Ever heard of the word psychopath? What image does the word conjure up in your mind? An axe wielding villain with a scary face or the smooth and sophisticated Hannibal Lecter who would like to have his friend for dinner.
Psychopaths represent around 1-4% of the human population. They may not look like Hannibal Lecter or Jason X, but look just like us. There are in fact two kinds of psychopaths. The charming psychopaths who try to blend in with the society by mimicking human behaviour and the not so charming ones which could probably be the likes of Jason X and Anton Chigurh in the movie “No country for old men”. Psychopaths are unlike normal human beings as there is a genetic predisposition to this condition. They do not have a conscience like the rest of the human population. In fact the idea of a conscience is as alien to them as human ability to see infrared rays with our naked eye. Psychologists have compared there lack of conscience to a color blind person who does not know that colors exist, but still can understand you have to stop when the top light in the traffic signal comes on which normal people call as red. The color blind cannot see it but still can mimic normal people and say he stopped at the red light.
Another splendid explanation of a psychopaths mind was given in Robert Hare’s book “Without conscience: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us”. When Nicole Kidman asks the psychologist how to enact a psychopath for the movie “Malice”, he tells her an instance. Suppose you are walking on the road and a child is hit by a vehicle. There is blood all over the place and some of it falls on your shoes. While you look with disgust at this and try to clean up your shoe, you notice the child’s mother crying and you are awestruck and watch the expressions on her face. When you reach home you look into the mirror and mimic those expressions. That is a psychopath.
The psychopaths internal world is completely different from ours. However the rest of the human beings are blind to their existence as it is impossible for us to believe that a person can be born without conscience. The psychopath, for the most part, understands this human weakness and puts on a mask of sanity. It often mimics the emotions of the human world and fools us while feeling nothing inside. But even with a lifetime of studying and mimicking human emotions, very often they go wrong. Sometimes their display of emotion goes overboard where such a display is not required. In other places their displays are less than what is required.
Human emotions are complicated and comes naturally to most of us. The various social situations and unique problems life presents, brings in us different levels of emotional upheaval which cannot be learned fully even by years of observation and mimicking. It is here that the psychopaths slip up and provide clues to their internal world which is so different from ours.
The psychopaths are pure evil and most of the world’s problems are created by these wolves in sheep’s clothing. For them every interaction with a human being is a chance at manipulation and honing their skills at exploiting people. When they meet a person, they assess that person’s value to their material world. They closely watch the person and sizes him up. Then they manipulate the person by pushing the right buttons. When the person is no longer useful to the psychopath, he is discarded like an object.
Psychologists have tried to understand how psychopaths are different from normal human beings. PET brain scans of psychopaths and normal control groups have been studied. The activity in the frontal lobes of the brains was limited in the case of psychopaths even when shown emotionally disturbing pictures whereas for the control group their frontal lobes lighted up. Certain genes are also known to predispose people towards psychopathy. Attachment disorders in children are often a result of psychopathic trait.
Psychopaths tend to lie and cheat people at every opportunity they get. They also have little regard for morality or ethics and can commit any heinous act without the slightest remorse. It is important that normal humans are educated on the subject so as to avoid unnecessary trauma and hardship due to their interaction with the psychopaths of this world.