Crimes involving gratuitous, completely un-provoked, or non-retaliatory, violence unleashed on victims ranging from children in home environments to ordinary, inoffensive folk in the streets; the elderly -and notably, young people, both generally and in entertainment precincts and venues.
On the rise ? Certainly – Government denials and ‘spin’ to the contrary. (Statistics, and empirical evidence; both give them the lie).
Increasing Police numbers; pressure on Department of Human Services Officers; pressure on Public Transport Security Staff
pressure on Government to improve delivery of public safety generally, are each obvious measures in attempting to counter it.
There is, however, in my opinion -born of recent and ongoing personal experience- a notable deficiency in these efforts.
Alcohol consumption is currently being highlighted – with justification; but there is another factor – lack of attention to which may be
exacerbated by a strident over-emphasis on civil liberties- which isn’t even mentioned in the vast amounts of
media attention being paid, currently, to the issue.
There exists, in Legislation; in the training given to Police and other protective services operatives; an almost
complete lack of reference to Psychopathy. Note, I am not referring to Antisocial Personality Disorder – frequently referred
to as equivalent. That denotes a pattern of antisocial behaviour which in any given individual exhibiting it, may or may not be
underlain by actual psychopathy.
A society, in which the kind of violence you’ve seen increasing in recent times is more tolerantly treated than
formerly, can be said to be one in which latent psychopathic tendencies would, with relative impunity, readily find
opportunities for greater expression.
As a factor in the present efflorescence of street and domestic violence, the small proportion of people in the population who are,
in significant degree psychopathic -even if most are below clinical diagnosis thresholds: or that of persistent criminality- will be
found to be contributing to it in a degree completely out of proportion to their actual numbers.
This condition ought not to be still escaping attention. Individuals who are repeat violent offenders especially, should be regarded
as candidates for at least a rudimentary assessment for the presence of it’s ‘markers’ in their personalities.
It is a widely accepted view among clinicians that few high-functioning psychopaths ever commit a criminal offense. It is also
acknowleged however, that once an at-risk individual has progressed to the point of clinical/criminal manifestation of psychopathy,
chances of their remediation are exceedingly slim. Even if behavioural modification is achieved, it is almost never stable.
The underlying condition -now increasingly linked to a set of specific neurophysiological differences in brain-structure, readily
detectable upon f-MRI, DT-MRI, and PET scanning- is permanent.
It would be advisable to bear in mind the dynamic seen in incarcerated populations where researchers quantify the proportional
distribution of psychopathy-to-risk factors as something like :
Psychopaths as a proportion of the non-incarcerated population= 1 ~ 1.5%…. As a proportion of the Jail Population=20~25%….
These 20~25% of prisoners are : Responsible for c/a 80% of all further criminal offending, and for upwards of 50% of all violent
crimes, including sexual offenses.
On follow-up after release, they are as much as 9 times as likely to recidivate as non-psychopaths.
I have a family member victimised by a psychopathic partner – a long-term situation in which I am struggling to assist.
All of the inquiries I’ve made, reveal that there is currently no form of legal recourse available to proactively protect against
the malignant narcissism of individuals who operate without conscience, while concealing the harm they do -usually by maintaining an
outward charm, with glib, prolific, lying: -supplemented behind the scenes by threats and intimidation, violence, sexual humiliation
– whatever -or whichever combination- serves to obtain what they want; regardless of damage to others, while masking their
Robert D. Hare, PhD “Without Conscience” (ISBN-10: 1572304510; ISBN-13: 978-1572304512)
Paul Babiak & Robert D .Hare “Snakes in Suits” (ISBN: 9780061147890 ISBN 978-0-06-083772-3 )
“…Psychopaths have three motivations: thrill-seeking, the pathological desire to win, and the
inclination to hurt people. …They’ll jump on any opportunity that allows them to do those things,”
Even if someone were, here, currently, somehow clinically assessed as psychopathic – it would, in a Legal, or Law-Enforcement
sense, be of no significance whatever until he (I use “he” advisedly, as the proportion of male psychopaths to
female in most populations studied, is around 6 or 7 to 1) has acted-out his obsessive fixations – or exploded in insane
violence- at which point he may come to the attention of authority.
At present, this is deemed adequate. For those (predictably) victimised, on the other hand, it is always far too late.
Our community needs to militate for -at a minimum- compulsory assessment for Psychopathy -say upon admission to the Prison-
System as a starting-point- and the imposition of Legislated safeguards, with surveillance, and reporting requirements for
offenders assessed as psychopathic .
Additional training for Police, Prison-Officers, Child-Protection and Domestic Violence workers , aimed at imparting an informed
awareness of the additional risks posed to the community by psychopathic individuals, would certainly be helpful in beginning to
limit the completely disproportionate disruption and destruction they are capable of generating.
Have any of our Parliamentarians, I wonder, given attention to these factors and the statistics referred-to in relation to
It does appear that they may never have.
In the light of all the research undertaken over the last 50 years by people like Robert D. Hare (Emeritus Professor of Psychology
at the University of British Columbia) -author of the most widely-validated Assessment Instruments for Psychopathy – and others;
identification of the condition now confirmed by the neurological “mapping” undertaken within the last 15 or so years -(after
acquisition in the 1980’s and ‘90’s of investigative and diagnostic imaging tools we’d never previously possessed)- perhaps it’s time for
Legislators and Jurists to pay attention; and begin to hammer-out some rudimentary proactive and preventive Legal protections.