Who Is Your Favorite Political Psychopath?

There are few people I know who use the word psychopath correctly. I sure don’t. This story results from the suggestion of a friend who does.

Turns out quite a few historical political leaders are highly ranked psychopaths according to Dr. Kevin Dutton, an Oxford psychologist who has the fun job of exploring psychopathic tendencies among US presidential candidates.

Dr. Dutton must be pretty busy because (a) there have been a lot of presidential candidates and (b) most of them seem pretty sick.

Guess where President Trump ranks on Dutton’s historical list and, just to stay bipartisan here, guess where Hillary fits on his scale measuring such things as fearless dominance, self-centered impulsivity and cold heartedness. For some reason men have to score higher than women to make the cut.

Using the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – Revised (PPI-R) (sounds pretty official to me), Dutton has 15 famous figures on his list. They are by no means all bad.

St. Paul (#5), Jesus (#6), Winston Churchill (#7), Margaret Thatcher, George Washington, Elizabeth I, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi (#s 11 through 15) would not have been on my list as I misused the term psychopath, but there they are on Dutton’s list.

More predictably, Henry VIII takes top psychopath honors followed by Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler and William the Conqueror rounding out the top four. Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor Nero and Oliver Cromwell are numbers eight, nine and ten. Those sound more like the psychopaths we know and love.

Here is a link to Presidential candidates may be psychopaths – but that could be a good thing describing Dutton’s project.

If you decide to pursue a career in deciding who is or is not a psychopath, you begin with the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.

“In the test, a clinician interviews a potential sociopath and scores them on 20 criteria, such as “promiscuous sexual Behavior” or “impulsivity.” On each criterion, the subject is ranked on a 3-point scale: (0 = item does not apply, 1 = item applies somewhat, 2 = item definitely applies). The scores are summed to create a rank of zero to 40. Anyone who scores 30 and above is probably a psycho.”

Here are the 20 criteria.

1. Do you have “excess glibness” or superficial charm?

Yes for sociopaths

2. Do you have a grandiose sense of self-worth?

Yes for psychopaths

3. Do you have an excess need for stimulation or proneness to boredom?

Psychopaths hate that

4. Are you a pathological liar?

Psychopaths don’t care about the truth

5. Are you conning or manipulative?

Psychopaths believe they can fool those around them

6. Do you display a lack of remorse or guilt?

Psychopaths don’t care

7. Do you have “shallow affect”?

Psychopaths show a lack of emotions when an emotional reaction is appropriate

8. Are you callous, or do you lack empathy?

Psychopaths just don’t care when bad things happen to other people.

9. Do you have a “parasitic lifestyle”?

Psychopaths prefer not to work for a living. They feel it is easier to take stuff from other people.

10. Do you have poor behavioral controls?

Psychopaths find it difficult to keep themselves in check.

11. Do you have a history of promiscuous sexual behavior?

Psychopaths like one-night stands.

12. Do you have a history of early behavioral problems?

As children, psychopaths often have a history of cruelty to others.

13. Do you lack realistic long-term goals?

Psychopaths prefer crazy schemes over life or career goals.

14. Are you overly impulsive?

Psychopaths get two “verys” on this one.

15. Do you have a high level of irresponsibility?

Psychopaths aren’t big on doing the right thing.

16. Do you fail to accept responsibility for your own actions?

When you’re a psycho, it’s always someone else’s fault.

17. Have you had many short-term “marital” relationships?

Psychopaths have an inability to commit to, or repeatedly betray, long-term relationships.

18. Do you have a history of juvenile delinquency?

Psychopaths start young.

19. Have you ever experienced a “revocation of conditional release”?

Even when psychopaths catch a break — like being let out of prison on probation — they tend to screw up.

20. Do you display “criminal versatility”?

Psychopaths differ from normal criminals because they don’t really care which type of laws they break — they’ll break any of them, under the right circumstances.

So, where does President Trump rank on Dr. Dutton’s list and where does Hillary Clinton rank?

Trump finishes third between Idi Amin and Adolf Hitler while Hillary ranks ninth between Napoleon and Nero.

Maybe that is why she lost?

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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21 comments

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    • Is your conclusion based on your desire to believe something or on the application of the 20 criteria?

      Not that I am qualified to answer yea or nay.

      I defer to Professor Dutton fully understanding that, no matter what he would say, many will disagree.

  • I wonder where Nixon and LBJ scored. But intrrresting study and scary when you consider how many world leaders had issues. Begs the question of whether they were born with those characteristics and how they evolved or whether gaining a leadership position allowed them to act on their scary emotional patterns and make matters worse. Lots of possibilities!! Fascinating discussion mr pell.

    • Thanks Diana. I will leave the answers to your insightful question to my friend who uses the term correctly

  • Demented. Psychopathic. Sick.
    In your next column pls. Come up with 20 ideas about what to do about him.

  • Many years ago when I was a young Jesuit I had a very wise and holy man as a spiritual director. He used to say “If you cannot be guided by morality at least be deterred by shame.”
    His reasoning was quite simple and yet provided a small glimmer of hope for the “morally disturbed”.
    But he offered no hope to those who were neither guided by morals nor shame. Obviously, a simpler and less “scientific” approach to apply to our elected officials.

    • “If you cannot be guided by morality at least be deterred by shame.”

      This would make a great opening line for the national athem of a Bolivarian republic.

      My condolences to the Monsignor on how Paraguay turned out.

      • No condolences necessary…

        “The presence of the Jesuits in any country, Romanist [i.e., Catholic] or Protestant, is likely to breed social disturbance.”
        Lord Palmerston

  • Many years ago when I was a young Jesuit I had a very wise and holy man as a spiritual director. He used to say “If you cannot be guided by morals at least be deterred by shame.”
    His reasoning was quite simple and yet provided a small glimmer of hope for the “morally disturbed”.
    But he offered no hope to those who were neither guided by morals nor deterred by shame. Obviously, a simpler and less “scientific” approach to apply to our elected officials.

  • Seems one need be pyschopathic to subject oneself and family to the various media anal examines to say nothing of legislators/bureaucrats.
    Where does Obama fit in the list? Ego would seem his malady

    • It seems entirely reasonable to use the tools described and come to your own conclusion as to where any politician fits. The two mentioned were definitely not the only examples.

  • My favorite would be Thomas Jefferson and he is not even mentioned. Think about TJ and the 20 criteria.
    Also, success has to be an ingredient. Is he on Dutton’s list?

  • This seems to say a great deal more about Dr. Kevin Dutton and the state of modern psychology than any of the people on the list.

    • I am not qualified to respond so I fall back on the first paragraph

      “There are few people I know who use the word psychopath correctly. I sure don’t. This story results from the suggestion of a friend who does.”

      My friend pointed me to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.

  • Perhaps an even worse problem is not that psychopaths stand for higher office, but that large
    amounts of people vote for them. Further issue: would large amounts of people vote for psychopaths if they knew and understood that the people they voted for were clinical psychopaths? If the answer is yes, that may be the worse social pathology of all.

  • My number one choice for “Psychopathic Personality” is Thomas Jefferson. Just compare the 20 criteria with Jefferson’s actions throughout his life. “Success” has to be one of the criteria and Jefferson was very successful and almost got away with it. Did Dutton have TJ on his list?

  • I am not a sociopath or for that matter a psychopath. Martha Stout PHD in “The Sociopath Next Door” does the best job nailing the sociopath.

    I believe that all great leaders have a sociopathic streak. The job absolutely requires it So much for Jeb Bush or John Kasich.

    The wisdom of crowds knows this to be true if we are to have a fighting chance when the chips are down with Kim Vladimir Assad it Saddam.

    Thank you Haven for ventilating the virtues and vices therein.