Blog by Dizma
The Psychopath Checklist (PCL-R) is a diagnostic tool which aids in determining a psychopathic mind. This is a two-part assessment – an interview and a case history on the subject’s records to do with their personal life, work, education, criminal and medical background.
This was created by Robert D. Hare, a Canadian researcher of Criminal Psychology with over 25 years of experience specifically in Psychopathy.
Odd Side-Note: After several Google searches, the ‘D’ in his name remains a mystery.
Hare describes psychopaths as “intraspecies predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, sex and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs. Lacking in conscience and empathy, they take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without guilt or remorse“. “What is missing, in other words, are the very qualities that allow a human being to live in social harmony”.
There are 20 traits and each within the checklist will receive a score of 0, 1 or 2. This is on a scale of always/occasionally/never. A high score is required to be diagnosed as a psychopath. Non-criminals tend to get around 5, criminals around 22 and the maximum score is 40. The cutoff in the UK is 25 but USA is at 30.
The reasons believed for the differences are either the UK are more forgiving or the USA want less psychopaths on the radar… or perhaps both? Anyway…
Here are the areas assessed in the Psychopathy Checklist. It is split into three sections: Factor 1 & 2 and a third section covering the rest.
Factor 1: Personality – “Aggressive Narcissism”
(1) Superficial charm – An insincere manner which exudes utter charisma alongside an elegant way with words. This is merely a trap to bend you to their will.
(2) Grandiose sense of self-worth – Regardless of whose expense it’s at, the psychopath believes they deserve all they desire. Here is an example where, in my mind, “pride” is definitely one of the deadly sins.
(3) Pathological lying – This will be a long-term, or life-long, compulsive need to never tell the truth. The lies told will also have no real “big-picture” benefit for the pathological liar. Sometimes a truth will even be told in a misleading way… ‘cause, you know, that can be fun for them too.
(4) Cunning and manipulation – Alongside the aforementioned characteristics of charming and lying, manipulation easily becomes a part of the equation. Technically, everyone has manipulated in minor ways, but this trait of the psychopath trait requires its use at a grand scale. To the point where people can lose their jobs, or even their lives, the master manipulator will incessantly push.
(5) Lack of remorse or guilt – Don’t mistake this for someone who never apologises. One can sound out a “sorry speech” for purely selfish gains. In reality though, inside the psychopath’s soul (and even that’s questionable), there is nothing that causes them to re-shift their morals, nor will they realise how you could be feeling without you bringing it up in the first place. Cue… the “sorry speech”.
(6) Shallow affect (Emotional blunting) – The psychopath is not void of emotions as some people have been led to believe. More so that feelings are experienced in short bursts and at a weaker level. Recognition of consequences exist, but lack of a deep ‘fear’ or deep ‘love’ will stop their plans. To uphold the illusion of being a part of society, expressions will also be mirrored. A series of relatable, but faked, emotional states can make for a wonderful camouflage.
(7) Lack of empathy – The ability to understand or share another’s feelings are non-existent. This breaks down the natural connection most of us feel with each other, as well as the way we react to each other’s moods. A psycho will actually never know how you feel.
(8) Failure to accept responsibility for one’s own actions – Aside from fake “sorry speeches”, denials may take place or a sleek manoeuvre to shift blame onto someone else.
Factor 2: Case History – “Social Deviant Lifestyle
(9) Need for stimulation – This goes hand in hand with a proneness to boredom. That feeling that life is much too empty or one feels much too restless without messing with others.
(10) Parasitic lifestyle – Unless you’re a millionaire who lives in social isolation, this trait isn’t worth your presence. Watch as your finances disappear, perhaps even as you lose your loved ones. This, to me, is one of the most harmful to a community out of the entire psychopath checklist.
(11) Poor behavioural control – Complete anger management totally goes amiss here. Whether it’s verbal or physical violence, the lack of control can be utterly devastating.
(12) Lack of realistic long-term goals – Most people will genuinely know what is unachievable. The psychopath will fail to gaze at the big picture and will likely choose a route that causes every goal to be void of success.
(13) Impulsivity – After hearing what’s included in the checklist so far, this should ring alarm bells. Acting instantly in the moment, without thought, is dangerous here. Especially now we know that any apology we get wouldn’t be worth a damn anyway.
(14) Irresponsibility – A selfish mind will always choose what it wants, as opposed to what is right to do. Seeing as the lack of fear behind any consequences is concrete, partner that with impulsivity and watch several wrong steps take place. Ironically, the actions conclude with severe consequences. This is not the case for intelligent psychopaths, as they will master the art of blending in with the world, so they can perhaps “play” with the world for longer.
(15) Juvenile delinquency – This will be the act of committing crimes before the age of 15, which can simply be ‘every day life’ for the child. The acts of harming or killing animals is a commonly-known red flag in a psychopath.
(16) Early behaviour problems – If your kid is setting fire to your house, threatening to murder you or killed the cat… you see where I’m going with this. Bear in mind, there are other disorders where these happen but if these are included in the adult’s case history… it’s not looking so good. Luckily for them, they don’t really care. Being psychopathic has been described as the most ‘pleasant-feeling’ mental illness out there.
(17) Revocation of conditional release – Conditional release is when you get to leave prison early ‘cause you were a good boy or girl, but a list of conditions must be followed to remain free… well, more free. When these conditions are broken, it gets revoked. Most released prisoners are able to uphold this but given the psycho acts impulsively and irresponsibly… yet again, it’s not looking so good for the psychopath.
Traits outside of Factors 1 & 2
(18) Sexual promiscuity – This can be to boost one’s own self-confidence or if the act reaps rewards due to the partner’s wealth or a stress relief-tool for their anger. Easily spotting the vulnerable and mastering in the art of seduction, they’re able to find the partners they need and also appear very loving, but this is just performance art to fulfil their needs. There is no mutual respect or love in a relationship with a psycho.
(19) Many short-term marital relationships – Seeing as people are seen more as resources, a string of short-term relationships isn’t a surprise. It shows a lack of commitment in a way in which their partner may have held. The lack of feeling “deeply in love” is caused by the pre-mentioned emotional blunting, and being in love is what makes it easy for those to commit with their heart. Let’s not forget about honesty though… given the psycho will lie, this will also break down an endless line of relationships. However, unless they are 100% self-reliant, they will continue to use their charm and hunt for more prey.
(20) Criminal versatility – This is generally a string of varied activities which hold no regard to whether the act is against the law or not. When you consider a lack of empathy and a dose of impulsivity, you can see how criminal, or immoral, behaviour is inevitable. Someone doesn’t have to ever have been caught to have criminal versatility. Most non-psychopathic criminals also specialise within a sector of ‘crime’, such as burglary or murder. A psychopath can get away with varied crimes as it is harder to pinpoint from the side of legal authority.
So there’s the entire checklist. A point I want to make is that this checklist has been judged as focusing on criminals, but Hare’s aim was to focus on those that are directly harming society. For the time-being, this is still one of the tools in diagnosing a psychopath.
Here is a chilling excerpt from Robert D. Hare’s book ‘Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths’.
“The interviewer says, “You make it out that you’re the victim of a serial killer, but if you look at the record you’re a serial killer.”
Henley replies, “I’m not.”
“You’re not a serial killer?” the interviewer asks in disbelief, to which Henley replies,
“I’m not a serial killer.”
The interviewer then says, “You’re saying you’re not a serial killer now, but you’ve serially killed.”
Henley replies, with some exasperation and condescension, “Well, yeah, that’s semantics.””
But don’t fret yet if you come across a psychopath. Below, I will leave a comment I found from a psychopath which will warm your heart. And as I didn’t want to edit it in any way, pretend your name is Gregg. Take care.
“I am a psychopath, as I have been recently diagnosed. We are not all violent and mean. Some of us, me for example, are simply empty. We feel little and are as shallow as a baking pan. I am not out to hurt you or anyone else for that matter but, Gregg, do not get your hopes up about guiding us to the social norm. Actually understanding the social norm is the problem. Our brains are wired so differently that society and its patterns make no sense. I, personally, have to ask “why” to everything. If no one can provide a clear why, I create one and it’s usually a very askew perspective. Therein lies the problem. Things have to fit our schema before we can apply them. Violence is often associated with psychopaths and sociopaths because it makes for great drama but a psychopath can have a very successful life without harming anyone; They just don’t connect to others as normal people do.”