • glib and superficial charm
  • grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
  • need for stimulation
  • pathological lying
  • cunning and manipulativeness
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
  • callousness and lack of empathy
  • parasitic lifestyle
  • poor behavioural controls
  • sexual promiscuity
  • early behaviour problems
  • lack of realistic long-term goals
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • many short-term marital relationships
  • juvenile delinquency
  • revocation of conditional release
  • criminal versatility

Each character trait is given a score of either 0, 1 or 2 and if you score 30 or over, bam, you’re probably a psychopath.

You probably know some people who seem to fit the criteria pretty well. But don’t worry, they might not be psychopaths.

To me, especially since reading the Psychopath Test, the two traits which stick out the most are a lack of empathy and behavioural controls. The lack of empathy may allow a person to succeed in the business world*, with apparently 4% of CEOs thought to be psychopath whilst only making up 1% of the general population. However, after all that success, they can stab someone to death in a moment for jumping a queue.

By this point, society is probably worrying what to do about these uncontrollable creatures. The FBI notes how psychopaths make up a hugely disproportionate percentage of offenders (10-15) in comparison to the general population (1, as mentioned above). Obviously, after brutally killing people, it’s assumed that the justice system is going to deal with the matter.

However, as many neuroscientists* have discovered, many psychopathic traits, most dangerously the lack of empathy, are genetic and thus predetermined. This had huge implications. Ultimately, this means treatment is unlikely to be successful and prevention pretty much impossible.

Would it be fair to incarcerate someone based on the fact they may or may not commit serious crimes in the future, based on their disposition to violence?  Most of you would probably say no.

I guess we just have to wait for them to………………………..………snap.







*The book anonymous lawyer comes to mind

* Including a relatively recent study by those at the University of Chicago and University of New Mexico – http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1681369

Gun Control

9 Oct

Following the Aurora shootings and the shooting at the Sikh temple in wisconsin, the case for gun control has become increasingly relevant.

All forms of violent crime in America have fallen. All except gun-related violence that is. The gun-homicide rate per capita in the U.S. is 30 times that of Britain and Australia. I have this crazy idea that perhaps the relative ease of access to firearms may be a contributing factor…

The biggest argument against gun control is the Second Amendment:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”

Restricting the sale or purchase of guns arguably infringes the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms”. Yet how can this be a right when possession often correlates with another individual’s loss of life – the biggest infringement of an individual’s right that there is.

Also, it’s the second AMENDMENT – you’re allowed to change your outdated constitution – especially as most you aren’t actually part of a “well regulated militia”, now, are you?

As for the self-defence claim, you are more likely to get shot if you have a gun in your home..

Wal-Mart recently sold ammunition to a minor. The fact that a supermarket sells ammo and firearms sounds absolutely crazy to me yet Wal-Mart is in fact the largest seller of firearms in the USA. All of this points to the inevitable issue of ACCESS.

Why not ban knives and cars also? Whilst they have the ability to cause damage and even kill, guns were created for the sole purpose of killing.

I believe that the licensing and regulation measures such as background checks and waiting periods are, whilst a positive stepping stone, ineffective and a total ban is necessary.

Not only common sense but evidence has shown that states with stricter gun control laws have a lower gun-related death rate.

The attitude of  “the world is still corrupt” despite any legislation that you may pass is entirely inappropriate. Although it may be true, why not do as much as possible to prevent tragedies from occurring?

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. …. Really? As Eddie Izzard puts it: “The gun helps..”

A sad comparison:     Hours before Newtown, a deranged man in China walked into an elementary school building and began to indiscriminately attack everyone in his vicinity. Before his rampage ended, twenty-two children had been hit. But while it sounds like Newtown, there were two crucial differences that share a common root. First, the man used a knife. Second, because the man used a knife, none of the twenty-two children were killed.

How this is a debate which the ‘pro-gun’ stance in America is winning is entirely beyond me.

especially 0:33

(having said all of this – my opinion in relation to guns and police is largely different.. I wonder how many of you agree with me?)