As a psychologist I can tell you he is exhibiting delusions of grandeur, of omnipotence as the Supreme Being in this province, of a remarkable inability to remember what he has said from month to month, an inability to understand what a democracy means, let us say politely, a loss of contact with reality. There is a history of mental illness in his family as his father, a doctor, committed suicide. Editor, please note: these are factual statements. If a parent has had the disorder it increases the chance of the disorder. A number of environmental factors in the childhood home, school, and community may also contribute to the disorder. Robins (1966) found an increased incidence of sociopathic characteristics and alcoholism in the fathers of individuals with antisocial personality disorder.
On the Internet, a contributor can be anything. I might truly be a youthful, lithe danseur awaiting stardom rather than the grizzled, pudgy ancient pictured on the profile here. Is Monty a real psychologist or is he manipulating his readers because he suffers a grandiose personality disorder that drives him remorselessly to name as psychopaths people who won’t answer back?
Monty’s comment though started me thinking. He is not the first to notice that common personality traits of psychopaths and political leaders overlap. Dr. Michael Craig, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, University of London provides this definition:
People with psychopathic personality disorders have a constellation of personality traits which typically means they are:
- experience shallow feelings
- lack empathy
- lack guilt or remorse in the ways of normal people
- participate in anti-social behavior.
It’s a constellation and extreme version of these personality traits that leads to people having a diagnosis of psychopathy. . . . The traits themselves don’t necessarily lead to criminal behavior. What they do is predispose somebody toward criminality.
Other definitions related to psychopathy:
- [Psychopaths] operate under the blinding inertia of unquestioning self-confidence, without a hint of self-examination or internal doubt – for the psychopath, emotions are simply used as a dramatic tool, in order to evoke pity, guilt, fear or self-doubt in others for manipulation purposes; and are completely lacking in connection to any deeper meaning.
- Psychopaths are untalented narcissists who profit only on the work of others. And in a political environment, this can be disastrous.
One web writer I encountered speaks with uncommon certainty:
Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own domination.
Dr. Robert Hare, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia Psychology Department, is an international authority on psychopathy. With Dr. Paul Babiak, he wrote Snakes In Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work,a book widely read by professionals and lay persons. Dr. Hare also originated diagnostic tools used throughout the world.
So, I return to the original point raised by Monty. We are accustomed to labeling serious criminals as psychopaths but the condition involves a continuum. Not every psychopath is criminal in a legal sense. Many are sub-clinical but they flourish because the very characteristics defining the disorder are actually valued in business and politics.
Is Premier Gordon Campbell a psychopath? Health Minister Kevin Falcon? Finance Minister Colin Hansen? Surely, not all three. Well, maybe two of them.