Jon Ronson: Strange answers to the psychopath test (TED talk)

John Ronson meets a man who faked his mental illness to get out of a jail sentence. The problem is, they locked him up in Broadmoor prison, and now they won’t let him out. He is trying to prove that he is sane now, but they don’t believe him.

His original sentence would have been 5 years in jail. His current sentence in Broadmoor is 14 years. The reason they don’t believe he is sane is because: faking that your brain has gone wrong, is a sign that your brain has gone wrong. They believe he is in fact a psychopath, because of his idea to fake his mental illness.

Since then John Ronson has gone on a course which teaches how to spot a psychopath. Turns out that 1 in 100 regular people, is a psychopath. CEOs tend to display higher degrees of psychopathy than regular people. This is because capitalism rewards the behaviours of psychopathy. Lack of empathy, lack or remorse, etc.

Aggressive narcissism – displayed by many CEOs – can be defined by the following characteristics:

  • Glibness / superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning / manipulative
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
  • Callousness; lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Children as young as four have been labelled as bipolar because they have temper tantrums. There are many grey areas, and a checklist is not rich enough to tell the differences.

(Part of TED a day for June)

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