Does Psychopathy Begin With Us?
Psychopathic traits can be displayed in everyday behavior.
Posted June 6, 2022 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk
- According to some researchers, psychopathy is on the rise.
- Inconsiderate or uncaring interactions desensitize us to psychopathic behavior while increasing incipient psychopathic tendencies.
- If we want less psychopathy in the world, we must see that our actions don’t contribute to it.
We do not have to be psychopaths to display psychopathic behavior. The more psychopathic traits we exhibit, the more like psychopaths we become. With violence displayed on the streets, in the news, in the movies, and in other media, people become desensitized, growing more callous and unemotional—fundamental psychopathic traits.
Increase in Psychopathy
According to some psychopathy researchers, psychopathy is on the rise. Dr. Robert D. Hare states: “In recent years there has been a dramatic upsurge in the public’s exposure to the machinations and depredations of psychopaths.”1 If those words are not unsettling enough, the following words from Dr. J. Reid Meloy are equally disturbing: “It is my impression and fear, that psychopathy, and psychopathic disturbance, is a growing clinical and, therefore, sociocultural phenomenon.” 2
Contribution of Everyday People
Some say that the breakdown of society and the family, its nucleus, is evident. Discord, divisions, drugs, alcohol, dishonesty, and a general lack of respect for people are prevalent.3 But this begs the question: Can we, each of us, be contributors to psychopathy? Our first response may be: No. We are not that bad.
Evidence in Typical Interactions
If we have a deeper look into ourselves, we should ask: Are we mindful of an opinion that is different from our own? Or do we insist we are open-minded, only to bully others who have a different opinion? Do we care about what happens to those we know? Or do we go on with our lives, murmuring: “How terrible. Sad situation.” …and then do nothing to assist a person in need of our help? Do we say “thank you” to someone who went out of their way for us? Or do we take their help for granted? Do we feel nothing when we disregard another person who is reaching out to us? Do we ignore people who cannot do for us, and only answer those people who are giving to us?
Inconsiderate or uncaring interactions such as these may desensitize us to psychopathic behavior while increasing incipient psychopathic tendencies.
Obsession With Self
Psychopaths are selfish and self-centered, and whether male or female, have an utter disregard for other people. Are we turning into someone like this—always thinking about and looking out for ourselves?
I saw a greeting card recently that said, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, come sit by me.” Do you see the “terrible” ways of others, but are never self-critical?
Are we becoming more callous and unemotional like the psychopath? Are you a contributor or an enabler to psychopathic schemes? Are you meddling in other people’s affairs rather than assisting others with their difficulties? Are you criticizing someone who perhaps does not understand— instead of counseling them? If we want less psychopathy in the world, we must see that our actions don’t contribute to it.
1. Hare, Robert D. (1990) Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us (New York: The Guilford Press). xi.
2. Meloy, J. Reid. The Psychopathic Mind: Origins, Dynamics and Treatment (Northvale: Jason Aronson Inc., 2002). 6.
3. Hymowitz, Kay S. https://www.manhattan-institute.org/nation-dying-in-despair-and-family-…. Manhattan Institute. September 26, 2019.