According to the media, they're everywhere, but are they?
The notion of the antisocial psychopath is the most known when it comes to psychopathy. There are many reasons for this, but the largest one is that psychopathy is only studied in prisons, and yet they extrapolate what they learn from hardened criminals and apply it to the rest of the population This is the only construct that they do this with by the way. Can you imagine thinking that a criminal with bipolar or schizophrenia was remotely similar to someone in the regular world with either one? That would be stupid, and yet that is exactly what they do with psychopathy.
Less than fifteen percent of psychopaths are antisocial. This is a math question, not a ‘because I say so’ question. Even I know this, and I suck at math.
The overall estimate of psychopaths in the general population is .75–1%. It’s not a lot. How many psychopaths are in prison? Let’s see what the studies say;
As currently construed, the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder grossly over-identifies people, particularly those with offence histories, as meeting the criteria for the diagnosis. For example, research shows that between 50% and 80% of prisoners meet the criteria for a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, yet only approximately 15% of prisoners would be expected to be psychopathic, as assessed by the PCL-R.
A. That is a whole lot of not psychopathic antisocial people
B. Demonstrates a lot lower percentage of psychopaths in prison than people would like to pretend.
How does that stack against the .75–1% of the population estimate?
Here’s the numbers;
General population in US
318.9 million x 0.0075 = 2,391,750
318.9 million x 0.01 = 3,189,000 (in this case just move the decimal point two space to the left)
Your 15% calculation is spot on. For comparison against general population of the same size, the numbers would be:
2,220,300 x .15 = 333,045
333,045/2,399,250= about thirteen percent
See how that actually works mathematically?
I have seen this ridiculous claim floating around by the types that desperately want psychopathy to be an excuse for them to act badly that it’s all psychopaths that are antisocial. If you aren’t, you aren’t a psychopath, and they slap this waste of time “study” (it’s not a study, see below) up to prove their case without bothering to look at the document itself.
Let’s do that, shall we, and while we are at it, we can list all the problems with it.
It lists the male population in the US prison system at, 6,720,000. That’s weird, because when you look at what the official numbers that isn’t what they say. They state;
“As of 2016, 2.3 million people were incarcerated in the United States”
It was even less in 2011 when this “manuscript” was written.
Huh, weirdly a lot less than 6.7 million. Also, let’s not forget that they claimed males in prison, not people overall, but specifically males. Seems strange that including females that it is about a third of their claim. Maybe they meant, in prison, or on probation? Nope, they did not, because that number doesn’t even come close to their estimates either, coming in at, 4.5 million people are on probation or parole. Again, that’s people not males.
They used the PCL-R to determine psychopathy. This is probably the most laughable issue with this study, as the main researcher on this particular one is supposedly a neuroscientist
Kent A. Kiehl- Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
The fact that the study relies on the PCL-R as their screening tool means you can kick it out of the pile straight away. If you want to know why, you can read all about it in the answer at the bottom.
The best current estimate is that just less than 1% of all noninstitutionalized males age 18 and over are psychopaths.1 This translates to approximately 1,150,000 adult males who would meet the criteria for psychopathy in the United States today.2 And of the approximately 6,720,000 adult males that are in prison, jail, parole, or probation,3 16%, or 1,075,000, are psychopaths.4 Thus, approximately 93% of adult male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, jail, parole, or probation.
Let’s really look at that, shall we? The agree with the one percent figure, but exclusively apply it to males with no explanation as to why. There isn’t any study that I have seen that states that the one percent estimate applies to males only, save for this one. It should also be noted, this is not really a study, but as they call it, it is a “manuscript”. It basically translates to an op-ed.
One percent of males, still doesn’t account for the numbers that they are claiming however. One percent of males in 2011, when this “manuscript” was penned, would have been, 1,532,000. Right out of the gate, they have their percentage wrong, even if they were arguing the right numbers, which they aren’t. It falls apart from there. If your argument is based on numbers that aren’t accurate reflections of reality, then your have stated a lot of nonsense to try to make an unsupported point.
The number of incarcerated males in 2011, for those of you wondering? 1,487,561. Nowhere near the 6.7 million the authors tried to claim. Fifteen percent of that? 223,134. Wow, we are significantly beneath the 1,075,000 claimed, aren’t we?
That’s so weird… where did that 93% number go? It’s strange, it’s almost like they inverted the numbers. Odd how 93% and 7% add up to 100%, with the numbers going against the claims made.
Most psychopaths are not antisocial. I would argue that psychopaths might be more likely to participate in antisocial behavior when they are young, because they have impulse control issues, problems predicting the consequences of their behavior, zero empathy, lack intelligence, you know, they’re teenagers… but with a teenage brain on steroids. I know I did, and learned how to not do that in the future.
People that make the claim that most psychopaths, or all psychopaths are in prison, or are antisocial, have never actually bothered doing the research. They just claim whatever is convenient for them, or have just accepted the claims that these so-called “experts” put up without even evaluating them for themselves.
It doesn’t take very long to look at studies or “manuscripts” like this and find the problems with them, and you don’t have to be particularly skilled and sniffing out BS. Sometimes it really is as easy as looking at the claims, looking at how the study is constructed, what the cohort is, the methodology, the study limitations, the conflicts of interest, you can pretty quickly determine if the study has any value.
Hint, if they did a study on thirty-five people, have no control group, included people under twenty-five so their brains aren’t done developing, included former drug addicts, and only used one screening tool, most notably the PCL-R, you can pretty well say, garbage.
Want to know something more interesting? A lot of studies are constructed to be garbage. Not to produce helpful information, but just to do a study, and secure more funding. That’s not only true in psychopathy, but in many areas. Also, “peer reviewed”? Have a look at this;
You can disagree with the politics all you want, that is a moot point. The point is that obnoxious hoax papers were submitted for peer review, accepted, and published. If that is a system that you place any credence in, that’s a problem. I see peer review and just see it as one academic scratching the back of another. It doesn’t make the material any more valuable.
Do your own research folks. If you don’t, you are basically at the mercy of believing what you are told without questioning. That is why I provide the links in my writings. So you will read them, and if you agree, great. If you don’t, great. At least you could see the material I am referencing and decide for yourself if you think it has merit.
Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Do your own reading.