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Thu, Feb 05

Why you can’t punish a psychopath, according to science

The word “psychopath” evokes a terrifying heart-thump. Someone murderous, remorseless, emotionless, unstoppable, like Hannibal Lecter or Anton Chigurh. Emerging recent research has, however, been painting a gradually more nuanced portrait of psychopathy. Not all psychopaths are thoroughly unrepentant killers, and not all psychopaths have every single characteristic of psychopathy. Some researchers maintain that psychopathy is best seen as a spectrum disorder.

Psychopaths are more or less callous, unempathetic, glib, grandiose, manipulative, dishonest, promiscuous, and unable to recognize negative emotions in other people. They also tend to be impulsive. (Contrary to many movies, they are not the most meticulous, rational planners of us all.) Punishment is strikingly ineffective in deterring them from undesirable behavior.

Full coverage from The Daily Beast available here.