New Civilization News: In the mind of a psychopath    
 In the mind of a psychopath19 comments
picture 20 Apr 2004 @ 18:46, by Flemming Funch

Very interesting article by Dave Cullen: "The Depressive and the Psychopath" about the conclusions made about what really went on in the minds of the Columbine killers. The mostly publicized story is that they were outcasts who had been picked on, and who were taking revenge against those who bullied them. And that their motivations otherwise are inexplicable. The conclusions reached by a group of FBI psychologists are both more horrifying and more enlightening and useful.
Fuselier and Ochberg say that if you want to understand "the killers," quit asking what drove them. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were radically different individuals, with vastly different motives and opposite mental conditions. Klebold is easier to comprehend, a more familiar type. He was hotheaded, but depressive and suicidal. He blamed himself for his problems.

Harris is the challenge. He was sweet-faced and well-spoken. Adults, and even some other kids, described him as "nice." But Harris was cold, calculating, and homicidal. "Klebold was hurting inside while Harris wanted to hurt people," Fuselier says. Harris was not merely a troubled kid, the psychiatrists say, he was a psychopath.

In popular usage, almost any crazy killer is a "psychopath." But in psychiatry, it's a very specific mental condition that rarely involves killing, or even psychosis. "Psychopaths are not disoriented or out of touch with reality, nor do they experience the delusions, hallucinations, or intense subjective distress that characterize most other mental disorders," writes Dr. Robert Hare, in Without Conscience, the seminal book on the condition. (Hare is also one of the psychologists consulted by the FBI about Columbine and by Slate for this story*.) "Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. Their behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised." Diagnosing Harris as a psychopath represents neither a legal defense, nor a moral excuse. But it illuminates a great deal about the thought process that drove him to mass murder.
The distinctions are very well worth understanding in detail. "Psychopath" isn't just a good thing to call people one doesn't like or who do something bad. There is something very specific that makes such a person different. In this case Eric Harris was the psychopath. It was not at all about simple revenge, and his aim was for something much grander than merely the most deadly school shooting in U.S. history. Because he was a person thinking differently from you and I.
It begins to explain Harris' unbelievably callous behavior: his ability to shoot his classmates, then stop to taunt them while they writhed in pain, then finish them off. Because psychopaths are guided by such a different thought process than non-psychopathic humans, we tend to find their behavior inexplicable. But they're actually much easier to predict than the rest of us once you understand them. Psychopaths follow much stricter behavior patterns than the rest of us because they are unfettered by conscience, living solely for their own aggrandizement. (The difference is so striking that Fuselier trains hostage negotiators to identify psychopaths during a standoff, and immediately reverse tactics if they think they're facing one. It's like flipping a switch between two alternate brain-mechanisms.)

None of his victims means anything to the psychopath. He recognizes other people only as means to obtain what he desires. Not only does he feel no guilt for destroying their lives, he doesn't grasp what they feel. The truly hard-core psychopath doesn't quite comprehend emotions like love or hate or fear, because he has never experienced them directly.

"Because of their inability to appreciate the feelings of others, some psychopaths are capable of behavior that normal people find not only horrific but baffling," Hare writes. "For example, they can torture and mutilate their victims with about the same sense of concern that we feel when we carve a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner."
Seems like it should be very important to find better ways of recognizing such people early. Shouldn't really be all that hard if it can be based on such rather clear criteria.

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21 Apr 2004 @ 05:17 by ming : CEOs
Well, I agree that corporations and governments might act that way, and CEOs and government leaders take the decisions that make them do so. However, that doesn't necessarily mean they individually really are like that. Could be that they're just so far removed from the consequences of their actions that they don't notice them, other than as numbers on paper. But if one puts them actually face to face with those consequences they might be shocked and might change their mind. Or they might not. It would certainly be very sensible to test CEOs and government figures very thoroughly as to whether they fit a psychopathic profile.  

21 Apr 2004 @ 09:54 by jmarc : o.k. I'll bite
"Seems like it should be very important to find better ways of recognizing such people early." ... What would you recommend be done after early identification, before they commit crimes, is what i'm reading into your statement?  

21 Apr 2004 @ 12:39 by vaxen : Right on...
Ashanti. One would do well to do an in depth study on Military Experiments in Mind Control on the American people and people worldwide Then you may begin to 'see the light.' Certainly this group of, ahem, 'Authorities' seem to want to cover up with their Psycho-babble' the truth of what happened there in Columbine and is happening all over the United States. What crap they shpiel forth! Study 'Deep Black.' Those are very special projects payed for by the 'American' taxpayer which can and often do lead to fun things like Columbine. SPread the terror! Psychopaths! Ha! The Psychologists and Psychiatrists feeding these explas are the real Psychopaths as if they understood one wit how the mind really operates outside their narrow Skinnerian Pavlovian Freudian Jungian perspectives.

Maybe look at your Government leaders and the propaganda being fed to 'school kids' by a variety of programs to 'recognize such people early.' Ha! Better yet there are some really nice brain chips that will do the job for you and...

Ein Fuhrer, Ein Volk, Ein Reich!  

21 Apr 2004 @ 12:58 by skookum : I was curious
I had read at the time that it was this reason or that reason etc. I did find this website... many different views as to why it happened... some a bit bizarre...  

21 Apr 2004 @ 17:21 by ming : Tests
The trouble is that I generally don't trust psychologists, and certainly not psychiatrists, to come up with a really reliable test for anything. So it easily becomes much too fuzzy and open to interpretation, or political manipulation. If I believed we really had a test that would identify psychopatic killers in advance, I'd quite happily have them taken out and shot, if I had any say about it. Or locked away for good at least. Or have an easily recognized symbol tatooed on their forehead so that nobody will trust them to attain any position of power.

I believe there's a very small percentage of the population that are intentionally destructive and who really don't give a damn about it, not just pretending to. Anybody can change, of course, but these are the ones that are likely to be the most thoroughly resistive to change. So, better tools for identifying such people and neutralizing them could make a big positive difference for society and for the planet. I.e. without them, we'd be doing pretty damn good.

But a faulty way of recognizing the character of people would only make it worse.  

21 Apr 2004 @ 19:13 by sharie : Bowling Columbine by Michael Moore
If you haven't seen Michael Moore's documentary on the subject of the Columbine killings, I highly recommend it. He conducts extensive interviews to find out just why the boys would murder so callously... in the end, it points to one thing: Lockheed Martin (the world's largest weapons manufacturer) employs 5,000 people there in Golden, Colorado who ship out a missile a week.

So while these economically-advantaged kids are neglected by their busy parents, the missile rolls through the streets every week like clockwork... kill, kill, kill... and get rich from it.

What a powerful message Michael's video puts out, and please accept my apology for not doing it justice.

And Vaxen, you are so right about the psychopath psychologists and psychiatrists (what a bunch of lunatics).  

11 Jan 2005 @ 12:03 by Todd @ : psychopath explanation is very possible
You are quick to call them lunatics, however you provide no evidence to refute any of the claims they have made. I believe some people can be born inherently "evil" and science is continuing to gather more evidence to support this idea (i.e. various brain scans). A true psychopath shows the same brain activity when they hear a word like "murder" as they do when they hear a word such as "tree". There is no discerning between the two as they do not have any perception of apathy and cannot truly differentiate between right and wrong. Rather, what is right is what benefits them and their brains are not neurologically capable of seeing otherwise. A lot of these people come from households that are seemingly condusive to healthy childhood development. On the topic of developing ways to recognize these natural killers, it really isn't as easy as you would think. The ones that do the most damage are usually highly intelligent, and can manipulate people for long periods of time before anyone can really see what is happening. Effective serial killers are only able to continue their killing spree for a sustained period without being caught because of their intelligence. Fraudulent sociopathic CEO's can manipulate employees and financial records without anyone knowing for long periods of time because of their high intelligence. Properly trained psychiatric professionals are obviously able to recognize these individuals much faster than the general population because they cannot be readily identified by a few specific actions. Not all killers are psychopaths, just like all fraudulent CEO's are not necessarily sociopathic. The idea that we may encounter these people during our livetime is rather frightening. Klebold is said to have died from a gunshot wound inflicted by another person, which would obviously be Harris. Furthermore, it seems that all scientific studies have suggested that a psychopathic condition is incurable. I believe the media centered on the "Trench Coat Mafia" angle because it is something that most Americans can relate to much easier than some abstract psychological profiling report that is probably much more accurate. The public would also become angry at the suggestion that no one could really be blamed for this tragedy, as the cries for revenge and justice are always at the forefront following any major disaster. If Harris was a cunning psychopath, who can you blame? I don't think there was one person who was unaware of their plot that went on record as saying that they expected them to pull off something like this. To our knowledge the parents are on record of having no clue that this was even a concieved idea. The media turned this into another reality soap opera that attracted the attention of any American who went through high school. The reality is, Klebold was a fucked up adolescent who was highly suggestible and yearned for the attention and acceptance of others. Klebold saw this and saw gold. I doubt he instantly recognized that he was going to try to coerce Klebold into a murderous plot when he first befriended him, but I guarantee that he was looking for someone to manipulate and control. We really don't have as much control over ourselves and destiny as we like to think!  

11 Jan 2005 @ 14:14 by ming : Psychopaths.
I guess what is reason enough to be freaked out is that there are people who truly don't lose any sleep over the thought of killing other people, or it even gives them a rush. We kind of walk around counting on that other people have some kind of inherent moral motivation. But if they don't, what do we do? I'd still tend towards believing that the answers to why they are the way they are can be found in their upbringing. And I believe anybody can change. But there's no way we can make sure that everybody are nice people. And the worst of the lot might be very capable of looking perfectly normal on the surface.  

12 May 2006 @ 13:35 by sarah @ : psychopathic minds
I think that some people have problems in their minds where they think that what they are doing will some how maybe get them help. I think that they might think that they are doing the right thing by killing another person. So therefore they kill because they don't understand the meaning of life. Or they really have some big problems and don't comprehend that killing another person isn’t ok. They need to understand that why is their life more important than the persons life they are taking? I think that it is wrong to take another's life. I agree that in the psychopath's mind the word "murder" has the same amount of brain activity as the word "tree". That in my mind isn't really that person's fault. Or is it? Do they know on some subconscious level they actually know what they are doing and they know they are killing someone? I think that people do get possessed and they "person" might not be running the body they are in, but what possesses them is controlling them. Killing in the psychopathic mind might be a rush just like having an energy drink is to us, but why is killing their adrenaline rush? People do have the ability to change if they want to. But beware of people who appear “normal” on the outside. Many psychopathic people have an incredible amount of knowledge, and are extremely intelligent.  

19 Jun 2006 @ 21:25 by HANNAH @ : Brain scans for everyone
I believe that everyone should be given a brain scan at the age of 21 to determine if they are a psychopath (apparently this is now possible as psychopaths have more white frontal lobe brain matter than grey....I think I've got that right!).

Psychopaths cannot and never will fit into society in a normal, harmoneous way. We are living amongst wolves in sheep's clothing but cannot see the difference. Well, those of us who are aware of the signs of psychopathy can spot sheep's clothing but that's mostly because we have previously suffered at the hands of a psychopath.

We go around, living our lives, knowing some people are mainly good and partly bad and some people are mainly bad and partly good. Until we experience a psychopath, we would never have believed there could be people who were 100% bad and who would always be 100% bad. That is when we lose our niavity.

I know what to look for now. I hope I will never be brainwashed and sucked in by the snakelike charisma of a psychopath. I pity those who do not know and will, possible, discover that we are not all given a concience; we may all be human but we are not all humane.  

30 Apr 2007 @ 23:58 by lol@Nov 2006 @ : Get your facts straight
You don't seem to notice what a psychopath even close..A psychopath is CHARMING, they say the right things and act like a socialiable and likeable person. The person you are talking about is probably psychotic. Psychotic people are out of reality and suffer from psychosis, with their delusions. Psychopaths have none, they aren't crazy and they don't have a conscience.  

3 May 2007 @ 00:01 by Maia @ : Psychopathic traits....
Oh, what rubbish. Anyone can think like a psychopath, but it is the behaviour that should be assessed, and how far those people will go to get something they think they deserve. I've done some tests and discovered that unlike most people, i actually CAN think like a psychopath. Does that make me one? No. But i have certainly isolated within myself the traits that could make me 'appear' psychopathic. Maybe that just makes me a good actress.... I don't know. But i do know psycopathic people don't 'act' a particular way. They will DO things that most of us will not do, because they are not bound by moral conduct, ethics and the like. They may even feel guilty for few seconds, and that is all they will feel. But mostly, they will DO things because in some way, it benefits them and them only. They are exceptionally self-centred and selfish people, so much so that their need to 'feel fullfilled' far outways any consequences of their actions. I think they can feel something at some point in their life, but that can be rare.

Are they all intelligent, superficial and charming? No bloody way. I've charmed the pants off psychopathic people myself, because i know how they think. Most of them are NOT that intelligent, or charming. However, they DO think about their own self-gain, and that is the ONLY leverage you have over them. I actually think most psychopaths are pretty stupid and very easy to predict, because of who they are. And i think the rest of the society that doesn't classify themselves as 'psychopathic' better get with it and learn to recognise them, so they don't get eaten for breakfast each time they run into one.  

10 Mar 2008 @ 23:28 by Al @ : Defending Psychopathy.
Everyone here seems to think psychopathic people are all blood thirsty murderers, but thats not exactly the case. psychopathy is an agressive personality, who can very easily manupulate others to get what they wan't because of their shallow emotions, and there lack of guilt and empathy for another person. We can find psychopaths in ALL walks of life, from crimanal status to even law and government. There are psychopaths in this world that do very well in a financial point of veiw, because of there wittyness, charm, and there ability to take what they want without the guilt. There are a low percentage of psychopaths that accually turn into mass murderers. I understand the fear of what a psychopathic person is capable of, but it seems that people give them a "bad name" because they are scared, and do not fully understand the condition. Sure their personalities might be dark and chilling to an intence degree, but it is important to remember that this is a diagnosed condition, and it is not something a psychopath can control. Capische?  

15 Nov 2009 @ 13:06 by Arnold @ : unintelligent
Everyone can become a psychopath... its just a matter neglecting the worth of others... its just a matter of becoming sefish and narrow ones mind... I can be a evil psychopath if i want..... but what happens? My conciousness tells me that - "now you're feeding on others for gaining yourself" This triggers some moral in me - The difference between me and some high grade psychopath is that im not lost in my ego. The psycopath is really just a fucking egoistic child... - he is totally undeveloped in some areas of the mind.

Peoples apparent "intelligence" is pretty much based on their self confident, therefore, a psychopath seems very intelligent. But I see him, non psychopaths owns the minds of the psychopath - AND MORE - heres the important part, theyr minds are stripped, and therefore they become more effective. Just like comparing a RISC cpu to and Xeon if you are familiar to computer processor terms..  

18 Dec 2009 @ 22:20 by Jose @ : Parents
The study of a psychopathic mind is interesting, but even more interesting would be the study of their parents.
To see how the monster was created.  

9 Jan 2010 @ 22:04 by james boag @ : In the mind of a psychopath
I think if it is not already a reality, that science, government, the health care system, every level of institution really needs make a science of disarming this minority, in effecting a more human overall system. There is however some sage advice, "Those who battle monsters must beware of becoming a monsters." Nietzsche It is easy to consider these people as less than human, but they are human, they are just defective humans, who are not responsiable for their own defects.  

9 Jan 2010 @ 22:32 by james boag @ : The mind of a psychopath
Just an added thought, does anybody know for certain that government and science in conjunction are really doing anything whatsoever to protect the population from this inhuman element? Are these psychopaths in fact given full range in society, in government. How could there be any hope of world peace if psychopaths are in power in this nation and other nations. I would feel somewhat better if there was some sign of an attempt to identify and control the potential dangers of the psychopath by government and its institutions, but I see none, I hear of none and that is disturbing.  

8 Jul 2010 @ 08:02 by sarah @ : my mind
i do not think i am a psychopath, but i do admit that i do get an adrenaline rush from thinking of killing people. i also have never felt sad for anyone in my life. i actually laugh at pain and death. i do not like people and feel like i am looking in from the outside in when i am with people. when i was three i used to throw my cat down the stairs and laugh. i hate not feeling like a true human, but i do not want to change. i like and hate who i am.but i mostly love who i am. i feel invincible and it is awesome. i do know that i am like everyone else, but still, when you are 12, as smart as me, and can make friends with anyone you want cannot help but have that thought cross your mind. either way, i was just looking up psychopaths because i wanted to know what it was. anyway, bye bye  

6 Oct 2010 @ 13:02 by Kris W @ : Re-James
Look at our government. The "disconnect" everyone say's about elected officials, how they sweet talk till after November.

I dare say the core of government isn't going to do a darn thing because psychopaths are running the show.

Look at Katrina, how FEMA caused so much suffering because of "incompetence" that seemed unbelievable. Or how President Obama turned such a blind eye while Nashville was flooded.

Or the story of firefighters letting properties burn because they didn't "pay the protection fee".

Let's face it, those with a conscience have already lost. Our Ancestors left Europe to escape the psychopaths that ran the show. Look at every nut job uncaring politician/business person and it is blatantly obvious that most of their families came over from Northern-Western Europe in the last 80-100 years.

And look at how they sandbagged the space program, I guess they are scared of being left with no one to torture again.  

Other entries in
5 Aug 2008 @ 19:24: A Shocking Indictment
17 Nov 2007 @ 21:16: who are the real dangerous predators : msnbc !
18 Apr 2005 @ 19:50: Prison and the Net
3 Jun 2004 @ 15:24: Counting the Costs of the Drug War

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