But, before we get into that: There are two kinds of “one-percenters” in the world. This first, the economic one-percenter, most of us are familiar with. The second type has a lot to do with the first, and that’s probably no coincidence. It’s believed by most psychologists that as many as one in a hundred people (roughly one percent of the world’s population) is clinically psychotic. Most never become violent anomalies like Ted Bundy or Joel Rifkin. No, far more go on to some measure of success in one of two fields: business and politics.
Let’s take the case of one Dick Cheney as an example. Psychopaths are defined by several traits, some more recognizable than others; we’ll list some of the more relevant ones from the Hare Psychopathy Checklist at the bottom of this article, but for now, let’s focus on three:
- Pathological Lying: Lies used as the default approach to any matter involving personal gain. A psychopath will say anything to get what they want.
- Lack of Remorse or Guilt: Often considered the defining trait of a psychopath. This will often manifest when a psychopath is caught in a lie. When caught, the psychopath will simply brush away the fact that they were caught lying, dismissing any repercussions from it, before going on to tell new lies.
- Failure to Accept Personal Responsibility: Characterized by antagonistic manipulation, this denial isn’t as often internal as it is external. A psychopath will deny responsibility to others as a means of manipulation, if they believe such denial will result in that person believing future lies.
KARL: You wrote in your op-ed, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” But a lot of your critics…
KARL: — left and right, say that you are the one that has over and over and over again been wrong on Iraq. And they point to statements like these.
CHENEY: Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region.
CHENEY: We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.
CHENEY: And I think they’re in the — in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
KARL: Now, Rand Paul, pointing to things like that, wrote in “The Wall Street Journal” also, “Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq War. They have been wrong for so long, why should we listen to him — listen to them again?” your response?
CHENEY: With all — all due respect, John, I was a strong supporter then of going into Iraq, I’m a strong supporter now. Everybody knows what my position is. There’s nothing to be argued about there.
But if we spend our time debating what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we’re going to miss the threat that is growing and that we do face. Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist. He doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world.
Obviously, Dick would score pretty high on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, just given the three above. But here are those again (directly from the checklist) and a few more — just for a bit of perspective on our former GOP vice president.
- GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM — The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.
- GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH — A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
- PATHOLOGICAL LYING — Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.
- CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS — The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.
- LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT — A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, cold-hearted, and non-empathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.
- SHALLOW AFFECT — Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.
- CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY — A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.
- PARASITIC LIFESTYLE — An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.
- LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS — An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.
- IMPULSIVITY — The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences.
- IRRESPONSIBILITY — Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.
- FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS — A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.
So, 12 out of 20 criteria, and that’s only what we know for certain. Which means that even if Dick only scored a median 2 out of 3 points on all of them, he’d still be over Hare’s 20-point clinical psychopath score with room to spare.
H/T: Crooks and Liars