Are psychopaths inherently evil?
TV dramas and movies tend to portray psychopathic people as inherently evil beings that are cold-blooded serial killers. While it is safe to say that the moral compass of a psychopath is indeed different from that of a ‘normal’ person, are all psychopaths evil? Out of most murders that happen in today’s world, only a small percentage of them are actually committed by psychopaths. You just have to do one google search and you can find loads of Reddit or Quora questions by people, that go something along the lines of, “Why don’t we just put all psychopaths in prison?” or “All psychopaths are a danger to society, so why not just end them all?”. Not only are these suggestions inhumane, but they are also unconstitutional for most countries. You can not put someone in prison if they haven’t committed a crime. TV dramas and news channels would not make a story where a psychopath lives a normal life working at a normal company and taking care of his wife and kids, etc, because that is not considered entertaining.
Ted Bundy was an American serial killer who kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials he confessed to thirty murders he committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. He was labelled as a psychopath by many doctors of psychology. Being a psychopath probably made it easier for him to kill them as psychopaths tend to not feel remorse, guilt and empathy, etc. He deserved to be punished for his horrible crimes but that doesn’t mean all psychopaths in the world deserve to be punished even when they have not committed crimes. One may consider them as ‘potential’ criminals but does that not mean there is still a chance to save them from becoming what we fear they may one day become?
Many psychopaths both low functioning and high functioning live regular everyday lives like anyone else. They are often manipulative by nature and tend to fake emotions they don’t naturally have. They live, work and eat around us and get by just fine. If any of them commit crimes, they are usually small thefts and not murders. By no means am I claiming that theft is no big deal or it should be ignored. But I do believe that the trend of considering all psychopaths as monsters or cold blooded killers is odd and very discriminatory. Especially because psychopaths tend to get harsher sentences than any other criminals.
Many psychopaths tend to exhibit a profound lack of regret for their aggressive actions, along with a corresponding lack of empathy for their victims. This enables them to be capable of acting in a cold-blooded manner if need be. This is why TV dramas and crime shows, even news channels tend to simply use the word ‘psychopath’ and cold-blooded killer synonymously, claiming that every single one of them use those around them as pawns to achieve goals and satisfy needs and desires, whether sexual or financial. Psychopaths can come across as selfish sensation seekers who lack a moral compass — a conscience — and go through life taking what they want. While this may be somewhat true, we should not stray from the path of humanity and understand as ‘normal’ people, that psychopaths deserve to be taken care of medically, so that they don’t end up turning into what Ted Bundy became.
Psychopaths have different types too. Some of them have to learn to emulate emotions and emotional reactions and body language by imitating what others are doing. Some others actually might have some level of natural empathy too. Recent studies have claimed that psychopaths may feel a certain level of regret but they don’t use that as a learning point to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Many people claim that if a man is incapable of love, then he must be evil. Whether this is wrong or right I will leave up to you to decide for yourself. Psychopaths are people with mental irregularities. They don’t have similar mental behaviour as many other regular people. While most psychopaths are not capable of empathy, some of them are capable of similar feelings, like satisfaction. Some studies claim that certain psychopaths may also be able to turn their empathic side on and off at will. The credibility of these studies is yet unknown.
It is often suggested that primary psychopaths are characterised by lower anxiety, general poverty of emotional expression, and tend to commit crimes which are fundamentally instrumental in nature; conversely, secondary psychopaths are more anxious, showing more emotional volatility, and commit more impulsive, reactionary crimes. — Anderson, Nathaniel E, and Kent A Kiehl. “Psychopathy: developmental perspectives and their implications for treatment.” Restorative neurology and neuroscience vol. 32,1 (2014): 103–17. doi:10.3233/RNN-139001
Some psychopaths tend to be great with people and may use the constitution or religious books as moral guides to what is acceptable and unacceptable to human beings. All of this and much more can be read here.