Technically, psychopaths aren’t legally insane. They know the difference between right and wrong. They are rational, often highly intelligent people. Some are capable of great charm. Indeed, the scariest thing about them is that they seem so normal. Their pleasant personalities, however, are just a show. Underneath their “masks of sanity”-to use the famous phrase coined by psychologist Hervey Cleckley-they are profoundly disturbed individuals. The hallmark of the psychopath is the inability to recognize others as worthy of compassion. Victims are dehumanized, flattened into worthless objects in the murderer’s mind.
In the 19th century, psychopathology was considered to be “moral insanity”. Today it is commonly known as “antisocial personality disorder” or “sociopathology.” Current experts believe that sociopaths are an unfortunate fusion of interpersonal, biological and sociocultural disasters.
When they are stalking a victim, psychopaths don’t consciously feel anger, “but the violence shows the dissociated effect.” Many killers seem to go into a trance during their predatory and killing phases. The psychopath seeks idealized victims in order to shame, humiliate, and destroy them.”‘I must have’ ends with ‘It was not worth having,'” says Meloy. By degrading the victim, the psychopath is attempting to destroy the hostile enemy within his own mind.
Psychopaths/sociopaths are diagnosed by their purposeless and irrational antisocial behavior, lack of conscience, and emotional vacuity. They are thrill seekers, literally fearless. Punishment rarely works, because they are impulsive by nature and fearless of the consequences. Incapable of having meaningful relationships, they view others as fodder for manipulation and exploitation. According to one psychological surveying tool (DSM IIIR) between 3-5% of men are sociopaths; less than 1% of female population are sociopaths.
The following are environmental factors, psychiatrists say, which create a sociopath:
- Studies show that 60% of psychopathic individuals had lost a parent;
- Child is deprived of love or nurturing; parents are detached or absent;
- Inconsistent discipline: if father is stern and mother is soft, child learns to hate authority and manipulate mother;
- Hypocritical parents who privately belittle the child while publicly presenting the image of a “happy family”.
Can psychopaths be successfully treated? According to the psychiatrists, “No.” Shock treatment doesn’t work; drugs have not proven successful in treatment; and psychotherapy, which involves trust and a relationship with the therapist, is out of the question, because psychopaths are incapable of opening up to others. They don’t want to change.
article by Shirley Lynn Scott