People have said that psychopaths mellow with old age. Can it be that the “father of psychopathy,” Dr. Robert Hare is also mellowing with age?
In his book, Without Conscience, Hare wrote “Psychopathy is a personality disorder defined by a distinctive cluster of behaviors and inferred personality traits, most of which society views as pejorative. It is therefore no light matter to diagnose an individual as a psychopath. Like any psychiatric disorder, diagnosis is based on the accumulation of evidence that an individual satisfies at least the minimal criteria for the disorder.” He also said, “If we can’t spot them, we are doomed to be their victims, both as individuals and as a society.”
However, in the video, The Psychopath Next Door, he admitted, “You’re gonna run into one of these individuals sometime in your life more than once and the encounter can be exhilarating, thrilling, exciting or devastating more likely the latter.” Hare said in a lecture, “Psychopaths are not disordered. They don’t suffer from a deficit. They’re simply different.” But he also said that we’re “probably not very nice people.”
An article by Harry Cockburn, Psychopathy may be a result of ‘adaptive evolution’ rather than a disorder, says the inventor of the psychopath test, says,
Psychopaths may not suffer from a neurological disorder but instead the condition may be an evolutionary survival mechanism, according to the man who drew up the standardised test for the personality disorder.
Robert Hare, the psychologist behind the 20-item test that has become known as the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, says psychopaths, which he estimates account for 1% of people, could be the result of an evolutionary process.
Despite decades of studies, the specific origin of why people become psychopaths remains unclear. The vast body of scientific work on psychopathy focuses on anomalies in brain structure and function as well as the impacts of external factors.
But new research suggests it may be an evolutionary process.
Speaking to Discover Magazine, Hare said: “It’s just as reasonable, and more so in my mind, to interpret psychopathy as a developmental evolutionary thing.
“You can pass on your genes by having one or two children and investing a lot into their well-being. But we know psychopaths’ relationships are impersonal, that they favour the strategy of having a lot of children, and then abandoning them.”
While unpalatable to most people, he argues this method of reproduction means psychopathy should be considered a biological adaptation rather than a neurological disorder.
“From an evolutionary psychology perspective, the structure and functions [of psychopaths’ brains] may be a little different,” Hare added. “But they’re properly designed for engagement in predatory behaviours. They could be genetically programmed, but what trigger mechanisms might set genes off? We don’t know. But we know that environmental factors are also a determinant.”
He could have been Kevin Dutton when he said, “Psychopathy might not be so disordered and unnatural; it’s something that we can probably work with, help them take advantage of and shape in a way that’s pro-social and productive, good for the individual and society.”
In an article printed in The Telegraph, UK, on May 16. 2016, Hare said, “It’s dimensional,” there are people who are part-way up the scale, high enough to warrant an assessment for psychopathy, but not high enough up to cause problems. Often they’re our friends, they’re fun to be around. They might take advantage of us now and then, but usually it’s subtle and they’re able to talk their way around it.” (my emphasis) I never thought I’d ever hear Hare admit that a psychopath could be his friend.
In the Cockburn article, published May 12, 2016, Hare finally stated,
“My view is that psychopaths have the intellectual capacity to know the rules of society and the difference between right and wrong — and they choose which rules to follow or ignore, he said.
“People will say the behaviour is pure evil, but what does that mean?”
My sentiments exactly. As I said on my website, http://www.kiasherosjourney.com/psychopathy.html,
“not having a conscience, that is, a feeling that one must act a certain way does not force a psychopath to do wrong. A psychopath’s lack of conscience gives us a choice. One can objectively know right from wrong. In fact, the law presumes that psychopaths know right from wrong objectively which is why we are held responsible for crimes we commit. Knowing what is right and what is wrong can function as a guide just as effectively as a conscience. Not needing to beat oneself up with guilt feelings, really causes a psychopath to deserve more credit for doing right. A free choice is automatically a moral choice. But the fact that psychopaths can chose to do wrong scares people.”