Study shows politicians share personality traits with psychopaths

Andrew Malcolm – LA Times June 16, 2009

Using his law enforcement experience and data drawn from the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit, Jim Kouri has collected a series of personality traits common to a couple of professions.

Kouri, who’s a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.

These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.

But — and here’s the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion — these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)

our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nut-jobs, who run from police but not for office.

Kouri notes that these criminals are psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.

“This all Capitol Hill Do meows them to do what they want, whenever they want,” he wrote. “Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders.”

And we not only voted for these people, we’re paying their salaries and entrusting them to spend our national treasure in wise ways.

He adds:

“While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government.”

Full article.

Comments from LA Times’ website:

I’d say the previous administration is a perfect example.

“…psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.”

Dr. Hare has a book out, “Snakes in Suits”, examining the prevalence of psychopaths in the upper echelons of corporations and government. (The terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” are NOT interchangeable, by the way.) as with most psychological conditions it is impossible to come up with an impartial method of diagnosis, especially since the problem often manifests in degrees of behavior rather than as a clearly identifiable condition. Moreover, Government can hardly be trusted with the right to screen out “potential” psychopaths, since it would promptly set about abusing the power to do so.

People are surprised by this?

Decent people who wish to live their lives and love their families don’t aspire to dictate how other people may live their lives.

It’s amazing how many posters read this and think that this only applies to the politicians they don’t like. Clearly not all politicians are bad but the reality is that power attracts the most aggressive and self-interested more than it does the conscientious. By simple math and reason it is easy to assess that the people we don’t want to attain power will achieve it far more regularly than those we would prefer. Trust none of them and limit all of them. The good ones will not be offended. No one in history has ever prospered under the burden of an unanswerable government.

This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of the type of personality that seeks power over others. The more power available, the more damage that can be done. Unfortunately, “progressives,” […] have given more and more power

Everyone is running around crying for help when they aren’t willing to help themselves. Begging for leaders when they’re to lazy to find their own direction or lead themselves. Too weak to be an individual and stand on their own so they throw themselves at causes they hardly care to fully understand. I see people on the street screaming about some injustice or righteous cause but when I ask them about the subject they merely regurgitate the sensless garbage thats written on the pamphlets they hand out. You want change you can believe in? Do it yourself and quit electing people that would have the government do it for you.

This is hardly new.

Here’s the Wikipedia listing of Hare’s indicators (does this remind you of any politicians you’ve seen recently?)

Factor1: Aggressive narcissism

Glibness/superficial charm
2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
3. Pathological lying
4. Cunning/manipulative
5. Lack of remorse or guilt
6. Shallow
7. Callous/lack of empathy
8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor2: Socially deviant lifestyle

1. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
2. Parasitic lifestyle
3. Poor behavioral control
4. Promiscuous sexual behavior
5. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
6. Impulsivity
7. Irresponsibility
8. Juvenile delinquency
9. Early behavior problems
10. Revocation of conditional release