3 for Thursday: 3 Questions for Identifying a Psychopath

House of CardsI just finished the first season of Kevin Spacey’s new Netflix original show, House of Cards, and there are two things that stand out strongly to me. Firstly, Cord Cutters, like myself, are finally being recognized as a group worthy of our own programming and so the future looks bright for binge watching. Secondly, Kevin Spacey plays one amazing and creepy psychopath (Francis Underwood)—the kind you want to punch in the throat.

Watching Underwood manipulate and tear apart his enemies led me back to last year’s big discussion of “The Psychopath Test.” Studies seem to indicate that there are no shortages of psychopaths, so perhaps it would be good to hone one’s psychopath identification skills. Below are three questions to consider when identifying a psychopath.

1) Ask yourself, do I work for one?
Perhaps it is no surprise that CEOs, lawyers, and (uhem) clergy make the top ten of the psychopath test. Curious about the others? Erik Barker at The Huffington Post has a more complete list of careers that attract psychopaths. It is a good place to start when wondering if someone you know is a psychopath.

2) Could a psychopath be faking a different personality disorder?
Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test discusses his research on psychopaths with his usual creativity and humor in his TED Talk (below), including a discussion of his trip to Broadmoor Hospital (formerly known as Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum), where a man who successfully faked insanity to get away with a crime can no longer leave the hospital even though the doctors know that he faked it. In the process of examining him they discovered that he’s a psychopath.

3) Could I be sleeping with one?
Lastly, perhaps your mate is a psychopath. Kevin Dutton, author of Wisdom of Psychopaths, has a few suggestions for verifying if your true love is actually a psychopath. Despite how obvious it should be that one is in love with a psychopath, there are plenty of signs that apparently go unnoticed. So this Valentines Day, give yourself the gift of making sure you aren’t sleeping with a psychopath. Remember, the only persons psychopaths are in love with are themselves, and that person they are in love with is a real jerk.

Of course, none of these questions are clinically proven and I’m not providing any real professional advice; I’m not the kind of doctor that can help anyone since my Ph.D. is in the humanities.  So keep that in mind before you rush off to your divorce attorney, who also, by the way, might be a psychopath.


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