UNYP Professor, talks James Bond - A first class psychopath?

In an article written by Lucie Suchá on April 19th for Mladá Fronta Dnes, University of New York in Prague Professor and Director of the Master’s program in Psychology, Radek Ptáček discusses the topic of psychopaths in today’s society.

They don’t feel sympathy, they don’t have a conscience, and they’re controlled by the sense of grandeur. But they are charming and can manipulate people very easily. “A psychopath is not a gloomy criminal, it can be a smiley and good-looking person”, says Radek Ptáček, psychologist, adding, that he could name 3 members of Czech Ministers who are establishing psychopathic signs.

According to Ptáček there are a few key characteristics typical for psychopaths – a superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, commanding behavior and manipulation, shallow emotions and lack of empathy, uncontrollable behavior, promiscuity, inability to set realistic and long-term goals, inability to accept responsibility for own actions. These people always put their interests above others’.

Psychopaths represent 10-30% of charged criminals. It’s hard to identify them in general population, because they are very intelligent and can disguise themselves very well. They are attracted by careers that enable them to control other people; their charm usually gets them to management positions, even if their qualifications are not sufficient. Research indicates that psychopaths are also teachers, doctors, psychologists, policemen or judges.

When you detect a person with psychopathic behavior, the only weapon that could help you is staying strong, confident and don’t let yourself get fooled by his lies. It is very hard, but manageable. You just have to acknowledge, that you can’t communicate with that person. “I know from experience that people who live with, employ, or are employed by a psychopath, suffer – they literally can ruin your life. But then comes the awakening, the realization, that they did all that could be done and it brings people relief,” says Ptáček.

Some researches show, that there a lot more psychopaths among men than women. However, according to some experts, the criteria we use is gender-incorrect and don’t reflect that psychopathic women chose other forms of behavior that we are unable to detect at this point.

Psychopathy cannot be cured. “It’s like being born with one leg shorter than the other. Said will walk with a limp his whole life.  But if he acknowledges his problem, he can visit the doctor and get a compensatory aid – a higher heel for example. The same applies to psychopaths. If they acknowledge the problem, with a help of a specialist they can set compensatory mechanisms. But this is highly unlikely”

The problem with psychopathy is that it isn’t a diagnosis. Psychopaths are just different, their personality is constructed differently, it is a personality of a predator. And you can’t change personality. We just need to learn to detect problematic individuals and to work with them.

We also like to sympathize with them, we love the movies where psychopaths heartlessly murder or steal. Take James Bond for example – charming, manipulative, a murderer… but we like him and root for him. Other examples are Hannibal Lecter or Rambo.

What we as a society need to do, is talk about these issues; learn about this behavior to better differentiate them, to protect ourselves.

You can read full article in Czech 

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