Brett Rants

Psycho-Logical
Psycho-Pathic
Psycho-Babble

Psychopathy
The Crap Diagnosis

Let the name calling begin.

Baseballs, the reverse of Before, During, After, we have a three baseballs, the first totally destroyed by a lawn mower, the next not so much, and the third doing pretty well
Guess Which One The Psychopath Left Behind?

Front Matter

Preamble

I believe Psychopathy is a crap diagnosis. And if I were a lawyer (which I am not... nor am I a doctor, therapist, or any other sort of professional, medical, legal, or otherwise), I would move for a mistrial if the prosecutor or any of their so-called experts ever uttered the word Psychopath.

In short, I intend to argue that Psychopathy has become a word devoid of meaning.

Want to know an equally meaningful term for what most folks refer to as Psychopaths? Big Meanies. Such is the state of the science.

BS

I have Bachelors of Science in Industrial Psychology. This is not a humble brag. There is nothing to brag about there. I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counsellor, nor any sort of health specialist or health worker. At best, I'm an educated idiot. At worst, I'm just an idiot.

But I do have the degree, which means I sat in a chair for many a long hour listening to others prattle away. Oh, and I read a book or two along the way. But don't be fooled into thinking I'm trying to claim expertise in some backhanded manner. I am not. I opted for the degree in Industrial Psychology mainly because it was the most interesting sounding degree (the others being business, anthropology, and other shlock like that) at the satellite campus I had decided to attend.

In short, it was quirk of happenstance.

And during my time listening to my betters (as I am sure they would tell you) go on about the subject at hand, I came up with my own definition of psychology.
Psychology is Applied Philosophy.
Please feel free to disagree. I am nothing if not an Intellectual Anarchist. So, disagreement is to be expected.

Anyhow, sitting there, listening to their conclusions (and more importantly, teasing out their unspoken assumptions), I decided Psychology is Applied Philosophy and nothing more.

Big Meanies

Have you ever hated? I have. For 2-3 years, I hated with an almost all-consuming hate. Obviously, it wasn't all-consuming or I wouldn't be here. But believe me, my world view was hate. And if I had ever had the opportunity... a sentence best left uncompleted.

There are those I consider Enemy.

And I believe a far more understandable definition of what most folks mean by Psychopathy would entail the use of the word Enemy.

Maybe, something like one or more of the following.
A Psychopath makes Enemies easily.

A Psychopath considers the world an enemy.
So, that's the first part. And the second part goes something like:
Psychopaths do not fight fair.

Psychopaths do not consider the Enemy to be Human.
So, it's two parts:
  1. Enemies
  2. Total War

F-U to Hell!

I'm not here to draw lines in the sand. Humans know hate. Most people (other than the delusional) have both hated and been the object of hate. And so, just because one person hates another doesn't make the first person a Psychopath. But then, for the person being hated (if the person doing the hating is effective enough) there's maybe not much difference.

Somebody hates me or a Psychopath hates me. At some point, the difference (and/or if you prefer the word diagnosis) is meaningless to me. You might care. But I do not.

Overwhelmingly, when folks talk about Psychopaths (and by this, I mean professionals or semi-professionals) they are (for the most part) talking about folks who are behaving poorly... and that's how many a person behaves towards those who have aroused their ire: i.e. their enemies.

The Misdiagnosis

I'm not going to go into the check-list at length at this point, as this introductory section is intended to be a baseline: my thoughts about Psychopathy going in, prior to reading a few more professional articles on the subject.

But, I am going to mention one or two of those check-list items at this juncture.

Criminal Activity
Yeah, great. Criminal Activity is, indeed, linked to Psychopathy. But once one realizes that Psychopathy is defined by a check-list (matching 30 or more out of 40 on the check-list as administered by a professional makes one a Psychopath) and that Criminal Activity would be a good description for more than one item on the check-list {indeed, about half of them}, the correlation between the two should no longer be surprising. Personally, I believe Criminal Activity (as a criteria) should be removed from any definitional tool.

Glibness
I'm a very glib person. For one, I like having fun. For two, I've given myself the freedom to be wrong. And for three, I don't care much about winning. Now, there are those who may disagree. But this sort of behaviour (on my part, at least) is highly dependent upon both the subject matter involved and the situation. After all, the cat simply does not care what the mouse has to say. And finally (and/or fourthly), words often don't matter. Glibness (or something very similar) is how some folks will present in a hopeless situation, when it just doesn't matter what they say... as might be the case for a prisoner in jail... being forced to take a Psychopathy Assessment Test. In other words, when I am outcome independent (or outcome hopeless), I tend to be glib. And I don't think this has anything to do with a lack of empathy.

{Knowing (or at least, believing) that I hold a Minority Opinion in regards to Psychopathy, there is little to be gained by my taking the Popular Paradigm seriously. And by the same token, I have no expectation that The Mainstream cares one iota about what I have to say. Thus, we are all a bit glib in our own way, it you know what I mean. And it is hardly indicative of anything but a lack of respect for the other side.}

I'd have to look up any other items on the Scale, so let's end there.

Lack of Empathy

For many, the defining characteristic of a Psychopath is lack of Empathy. Now, this might be true... but it's not true for every last one of the upwards of 1 in 25 folks being accused of Psychopathy. {The numbers differ depending upon whom is doing the defining, estimating, and/or talking.}

First of all (so, yeah, another list), Psychopaths are almost always accused of being cunning players of people, emotional predators, if you will. I would put it to you that this takes an enormous amount of Empathy {to know when one is setting the hook; and so on and so forth}. As such, I flat out refuse to believe that a creature (call them a Full Blown Psychopath) that feeds off of others by manipulating their emotions can possibly be Emotionless and Lack All Empathy.

Secondly, humans put their emotions aside all of the time. A soldier overcome by guilt on the battlefield is not an effective soldier. And feel free to argue that those who can put their emotions aside are Psychopaths. But if that's the case, aren't we saying we need them... to protect us from other Psychopaths, if nothing else? And why would they do that unless they loved us? Well, because being a Hero is a great gig. And nobody kills my slaves. But that just serves to underscore how complicated the issue really is.

Moving Along

So, that's enough by way of an introduction. I've got a few papers to read. After each one, I expect to note any comments. And then, at the bottom, I'll go through that precious Psychopathic check-list (the PCL for short), attacking every last item, line by line... as most of them correlate (in my opinion) very heavily with intelligence, can be replaced by a Criminal Record (so by using a different term, which is backed by a methodology that is much more objective), or are statements of philosophical belief (e.g. sexual promiscuity is bad); and as such, have no place in a psychological assessment... certainly not one that is used (I presume; but then, this is the subject of one of my papers) primarily in Courts of Law.

Of course, at this point, I am jumping way ahead to the end. And as such, I'm going to read one of those papers prior to writing anything else.



The Papers



Psychopathy, the PCL-R, and Criminal Justice: Some New Findings and Current Issues

Robert D. Hare
Canadian Psychology, 2016, Vol.57, No.1, 21-34


The PCL-R is a 'controlled instrument'. I would put it to you that only a Psychopath would try to 'control' a list of words. Of course, I am being facetious. But I am, also, giving a heads up. I don't plan on being fair.

The PCL-R (Psychopathic check-list Revised) has become (in my opinion) synonymous with Psychopathy. But then, people (like me) think they know what Psychopathy means. So, I was waiting for a good Plain English definition of Psychopathy from Hare. But he never delivered. Instead, I believe he is content to let Psychopathy be synonymous with PCL-R and let that be that.

As a circular argument, we then have:

Psychopathy -> PCL-R -> Psychopathy

So really if one wants a working definition of Psychopathy, they could do a lot worse than someone who scores thirty or more on the PCL-R.

Please keep in mind, the PCL-R is a forty point scale, so (I would say) that's pretty high. Unfortunately, for research purposes, a score of 25 is often used as the cut-off. Actually, I can't remember if Hare mentions this fact or not, but the study that got me started on this project (some Psychopathy Word Usage study, I forget the name) said as much.

Anyhow, of far more interest is the divergence in scores one finds depending upon the needs of the rater. In criminal trials, the scores of the Prosecution's Expert Witness are on average 7 Points higher than the score of the Defence's Expert Witness. {Which on a forty point scale means the difference was 17.5% of the whole. It's a huge variance.} One can complain about lack of professionalism, but I think the divergence underscores both the subjective nature of the scale and whether the interviewee wants to be interviewed by the interviewer.
'The subject was hostile, negative, and flippant.'

'So he didn't like you, wasn't being helpful, and rightly inferred you were out to ruin his life?'
The foregoing being an unsubstantiated bit of theorizing on my part. But then, all my theorizing is unsubstantiated. That's what I do.


Since Hare wants to copyright the words that go into the PCL-R (or so I presume; and if not him, then I'm guessing John Wiley and Sons, the publishers), I won't bother to cite the list... nor will I go through an itemized refutation at the end {like I originally said I would}.

Rather, I will condense, rename, and in the process, perhaps, slightly alter the list. So, I should probably copyright it.


Plain English Psychopathy Check-List ©:

That's probably a bit lean, so I'll flesh it out in a moment. But before I do, look at the importance of Crime. Without {Known} Criminal Activity, there is no Psychopathy. So, is that what you mean by the term? Because it is not what I really mean by the term. In fact, if what I meant by Psychopathy was an Un-Remorseful Criminal, I'd probably just use the latter term instead, as it's much more clear and to the point.


Plain English Psychopathy Check-List ©:

Of course, that seems all a bit vague and unhelpful to me, so let's make an even vaguer and more abstract version of the list.


Behavioural Abstraction Check-List ©:
Where Behaviour can be any Behaviour one wants to explore.


Behavioural Abstraction check-list for Alcohol Consumption ©:
Now, if we give a point or two for each factor and add them up, I hope it comes as no surprise (or will come as no surprise when someone else conducts the research) that high point scores are correlated with high levels of past, present, and future alcoholic consumption.


Thus (and in a nutshell), I do not deny that the PCL-R predicts past, present, and future Criminal Activity. But I do deny that it does anything else... or that the prediction of Criminal Activity is indicative of a more nefarious underlying complaint.

There is a big (big-big big-big-big) difference between repeated arrests for low-level drug use and high-level physical violence. And while the latter is (I would guess) predictive of future arrests for violent crimes, the former is merely predictive (in my opinion) of future low-level drug arrests. {Though, I will concede that behaviours tend to spread. So any arrest (I would venture to guess) adds to the probability of a future arrest for a wide variety of different offences.}


In short, this paper did little to convince me there is an underlying construct or that the test significantly measures anything other than the existence of a Criminal Record.


I would, also, point out that the test likely scores against the innocent.
This is BS. I didn't do anything. I'm being framed. And now you're asking me if I am sorry or feel guilt or remorse about doing something that I didn't do? What kind of BS question is that? Seriously, if you're just going to go down some canned list, let me talk to someone who can help me. I ain't got time for this. I got to get out of here.

Sir...

No, I am done with you. Guard!
And by virtue of their response {which is highly reasonably given the prisoner's view of the situation}, how many additional points did our fictional character earn on the PCL-R? Especially if the interviewer believes the interviewee is guilty of the crime?









The Wind Down

It has been months since I read anything concerning this topic and a solid 3½ months since I added a single word to this page. {There will be another 4 month jump further down the page. Clearly, I bit off more than I could (or would) chew in regards to this write-up.}

I stopped caring.

Simply put, to me Psychopathy (True Psychopathy) refers to a complete inability to form social bonds. A Psychopath is unable to love... or even like. And I feel that this sort of brain malfunction is exceedingly rare: say, 1 in 100,000. Unfortunately, many of the leading figures (I shall assume that they are) claim upwards of 20% (the numbers vary, many dropping to 5% or less) of the population are Psychopaths.

But there is big difference between not loving you (or any target person or group) and not being able to love.

Anyway, I lost heart in the project as it was clear I was not on the same page as everyone else. Of course, that might have a lot to do with the articles I was reading. My search was for Psychopathy, after all... and not why Psychopathy is a fraud, does not exist, or is an unworkable therapeutic concept.

Whatever.

My notes are thin.

I shall try to be brief.



The Mask Of Sanity

An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality
Hervey Cleckley, M.D.

First of all, let us say that Brett Paufler, F.U. doesn't much care for letters after names. Prove your expertise. Don't claim it.

I stopped reading after a few dozen pages. Until that point, my full notes read:
Case studies are one of my least favourite ways of learning about a subject. I prefer analysis. And my analysis of this book was that it was not worth my time. And by corollary (since I was led to believe this was the source document, the start of it all, the start of the fervour regarding Psychopathy, anyhow), spending further time on the subject would be a waste.

1 in 20, what nonsense.

Still, I had already read a few other books... even if I can no longer remember the order and my notes make even less sense than those I just related.



The Role And Relevance Of The Psychopathy Check-List Revised In Court

A Case Law Survey of U.S. Courts (1991-2004)
David DeMatteo
John F. Edens

I will assume (as I am unwilling to re-read this document) that the authors come down against The PCL-R (The Psychopathic Check-List Revised).

On page 16 of my document (which I believe corresponds to page 229 of the journal in which it was originally published, let us guess Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2005, Vol.12, No. 2, 214-241) an 'Expert Witness' has this to say:
"It appears to me that what we are dealing with is a Psychopath who is attempting to exaggerate Psychopathology."
In America, by some perversion of the law (call it tradition), Insanity is a Defence. So in the above (as I understand it), we have an 'Expert Witness' explaining how someone's Insanity is causing them to Exaggerate their Insanity in order to appear Insane. How crazy is that?

For me, it has the feel of Snake Oil.

More specifically, when I was getting my BS in Industrial Psychology (Brett Paufler, B.S. and don't you forget it), one of the things I learned was that the Rorschach Test has been discredited. This, of course, is a statement of opinion. So, let us say I value the results of a Rorschach Test about as much as I value Reading Palms, Astrology, and... Psychiatry.

Yeah, I'm not really a fan of Psychiatry. As I may have already mentioned, I view it as Applied Philosophy. And if one disagrees with the Underlying Philosophy, it's relatively worthless.

Skinner's Behaviourism is fine.

Freud's Pscyho-Analysis is complete rubbish.

Heck, maybe I just don't like the prefix Psycho (sounds sort of crazy to me) and by extension Psychopathy and Psychology have been poisoned.

Whatever the case, as follows are the remainder of my notes for this article, presented in the order made... and extended as fits my current mood.



The HARE PCL:SV

Psychopathy check-list Screening Version
S.D. Hart, Ph.D.
D.N. Cox, Ph.D.
R.D. Hare, Ph.D.

My notes at the time, amended for clarity, are as follows.

This Screening Version is a quicker, rule out version, which takes 1-1.5 hours versus 2.5-3 for the Full Version.

Psychopathy is defined in whole, but tested in parts. A score of 30/40 is not 40/40.

The DSM contains Anti-Social as a classification... not Psychopathy.

Would I want someone who scored low on the PCL:SV to be in charge of protecting me?

Dissimulation is to hide the self.


My tongue-in-cheek analysis of an interviewer describing Psychopathy by other means:
  1. I don't believe them.
  2. They didn't respect me.
  3. I really don't believe them.

{At issue here is the notion of Authority. By what Authority can one person Diagnose another? But really, it goes further than that. By what Authority can one call another Immoral? Or Amoral? Almost all of Psychopathy (in the check-list, anyhow) can be explained away by Lack of a Moral Compass. But who gets to decide what constitutes a Valid Moral Compass?

"Yes, I deny your Authority. What now?"


Using the same logic behind the Psychopathy Check List, I believe we can work on a similar (tongue-in-cheek) check-list for Wage Slave Psychosis.


Wage Slave Psychosis
I hope the above Check List shows how little respect I have for the Concept of Psychopathy as tested for in the PCL:SR. And why a Psychopath may deem to treat a Psychiatrist with the respect they deserve... rather than the respect said Psychiatrist may desire.


Further Notes

I am for the Pursuit of Happiness... to the extent that I view the Old Morality as being Un-Patriotic and Un-American. And as such, I would be more than happy to tear-down all the old statues {and/or legal statutes}, rescind the pensions of those involved {perhaps, beating them severely in the process}, and destroying The Monetary System in its entirety. This may be a bit of an overstatement. {Yeah, it probably is.} And what this has to do with Psychopathy, I can no longer remember. Perhaps, it is simply a continuation of my Wage Slave Psychosis Check List... and the logical result of one advocating for the other side.

Of course, I then go on to say:
In short, not just rational, I'm increasingly convinced many a Psychopath is right.
And this may well be where I decided to give up the project. After all, disagreeing as I do, why would anyone put forth any additional effort conducting pointless research?

Still, there is one last group of notes before me. And if there is anything I hate to do, it is throwing away already written words... even if they are just partially written or in note form.



Forensic Interviewing Protocol

State Of Michigan
Governor's Task Force
On
Children's Justice
And
Department of Human Services

Note: The line breaks in the above citation are at my own discretion.


I start my notes on this document by noting that it's a 'Quick Breeze' and 'More of a Focus' than anything else {i.e. I will quickly flip through the pages as my mind wanders where it will}. I am sure I could say the same about any of the previously referenced documents.

This {page} is not a scholarly work. It's a bit of directed writing. I disagree with the conception of Psychopathy from beginning to end. Why anyone would think I could give an idea I so disrespect a fair shake is beyond me.

And right here (prior to going into my notes), let me jump to my conclusion for this entire project.

Psychopath: one who does not love, one whose bounds of affection are not solid enough to limit negative action: i.e. their affect does not constrain their effect, to the extent other's doubt their affect.
But please note, Hate is an Affect. And if one's Hate has Effect, we are hardly dealing with a Psychopath. We are dealing with one who Hates.

Psychopath: No Love
Psychopath: No Hate

Psychopath: Cold Ruthless Effectiveness

And now, let us return to the notes, which (for the most) mean the ideas brought to mind while reading this work.

An interview is an interaction. The interviewer effects the interviewee.


{
And now, I am just done. It is four solid months later (from the line above, to this one). And I simply do not care about either this project or this subject.

I believe Psychopathy as an informal descriptor is overused.

And I believe Psychopathy as a Medical Diagnosis (not that I have any formal standing in this field, so why anyone would care about my opinion is beyond me) is a meaningless, maladaptive, and ill-informed concept, which detracts from an underlying truth:

Many a human does not treat enemies as friends. While a noticeable minority of humans have (for whatever reason), decided the vast bulk of humanity is their enemy.

Psychopathic Behaviour = Enemy Behaviour

End Of Story!
}


Anyhow, since I am bailing on the remainder of the project, here are my outstanding notes:

And That's That

Bail!

Done!

Finished!

Time To Move On!


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Sin is unavoidable. It's why we are all here. Our entire conception of Good & Evil is flawed: life being a riddle, which if understood properly, invariably drives one insane.

Oh, right.

Thank you for your time.

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