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How To Be A Good Psychopath

This is a short book I wrote last year (2014) more for my own amusement than anything else.

Introduction

Psychopaths get a bad press, but that's because the poor creatures are misunderstood. The person in the street believes that a psychopath is a deranged killer. Okay, one or two of them are, but the vast majority of psychopaths are far too sensible and self-controlled to risk losing their liberty by being found to have murdered someone. Okay, if they're absolutely sure they can get away with the crime, they might do it, but they would have a very good reason for doing it - eliminating an enemy, for example, or gaining some material benefit.

Or perhaps just for the sheer pleasure of it.

Of course the best way to murder other people is to get someone else to do it, and to have it done when you're far away and are with people who can provide you with a cast iron alibi.

In my country (variously called England, Britain, Great Britain, Little Britain or the UK - which stands for United Kingdom, because of course we're not united and at the time of writing we don't have a king) we had, fairly recently, a Prime Minister who was a 'brown-noser' who would do anything to be with, and to please, rich and powerful people. The American President, who obviously has a great deal of money and power, wanted to go and invade Iraq. I've never understood exactly why, but one thing we can be sure of is that it wasn't for whatever idealistic reason he gave at the time. Most likely it was to do with oil, preserving the petrodollar, and having an excuse to transfer massive amounts of the American people's money to his friends in the armaments industry and to people in government or somehow connected to government. The US President, however, needed the support of people like my Prime Minister to give some appearance of legitimacy to what was really nothing more than an unjustified act of military aggression and therefore was really a criminal act. My Prime Minister came on board, despite having little or no support from our government, basically so he could 'get in with' the American President.

This would be useful later on when he stopped being Prime Minister and needed high level connections that would make it possible for him to get a lot of money.

The result was that he sent our military personnel into Iraq to murder and maim the people there, get maimed and murdered themselves, destroy the Iraqis' property, and also get a lot of our own property destroyed or lost. Not only did my prime minister cause the deaths of thousands of people and the maiming and injuring of many more, but he also squandered billions of dollars (equivalent) on something that not only was totally unnecessary but was actually undesirable and quite frankly was both an evil act and almost certainly illegal.

Of course the money Britain wasted pales into insignificance in comparison to the reputed several trillions of dollars of American money that the US President wasted on this totally unnecessary and unjustifiable action.

Was the American President a psychopath? It's difficult to say because he was reputed to have such a low IQ that he probably wasn't able to reason coherently and deliberately and to some purpose in the way that a psycho does. More likely it was his friends in government and in the armaments industry who would be the psychopaths, being the sort of people who know that their financial well-being depends on having wars. The US President would probably have grasped that war is financially good for his class of people, and … well, all the other sorts of people don't matter, do they? So probably he wasn't a psychopath, but instead he was a simple, greedy man who was open to be persuaded to act by other, smarter, people. Those people would have been aware of the terrible consequences of what they were proposing but they would have been happy for it to go ahead anyway.

Was my Prime Minister a psychopath? Again it's difficult to say, but certainly he's a bizarre kettle of fish. When he was Prime Minister we all knew he was false. We used to call him Bambi because he'd adopt such a sweet, innocent expression when he was telling lies. When you look at him now, the expression in his eyes is very strange. It's as though he's acting on autopilot, but all the time his mind is scheming and he's thinking thoughts that bear no relation to the words that come out of his mouth. Certainly he was very different from the US President, but at the end of the day they were both prepared to cause death and injury and destruction, knowing that they would be well away from it all.

If they were psychopaths they were bad ones, and certainly aren't the sort of person that I would like to see anyone being.

The reason why I think it's possible to talk about being a good psychopath is that there are varying definitions of what sort of person a psychopath actually is, and I'm suggesting that there as well as there obviously being people with psychopathic traits who are bad and bring misery, pain, destruction and loss into other people's lives, there are people with some psychopathic traits who actually do exactly the opposite. They can be very nice and do a lot of good for people and provide many great benefits for a great many people. Of course they do it purely in order to get what they want, but they stop at inflicting pain and loss and death on other people.

Unless, that is, they regard it as the only, or the best, way of getting what they want.

So let's look at how a psychopath might be defined, and then we'll be able to tell if as well as being bad psychopaths - murderers, rapists, thugs, fraudsters and so on - there can also be good psychopaths.

Defining A Psychopath

Defining a psychopath should be pretty easy. Just go on the internet and search for 'psychopath definition' using your favorite search engine. In the West we really only have one search engine, and, as an aside, I would say that business leaders with some psychopathic traits like to destroy opposition and competition by having a monopoly in their field of activity, to achieve it and keep it by owning patents and by using expensive lawyers to enforce those patents, and by buying up any competitors that they can't otherwise beat or put out of business.

So now, what definitions do we come up with?

The first definition I see is 'a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior'.

I think if that definition is right, then a psychopath is a pretty bad and undesirable person

Next definition - an unstable and aggressive person.

These psychopaths are really sounding quite terrible, aren't they?

Another definition, or rather a description I see is this - psychopaths seem to possess no sense of ethics or of the rights of other people.

Okay, this is getting a bit vaguer and less clear cut. For a start off, ethics are not always absolute. Probably we'd all agree that murder is unethical, and yet various states in America have the death penalty and therefore they essentially murder some prisoners. No doubts people in power there would say that when the government murders people, it is a good thing. We also know that the secret services of various countries murder people that they don't like for some reason. The governments of those countries would no doubt say that the world (or at least their own country, or perhaps more specifically their country's government) is made safer and more secure by murdering these people that they've taken a dislike to for some reason. We have seen also that governments send military personnel into other people's countries specifically to murder people there. In fact with the advent of drones they don't necessarily even have to send people there. They can just get some simple, uncaring person in a room thousands of kilometers away to twiddle with knobs and buttons and joysticks and do the murdering from there.

So we can't necessarily say that murder is wrong. So therefore what hope do we have of agreeing on the justification and acceptability of lesser forms of 'unethical behavior'?

The fact that a psychopath supposedly has no sense of ethics, therefore, is largely meaningless, or at least open to lots of varying interpretations.

As for having no sense of the rights of other people, who said, for example, that you have no right to smoke marijuana (assuming it's not legal where you live)? Who said you don't have the right to keep all the money you earn rather than being forced by your government to hand rather a lot of it over to them?

Governments are no respecters of people's rights, and yet that disrespect is apparently okay. How can we say then that an individual who appears to be behaving in the same way that many governments behave is necessarily a bad person?

Perhaps many a government is, collectively, effectively psychopathic?

So now we're getting into the territory where we may agree that someone has certain qualities that qualify them to be described as a psychopath, or at least as being psychopathic to some degree, but that does not necessarily make them 'bad'.

As an aside, I'm just wondering about the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. I've just read part of an article that says a sociopath is regarded as being less bad than a psychopath, yet I would see it as being the other way round. A sociopath is someone who hates society, who hates people. Yet a psychopath could have psychopathic qualities that can actually cause them to do good for people. The President of Iraq, before it was invaded, was undoubtedly a psychopath, but at least he kept the country in order and made it possible for the majority of people to go about their lives without having to deal with the chaos that now prevails there. On a lesser scale, a person could, for example, despise and dislike people in general, and broadly speaking not care about them, but in order to be able to distance themselves from the mass of humanity they may resolve to become very rich so that they can live in their own detached little world that is ordered to their liking and in which they always get their own way simply because they pay the people around them and with whom they come into contact. In order to be rich enough to live like that, they may build up a business empire that employs lots of people and gives lots of other people the goods and services that they want. So in this case a negative attitude towards other people and lack of genuine concern for them actually turns out to have good, positive consequences for many people. That, in my book, would make them a good psychopath.

As I continue searching on the internet, I come across these qualities being associated with psychopaths - uncaring, callous, coldhearted, lacking empathy.

Well … so what? What matters in life is what you do, not what you feel. To be caring and emotional and feel sympathy for others may be irrelevant if you then do little or nothing for them. Emotional people can cause themselves a lot of distress by feeling empathy for people they see in the media who are suffering in some way, but what is the point of watching these people and feeling sympathy for them if you then do nothing to alleviate their suffering. Who is better, someone who watches TV and cries when they see little children suffering and dying because of some natural disaster in some far off country, or a business person who doesn't really give a damn about the children but who gets on a plane, flies over to the disaster-stricken country, and agrees to sell to them the food and equipment and so on that they need and in that way they help to alleviate people's suffering?

Emotions are often a distraction from rationality. As such they can be even worse than being merely irrelevant. What matters is right action. If the action is good, it doesn't matter what the motives are of the person taking that action.

I also think that the notion of psychopaths lacking empathy needs some discussion. They might not genuinely care what emotions someone else is feeling, but they can still be good at being aware of another person's emotions. In such a case they may then try to appear to be sympathetic, for example, out of politeness, basically because it makes the situation easier for themselves. Again this would be a case of right action taking place even though there would essentially be indifference behind it.

Of course a bad psychopath, being aware of someone else's emotional weakness or vulnerability, may try to manipulate the other person by exploiting their emotions in order to get something they want, and in so doing they may harm the other person. That obviously would be bad.

Faking empathy or sympathy is surely as good as actually feeling it but still only giving out the same words and actions to the other person.

So far my thoughts are that positive behavior arising from psychopathic traits makes the psychopathic traits alright.

I also read that psychopaths can be irresponsible. Yes and no. A psychopath can run a huge organization and therefore be very responsible. However, psychopaths can, I think, be so selfish that if, for example, they have agreed to be somewhere with someone at a certain time in order to do something, and then a more attractive proposition comes along, they will either simply not turn up for the agreed meeting or they will fabricate an excuse as to why they can't make it.

The other side of the coin is that whoever has presented them with a better proposition is going to benefit from their company, time, attention or whatever, and therefore the first person's loss and disappointment is offset by the second person's gain and satisfaction, so it isn't entirely clear how good or bad such irresponsibility or unreliability really is.

You remember the British Prime Minister I mentioned in the introduction? He was notorious for saying whatever he believed people wanted to hear him say. This is another characteristic of psychopaths. It ties in with faking empathy and sympathy. As such it isn't necessarily a bad thing because it all depends on how any following actions conflict with what the psychopath has said. If nothing bad happens to the person who has been sweet-talked, then such insincerity may not be of any significance.

Now for a quality that I have just read is associated with psychopaths and which I believe is good and is their main strength. It is focus. This can be associated with negative behavior such as not caring about things and people who are not directly involved in what they are focusing on, or not being prepared to stop doing their 'focus activity' to do something that someone else regards as important, but I believe that this ability and desire to focus on something is what makes 'good psychopaths' great. They can achieve something that a 'regular' mortal can't or won't, because the 'lesser' mortal lacks the psychopath's focus and determination and is too easily distracted and deterred from achieving a particular task.

Another quality that can be either good or bad is 'low tolerance for frustration'. Also there is the associated quality of selfishness. And yet aren't we always told that “you only live once”, and “life is not a dress rehearsal”? In that case why should you put up with not getting your own way, and why should you not focus on getting what you want?

One quality that is supposedly associated with being a psychopath and which I regard unfavorably is their supposed tendency towards violence … but that might be because I myself am too old and small and weak effectively to be able to employ violence! In some harsh situations, which we tend not to experience in the soft and civilized Western world, an ability and inclination to use violence to get what you want, and not to have what you don't want foisted on you, might be a positive advantage.

You see then where I am coming from with this idea that you can be a good psychopath? So long as you don't just go out murdering or raping strangers or hurting them or causing them loss because you simply have a mad hatred for anyone and everyone, then it leaves a lot of what you might call 'gray area' where there is room both to be a psychopath and to do good for others, naturally whilst you are also attempting to do good for yourself of course.

Next, the question of whether psychopaths are born or made.

Psychopaths Are Born But They Are Also Made

This is the wonderful old 'nature versus nurture' argument, and of course both nature and nurture have a role to play in making us who we are.

It would be fun to get a hundred new-born babies from poor, low class parents and unknowingly swap them over for the new-born babies of rich, high class parents and then follow the kids as they grew up and became adults. Perhaps this has already been done … no? I bet the kids from the low class parents would grow up as you'd expect high class kids to grow up, and the kids from the high class parents would grow up as you'd expect low class kids to grow up.

However, there would be some aberrations because people are born with some innate qualities, and these qualities would impact on how some of the kids grew up and what sort of adults they became. My own guess is that generally nurture has a greater impact on people than nature. I have met quite a few thick, talentless rich kids who have done remarkably well in life (think of that Iraq-invading American president for example) and I've met some very sharp, competent low class kids who, it seemed to me, deserved better lives than the ones they had but who were never going to get a better life because of the lack of opportunities open to them.

So it's better to be a thick, rich kid than a clever, poor kid, especially in this day and age where social mobility is contracting.

But there are qualities such as height, build, IQ and basic temperament that are inherited, or rather are innate or congenital. Likewise there's no reason to believe that a psychopathic disposition should not be something that a person can be born with.

If you have been born a natural psychopath, you're only concern should be how to employ that 'gift' to your advantage, and therefore by inference to other people's benefit too.

If you think of the supposed negative aspects of being psychopathic - being brutal, violent, uncaring, hurtful, unprincipled, dishonest and so on - these can be brought on by environment. Many poor people live in very harsh environments, yet, as I've suggested, if you took such people when they were babies and put them in 'soft', affluent, comfortable, easy surroundings, it's quite likely that they would grow up to be easy-going, pleasant people with good social skills. Leave them to grow up in a brutish environment, however, and they may well acquire what are supposed to be psychopathic traits.

And yet this isn't exactly what I have found. In Britain, my home country where I still spend quite a lot of time, we have a large underclass of rather loathsome people who have been allowed to breed and be housed and fed and watered and given money for drugs and alcohol and tobacco because of the misguided government generosity that is a main feature of our socialist welfare state. Of course the government doesn't have its own money to spend. Ultimately every penny that it spends and borrows has to be extracted from those who work in the private sector. Yet I would say that the members of the underclass are not psychopathic. They are just obnoxious and negative. A psychopath, for example (or at least a good one), does not go around spraying graffiti on other people's property. What would be the point? There is nothing to gain from such activity (unless you're someone like Banksy, I suppose, and are very gifted and can turn the attention your 'work' gets to your commercial advantage). Similarly psychopaths don't attack people for no reason, which is what members of the underclass will do. There is simply nothing to gain from, say, attacking a stranger in a public place. Likewise a psychopath doesn't break into people's houses or cars and steal things that have essentially little value. Rather, a psychopath gets rich so as to be able to afford to buy the things that he or she wants. Of course they may get rich by engaging in fraud, but that would make them a bad psychopath as distinct from a good one, who normally gets rich by building up an honest business, or being a highly paid performer, or having a very valuable skill which allows them to charge a lot of money for their work.

No, people who grow up in harsh, brutal environments don't generally grow up to be psychopaths if they haven't been born psychopaths. They just grow up to become horrible people who take from society instead of contributing to it. Their selfishness lacks intelligence. It is short-sighted, and it almost invariably backfires on them and works to their disadvantage.

So if you're not born with psychopathic traits, and your environment is not necessarily going to give you those traits, what can you do? Well, of course you can make an effort to adopt the traits of a psychopath, or at least those traits which can be used in positive ways.

There's an old rule, I believe, that if you can make yourself do something for a month or so - it might be adopting a healthy eating regime, or exercising three times a week, or meditating for fifteen minutes every morning - it becomes an ingrained habit and is therefore easy, or at least relatively easy, to maintain indefinitely. It's the same with altering your thoughts and emotions. If you begin to force yourself every day to think dispassionately, to focus on what you want and who you can get it from and how you can get them to give it to you, to become disinterested in the junk that appears in the media and which has no relevance to your life at all, and to recognize when you are feeling emotions and to be able to put them on one side and calculate rationally what it is best for you to do, then you will acquire the good traits that psychopaths can have. Keep that up for a month, and in the second month it will be easier and feel more natural. Keep it up after that, and it will eventually become part of your nature.

Then there'll be another good psychopath in the world!

Fake It Till You Make It

A real psychopath will dump friends, dump a partner, leave an employer for a better one, and they will do it with little or no remorse. They will tell lies if they think it will improve their own personal situation or prevent it from getting worse, and again they will feel little or no remorse. If you're not a natural psychopath you are going to have several problems when you try to turn yourself into one. Probably the biggest problem will be that you will feel negative emotions as you try to become more selfish and to be less concerned about people's welfare and feelings if those people are of no interest to you.

Unfortunately you just have to get used to feeling bad until you no longer feel bad about behaving the way you do.

I'll give an example of the difference between a true psychopath and a non-psychopath (or perhaps a semi-psychopath). I, by the way, am the non-psychopath, or perhaps just a bit psychopathic depending on who is doing the judging and just how unacceptable my behavior is to that person at the time of asking.

I went to work very briefly for a business in Britain that sells mobility scooters and things such as electric 'sit-you-up' beds and electric 'lift-you-up' armchairs to elderly people. Obviously such people, being in need of such items, are physically frail, but also they are probably mentally and emotionally not too strong either.

The reason why I applied to try working for this company selling their scooters and suchlike was that they said that as part of the joining-up process, applicants would spend two or three days (I forget) in a nice hotel where they would be told about the business and told about the sales process. As I'm so poor (partly because I'm lazy and self-indulgent and partly because I don't like to settle in one place or to one activity for a very long time) and because I'm such a cheapskate, normally when I travel I end up staying in cheap hostels. Therefore the chance for me to stay in a nice hotel and be provided with free food, a gym and a swimming pool appealed to me, and I reckoned I could happily listen to all the sales crap and then say, “Thank you, but I'm afraid this sort of thing isn't for me,” and then go home feeling refreshed and indulged.

By the way, I've looked at other sales work in the past and decided that it wasn't for me. No doubt there are plenty of genuine, straightforward sales people around, but unfortunately a lot of sales work involves telling lies and trying to trick the customer, either into buying what isn't appropriate or necessary for them, or making them pay too much for whatever they do end up buying. I couldn't do that to people. That indicates to me that I'm not a psychopath, or at least not a fully fledged one.

The time at the hotel passed pleasantly enough. I listened to the spiel that we had to deliver to the potential customers we were supposed to end up going to see, and the routine we had to go through (everything was scripted), and then for some reason I agreed to give the game a try. Either this was because I didn't have the balls to say, “Thanks for your hospitality, but I'm not going to do anything for you in return for it,” or I thought that I might just be able to make some decent money from this selling lark so I might as well give it a try.

So try it I did. For about a week.

I'll tell you the selling procedure, which I'd had shown to me before when I'd gone through the same experiences with a company selling double glazing and with a company selling new pattern-imprinted concrete driveways to people. It's standard sales practice, and involves a bit of lying and a bit of manipulation of the potential customer.

I had to go and see a potential customer and take one of the company's mobility scooters for them to see. I'd do a little pleasant chit-chat to show what a nice, friendly, open, honest sort of person I was and to make them think that I wasn't out to 'get' them, but rather that I was on their side and I was there genuinely to help them in a fair way. Then I would show the person who was interested in the mobility scooter what it was like and go with them and let them have a ride down the road on it.

If the person who was interested in the scooter had a spouse/partner, or if they were elderly and single but had indicated that, say, a son or daughter always kept an eye on their financial affairs, then if that other 'money controller' wasn't there when one of this company's sales people arrived to do a presentation, they would make their excuses, get the interested person to book another appointment, and leave. The company wanted to be absolutely sure that everyone who had a say in whether money was spent, or how much was spent, was there when one of their sales people tried to make a sale. The company knew from experience that if they didn't do this, then when the second 'money controller' arrived and saw what deal their spouse/partner/parent had signed up to, they would immediately cancel it.

So, having taken some nice old person for a ride around the block on an electric mobility scooter, which is usually quite a fun experience and naturally inclines a person to want to have one, it was then time to talk money.

Now, these scooters were readily available almost anywhere for about two thousand pounds or let's say three thousand dollars in round figures, so you might think that we would go in with a better price, say two thousand five hundred dollars, to get the sale. But no, we'd go in at over six thousand pounds, or around ten thousand dollars.

I've seen people practically faint with shock when they've been presented with such an outrageously high price by a salesperson that until then they had thought was quite decent and straightforward. After the shock had subsided and they had expressed their surprise, it was then time for me, as a sales person, to bring the price down within the limits allowed to me. A negotiating point might be that finance was available for the purchase and that if the customer went for that, the price could be reduced. The company actually preferred finance sales to cash sales because as well as getting the agreed sales figure from the finance company they also got a healthy sum in finance commission too. The other negotiating point was always that there was a special deal on at the moment, naturally about to end very soon, whereby if the customer agreed to the purchase today, on the sales person's first visit, the price would be reduced.

If the customer still wouldn't buy at the lowest price I was allowed to come down to, then it was time to pass them over into the clutches of the real hard nuts. These, the people in the office at the end of the phone line, are, I would say, quite likely psychopaths. This is because they would say anything to get a sale and didn't care at all if the potential customer was being ripped off.

I should have mentioned that when I was taking my potential customer - perhaps a little old lady or a nice old gentleman - out for a ride round the block on the scooter, I had to phone in to the company's office, supposedly just to confirm that I'd made it to the appointment alright. Actually it was to go through a scripted spiel along the lines of, “Yes, I made it here alright. In fact I'm already showing little Miss Jones how wonderful the scooter is. We're just going round the block at the moment. Miss Jones loves being on it.” Then I'd say to Miss Jones, “Don't you, Miss Jones?” Of course she'd say yes. Then I had to speak to the office person again, and then say to Miss Jones, “I'm talking to David (or whatever invented name we'd agreed on) at our headquarters. He's my boss.” Actually he would be just one of several 'closers' employed in the office that day. “He's glad you're liking the scooter. He'd like to have a word with you.” And then I'd hand my phone over to Miss Jones, and she and 'David' would have a pleasant little chat. Then I'd get my phone back and it would be on with the test drive. After that it would be back to Miss Jones's place.

The whole point of this apparently spontaneous chat with someone in the office was to establish some sort of connection and degree of rapport between Miss Jones and 'David', if we are going to call them that, because if I couldn't close the deal at a high price, I would then need to get Miss Jones to talk to David on the phone again so he could try to persuade her to buy the scooter, and it was important that she had some feeling she knew who she was talking to, and that she remembered how pleasant he had been on the phone earlier on and how nice he seemed.

So let's say I've failed to close the deal at the lowest price the company will allow me to go down to. I then say to Miss Jones, “Can I just phone my boss and see if there's anything he can do for you?” I then phone the office, have a little chat with David, and then hand the phone over to Miss Jones so that he can get to work on her.

As previously mentioned, it's the people in the office who have the real killer instinct, even more so than the largely inexperienced sales people that the company often employed. (The company had a large turnover of staff. Basically they would take on anyone who agreed to go out and do the sales presentations for them.) The guys in the office wanted a sale almost at any price, even if it meant that the sales person who had done the presentation ended up getting no commission. They didn't really care if the potential customer really needed a scooter, or whether they needed the one they were being offered, or whether they were living on some miserable pension and couldn't really afford any scooter at all at any price. The closer in the office was just determined to get a sale.

Of course they were on commission.

So, having started off asking ten thousand dollars for a three thousand dollar scooter, the closer in the office would sometimes, using some pretext or other for being able to do so - often it would be that they had an ex-demonstrator model they could let the customer have, although in fact the customer would still end up getting a brand new scooter if they did the deal there and then - they might actually end up agreeing to sell the scooter for three thousand dollars. At that point the salesperson was told to get on with dealing with the paperwork for the sale and get out of the customer's house pronto. At some point later, a person from the office would do a follow-up call. This was necessary to try to ensure the customer felt committed to the purchase and wouldn't attempt to cancel it.

I lasted about a week doing this. I went to some interesting areas I'd never been to before, but I knew this sort of trickery and game playing was never going to work for me, so at the end of the week I returned to head office, dropped my display scooter off, and said I'd given it my best shot but I wasn't cut out for this work.

I got a terrific telling off from the big boss. He wanted to know what was wrong with me. All I had to do, he said, was follow the script. What was so difficult about that?

So then, what is the point of this tale? It's this. A genuine psychopath, like a sales person of a certain kind, does not feel there is anything wrong with tricking and deceiving people and causing them harm or loss. But I will go further, a psychopathic person, like the company boss in my tale, not only feels no remorse about behaving as they do, but actually they feel proud of it. Getting one over on other people is a sign of skill in their eyes. To manipulate and exploit others is what life is all about for them. They might even regard it as being essential and the only way that one can get through life successfully. Psychopaths of the bad sort think it is good to be bad. People for them exist to be used and abused and taken advantage of. Psychopaths in general, either of the good sort or the bad sort, don't feel bad about who they are or what they do. They can always justify their actions.

Remember the British Prime Minister who committed people from my country to destroying Iraq, with all the loss of life and property that that entailed? Has he ever said, “Wow, I did something bad here. I'm really sorry.”? No, of course not. He thinks (or at least he says) that what he did was not only good, but necessary too. He also says that the terrible situation Iraq now finds itself in is in no way his fault.

Ditto with Dumbo, the American President.

Psychopaths either don't recognize the truth, or the truth they recognize is different from the one that normal people recognize. Also they are so used to lying to other people that they end up believing their own lies.

So what are you to do if you're not a natural psychopath but you want to become one, at least be one to a certain extent? Well, you'll just have to develop the traits to the extent that your conscience will allow. Think of Hitler. Think of Stalin. Do you think they ever felt any serious remorse over the millions upon millions of deaths they caused? Of course not. Think of the American government with its grotesque interference in the lives of people all around the world, and its bullying, manipulative behavior. Do you think that people who are in, or who work for, the American government feel ashamed about who they are and what they do? Of course not.

Do you think you could ever become that ignorant and evil? Probably not. It is unlikely you could become that unprincipled. Instead, then, you should develop only those psychopathic traits that allow you broadly to be google good, and so get the life you want.

Genuinely bad people enjoy being bad. At the top of the 'bad pyramid' you have bad psychopaths, but good psychopaths, on the other hand, use their selfish, self-obsessed, self-serving, traits to get what they want by doing good things for, and with, other people.

Is It Ever Right To Murder Or Hurt People?

This is where you find out whether you have psychopathic tendencies or not, because a psychopath wouldn't hesitate to say, “Yes.”

Of course if you did say yes, it might actually just mean that you're a nutter.

Governments and their employees obviously go around killing and hurting people all the time, but that's okay because governments say it's legal. Therefore the question at the head of this section is really asking, is it ever right for one individual illegally to kill (or to have killed by someone else) other people?

Doctors quite often kill ill and elderly people, apparently either by withdrawing food and water from them, or by upping the patient's morphine dosage until they become unconscious and their body stops functioning. In my country this is one of those gray areas that, with typical British inability to address a situation directly, we turn a blind eye to and pretend it doesn't happen.

My own view is that there's only ever one possible justifiable reason to kill another person, and that is for money. That is, to gain money or to prevent yourself from losing money. The problem is that there's no point having money if it's going to result in you being in jail for years on end, so you'd really have to be absolutely certain that you could commit the murder, or have it committed, and get away with it, and really that degree of certainty is difficult to attain.

The problem is that when a murder occurs, the two classes of people that the police immediately investigate are those who have a close personal connection with the victim and those who have a financial connection with the victim.

Just now, for example, an elderly billionairess, in France or Monaco I believe, along with her unfortunate chauffeur, has quite recently been shot dead. Attention immediately focused on who would benefit financially from her death, and the prime suspect immediately became her son-in-law, and possibly her daughter. People get killed because the killer has a reason to do it, even if sometimes it is an irrational reason. But a good psychopath never gets emotional about situations. They control their emotions. At worst they realize when their emotions have taken control of their thoughts. If you find yourself in such a situation, you can withdraw somewhere where you can do no harm to yourself or others until you become rational and unemotional again.

I think you have to be quite silly to kill someone for sexual reasons, such as jealousy. Losing control and murdering someone because, say, they are going to stop having sex with you or because they are having sex with someone else is quite senseless, simply because you run the risk of losing your liberty over something that really isn't very important. The term 'crime of passion' says it all. It says that a murder has been committed by someone whose mind has been taken over by their emotions.

There was a woman in the fashion industry several years back who died (of suicide). Apparently in her husband's family in the past an ancestor had been killed off, I think with hemlock, so as to speed up the younger generation's inheritance of the family money. But that was then and this is now. In those days a body could be cremated or buried quickly with a suitably acceptable death certificate from the friendly family doctor, and that was that. Now in the case of any seemingly, or even potentially, unnatural death a coroner will look into it, and if there is anything found to be suspicious about the death the police will investigate. These days the police have a lot of tools at their disposal to determine the cause of death and ascertain who the killer was, or who put the killer up to doing the job.

So, would a psychopath murder someone else or have someone murdered? If they were a good psychopath - that is, always rational and always in control of themselves - the answer is, it is extremely unlikely, and then it would only be if they were certain that there would be no witnesses to anything nefarious they did, and also if the victim's death could be made to seem entirely natural, or at least be an acceptably explicable accident.

A bad psychopath would allow their self-obsession and their hatred of someone else to over-rule their ability to reason sensibly.

Good psychopaths are more likely to use cunning and deceit to achieve an outcome that they want rather than attempt to use physical means.

So, what about the acceptability of hurting other people?

Psychopaths have a rule - if one of us is unavoidably going to get hurt in a particular situation, then it's better for it to be you rather than me.

That seems entirely reasonable and fair, and there isn't really any more that needs to be said about that type of situation.

However, one of the less pleasant traits of psychopaths (did I mention that some psychopathic traits are not always particularly pleasant?) is that they can be both parasitic and manipulative. But these things can be done in quite nice ways, and can even be done with the victim not realizing what is going on. The victim may even find the situation acceptable, perhaps even positive, from their point of view.

We all know of marriages or relationships where one partner is in effect abusing and taking advantage of the other partner, but the victim-partner either doesn't realize what is going on or they find their partner's actions acceptable.

A good, clever psychopath is able to use, and arguably even abuse, other people in an almost undetectable way.

But what about unambiguously open unconcealed hurtful actions? Are they acceptable? The answer can be a definite yes. But what's the point? Why is it necessary? If hurting someone will benefit you, and you can't get what benefits you without hurting the other person, then of course go ahead and hurt them. Your interests come ahead of anybody else's. But otherwise, do you really need to resort to such behavior? Being nasty to other people just for the sake of it is pointless and a waste of time and effort.

This willful but pointless hurting of other people may be one of the key differentiators between bad psychopaths and good psychopaths.

It might be worth noting that those people who get to the top in, say, some business or profession, or in politics, and who then treat the staff around them rudely, contemptuously and abusively often aren't giving vent to any psychopathic inclinations. Rather they are probably revealing their feelings of inadequacy, resentment, frustration or disappointment. A decent psychopath wouldn't have such feelings, or if they did, they would have long since moved on from having such feelings. If they still had feelings at all, or at least any strong ones, they should be smart enough and self-controlled enough not to allow them to influence their speech and behavior.

I've just been reading a review of an excellent book about Genghis Khan. An incident is cited where Genghis defeated an enemy. He was rather wont to slaughter his enemies, so to get the job done he made each of his soldiers cut the throats of three hundred enemy.

That is what I call psychopathic behavior, of the worst sort, but no one could deny that Genghis was successful as an empire-builder, so from the objective point of view his behavior was effective in that it produced the results he desired. But this was eight hundred years ago. Life was governed by the use of physical force, including the force-based control of resources and accommodation. Times are different now though. Yes, of course force still plays a major role in life, especially in the less socially developed parts of the world, but these days generally you can't just use force to get what you want. More likely you'll use financial means, perhaps combined with some media fame, to get what you want.

Of course political power is still always ultimately backed up by the threat of inflicting physically undesirable consequences on people if they don't do as they're told.

Now, let's see how much of a psychopath you really are.

Test Yourself To See If You're A Psychopath

Hardly anyone is a complete psychopath, but all sensible people should be psychopathic to some degree. Really it's essential to survival and just coping with life. So here are a few questions you can test yourself with so you can see how far down the road you have travelled towards becoming a psychopath.

There's something called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. It lists twenty traits that are associated with a person being a psychopath. Let's see how many of those traits you have using this list derived from the PCL-R.

Q1. Do you fake sincerity and consciously use charm on people?

Q2. Do you see yourself as being superior to other people?

Q3. Do you have an above average need for stimulation?

Q4. Do you habitually lie, even when you don't really need to?

Q5. Are you cunning and manipulative?

Q6. When you do something bad, do you fail to feel remorse?

Q7. Are you callous?

Q8. Do you find it difficult to control your behavior?

Q9. Are you impulsive?

Q10. Are you irresponsible?

Q11. Are you in denial about what sort of person you are, what you do and have done, and the consequences, for yourself and others, of your behavior?

Q12. Is your lifestyle parasitic?

Q13. Are you sexually promiscuous?

Q14. Did you have behavioral problems when you were young?

Q15. Do you have long-term goals that really you know are unrealistic?

Q16. Do you find it difficult or impossible to accept responsibility for your own actions?

Q17. Do problems arise quickly and often in the close relationships you have with other people?

Q18. Were you (or are you) a juvenile delinquent?

Q19. If you have been freed from punishment for your bad behavior, have you then gone on to behave badly again?

Q20. If you engage in criminal behavior, do you engage in various forms of such behavior?

Give yourself a big, fat zero for every question to which you answer no. Give yourself one point for every question to which you answer a partial or half-hearted yes, or a maybe or an occasionally. Give yourself two points for every question to which you answer a clear, resounding, unhesitant yes.

So, you can score anywhere from zero to forty points. If you got zero points, you're too good for this world. If you got, say, around twenty points or a bit more, you could be quite well suited to this world. It would, however, depend on which questions you got the points for. If you got twenty points by answering all questions with a maybe, then you really are a wooly character and you need to firm yourself up a bit and sort out your self-awareness and self image.

If you got around thirty points, you run the risk of being a fairly unpleasant piece of work.

As is often said to school pupils who are out of the ordinary in some way, you will either go far in life or you will go to jail.

If you got forty points, you are either a politician or some other type of criminal.

Why Would Anyone Want To Be A Bit Of A Psychopath?

Oh dear. Just the fact that you ask that question is a bit worrying. The answer is, because this is an evil world. Or at least it's a semi-evil world, and, as Mister Cat Stevens said, it's hard to get by just upon a smile.

Anyone who has had a few relationships, or who has been involved in business, or politics, or criminal activity, knows that deceit and disloyalty are the order of the day. Not all the time, of course. In fact there are people out there who are utterly straightforward all the time. It doesn't mean that they are pleasant people or that you would want to be with them, but they are dependable and predictable and won't do things that are bad, either morally or legally.

I bet you, however, that if you know any such people, they bore you shitless.

I'm not saying that you can't get through life perfectly tolerably if you don't have any of the qualities of a psychopath. You can, but you won't be one of life's winners. Indeed you will almost certainly find yourself being exploited. But if you're not exploited too badly, you will have a dull, peaceful life, and you will probably be content.

Certainly I'm not saying that it is desirable to have all the psychopathic traits listed in PCL-R. If you do, you'll quite likely have a rather troublesome, unhappy and probably unsuccessful life. Of course possibly you might end up as a tyrant and have a grand old time. But if you have some, or indeed many, psychopathic traits to a lesser or greater extent, and you use them consciously and wisely, you should be able to have a bigger, fuller, more successful life than you would otherwise have, and you will stand a much greater chance of getting what you want from life.

An alternative but somehow rather unsatisfactory halfway house might be to be squeaky clean, morally and legally speaking, but to be aware that other people are often, or at least sometimes, not like that. Then you will not be surprised when they behave badly, and hopefully you will know how to deal with them, or at least you will be able to stop their behavior and actions producing bad consequences for you or for any other people you care about.

And so we come to the question of …

How Does One Deal With Psychopaths?

I could have entitled this section 'How Does One Deal With Other Psychopaths?', but I thought I'd leave the door open for people who aren't psychopaths, and especially for those people who aren't yet sure whether or not they would like to adopt some psychopathic traits.

So if you are a psychopath, how do you handle other psychopaths? Obviously you play them at their own game. This is how the leaders of nations deal with each other, especially during wars. They expect duplicity. They expect their opponents not to mean what they say. They expect brute force, bullying, intimidation, trickery and all sorts of manipulation to be employed against them.

Generally if you are a psychopath and the other person is a psychopath and you are in conflict with them, or you feel you have a justifiable motive to get one over on them, then you behave like them and you play them at their own game. You use every dirty trick in the book that you feel you can get away with. This is, of course, assuming that you are certain that you have the ability and skill to beat them at their own game.

Alternatively you might play the game in the completely opposite way, in the way that a 'good' person would play it.

When innocent people, or people with high moral standards, come up against 'bad' people, firstly they tend to be shocked. Secondly they turn to someone in authority to report the situation to in the hope and belief that those in authority will then deal with the bad person. A psychopath, especially when they believe that they cannot outsmart and outmaneuver a fellow psychopath, will resort to this sort of behavior. There is no one quite as adept as a psychopath at feigning moral outrage and earnestly beseeching those in authority to do something about dealing with the person to whose actions, or even mere presence, they have taken a dislike.

The difference between the psychopath using this tactic, and the innocent person resorting to it is this - psychopath's aren't surprised by bad behavior. In fact they're pleasantly surprised when people don't behave badly, and they can be quite stunned when people behave well. The psychopath uses this tactic of complaining and reaching out to those in authority as just one weapon in their armory. With innocent people, apart from being shocked by someone else's badness, they can't actually think of any other way to deal with the situation.

I'll give you an example of an innocent person.

Years ago I had a dentist. He was a great guy. He worked hard. He worked long hours. He must have earned good money because his wife didn't have to go out to work. He provided for his and his wife's three children. He provided his wife with a vehicle for running around in. Of course it was also his earnings that paid for the family home - a nice, big, comfortable house in the countryside.

One day he slipped up. After years of marriage, he shagged one of the receptionists at work. ('Shagged', for anyone who isn't British and isn't familiar with our vernacular, means 'to have sex with'.) It wasn't a good thing to do, and he regretted it straightaway and stopped the affair.

Some kind soul informed his wife.

And she …

Well, what would you expect her to do? As a nice person you'd probably expect her to tell him off and to warn him never to do anything like that again, but with due appreciation of the fact that he had kept her and their kids in affluent comfort for many years, and would obviously continue to do so, she would let the marriage roll on as it had always done, but with perhaps a more watchful eye on her husband in future.

Is that what she did?

No. C***.

As the cynical saying goes, for some people there is no such thing as gratitude, only the hope and expectation of future benefits. This woman kicked her husband out of the family home and filed for divorce. As this was in Britain, she was safe in the knowledge that under our laws she would be able to stay in the family home at least until the kids had grown up, then it might have to be sold, with her perhaps getting half the value of it, despite the fact that she had never put a penny into it. Indeed there was a reasonable chance of her being awarded complete ownership of the house. Naturally she kept the vehicle her husband had bought for her. Of course her husband had to keep paying her money, and he would have had to give her half of any investments he had, and half of his pension.

She moved another man into the house, and into the room between her legs.

Do you smell the hypocrisy?

My poor old dentist, being a straightforward, innocent sort of guy, was so stunned by this behavior, by what he must have seen as a massively unfair reaction to, and the paying of a huge price for, a brief, petty failing on his part that he effectively went to pieces. He declined rapidly, and not long afterwards committed suicide.

But a psychopath wouldn't have been shocked by such a woman's behavior. Annoyed, yes, but not shocked and not necessarily even particularly surprised.

By the way, you can reverse the genders in that tale if you want to. Both men and women can have psychopathic traits, or 'bad' traits if you prefer, and both men and women can be rather innocent about how horribly and seemingly unfairly humans can behave. So how might a psychopathic man have handled the above situation?

He probably wouldn't have got into it in the first place. A psychopath might hope for the best, but he would expect, and plan for, the worst. They take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves. Being deceivers, manipulators and users of other people, as well sometimes being parasitic, they half-expect to be treated similarly themselves, and so they take steps to put in place protective measures just in case they are ever shit upon, if I can put it like that.

But what would a psychopathic man have done if by some lack of caution and preparedness he had found himself in the situation that my old dentist found himself in? For a start off, he wouldn't have committed suicide. A psychopath is much more likely to think of murder than suicide. Assuming murder is out of the question in this case, and that all legal avenues have been exhausted that might have prevented him losing his house and, say, half of any assets and pensions he owned and half his future income, he would simply dust himself down and get on with his life. Having found somewhere new to live, he'd get himself another woman, assuming he wanted one. There are, after all, plenty of fish in the sea. He'd adapt to his new reduced circumstances. Depending on how close he felt to his kids, he might consider going abroad to work - somewhere where he could keep all his income for his own use. If he stayed in his own country and in his old job he might think of ways to get an extra, and even bigger, income, perhaps by creating or buying a business which he could then shield in a company or other entity so that this extra income didn't have to be split with his ex-wife. Either way, in a couple of years time he'd probably be living as good a life as he used to have with his ex-wife, and possibly even better.

I knew another guy, with no psychopathic traits, but at least he was a realist and not a vulnerable 'innocent'. After years of marriage, and three kids, his wife turned to him and said, “I don't love you anymore. I want us to split up.” My friend said, “Think about it. It's a big decision. And don't forget we have three kids. Think of the effect on them.”

After a week, his wife was still the same, so he got in his van (he was a plumber), drove off, slept in the van until he found a place he could rent to live in, settled into his new home, started dating women (and having a good old time, apparently, with all those middle-aged divorced women that are out there), and he got on with his life.

Wonderfully sensible behavior.

An uncle of mine, a working class man, kept a wife at home, having bought a house to live in. He produced and brought up four kids with her, and ran a car. (In those days a working man's income was sufficient to be able to do this.) One day his wife walked out on him and went to live with another man. Obviously my uncle's wife had been up to tricks behind his back. My uncle absolutely went to pieces. The shock of this unexpected betrayal was such that it was touch and go whether he would be able to hold things together, but he managed. This was with the help of my mother and another one of his sisters.

Having recovered, now he lives with another woman, whom he hasn't married, and he has a much more realistic view of life. He trusts people less, he expects less of people, and he is less surprised if they do bad things.

Let me just say that if you don't have, and don't want to have, any psychopathic traits, at least be aware that others have them, and even if people aren't psychopathic, generally speaking, they can still be horrible, or just plain unreliable, and you have to expect them to be so, or at least be mentally prepared for them to be so.

Of course you might say that the person with psychopathic traits is likely to be the one doing the cheating and walking out in a relationship. Also they probably wouldn't be averse to marrying for money. After all, parasitism is one of their traits.

To end this section, let me say something nice about good psychopaths. The great thing about having psychopathic traits is that you can employ them if you want to or need to, but you don't have to use them if you see no need or no benefit to yourself in doing so. However, it opens up a range of possibilities and opportunities for you should you want them.

Which Are The Desirable Traits In PCL-R?

After having spent a week being stoned out of my brains at Vicky's place in Voronezh, I wake up to find this in the Daily Mail.

Poor lion cub passes out after getting its head stuck inside dead buffalo's backside … but is saved by the rest of the pride who eat him free.

I realize now that what I write is normal.

So what are the desirable traits in PCL-R? If you look at them according to the numbers of the questions I associated them with earlier on, I'd say, to varying degrees, and with some qualifications, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Actually it would be easier to deal with the undesirable traits, but I'll do that in the next section.

So, to save you looking back, I'll go through the characteristics one by one.

1. Faking sincerity and using charm on people.

What's wrong with people being charming? And can you imagine how horrible life would be if people went around being bluntly honest all the time? No, these qualities are broadly okay. They lubricate social interaction. Admittedly faking sincerity can step over the line into lying, deceit and manipulation, so I guess there should usually be a limit on the divergence between the underlying reality and the intentions that lie behind the fakery, but if there is no great evil or malicious intent on the part of the charmer, then this sort of misrepresentation seems to me to be alright.

2. Do you see yourself as being superior to other people?

There's nothing wrong with this if you are superior to others. It's just being realistic.

3. Having an above average need for stimulation.

Do you think we should admire the potato class of humans? Surely the desire to be stimulated, which also involves being active and interacting with other people in different ways is the quality of a person not only to whom things happen but who makes things happen.

5. Being cunning and manipulative.

I think in The Art Of Worldly Wisdom it says something to the effect that if you cannot clothe yourself in the skin of a lion, clothe yourself in the skin of a fox. Of course if you have great power and can simply take what you want, then you don't need to be cunning (although you might need to be cunning to retain that power). Otherwise, however, some sort of ingenuity is likely to be necessary to enable you to get what you want. If it is necessary to outwit another person and you need to lead them to jump to false assumptions and conclusions, or even not be aware at all of what you are up to, then so be it.

As for being manipulative, that is simply a part of life. Advertisers manipulate us into thinking perfectly normal things will make us sexy or successful. Manufacturers manipulate us into believing expensive things are desirable when in fact much cheaper things are perfectly adequate. Governments manipulate us into believing that they have justifiable reasons for extorting money from us. Business consultants manipulate their clients into thinking that their junk advice is worth the absurd fees they charge when in fact a few minutes rational thought on the part of the client would produce equally good results. Manipulation is just a part of life. Do it, be good at it, and be subtle about it.

6. When you do something bad, do you fail to feel remorse?

What's the point of feeling remorse? Either do something to redress your bad deed or just get on with life. If you deliberately did something bad, how could you feel remorse about it anyway? You deliberately chose to do it. Then you did it. If you were going to feel bad about it, you wouldn't have done it. But if you inadvertently did something bad, then it's not your fault. But perhaps you were careless. In that case you should resolve to be more careful in future.

Just accept that accidents and misunderstandings sometimes happen in life.

Over here in Voronezh we've just had a mother with a baby and a four-year-old daughter get hit by a train. The mother and baby were killed. The four-year-old girl is in critical condition. Should the driver of the train feel remorse for what has happened? No. Certainly he will no doubt have felt shock over the event, but it was not his fault. The woman was crossing the line in the wrong place and she was not taking care to ensure that there was no train coming. As for the train driver, he was in a high speed, long distance train and had no time to stop it before it hit the mother and her two children. It would be both wrong and pointless for him to feel remorse. The dead cannot be brought back to life. If any feeling might be justifiable in this situation it would be anger at the dead woman for ruining her children's lives because of her own bad thinking and wrong behavior.

7. Being callous.

This is in a way similar to the previous characteristic. But what exactly does it mean to be callous? Surely it is a matter of degree. If a company boss sacks a thousand people because the company can't afford them, or even just because it can do without them and it needs to maximize profits, is that callous? When my old dentist's wife behaved the way she did, was that callous? When my uncle's wife walked out on him, was that callous? When the American President and my Prime Minister sent people into Iraq to murder and be murdered, was that callous? If so, then callousness seems to be quite commonplace.

Sometimes people's wants and needs cause other people to feel bad. And as we have said about sympathy and empathy, feelings are pretty irrelevant. It's people's actions that count. If you know other people are suffering in some way somewhere, there's nothing wrong with not caring about them if you're not going to do anything for them. If you're deliberately going to cause someone to suffer, then if that knowledge makes you feel unacceptably bad, don't do the thing you've resolved to do. But if you're going to do it, don't have feelings about it. It's pointless, and it smells of hypocrisy.

9. Impulsiveness.

This again is a matter of degree. If it's purely because you have no control over yourself and you can't stick to doing what you've resolved to do and what you know you should, then that's bad. If, however, on the spur of the moment you decide to whisk a partner off to Paris or New York or somewhere, and you have both the time and money for it, and your partner is happy with the idea, then I don't see there's anything wrong with that. Also if you're middle-aged and you suddenly decide you want a motorbike and you can afford it, why not walk into the showroom and buy it?

Moderate impulsiveness can be quite charming. Up to a certain point it's fine, so long as the consequences of an impulsive act are not bad, for you or for others.

12. Is your lifestyle parasitic?

What's wrong with being a parasite? Is a stay-at-home wife or husband parasitic? Is a business owner parasitic, leeching off the labors of his employees? Are lenders parasitic, living off the interest paid to them by people who asked them for loans? Are people in the public sector parasitic, knowing that they only exist courtesy of money extorted from the private sector?

The world is full of parasites. You're not likely to get rid of them, so you might as well join them.

13. Sexual promiscuity.

And what is wrong with being promiscuous? To me it sounds rather fun.

14. Did you have behavioral problems when you were young?

If so, perhaps it means you're special in some way. Surely the more appropriate question is, do you now have any behavioral problems? If yes, that's bad. If not, then you're okay. Does it really matter what you were like when you were young? Surely what matters is how you are now.

15. Having long-term goals that really you know are unrealistic.

This seems odd to me. If you know they're unrealistic, why have them? Perhaps you have long-term goals that are unrealistic but you don't yet know they're unrealistic. I think quite a few people are like that. Perhaps your goals might be unrealistic, but they might turn out to be realistic. If you don't try, you'll never know.

17. Do problems arise quickly and often in the close relationships you have with other people?

Perhaps there's something wrong with the other people. Perhaps you're having relationships with the wrong people.

18. Being or having been a juvenile delinquent.

This feels similar to 14. Of course delinquency can come from having bad personal traits, but can't it also come from being brought up in a bad way in a bad environment?

I suppose the point of these points is that it isn't having any particular one that marks you out as being a psychopath. The points are cumulative,. The more of them you have, and the greater the degree to which you have them, the more likely it is that you are a psychopath.

19. If you have been freed from punishment for your bad behavior, have you then gone on to behave badly again?

What is meant by bad behavior? There are various rock stars, actors and other celebrities who have been banged up for drink, drugs and other forms of legally unacceptable behavior. In many cases, on being freed, they were quite happy to go back to their old ways. Of course you can also be punished for behavior that isn't necessarily bad. The Americans deprive people of their liberty for doing almost anything, or indeed for doing nothing.

I suppose bad behavior, as far as this point is concerned, is anything that someone with the power to punish you says is bad behavior.

20. If you engage in criminal behavior, do you engage in various forms of such behavior?

Surely to be involved in lots of criminal behavior is a sign of being inventive and innovative?

Personally I have mild admiration for politicians who not only engage in war crimes but who manage to steal other people's money as well.

Now, let's move on to the PCL-R traits that might more obviously be undesirable.

What About The Undesirable Traits?

Bearing in mind that some of the PCL-R traits that I have labeled as desirable are probably only so if expressed in certain ways and to a certain degree, here are the traits we missed out and which I reckon are more clearly undesirable.

They are, 4, 8, 10, 11, 16.

I'll take them one by one again.

4. Do you habitually lie, even when you don't really need to?

If you don't need to, why would you do it? What is it supposed to gain you? There are some dull people I've met who like to make themselves seem more interesting than they are by talking in riddles and mysteries, which is basically the same as lying, but everyone who comes across such dullards recognizes them for the nonentities they are, so it is a self-defeating act. The same applies to habitual lying. I wouldn't say it marks you out as being psychopathic, merely a fool.

8. Do you find it difficult to control your behavior?

This must be a sign of being an extremely bad psychopath.

10. Being irresponsible.

This could almost have gone in the 'maybe desirable', or at least 'permissible to a certain degree under certain circumstances' section. Broadly I'll say it's completely undesirable if it means things like leaving your three-month-old baby unattended in a room with a vicious fighting dog, or getting smashed out of your brains on drink and drugs and then racing through some built-up area at two hundred kilometers an hour in a car or on a motorbike. However, I'm not sure that such behavior necessarily indicates that someone is a psychopath. More likely they're just stupid. However, this might be one of the cumulative indicators of being a psychopath.

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where irresponsibility could be acceptable in a good psychopath. I suppose if someone simply refused to take responsibility for other people and instead concerned themselves only with themselves and their own interests and well-being, that might be an indicator of being a mild psychopath. But so long as they made it clear they weren't going to be responsible for others and they didn't let anyone ever assume they would take such responsibility, it wouldn't really be particularly bad at all.

This then is a very weak indicator of being a psychopath.

11. Are you in denial about what sort of person you are, what you do and have done, and the consequences, for yourself and others, of your behavior?

I wonder what tyrants think about themselves. There's a line in the script of Anthony Minghella's film The Talented Mr. Ripley where Tom Ripley says, “You never meet anybody who thinks they're a bad person or that they're cruel.” But a lot of ordinary people are in denial about what sort of person they are. I had an uncle who thought he was an English gentleman, but he was just a semi-impoverished, dull suburbanite.

With regard to denying what you do and have done, I know someone who thinks she's achieved something and is a success, but in fact she's just done a lot of silly, pointless things.

She's no psychopath. She's just Simpson-brained.

For me a good psychopath is aware of exactly what the reality of a situation is and what the consequences of their actions are.

16. Finding it difficult or impossible to accept responsibility for your own actions. This is being in denial again. Perhaps it refers to when people are presented with evidence of their misdemeanors and they still refuse to accept that they did anything wrong, or maybe even that they did the thing they did. This would be a good one to test out on my Iraq-invading Prime Minister. Or there's a French ex-President who is being investigated at the moment for a lot of financial dodgy dealing. This could apply to him. Or … no, there are simply too many politicians I can think of who have behaved criminally and immorally but who absolutely deny doing anything wrong despite the evidence presented to them. For some reason it's also making me think about an athlete who shot his girlfriend while she was cowering in fear in his bathroom. Even the fact that she was behind a closed door didn't prevent him from his enraged determination to shoot her. This trait is again one I'm not sure of. Yes, bad guys deny their wrongdoing, but Mr. Stumpy murders his girlfriend while Mr. Good Psycho kisses his girlfriend under the Darling Buds of May.

Psycopaths Are One Step Ahead Of Non-Psychopaths

One of the main reasons for wanting to have some of the traits of a psychopath to some degree or other is that it gives you an advantage over the non-psychopaths - the 'nice' people. The latter essentially play life by the rules. But the rules are actually made by psychopaths, and they make the rules for their own benefit. Then they break the rules as and when they please.

Let's take an example. If you tried fiddling your expenses with your employer, you'd probably get kicked out of your job if your actions came to light. But a top person either gets away with it, or they simply make the rules such that they can get away with charging pretty much what they like to expenses.

In some of the big taxpayer-funded organizations, like the European Union, you might be given an expense allowance to cover, say, overnight accommodation. Yet you don't have to prove that you spent any money on accommodation. We had one Member of the European Parliament who used to claim his accommodation allowance for staying in Brussels or Strasbourg, but actually he'd sleep on the floor in his office in the EU building.

A further example of how the system is rigged by the psychopathic top people for their own benefit is this. In Britain we have an upper house in our parliament called the House of Lords. It has a ludicrous number of members - about eight hundred, I think. Eight hundred parasites. They can claim about US $500 (equivalent) a day for attending. This is more than the minimum wage per week in my country. Do the Lords, having claimed their allowance, then have to sit through, say, an eight hour day, diligently working? No. Having clocked in and claimed their money, they can then immediately go.

What a farce.

In the lower house, the House of Commons, abuse of expense allowances is rife. One trick, if, say, you are a Member of Parliament who lives in or near London and could therefore happily commute to and from the Houses of Parliament on the few days a year that you are required to work there, is to rent your home out so as to get an income, and then get the government (meaning the taxpayer) to rent you another place to live in.

The psychos are always one step ahead of the innocent, straightforward people.

If you look back at the relationships I described earlier on, you see that if you are in a relationship, eventually the other person is likely to do something that is in their interest but not in yours. Then it makes sense to do two things - always do what is in your interest anyway, and also be ready and prepared for when the other person does what is in their interest and not in yours.

You have to have a touch of the merde about you to get by in this life, let alone get on in it.

I remember a rich man who got married. His new wife stopped working. They were both something 'in the City', but her job was relatively insignificant and low paid. After two years the woman divorced the man. Although she had done nothing except spend his money and make sure his staff were doing what he wanted them to do, she was awarded a divorce settlement of the equivalent of US $8,000,000. This was in the days when eight million dollars was more than mere chump change.

What was that man thinking of when he married that woman? Yet we must surely admire her for having extracted such a big amount of money from a man who otherwise would be regarded as being clever.

Think of being manipulative and parasitic. Think of being deceitful. But keep it within the law.

It's the people with some degree of nastiness, deceitfulness and cunning who come out on top in this world.

A nice example of the way deceitfulness and manipulation work in a perfectly legal way is this. There's a company that makes household goods. It charges about three or four times as much for one of its products as you would pay to another manufacturer for something that does the same thing just as well. Yet because this company we are talking about designs its products in a weird way, it has managed to persuade people that this unusual styling must somehow translate into an unusual level of performance, which therefore justifies a high price.

Just to finish this section, having mentioned the clever girl who married for money, and got it, don't assume that what is good today will be good tomorrow. People sometimes turn through a hundred and eighty degrees, and they can do it very quickly. In, say, business, what works this year might not work next year. Prepare for when what is currently good and acceptable becomes somehow undesirable.

Psycopaths Are Angels Until They Reveal They're Devils

You remember the very first psychopathic traits were employing charm and faking sincerity? Some of the absolute key elements of being a psychopath are not to appear to be what you are, but rather to appear to be what you are not. You must conceal your motives and intentions. You should pretend to have other motives and intentions.

For many, indeed I suspect most, people this does not apply. What you see is what you get. Also it usually doesn't apply at what I might call 'street level'. Over here in Russia I like to go out for a walk at least once a day and on one of those walks I'll buy myself an ice cream. What I get looks like ice cream, tastes like ice cream, and I'm as near as absolutely certain as I care to be that it is ice cream. In other words it's highly unlikely there's any misrepresentation or deception. The same would apply if I could afford a new car - say a new Hyundai, which is a popular make over here. I'm pretty sure that what I would get would be exactly as it seemed and exactly as it was described.

Duplicity and deception are by no means everywhere at all times.

But there is plenty of it about. Usually there is a clear cut motive behind it.

Can you imagine one of those women who marry rich men saying honestly and openly, “Darling, I find you a crashing bore. Your conversation, which is mostly about yourself, practically sends me into a coma. But because you're rich I yearn to marry you and get my hands on your money and property. Consequently I'm prepared to put up with you and your tedious ways until such time as I have a legitimate excuse to divorce you and take your money and property away from you.”?

No, in some situations people must be false. They must deceive if their goal is to be achieved. They must make the other person think that things are not what they are.

I remember a guy who lived not far my little town. He had a business selling cheese wholesale to shops. He only supplied two sorts of cheese. One was basic. It came in simple packaging, but it was cheap. The other cheese was expensive, but it came in very much better, fancy-looking packaging.

The trading standards people eventually got him because it turned out the two different cheeses were actually the same cheese.

Recently I bought an old car off my cousin. I don't normally bother with cars these days, preferring to walk or use trains. If I can't use a train for a long journey because it's too expensive, I'll go by coach. However, sometimes I occasionally need to get to places that are inaccessible by public transport, so I decided it made sense for me to get a cheap old runaround.

My cousin happened to be selling his car. It was twelve years old, had the usual scuffs and scrapes inside and out that you would expect for a car of that age, but it was low mileage, had been regularly serviced, and my cousin said it was absolutely rock solid and reliable. I bought it for what I felt was a very low price in comparison to what was being asked for identical cars with much higher mileages.

I took it home.

Guess what I found? Yes, it was rock solid and completely reliable. In fact I couldn't be happier with it. It turned out to be exactly as it appeared and exactly as it was described.

Nine times out of ten, that is the way life is.

Years ago I bought another car. A Toyota. I bought it at an auction. Very cheap. No faults mentioned. Of course being sold through an auction it was 'sold as seen', but I thought, “Toyota. Very reliable. It should be alright.” I took it home and ran it for a few days. Everything was fine. I liked driving it. It was very comfortable and smooth. It was automatic. Then one day I drove the car into a nearby city to look at an apartment I was considering renting. I parked the car nose first into a bay in the apartment building's car park. I looked at the apartment. I said I'd go away and consider it. I went outside and got back in the car.

Reverse gear didn't work. I couldn't get out of the car park.

I had it taken to a place that supplied and fitted replacement gearboxes for Toyotas. It cost me more for the replacement gearbox than the car itself had cost me. They told me that the original gearbox, which was obviously faulty, had had a 'botch job' done on it to make it work long enough to get through the auction. (Potential buyers are allowed to test drive a car briefly around the auction site to check to see if it works alright.)

Beware of buying cars and property (real estate) at auctions. They may not always be exactly as you think they are.

The same applies to people.

Deception usually has, and indeed should have, a motive.

Charm is attractive so long as it's not overdone. As for fake sincerity, when a woman asks her partner, “Does my bum look big in this?” would she rather hear an honest, “Yes, it looks enormous. It's about time you got some weight off,” or would she rather hear a falsehood along the lines of, “No, darling, it looks wonderful. In fact you appear to have lost weight recently.”?

Let's hear a rousing cheer for those wonderful psychopathic traits of charm and false sincerity.

But also let's look out for those who are using them against us.

Try To Crap On A Psycho And You May Well End Up Being The Toilet

This is just a brief warning to be careful about whom you try to take advantage of and exploit. It's all very well thinking you're a master of the psychopathic dark arts, but perhaps you're only a brown belt while your opponent is the real thing - a black belt. Exploiting the innocent and the gullible is all very well (if rather mean-spirited), but if you try to 'mix it' with the real hard nuts you will almost certainly come a cropper.

Keep away from such people. Don't fight a losing battle. If you find that you've inadvertently got into a conflict with a 'full on' psycho, withdraw quickly. Lick your wounds and consider yourself to have had a lucky escape.

Then go a find another potential victim on whom to exercise your talents.

To Aim To Be A Full Blown Psycho Is An All Or Nothing Game

You're hardly likely to get away with full-blown, uninhibited, openly displayed psychotic behavior in the 'civilized' parts of the world. That sort of behavior is only for places where effectively there is no law, or if there is any law it comes down as the diktat of one person.

Have you ever thought of becoming a mercenary and going to such parts of the world? They have plenty of openings for, and need of, full blown psychopaths. Go to countries and areas that are run by dictators. Places controlled by terrorists are also good hunting grounds for job-seeking psychopaths. Or consider becoming part of some major criminal enterprise. The drugs people in Mexico need people who can cut off other people's heads without wincing.

I was never very good at that. The other person would always look into my eyes while I was doing it.

There are plenty of openings and opportunities available to psychopaths. Imagine when you murder someone, and a minute later you've forgotten about it.

Moderate Psychopathy Is The Key

No, I'm afraid this book is not about full-on psychos. This book takes the view that such people are very, very naughty indeed. What I want is for smart people to have some psychopathic traits which, if they are taken to the right degree, enable us to get what we want whilst serving others.

We must operate within the law, unless it is only by breaking the law that we can get what we want. Then we must be certain that we can get away with breaking the law either without getting found out or without suffering any penalty that is unacceptable to us if we do get found out.

It is not doing wrong that is wrong. It is getting caught.

We aim not to hurt other people or cause them loss or harm. But if hurting them is unavoidable in getting what we want, then so be it.

The same goes for them suffering harm or loss.

This reminds me of two things that often apply in business and money-making. If one business is to gain, another business will lose. We can't both win the contract. We can't both sell a kilogram of apples to a particular customer who wants a kilogram of apples. Business is very competitive, and competitions always have winners and losers.

If I am to gain when there is a limited pool of money available, someone else must lose out on getting the money that comes to me.

There is often in business some hanky-panky.

Distorting the truth to some extent, even to the extent of outright lying, seems to be an ingrained part of life.

Which brings us to the question of how much we should make ourselves appear other than we really are. How much should we deceive other people?

You know that the most terrible advice you can give to common people is, “Be yourself.”

We all must put on an act to some degree or other. Perhaps in the closest, most long term relationships the façade can be dropped completely, but I'm not even sure that is advisable. So to a certain extent in life we must tailor our image to our circumstances and the people we are with. The sensible psychopath will develop this skill into an art form. The more you fit in with people, the more you appear to be the person they want you to be, and the more successful you are likely to be.

Develop that presentational skill. Especially in politics.

As for deception in the sense of deliberately saying something false to people so that you get sex, money, property, and so on, remember that what goes around comes around.

Moving on to other points. If you had a bad childhood, or if you were bad as a child, forget it. If you're dealing with someone who never knew you, change your childhood. Change what you were like as a child.

Your past is gone.

Here's an important thing. There's no point being prepared to do almost anything you want if you don't know what you want. Good psychos are always clear in their minds about what they want. They have targets to aim for, goals to be achieved. They have pleasures to be savored. They are working to a clear-cut purpose all the time.

Psychopaths are very, very focused.

With people, they know what they want from them. And they know what they want them for. The people in a psychopath's life are there for a purpose. The other person might not know it, but the psychopath does.

Don't be afraid to use and manipulate people. But remember it can be done in a good way. In fact it can be done in such a way that the manipulated person actually thinks they are getting the best of the deal, or at least a good deal. It almost seems as if you are doing things more for their benefit than your own.

This is where you show your ability to be cunning - to be able to make people not realize what you are doing, or to make them think you are doing something completely different from what you are really doing, or for them not even to be aware that you are doing anything at all.

If this applies to your actions, it must also apply to your motives. They must be concealed.

As far as relationships are concerned … well, if a particular one isn't giving you what you want, finish it and move on to another one which you calculate will reward you better. Even better, do those two things in the reverse order. Get a new relationship in place before finishing the old one. Perhaps the old one should be finished in such a way that it could be rekindled, or re-exploited, if need be.

With the matter of being responsible, rather than being irresponsible in the way that a bad psychopath is supposed to be, a good psychopath is first and foremost responsible to themselves for getting what they want. They are responsible to, and for, other people for exactly the same reason - because it is in their own interests to have that responsibility.

As for taking responsibility for the outcome of your actions, clearly it must be sensible to take responsibility when the outcome is good. If the outcome is bad, would it then really be wrong to pass it off as being someone else's responsibility? Morally some people would say it is wrong, but if you get to be known as the sort of person who does bad things or makes bad things happen, it can close the door on future opportunities for you, as well as on existing benefits and advantages that you are currently getting. That is too a heavy price to pay.

Honesty must have its limits.

The one thing the good, moderate, psychopath does is act without emotion.

Leave the craziness and the emotion-driven behavior to the bad psychopaths, the nutters and the idiots.

Be A Devil With A Priest's Smile

That is if you want to be a devil at all.

I realized years ago that the worse I wanted to behave, the more conventional, dull and strait-laced I had to look. That way no one imagined how I behaved and the sort of antics I got up to.

Strangely enough the opposite can also be true. Someone can look bizarre, outrageous and unconventional, and then turn out to be prudish and as dull as ditchwater.

I was out one day and got talking to an elderly woman. At one point she asked me, “Are you a priest?” I was rather surprised by the question, and told her that no, I wasn't. I can't remember what I told her I was. For a lot of my life what I've done has either been rather vague and difficult to describe, or I've been doing nothing except enjoying myself.

Afterwards I realized that I did actually look sweet and innocent, younger than I was, and of the unadventurous type - the sort whose idea of a good time would be sitting in an armchair with a book and a mug of cocoa.

That dichotomy between reality and appearance was unintentional, but for the scheming person who is out to get something that others will try to stop them getting or will disapprove of them getting, such disparity must be deliberate.

A tyrant may be able to be quite open about what they are out to get and what they are doing to get it, but here in the supposedly democratic and egalitarian, soppy-socialist, morally condemnatory West, where we like to imagine that that which is thought of in some way as being wrong will eventually be found out and we will then be punished, those of us who wish to achieve certain ends must be underhand and circumspect.

This can either be done with a great deal of subtlety, or the shortcut can be taken of just adopting the opposite appearance of what is real, and saying the opposite of what is true.

It might not be very skillful, but at least it's easy.

When the Americans and others invaded Iraq they said it was to bring democracy to the country.

Ho ho!

You know that our politicians spy on us, and on the peoples of all nations? They don't say, “We're doing it so that we can be alerted to anyone who might want to destabilize the nice, cozy, snouts-in-the-trough set-up that we have at the moment.” They say, “We're doing it so that we can protect our people, and those of other nations, from terrorism.”

You know that politicians don't say, “I'm in politics to serve my own interests.” Instead they say, “I entered politics to serve the people of my area, or of my country.”

You know that when someone enters the police force they don't say, “My dad was a policeman and he earned loads of money, and for the past twenty years he's been getting a pension that is more than most people even get for having a normal job, so I thought I'd get the same sort of life for myself. Plus I like the idea of having power over other people.” What they say is, “I entered the police force to serve my community and to make sure that the law is upheld so people can have peaceful, orderly lives.”

Avoid the truth. Say the opposite of it.

Remember also to directly contradict those who point out the reality behind your lying. Just say, “No, that's not true.” Or go for the stronger approach, which is to say to them, “You're lying when you say that …”

A standard tactic of liars is to accuse other people of lying.

As for appearance, I'm reminded of a certain character in a motoring organization who had a predilection for orgies.

To look at him, always in a suit and tie, you'd have thought he was just someone's rather posh granddad.

That's the way to do it. Let the appearance belie the reality.

If you're a gay man but you don't want people to know it, look and behave in a manly, even over-masculine, way. If you're a sex symbol rock star but in reality you're actually married and love nothing more than being with the wife and kids, and nothing stronger than a cup of tea ever enters your body, and you wouldn't dream of uttering a bad word at home … keep your hair long, cover yourself in tattoos, swear your head off when you're on stage, give the girls the pelvic thrusting they expect, and make sure they are given the image that they expect.

Don't let reality be revealed if it will disappoint or be disapproved of.

The falser you have to be to achieve your aims, the more sincere you must appear to be.

Deception is an art. Keep people unaware of what is true. Make them believe what is untrue.

Deception is a vital art to master, because …

Life Is Largely A Game Of Tricking The Idiots

The psychopath will get what he or she wants. But often the road that leads to the desired goal is barred by others. Possibly it is falsely indicated by those people that there is another route to the desired goal, but in fact it is so long and tortuous and full of obstacles that it is impossible to navigate and reach the desired destination.

So what is the psychopath to do?

Whatever will get them what they want, of course. The psychopath knows who can give them what they want, or who can allow them or help them to get nearer to it. It is a matter then of satisfying those people.

I love the saying that when two people are in love, one of them isn't. It contains the essence of a lot of what life is really like. The truth doesn't matter. In fact it's often better for it not to be known. What matters is what is believed.

The psychopath intuitively knows what someone else wants to believe about them. The psychopath then persuades the other person that he or she, the psychopath, is the embodiment of what the other person wants to believe them to be, or perhaps to believe that they are a conduit to something that the other person wants.

I don't remember the trait of being persuasive being specifically mentioned in our version of PCL-R, but if you think about it, it's an essential part of being manipulative. Deception without persuasion is a passive thing.

For someone to be a good, good psychopath they need to be a skilled manipulator. To be that, they need to be good at persuasion. Being a deceiver is, I think, relatively easy. You lie, and at the same time you get your appearance, your behavior, your voice, your facial expression, your body language, and so on, right.

Being persuasive, however, is a much more skillful art.

Do two things - learn the tricks and techniques that salespeople use, and learn the tricks and techniques that politicians use. Persuading is essentially selling. It's selling an idea, a thought, to someone. A salesperson wants a prospective client to have the thoughts in their head that they want something, that they believe the salesperson can give that thing to them, that they actually want the salesperson to give that thing to them, and that they have decided that, yes, they are going to agree right now to the salesperson giving that thing to them.

It's mind manipulation. The game of life is largely about playing with other people's minds. Physical manipulation is largely the preserve of tyrants, politicians, the immoral and the criminal.

Deceive and persuade. Make people think something that is not true. Then persuade them to do something you want them to do because of their erroneous belief.

I'm thinking of a businessman I read about some time ago. I don't remember the exact details or figures, but broadly I believe that what happened was this. He ran a successful business. Perfectly solid and sound. It turned over hundreds of millions of dollars. He went to the bank, convinced them quite justifiably that the business was sound, and he persuaded them to lend a billion dollars to his business.

He then paid the billion dollars out to himself as a dividend.

Two things. I'm not saying the guy is a psychopath. I don't know him. But he is what I would call a 'top person'. One of life's successes. Somebody who is at the top of those two important pyramids in life - the money-pyramid and the power-pyramid.

But what he did was totally legal.

Good psychopaths operate within the law, and they still get what they want.

The World Is Run By Psychopaths

America. Bless her! If you want to see what top people are really like in all their hideous horribleness, look at the antics of the American administration. The members of it have complete disregard for other nation's people (and indeed for their own people) and for other nation's laws. They bully. They bribe. They support groups that are, in the eyes of other nations, terrorists. They destroy countries. They sanction murder and kidnapping.

There is only one nation that likes my ex-Prime Minister, and that is America.

The monkey wants to run the zoo.

Money and power are the two most important things in life. A psychopath reaches self-actualization by getting other people to do what he or she wants in order to achieve whatever it is that he or she wants.

Let us stick to looking at politics and business for this section before the conclusion. These are the two spheres of activity that shape our world - the world that little people like me have to live in.

The interesting thing about referring to myself as a 'little person', in the sense that I have no money and no power, and therefore cannot manipulate and control other people other than on the usual one-to-one basis as we all can, or to a greater extent by addressing small groups of people directly, is that I can't affect more people because I don't have access to the media. But what matters is that I suffer the consequences of top people's behavior. They are not affected by my behavior. I am manipulated and controlled.

Government and big business is the big psychopath towering over the good semi-psychopath that is me.

To get to the top you need to have an overwhelming desire to see other people being beneath you.

Do true psychopaths see themselves as being better than others? Yes, because in the real, material world, the world that matters, they are.

We half-formed psychos dance to their tune.

You could say there are two levels of psychopathy - the interpersonal, one-on-one or intra-family level, and the much higher, bigger-thinking level, where the psychopaths have control over many people.

In a tyranny this dominance is clear-cut, but what about in our developed-world of pseudo-democracies? How do our top ranking politicians score on the PCL-R test?

Let's have a stab at finding out.

Q1. Do they fake sincerity and consciously use charm on people?

I think we can give a clear two points on this one.

Q2. Do they see themselves as being superior to other people?

Well, technically they are. They control us. They set the rules and boundaries for what we can do. I think they're aware of this. So let's give them two points.

Q3. Do they have an above average need for stimulation?

Is starting wars stimulating? Is having people executed stimulating? Is extorting money from people, and then spending it how you like, stimulating? I'm happy with a hot curry and few beers, but this stuff that turns the top politicians on … well, it's in a whole different league. Let's give them two points.

Q4. Do they habitually lie, even when they don't really need to?

“I did not have sex with that woman.”

To quote Charles Peacock - “I'm a politician, and as a politician I have the prerogative to lie whenever I want.”

Actually we have to be charitable here. If we asked a politician if it was raining outside, and it was, the politician would probably confess that it was. The problem is, clever politicians are always on their guard. When I see them on the television in Britain, whenever they are asked a straightforward question to which there is a perfectly acceptable, straightforward, honest answer that it wouldn't hurt them to give, they can't give it. They're evasive. So because although they might not lie when they don't have to, they also don't necessarily tell the truth either, but instead talk around the question, I don't think we should give them zero points, but rather give them one.

Q5. Are they cunning and manipulative?

Two points.

Q6. When they do something bad, do they fail to feel remorse?

I'm only guessing (and I may be wrong) but I reckon the Iraq-invading American President and the Iraq-invading British Prime Minister sleep soundly in their beds at night.

Unlike their thousands of victims, who toss and turn in their graves.

Two points.

Q7. Are they callous?

“No! I'm really sorry I murdered you. Please forgive me.”

“Waterboarding? Callous? I don't know what you mean.”

Two points here.

Q8. Do they find it difficult to control their behavior?

“What did you just say to me? What did you just say? I'm getting angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.”

Actually I think they're generally quite controlled, but I've seen a few good parliamentary punch-ups on TV, so I suggest we don't give a two or a zero, but a one.

Q9. Are they impulsive?

Again I'm not sure they are. I think they're too self-controlled for impulsivity. Rather they prefer to plot and scheme, and that is the opposite of being impulsive. I'm going to suggest we be charitable and give them … a zero.

Q10. Are they irresponsible?

They have a lot of responsibility. They're responsible for controlling all us little people. They have to make sure we don't do anything they don't want.

So they get themselves another zero.

They're beginning to look rather sweet, cute and cuddly.

Q11. Are they in denial about what sort of person they are, what they do and have done, and the consequences, for themselves and others, of their behavior?

“I did not have sex with that woman.”

“The situation in Iraq now is not connected in any way with our bold move to liberate the country from the tyrannical dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and establish democracy there.”

“Look, daddy, that man in the uniform has no arms and legs. And what's that dead baby doing in the rubble over there?”

They get two points … but they'll probably deny it.

Q12. Is their lifestyle parasitic?

They work in the public sector. Private sector workers have to pay taxes to pay all government costs and expenditure. All public sector people are parasitic, speaking from a purely financial point of view.

Two points.

Q13. Are they sexually promiscuous?

Sorry, Bill, what was that you said?

Of course some are and some aren't. I don't suppose many of our Western politicians are like the tyrants who have several fresh virgins sent down to their dungeon every day, so I'm going to suggest … one point.

Q14. Did they have behavioral problems when they were young?

“My dear fellow, at the school I went to, none of us had behavioral problems. We got our servants to have our problems for us.”

Again it's a bit like the question about being promiscuous, so again I suggest giving our masters one point.

Q15. Do they have long-term goals that really they know are unrealistic?

“What? You mean ruling the world and making all the little people mine is unrealistic? I think you should be more ambitious, my dear fellow.”

What is unrealistic for you and me is not necessarily unrealistic for a top politician. Yet I have a sneaking feeling that almost every politician secretly harbors the belief that they could become President or Prime Minister, but equally secretly, in their heart of hearts, they know they are doomed to disappointment.

Yet again, one point.

Q16. Do they find it difficult or impossible to accept responsibility for their own actions?

“I didn't do it.”

Five points for this one. Oh, sorry, we're limited to two points. Okay, two points.

Q17. Do problems arise quickly and often in the close relationships they have with other people?

“What's a close relationship?”

In British politics, when we saw our old Prime Minister and his weird one-eyed Chancellor of the Exchequer standing shoulder to shoulder and smiling happily for the cameras, we knew they hated each other and had probably just finished another one of their arguments. Politics is bound to be fraught with problems and conflict. Yet I would guess that in their day to day lives, top politicians are no better and no worse than everyone else, so I'm going to suggest … one point.

Q18. Were they a juvenile delinquent?

As with Q14, why should they be? Most politicians come from a middle class (or better) background. Kids from such backgrounds don't generally behave like kids from some crime-ridden ghetto.

They get zero points for this one, but I hope they have some degree of understanding for the kids for whom it would be almost impossible not to get two points.

Q19. If they have been freed from punishment for their bad behavior, have they then gone on to behave badly again?

Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan … tell me when to stop. But do top politicians actually get punished for their crimes and misdeeds? Where I come from, we don't punish politicians for their crimes and misdeeds, we just shuffle them sideways into some other public sector position, or we make them keep their heads down for a year or two and then bring them back into the fold.

On the basis that if they did ever suffer what we would recognize as punishment they would in fact carry on doing whatever they wanted to if they thought they could get away with it, I'm going to award them two points for this one.

That makes up for being so charitable with some of the questions earlier on.

Q20. If you engage in criminal behavior, do you engage in various forms of such behavior?

“No, I limit myself to being bad in only one particular way. What sort of dumb question is that?”

Yes, I'm sorry. That was an insult to their versatility and ingenuity.

They get two points.

So there we have it. They got twenty-eight points out of forty. Not as bad as we may have expected. Yet if I think back to the section where I first put these questions into this little book so you could test yourself, I seem to remember saying something like, “If you got around thirty points, you run the risk of being a fairly unpleasant piece of work.”

So let's say that top politicians are more psychopathic (and therefore nastier?) than most of us, but they're certainly not as bad as despots.

But that's because they can't be.

But I bet they'd like to be.

Turning briefly to the world of business, without any evidence to support me, I'm going to suggest that business leaders are highly likely to have the same traits as top politicians, the only difference being that they don't have a military department and a police department to enforce their wishes … although I do seem to remember something about Henry Ford getting armed men to … well, let's not revisit history.

Extrapolating outrageously from this, I'm going to claim that the people who govern and control the mass of us are more likely to have more of the qualities of a psychopath than the rest of us have. This is partly what propels them to the tops of their respective greasy poles.

Conclusion

If you show few, or no, psychopathic traits, you must be feeling quite sad by now. You are inadequate and doomed to a life of failure. But at least people will regard you as a nice person as they trample all over you and outsmart you.

What's that you say? You can't help being what you are?

Yes you can. You can make yourself be whatever you want to be.

You too can be a psycho.

Up to a point.

In a good way.

You understand?

The End


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