Puppyclaws wrote:[...] But I think that labeling people as psychopaths (whatever that word entails to you) is not especially helpful. I look at the definition, and at the articles talking about these issues, and there is a disconnect. Reckless and impulsive people do not generally become bosses in corporate structures, and if they do they do not maintain those positions very long. The idea that psychopaths are successful at getting power suggests to me that either a) this definition is bogus, or b) in fact we are talking about two different things. Because manipulative people are successful at getting power, are attracted to power, and are not very nice to be around. BUT, they are calculating, they plan, and they do not make reckless decisions-- that is how they obtain and hold onto power. I feel that calling this psychopathy is a poor label. And it is worth noting that we cannot read other people's intentions; a lot of people behave in seemingly antisocial ways, but they justify these actions to themselves for any number of reasons. These types of people are most certainly influenced by treatment in therapy.
If I'm right, the article that said "psychopaths are somewhat more likely to be your boss than average" was saying that psychopaths were successful as bosses exactly because
they lack empathy and are reckless and impulsive. With a lack of empathy, many 'hard' decisions become easy. Being reckless helps them to take risks. Being impulsive doesn't hurt because in the competitive environments that they find themselves in, the requirements may change with the day and often the only thing that matters is being faster than your competitors (whether those are other companies or other managers within the same company).
Of course it doesn't work like that in every company. But to be honest, I think you're a bit too optimistic of our society if you believe that reckless and impulsive people generally have a hard time becoming a boss or maintaining a leading position. Perhaps a reckless or impulsive person may get into trouble after reaching the very top; we see sometimes that a CEO is fired because of behaviour that with hindsight was very irresponsible. But the fact that someone can become a CEO and stay so for several years while behaving irresponsibly is telling us enough.
However, suppose you are right and we are talking about two different kinds of psychopathy here; it wouldn't change anything about my motivation for starting this thread. You seem to be sceptical about the possibility that someone is manipulative, without empathy, reckless and impulsive at the same time
. It's a natural thing to be sceptical about because for 'nice' people it can be very hard to grasp. But people with this set of features appear to exist, in great numbers, and they seem to hide these features better than you might expect. People who are just manipulative are already worth to be warned about, but people who have all these features at the same time are even more so.
Perhaps the word 'psychopath' is problematic, but it's shorter than 'someone who lacks empathy while also being deceptive, impulsive and reckless'. Should we call it a 'slewdir' instead?
The Great Hippo wrote:Completely fair, and I beg pardon if I came off as sounding frivolous--I just loathe the certainty with which we discuss matters like these when we don't even understand the nature of the disorder--or if it even really exists.
The set of features seems to exist (just like cars that make weird noise seem to exist). The fact that we haven't identified some kind of reduced source of causation doesn't make the problem less real. In fact, that we don't know exactly what causes the behaviour (and whether there is a single cause) might be part of the problem.
The Great Hippo wrote:"Psychopathy is incurable"? Really? Can we say that without even knowing what causes it, or what it actually is?
I believe that the right phrasing would be "So far, no treatment appears to work".
The Great Hippo wrote:"Psychopathy affects 1% of the population"--isn't that like saying "Cracked transmissions affect 1% of all cars in America" based on 1% of all cars in America making a weird noise?
No, it's like saying "1% of all cars in the USA makes a weird noise". Nothing more.
The Great Hippo wrote:And the whole 'psychopaths may be outbreeding us' thing--I can't even begin to describe how much statements like that frustrate me. It's incredibly irresponsible, and ridiculously unprofessional.
Yes, I agree with you that this part is completely bullocks. Let's assume that Wikipedia is quoting it for completeness and agree that Hare is utterly wrong about it. Now we can drop this red herring.
The Great Hippo wrote:I'll stay away the fuck away from Bill because Bill is a crazy manipulative douche; I don't need a pseudo-scientific medical reason to justify it.
Well someone might realize a lot sooner that Bill might be a crazy manipulative douche if they heard about psychopathy some time before, right? (Edit: not because that helps them to diagnose Bill as a psychopath, but because it helps them to realise that someone can be so extreme.) There are lots of people out there who display varying degrees of naievety...
Besides, this is not pseudoscience, this is just plain statistics that bugs you because there is no reductionistic explanation behind it. Ignore Hare if you want, he is just one person in the field.