What is it that makes Hannibal Lecter a psychopath; is it in his nature? Is it a result of his upbringing?
And most importantly, can psychopathy be distilled and identified?
Dr Daniel Boduszek of the University of Huddersfield might have got closer to answering that question.
Boduszek conducted extensive research in a Polish high security prison and looked at 1,800 prisoners’ response to certain statements.
By developing the Psychopathic Personality Trait Scale (PPTS) he wanted to look at a particular characteristic prevalent in psychopaths: egocentricity.
Boduszek presented inmates with the following statements, and rated their level of psychopathy depending on how much they agreed with each:
1. I don’t care if I upset someone to get what I want
2. Before criticising somebody, I try to imagine and understand how it would make them feel
3. I know how to make another person feel guilty
4. I tend to focus on my own thoughts and ideas rather than on what others might be thinking
5. What other people feel doesn’t concern me
6. I always try to consider the other person’s feelings before I do something
7. I know how to pay someone compliments to get something out of them
8. I don’t usually appreciate the other person’s viewpoint if I don’t agree with it
9. Seeing people cry doesn’t really upset me
10. I am good at predicting how someone will feel
11. I know how to simulate emotions like pain and hurt to make others feel sorry for me
12. In general, I’m only willing to help other people if doing so will benefit me as well
13. I tend to get emotionally involved with a friend’s problems
14. I’m quick to spot when someone is feeling awkward or uncomfortable
15. I sometimes provoke people on purpose to see their reaction
16. I believe in the motto: ‘I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine’
17. I get filled with sorrow when people talk about the death of their loved ones
18. I find it difficult to understand what other people feel
19. I sometimes tell people what they want to hear to get what I want from them
20. It’s natural for human behavior to be motivated by self-interest
The more egoism inmates demonstrated in their answer, the more psychopathic they were.
Despite the fact the research used inmates, Boduszek insists that the test can be used on anyone:
[to] grasp the essence of a psychopathic personality, regardless of respondents’ age, gender, cultural background, and criminal history.
The research can be found here: