Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Psychopath - Diagnostic Primer

Equinox - Psychopath
48 min 49 sec - Nov 27, 2007
Average rating: (8 ratings)

Channel 4 - 7th December 2000.

According to popular wisdom, psychopaths are crazed and bloodthirsty serial killers. The reality is not so simple.

While many psychopaths do commit violent crimes, not all psychopaths are criminals and not all criminals are psychopathic. Psychopaths are found in many walks of life and are often successful in competitive professions. However they are also ruthless, manipulative and destructive.

Equinox reports on techniques developed by psychologists to work out whether a person is psychopathic and shows how brain scientists are coming close to mapping the malfunctions in the brain that cause a person to be a psychopath.

In Britain one person in 200 is likely to be a psychopath. However psychopaths are thought to be responsible for half of all reported crimes and to make up between 15% and 20% of the prison population.

The programme looks at the most recent research into the brains and behaviour of psychopaths and assesses the prospects for the treatment or containment of this antisocial group of people who create such a disproportionate amount of destruction.

Psychopaths who have been convicted of appalling crimes explain with disturbing clarity what motivated them in their violent and destructive behaviour. They speak without shame, guilt, remorse or empathy with their victims.

Though they are articulate and, at times, plausible and charming, they lack the range of emotions experienced by the rest of society. They know the difference between right and wrong but they do not feel it.

Robert Hare, Professor of Psychology at the University of Vancouver, has devised a system of assessment called the Psychopathy Checklist. In specialised interviews, psychologists assess individuals on a scale of 0 to 40 for a series of character traits, including callousness, superficial charm, lack of empathy and many others (for more detail look at How to recognise a psychopath).

Anyone whose score is greater than 26 is diagnosed as psychopathic.


Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)

This is a clinical rating scale with 20 items. Each of the items in the PCL-R is scored on a three-point (0, 1, 2) scale according to specific criteria through file information and a semi-structured interview.

A value of 0 is assigned if the item does not apply, 1 if it applies somewhat, and 2 if it fully applies. The items are as follows:
  1. Glibness/superficial charm
  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
  3. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  4. Pathological lying
  5. Conning/manipulative
  6. Lack of remorse or guilt
  7. Shallow affect
  8. Callous/lack of empathy
  9. Parasitic lifestyle
  10. Poor behavioral controls
  11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
  12. Early behavioral problems
  13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  14. Impulsivity
  15. Irresponsibility
  16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  17. Many short-term marital relationships
  18. Juvenile delinquency
  19. Revocation of conditional release
  20. Criminal versatility
The items are then summed in order to obtain a total score. The cutoff for psychopathy is 30 points or greater (25 in some studies).
Source: Cassiopedia, The True Encyclopedia


  1. Twins Study Finds Genetic Cause For Psychopathy


Added: 3 June 2008

Here is an interesting piece with some answers for those seeking recovery after "interaction" with sociopathic types.

I found it invaluable - perhaps someone else will, too.

Acute traumatic Stress, Paranoia and Displacement due to the narcissist

After you have managed to escape the narcissist, you will still be in fear. These fears are multiple and are to do with your personal safety. This is, the narcissist will make efforts to ensure that you do not feel safe and every means will be used including:
  • telling you that violence will be used against you with a real risk of execution.
  • telling you that you will have no access to your belongings, pets or children
  • turning up at the place where you stay unexpectedly
  • ringing you and leaving intimidating messages
  • passing on bills and financial commitments to you which are not yours
  • using a lawyer to write intimidating letters
  • spreading lies about you to your family and friends (if you have some left)
  • start a court case against you claiming that the narcissist was the victim
  • telling you not to speak to people because they are all working for the narcissist
  • telling you that nobody ever loved you like (s)he did and that you are a liar
  • go through your personal belongings where possible (e.g. break into your email account)
  • threatening to phone work and inform them that you are unsuitable for the work
  • intimidating you sexually be making inappropriate advances

As you can imagine, this all has one main effect on you. It all stresses you. Taking this into account together with the stress you might be experiencing through a move, new financial commitments and new surroundings, it is more than likely that you will experience acute traumatic stress - you can feel your heart pumping overtime.

Additionally to the stress, you might develop a paranoid tendency. As you have been informed that the narcissist has her/his spies operating against you, you feel you cannot trust anybody. A person sitting outside your house in a car, might just be one of those spies. The shopkeeper down the road seems not to smile at you anymore. Well, he too might have turned against you.

This deep sense of distrust becomes reinforced because it does happen that things you said or did leak to the narcissist. Work colleagues and friends, who might have begrudged you for some time, see this as the perfect opportunity to add to your distress.

There is only one way of dealing with this: Use the appropriate channels (such as your GP) and make your situation officially known. Rather than loosing your job, take sick leave if you feel that you cannot cope.

Accept help from everywhere except from the narcissist.

Finally, you will struggle with a problem of cognitive nature. Any situation which will resemble a situation reminding you of the narcissist can trigger fear. So it can quite easily happen that a person who genuinely talks to you in order to help you, chooses the wrong tone and you see the narcissist in this person.

You have to use all your reasoning powers to separate other people from your narcissist (seeing a problem shifted somewhere else is called displacement). It happens very easily that you displace fears, hopes, even positive feelings into other people simply there is something about them which is similar to your narcissist.

However, you also will have to learn to understand your inner alarm bells. If someone really resembles the narcissist, you better stop contact fast. Do not ignore your inner feelings and concerns like you did in the past.

Summarizing, this is a very difficult time for you where not just one major issue affects you, but at least three.
  1. You have to try to stay calm as much a possible and
  2. Give yourself plenty of rest.
  3. You need to be in a relaxed and quiet environment.
In this situation it might be an idea to return to a place where you feel definitely safe (e.g. your parent's home if you are sure you felt safe there). In my case, I simply wanted to be on my own.

Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl

Monday, 14 January 2008

Richard Feynman - The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out...

THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT, Richard Feynman Interview (1981)
49 min 37 sec - 05/04/2007
Average rating: (55 ratings)

BBC Horizon/PBS Nova THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT, Richard Feynman Interview (1981)

Fifty minutes of PURE Feynman! This is the original Horizon Nova interview - essential for any Feynman fan... and for everyone else too!

"I'm an explorer, OK I like to find out!" Richard Feynman, physicist and adventurer extraordinary...

THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT was filmed in 1981 and will delight and inspire anyone who would like to share something of the joys of scientific discovery. Feynman is a master storyteller, and his tales -- about childhood, Los Alamos, or how he won a Nobel Prize -- are a vivid and entertaining insight into the mind of a great scientist at work and play.

"The 1981 Feynman Horizon is the best science program I have ever seen. This is not just my opinion - it is also the opinion of many of the best scientists that I know who have seen the program... It should be mandatory viewing for all students whether they be science or arts students." - Professor Sir Harry Kroto, Nobel Prize for Chemistry


At Princeton, the physicist Robert R. Wilson encouraged Feynman to participate in the Manhattan Project—the wartime U.S. Army project at Los Alamos developing the atomic bomb. Feynman said he was persuaded to join this effort to build it before Nazi Germany.

He was assigned to Hans Bethe's theoretical division, and impressed Bethe enough to be made a group leader. Together with Bethe, he developed the Bethe-Feynman formula for calculating the yield of a fission bomb, which built upon previous work by Robert Serber.

Until his wife's death on June 16, 1945, he visited her in a sanatorium in Albuquerque each weekend. He immersed himself in work on the project, and was present at the Trinity bomb test.

Feynman claimed to be the only person to see the explosion without the very dark glasses provided, reasoning that it was safe to look through a truck windshield, as it would screen out the harmful ultraviolet radiation.