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Interview with Scott Lilienfeld, President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy


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Broadcast 4/24/2014 at 17:20:33 (1 Listens, 0 Downloads, 0 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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Scott Lillienfeld, Professor of Psychology at Emory UniversityCurrent President Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy, Doing research on it for over 20 years. 

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Rough notes from the interview-- mostly my questions

I cite  some stats-- costs, money invested in research. Are they correct?

What is the annual funding for research on psychopathy?

Would $20 million be a high or low estimate on annual budget for research on psychopathy?

Tell us a story based on your work, your experience with psychopathy research and psychopaths

we look at successful psychopathy

Research on psychopathic traits of presidents-- 

fearless,  dominance, fearless, bold, reckless

It's a fascinating study and you didn't include Obama-- 

Although he does have a reputation for being cool and cold blooded. 

I've written about TV psychopaths-- and theorized that people are fascinated because they'd like to have their strengths-- bold, calm during chaos, 

It can be difficult to dislike them because they are charming, alluring fascinating. 

Do you have an idea of what percentage of psychopaths get arrested or end up in jail?

Can you give me some stats? 

The cut-off is arbitrary, like asking how many people are tall. You are looking at a dimension or continuum-- if you use the research criteria developed by Robert Hare, you're looking at about 1% of the population-- 

Most people talk about psychopaths most common characteristic being lack of empathy? What are the most salient characteristics of psychopaths from your point of view and the research community's. I've seen the triarchic model" 

Chris Patrick's model-- 3 overarching characteristics of psychopathy

Meanness or coldness-- lacking empathy, being callous, lacking guilt, being cold, emotionally detached

Boldness-- fearless dominance, poised, adventure taking, risk taking verging on impulsive

Disinhibition-- poor impulse control, poor ability to lear from punishment, reckless, prone to getting in trouble, hard time inhibiting impulses to do things against their best or worst judgment. 

Quintessential psychopath high in all three dimension-- charming, poised. these seem to be the most dangerous" 

David Lykken-- a lot of what being charming comes from a lack of social anxiety" 

Where does the predatory nature fit in?

fits under domain of cold and mean-- often conniving, cold, calculating, happy to take advantage of other people, disregarding others emotions" 

To me, predator is the best word to describe a psychopath? Is that wrong?

also  the passive,  parasitic psychopath

Can you describe a psychopath who would not be predatory?

parasitic person living off a wealthy person-- 

I love it-- you've pushed me to a continuum, from parasitic to predatory.

Have you met, had contact with, dealt with,  or done therapy with psychopaths?

They are a challenging lot-- interesting, engaging

Did you feel like you were dealing with a predator?

Part of what makes them challenging is that when you are talking to them they can seem disarmingly normal

You've developed a test too. Tell us about that?

The Psychopathic Personality Inventory-- revised 

8 scales that measure 8 dimensions-- 

  • machieavellian egocentricity, 
  • social potency/influence-- poise, charm, social dominance
  • fearlessness
  • stress immunity-- to anxiety, not easily stressed out, don't
  • blame externalization-- tendency to put the blame on other people
  • cold-heartedness-- lack of empathy, cold, distant, lack guilt, lack loyalty, lack sentimental emotions, don't get attached to people or things that remind them of people
  • impulsive/rebellious  noncomformity-- anti-authority, rebels without a cause, like to 
  • carefree non-planfulness, willingness to try out anything, to blurt answers, "

Is it really possible to get people to self-identify?

  • We don't ask any questions like, are you a psychopath, and we don't ask questions that require insight, like, "how coldhearted are you?"

Has research been done on the hurt, the damage done by psychopaths-- particularly the ones you call successful psychopaths?

Not much. That's a huge gap in literature. 

aftermath foundation-- org for prople who have been victimized in interpersonal relationships. 

It would seem like the bottom line would encourage investment in research. Is this something that people in your organization has tapped into? 

Hare and Babiak

B-scan business scan to look at psychopathy in the business world. 

We've heard that some businesses are reluctant to do this kind of work 

Unsuccessful traits of psychopathy are not prevalent in police or fire units.

What do you mean by unsuccessful traits?

disinhibition, poor impulse control, when conjoined with callousness or coldness

Are psychopaths handled differently by different fields-- law, psych, business, government, politics, for example?

A great question-- are there occupational niches that attract psychopaths? 

It seems like Boldness is a necessary trait of politicians.

Grandiose narcissism-- greater in president and going UP in presidents.

Isn't narcissism is one of the key elements of psychopathy?

falls into several of the different dimensions of the triarchic model

What can you tell us about the evolutionary and anthropological aspects of psychopathy?

How are psychopaths handled in indigenous tribal cultures?

Inuits use term kunlangeta 

very little known about psychopaths in different cultures. 

Evolution: they reproduce more

One article  you co-authored said, on evolution-- "in the case of psychopathy, these models presume that the general population is predominantly cooperative, honest, and trusting, which allows a small proportion of individuals to capitalize on this benevolence by cheating--stealing valuable resources and engaging in promiscuous sexual behavior

Frequency dependent selection model.

Maybe 5% are dishonest

I see a tie between psychopathy, domination and hierarchy. Can you discuss these?

Part of psychopathy is indeed dominance, is indeed predation-- once you start having a very top down society there is always a risk--- " you might end up with not only a top down society but a psychopath down society. 

A pretty scary thought, but I don't think it's that unrealistic. 

So much of our corporate culture is top-down Authoritarian culture-- isn't there a greater risk there?

I've been talking about the need for an Apollo Moon Landing, Manhattan project type project that invests massively more in understanding psychopathy, what it is, what hurt and damage it does, and how to deal with it. 

we need to know who we are talking about, then about what the causes are--

What do we know about them, who they hurt, the damage they do and how we can prevent--

and then there are characteristics that are positive-- 

What you are saying is that some psychopathic traits, in healthy doses, are positive.

Maybe the idea of taming or civilizing the traits?

Wisdom Bob xxxxxxx

Is there such a thing as a Psychopathic contagion/community where a psychopathic leader can influence the culture"

research on gang leaders-- have psychopathic traits, have a way of playing on people who are weaker, who will be the followers. 

What are the most common misunderstandings and misconceptions about psychopaths?

  • that psychopathy is the same thing as psychosis-- they know what they do is wrong--  they can't use the insanity defense.
  • misconception that psychopathy is always associated with violence-- it's not
  • a controversial one-- that psychopaths can't be effectively treated
  • psychopaths are 'born, not made'-- there's a lot of controversy there too-- 

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Rob Kall is the host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360, where he discusses how the bottom up mind and bottom up revolution are reaching different areas of the world, of life, of politics, business, society and anywhere else.

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