Flying Rodent thinks Christopher Hitchens is a psychopath.
At one time even I – a man (well, boy) whose blog would have prompted sailors to mutter, “Steady on” – would have thought this rather vulgar abuse. (And I’d still hesitate before applying it to someone.) On the other hand, according to psychologists an awful lot of us are psychopaths. Moreover, the charm and self-importance of the psychopath would make them suitable for the world of politics. If someone is displaying traits consistent with the diagnoses it’s not all that wild an accusation to level at them.
Now I come to think of it, the shallow charm and consequential talent for manipulation means they’re liable to be pretty damn successful in business, politics and so on. Yet also flighty and egocentric enough to be destructive one they’ve reached the heights their, er – skills have equipped them for. I’d be interested to see the psychodiagnoses of our leading politicians and commentators. In fact, one almost feels that they should be mandatory.
Let’s not just pathologise others, though: some of us – like neuroscientist James Fallon – may be psychopaths who haven’t realised it yet. As far as I’m aware they don’t know – or, at least, needn’t know – that their behaviour is abnormal or abusive. The grandiose prescriptions and shallow moralising of blogs is a little odd when you come to think of it. On the other hand, they – as I’m sure my postings have – also scream of insecurity, so perhaps we’re safe.