You might think a psychopath would be fairly easy to spot. Foaming at the mouth, twitching, sawn-off shotgun, lumberjack shirt, part-time job as caretaker on old Indian burial ground. The reality is even more disturbing. Not only have you probably met a few psychopaths, you may even be working for one. And I’m not joking.
According to the psychologist and researcher Dr Robert Hare, 3.9 per cent of corporate professionals have a psychopath score of at least 30 – four times higher than in the rest of the population. What defines a psychopath is not a single act like murder, but their characteristic ways of relating to others. Everything they do is to serve their own purposes. They may seem quite normal, but lack empathy and experience short-lived emotions in response to their own desires.
The Robert Hare checklist, aka ‘psychopath test’, assesses 20 personality traits. These include the following;
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Proneness to boredom
Early behavioural problems/juvenile delinquency
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Lack of remorse
Poor behavioral controls
Many short-term marital relationships.
For each category, you are given a score of 0, 1 or 2. If your total score is more than 30 out of 40, you’re labelled a ‘psychopath’. Borderline psychopaths score between 20 and 25 points and they’re the ones that can blend in at the office – especially if it’s a big corporation.
According to forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes, reality TV and celebrity culture are also fertile stomping grounds for the ‘successful psychopath’. In such fields, egotism, superficial charm, promiscuity and a grandiose sense of self-worth are not just accepted, they’re positively encouraged.