Psychopaths make up 1 to 2 percent of the American population. That’s around 6,278,000 psychopaths who live among us and use intimidation and manipulation to lord over others. In any organization of at least 35 people, one will be a psychopath. Before you start making boss jokes, take some relief in the fact that these types of individuals likely don’t want to murder you in your sleep.
James Fallon should know. He himself is a psychopath. As a neurobiologist at UC Irvine, Fallon has made a name for himself decoding the psychopathic brain. The psychiatric definition of a psychopath is someone who is "suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior." Brain scans reveal the orbital cortex--the area of the brain just behind the eyes--which helps moderate impulse control, ethical decision-making, and moral behavior; low activity in this area indicates someone who is likely a psychopath, according to Fallon's discussion of his research and his own psychopathic brain on NPR.
Without the help of a brain scan, how can we spot a psychopath? One easy method is to ask: Is the person running for office? Yes, politicians rank high on the psychopathic scale. And we continue to vote for them.
Which U.S. president was the biggest psychopath of them all? Teddy Roosevelt, according to Fallon. FDR, JFK, and Bill Clinton also top the list, with George W. Bush falling somewhere in the middle when compared to other American presidents.
Why do we elect psychopaths? Fallon explains: “[We’re] picking and voting for and enjoying the psychopathic traits, because those are the people that you think are the ones who can lead you.” Politicians, of course, are famous for their dishonesty, and so are psychopaths. Fallon calls them “world champ liars—pathological liars.” But we the people are attracted to them, because, as Fallon points out: “They lied for us. They lied to protect us.”
Surprisingly, Hitler does not rank as a psychopath. Fallon says that Hitler and Nazi leaders were simply doing their job, citing Hannah Arendt who famously called it “the banality of evil.”
For more on Fallon’s insights into want psychopaths want, watch a clip from Big Think’s interview:
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Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
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