“Washington D.C. has the highest prevalence of psychopaths”



Michael F Denny
(415) 608-0269

This headline is superficially satisfying from a libertarian perspective, Mike – we would intuitively expect to find more people with dangerous or anti-social personality traits in D.C. than most places – but what does it really mean? The scant information in the linked post is not terribly convincing, and I can't help but wonder what methodology and definitions are being used.

  John Glynn writes, "According to the authors, who estimated psychopathy prevalence based on Big Five personality patterns (Openness, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Neuroticism), Washington D.C. has the highest prevalence of psychopaths."

  But how exactly do those "Big Five" traits relate to psychopathy? Three of them (openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) sound positive on the face of it, one of them (extraversion) neutral at worst, and the final one (neuroticism) only mildly negative. Is the claim being made that people in D.C. have lower levels of these traits on average than people elsewhere? I'm finding the idea that being open, conscientious, agreeable, extraverted, and neurotic makes one a psychopath a bit difficult to swallow.

  By way of contrast, here's an online dictionary definition (from Wiktionary.org):

psychopath (plural psychopaths)

A person with a personality disorder indicated by a pattern of lying, cunning, manipulating, glibness, exploiting, heedlessness, arrogance, delusions of grandeur, sexual promiscuity, low self-control, disregard for morality, lack of acceptance of responsibility, callousness, and lack of empathy and remorse. Such an individual may be especially prone to violent and criminal offenses.
(figuratively) A person with no moral conscience who perpetrates especially gruesome or bizarre violent acts.
A person diagnosed with antisocial or dissocial personality disorder.
(obsolete) A person diagnosed with any mental disorder.

  I confess I'm also skeptical of the dictionary definition, which lumps sexual promiscuity in with a bunch of other traits generally seen as negative. It seems a bit too convenient, perhaps reflecting sex-negative biases among the professionals presumably responsible for defining what allegedly makes someone a psychopath. But in any case, I'm having trouble seeing how the definition above meshes with the information cited by Glynn.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))

Thank you Starchild for your thoughtful reply and contribution to the discussion.