Friday, June 13, 2014

Homicidal Maniacs are Malignant Narcissists

People still want to debate the differences between sociopathy and psychopathy and malignant narcissism. 
You say po-ta-to, I Say po-tah-to. Just don't be in the room with them when they are in possession of a loaded firearm. 
Any body that likes the illustrations can see the wiki page for the comic strip I swiped them from:


I fought my sociopath mother with my hat...........I grabbed it and ran!

   People who cannot contain their urges to harm (or kill) people for no apparent reason often suffer from some mental illness.  A diagnosable mental illness afflicts about 25% of a nation's population (the United States, Colombia, France, Ukraine, and New Zealand having the highest rates), according to a 2012 Survey of Mental Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  That's 350 million people worldwide.  However, just as only 5% of this mentally ill population are so severely impaired they cannot work, it's likely that about the same number are dangerous to others.  The mentally ill are particularly susceptible to social stress and often misinterpret cultural phenomena.  When stressed, they can be dangerous, and their cruelty or desire to harm others may reflect more a personality trait than a symptom of mental illness, or a mixture of both.  In other words, they may be more cruel than crazy; they may be choosing not to exercise self-control; they may choose wrong over right; and they may or may not know exactly what they're doing.  A certain degree of overlap exists between personality traits and the symptoms of mental illness.  The so-called "personality disordered" fall into this category, and the one thing that can be said for sure is they are definitely NOT insane, at least according to the consensus of most scholars (Samenow 2004).  In such cases, they usually fall into one of three types that are typically considered aggravating circumstances in addition to their legal guilt -- antisocial personality disorder (APD), sociopath, or psychopath -- none of which are the same as insanity or psychosis.  APD is the most common type, afflicting about 4% of the general population.  Sociopaths are the second most common type, with the American Psychiatric Association estimating that 3% of all males in our society are sociopaths and Stout (2005) estimating 4% of the population.  Psychopaths are rare, found in perhaps 1% of the population, but represented in 25% of the prison population, and 4% among corporate CEOs (Ronson 2011).
    Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) is practically synonymous with criminal behavior, but as with all distributions of a disease or whatever in a population, it is probable that the majority of people with this particular affliction are law-abiding.  Aging, over involvements, and/or relationships might hold sway over the control (or lack of control) in these kind of people, and although approaching the study of offenders from a relationship & personality disorders point of view may or may not be productive, Dr. Drew is probably an adequate source of information on such matters.  Dr. Drew's theory (and one with wide ramifications since he pretty much defines an antisocial tendency as thinking about one's self first) is that women with certain kinds of disorders, like borderline personality disorders, tend to be attracted to and hook up with men who manifest symptoms of psychopathic personality disorder and that such match-ups may or may not be dysfunctional.  On the other hand, the field of criminology tends to treat APD as so synonymous, in fact, with criminal behavior that practically all convicted criminals (65-75%) have it, with criminologists often referring to it as a "wastebasket" category.  Antisocials come in all shapes and sizes, and psychologists consider the juvenile version of it to be a juvenile conduct disorder. The main characteristic of it is a complete and utter disregard for the rights of others and the rules of society. They seldom show anxiety and don't feel guilt. Although many people would hope that there's an effective treatment, there's really no effective treatment for them other than locking them up in a secure facility with such rigid rules that they cannot talk their way out. A full list of APD traits would include:

List of Antisocial Personality Disorder Traits
Sense of entitlement; Unremorseful; Apathetic to others; Unconscionable behavior; Blameful of others; Manipulative and conning; Affectively cold; Disparate understanding; Socially irresponsible; Disregardful of obligations; Nonconforming to norms; Irresponsible

    whereas the DSM-IV "clinical" features of Antisocial Personality Disorder (with a person having at least three of these characteristics) are:

Clinical Symptoms for an Antisocial Personality Disorder Diagnosis
1. Failure to conform to social norms; 2. Deceitfulness, manipulativeness; 3. Impulsivity, failure to plan ahead; 4. Irritability, aggressiveness; 5. Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others; 6. Consistent irresponsibility; 7. Lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another person
    Sociopathy is chiefly characterized by something wrong with the person's conscience. They either don't have one, it's full of holes like Swiss cheese, or they are somehow able to completely neutralize or negate any sense of conscience, conscience here being conceived of as having some future time perspective that considers potential consequences.  They can commit great acts of evil and then easily drift off to a good night's sleep.  Sociopaths only care about fulfilling their own needs and desires - selfishness and egocentricity to the extreme. Everything and everybody else is mentally twisted around in their minds as objects to be used in fulfilling their own needs and desires. They often believe they are doing something good for society, or at least nothing that bad. The term "sociopath" is frequently used by psychologists and sociologists alike in referring to persons whose unsocialized character is due primarily to parental failures (usually fatherlessness) rather than an inherent feature of temperament.  Lykken (1995), for example, clearly distinguishes between the sociopath (who is socialized into becoming a psychopath) and a "true" psychopath (who is born that way).  However, this may only describe the "common sociopath", as there are at least four (4) different subtypes -- common, alienated, aggressive, and dyssocial. Commons are characterized mostly by their lack of conscience; the alienated by their inability to love or be loved; aggressives by a consistent sadistic streak; and dyssocials by an ability to abide by gang rules, as long as those rules are the wrong rules. Stout (2005) says that 4% of the American population is sociopathic (1 in every 25 Americans), but many of them go on to enjoy long, successful careers (Stout suggests political careers hold a particular attraction for them).  It only takes three of the following to be defined as a sociopath, and some common sociopathic traits include:

List of Common Sociopathic Traits
Egocentricity; callousness; impulsivity; conscience defect; exaggerated sexuality; excessive boasting; risk taking; Inability to resist temptation; antagonistic, deprecating attitude toward the opposite sex; lack of interest in bonding with friends or companions

    Psychopathy is a concept subject to much debate, but is usually defined as a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics including egocentricity; impulsivity; irresponsibility; shallow emotions; lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse; pathological lying; manipulativeness; and the persistent violation of social norms and expectations (Cleckley 1976; Hare 1993). The crimes of psychopaths are usually stone-cold, remorseless killings for no apparent reason. They cold-bloodedly take what they want and do as they please without the slightest sense of guilt or regret. In many ways, they are natural-born intraspecies predators who satisfy their lust for power and control by charm, manipulation, intimidation, and violence. While almost all societies would regard them as criminals (the exception being frontier or warlike societies where they might become heroes, patriots, or leaders), it's important to distinguish their behavior from criminal behavior. As a common axiom goes in psychology, MOST PSYCHOPATHS ARE ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITIES BUT NOT ALL ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITIES ARE PSYCHOPATHS. This is because APD is defined mainly by behaviors (Factor 2 antisocial behaviors) and doesn't tap the affective/interpersonal dimensions (Factor 1 core psychopathic features, narcissism) of psychopathy. Further, criminals and APDs tend to "age out" of crime; psychopaths do not, and are at high risk of recidivism. Psychopaths love to intellectualize in treatment with their half-baked understanding of rules. Like the Star Trek character, Spock, their reasoning cannot handle any mix of cognition and emotion. They are calculating predators who, when trapped, will attempt escape, create a nuisance and danger to staff, be a disruptive influence on other patients or inmates, and fake symptoms to get transferred, bouncing back and forth between institutions. The common features of psychopathic traits (the PCL-R items) are:
List of Common Psychopathic Traits
Glib and superficial charm; Grandiose sense of self-worth; Need for stimulation; Pathological lying; Conning and manipulativeness; Lack of remorse or guilt; Shallow affect; Callousness and lack of empathy; Parasitic lifestyle; Poor behavioral controls; Promiscuous sexual behavior; Early behavior 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

 In addition to these most well-known types, there have been criminologists who have put forward additional constructs. They are only mentioned here because of their relevance to serial criminals, and the interesting similarity in the way they compare to the FBI's "disorganized - organized" typology. 

Disorganized Episodic Aggression:
Organized Sociopathic Hatred:
Ritualistic behaviorSuperficial charm and "good" intelligence
Attempts to conceal mental instabilityAbsence of delusions and other signs of irrational behavior
CompulsivityAbsence of "nervousness" or psychoneurotic manifestations
Periodic search for helpunreliability
Severe memory disorders and an inability to tell the truthuntruthfulness and insincerity
Suicidal tendencieslack of remorse or shame
History of committing assaultinadequately motivated antisocial behavior
Hypersexuality and abnormal sexual behaviorpoor judgment and failure to learn by experience
Head injuries; injuries suffered at birthpathological egocentricity and incapacity for love
History of chronic drug or alcohol abusegeneral poverty in major affective reactions
Parents with history of chronic drug or alcohol abusespecific loss of insight
Victim of childhood physical or mental abuseunresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
Result of an unwanted pregnancyfantastic and uninviting behavior with and sometimes without drink
Product of a difficult gestation for mothersuicide rarely carried out
Unhappiness in childhood resulted in inability to find happinesssex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
Extraordinary cruelty to animalsfailure to follow any life plan
Attraction to arson without homicidal interest
Symptoms of neurological impairment
Evidence of genetic disorder
Biochemical symptoms
Feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy

   Character artwork. - johnny-the-homicidal-maniac Photo

 The patterns of episodic aggressive behavior scale is derived from Joel Norris (1990) Serial Killers, London: Arrow Books and also reproduced in Brian Lane & Wilfred Gregg (1992)The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, NY: Berkeley Books. This particular sociopathic checklist is found in numerous places but extensively featured in both of Samenow's works in the 1970s on criminal personality (thinking errors).