Tuesday, May 29, 2007

 

Psychopaths Among Us

‘”Psychopath! psychopath!”

I’m alone in my living room and I’m yelling at my TV. “Forget rehabilitation — that guy is a psychopath.”

Ever since I visited Dr. Robert Hare in Vancouver, I can see them, the psychopaths. It’s pretty easy, once you know how to look. I’m watching a documentary about an American prison trying to rehabilitate teen murderers. They’re using an emotionally intense kind of group therapy, and I can see, as plain as day, that one of the inmates is a psychopath. He tries, but he can’t muster a convincing breakdown, can’t fake any feeling for his dead victims. He’s learned the words, as Bob Hare would put it, but not the music.

The incredible thing, the reason I’m yelling, is that no one in this documentary — the therapists, the warden, the omniscient narrator — seems to know the word “psychopath.” It is never uttered, yet it changes everything. A psychopath can never be made to feel the horror of murder. Weeks of intense therapy, which are producing real breakthroughs in the other youths, will probably make a psychopath more likely to reoffend. Psychopaths are not like the rest of us, and everyone who studies them agrees they should not be treated as if they were. ‘




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