On my walk in to work this morning, I listened to a rebroadcast of the 30 September 2006 Quirks and Quarks show. Aside from some small disappointment that Ted Bundy made their list of serial killers, but not Alan Legere, there was a question raised in my mind by the conclusion.
One of the researchers interviewed posited that psychopathy is a mental disorder, just like chronic depression and others, and as such ought to be fairly understandable – and treatable. Well, we can tell when treatment for chronic depression is working; the person is no longer so severely depressed, or indeed, is “cured”.
How can we tell when a psychopath is made better? It’s not actually in the best interests of a psychopath to cooperate with treatment or the law, except insofar as it might get them released. Reliance on self-reporting is foolish in this case.
The tone of the podcast reminded me of the conclusion of a movie about another psychopath: “I was cured, all right!”
(From the archives of “posts I intended to publish a year ago.” First written 2007-07-17, published 2008-10-04.)