“When you look around you at modern-day society, do you think, in general, that we’re becoming more psychopathic?”
Bob Hare, eminent criminal psychologist and creator of the widely used Psychopathy Checklist, thinks so.
“I mean, there’s stuff going on nowadays that we wouldn’t have seen 20, even 10 years ago. Kids are becoming anesthetized to normal sexual behavior by early exposure to pornography on the Internet. Rent-a-friend sites are getting more popular on the Web, because folks are either too busy or too techy to make real ones. … The recent hike in female criminality is particularly revealing. And don’t even get me started on Wall Street.”
It’s true that the new millennium has ushered in a surge of corporate criminality never really experienced before. There have been numerous investment scams, business related conflicts of interest, general lapses of judgment, and a revamping of basic fraud and embezzlement to devastating new heights. Who’s to blame? Some argue that it’s psychopaths and psychopathic behavior at the root of all the trouble. In a recent British study, convicted street robbers were asked why they committed their crime. The answers were, in order, ‘just for kicks’, spur-of-the-moment impulses, status, and financial gain. Reasons that one might expect to receive from the stereotypical psychopath showing no defined cause other than for their own bizarre sense of amusement. And a lack of empathy in the current generation of students may also be a sign of growing psychopathic behavior in the general public. Studies have shown that college students’ self-reported empathy levels have been in steady decline over the past three decades all while students’ self-reported narcissism levels have sharply risen. Both the low empathy and high narcissism are traits seen in psychopaths.
If society really is becoming more psychopathic, it’s not all doom and gloom. In the right context, certain psychopathic characteristics can actually be very constructive and useful. For example, in any kind of crisis, the most effective individuals are often those who stay calm and have certain levels of detachment.
To read more about the Psychopathic tendencies and studies currently being conducted on the subject, visit the Chronical.