Are Politicians Psychopaths?

From the film, one of the things that most interested me was the section pertaining to psychopaths. I found it particularly interesting that 1 out of 100 people may be psychopaths, even though that many clearly do not fit our initial idea of a serial killer. It got me wondering what paths nonviolent psychopaths may take in their lives, and so I found this article:

Are Politicians Psychopaths? 

The article discusses the idea that the reason political scandal (anything from financial lies to adultery) is so common is that politicians are more likely than the general populace to be psychopaths. Instead of asserting their power over others through violent means, the auther hypothesizes that this is a different kind of domination. Dr. Martha Stout is interviewed, who claims that politicians do have a higher rate of psychopathy and suggests that politicians be made to submit to testing before running for office.

It also raised several questions for me:

1. Is there a distinct psychological difference between a nonviolent psychopath and one who may become a serial killer? Are there “categories”?

2. What is the difference between sociopath and psychopath (if there is one)?

3. How can Dr. Stout definitively say that politicians are more likely to be psychopaths than the general population without solid statistics? Is she using anecdotal evidence? Her own ideas on what qualities a politician “tends” to have?

4. In what situations would the qualities of a psychopath be beneficial, and in what situations would they only be negative? Which is more important?

5. Is it ethical to demand psychological testing of politicians? Are they sacrificing that right to privacy when they run for public office? If we demand psychological testing of our politicians, should other people in positions of power be forced to submit to testing as well?


3 thoughts on “Are Politicians Psychopaths?

  1. The first question is really interesting. Is one psychopath just as likely to kill someone as a different psychopath? Regarding the second question, I have wondered the same thing for a long time

  2. Hum, so many scandals about politicians… But maybe the difference rate isn’t that big after all, maybe it’s just because we get to hear their stories more… I’m not sure we should make statements like that without reliable evidence.

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