ARE THELEADERS in corporate scandals psychopaths? Do these leaders have criminal personalities? Are they born with defects that predispose them to breaking the law? What is a psychopath?
When we think of a psychopath, it conjures up images of “Hannibal the Cannibal” played by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal is a disturbing serial killer, with an emotionless, twisted mind. Such portrayals of psychopaths have their counterparts in reality: Jeffrey Dahmer, who tortured, murdered, and maimed fifteen boys and men; ted Bundy, who confessed to murdering thirty women; or John Gacy, voted as “Man of the Year” by his local chamber of commerce, who killed thirty-two men and buried most of them underneath his house.1
Serial killers are very uncommon. Robert hare, who developed the Psychopathy checklist, an instrument used by psychologists to diagnose psychopaths, estimates that there are less than a hundred serial killers in the united States and Canada combined. He estimates that there are up to three million psychopaths in the United States and Canada that are more the “garden-variety type.”2
THE GARDEN-VARIETYPSYCHOPATH is diagnosed by psychologists and psychiatrists as having an Antisocial Personality Disorder.