Functioning Psychopaths

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

I don’t follow sports very closely and am usually bored by celebrity gossip.  There is, however, a peculiar fascination about the way apparently successful people can mess up their own lives and others’ with reckless abandon. I found this quotation from a British article:   Clare Balding “Where are the true heroes?”

…I have become fascinated with the workings of the human brain. One of the best, and most disturbing books on the subject, is The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. He argues that the world is full of functioning psychopaths and that modern society is designed to suit them. Their ruthlessness in business combined with their extreme charm means that they are very successful. They thrive under pressure, they can lie without compunction, they have a confidence that convinces those around them that they are invincible.

If there is any truth at all to the hypothesis Ms Balding refers to in Ronson’s book, the question then becomes, not where are the heroes, but how can there be any at all? And when they mess up so tragically is it their own fault, or the fault of modern society? Is there such a thing as collective guilt?  As a society, do we really enable and encourage the circumstances that enable “functioning psychopaths” to function and succeed? Are the consumers of mass media responsible for what the media presents?

I don’t totally accept the idea of  free will… we are all subject to the influences of nature and nurture, our environment and our temperament. We live in the world, modern or not, and our lives are shaped by our worldly experiences.    I am part of that “modern society”, but I want no part of allegations that makes me part of the problems that tempt and seduce “functioning psychopaths” … or anyone else… or behave so dysfunctionally.

What happened to concepts of conscience and personal responsibility?

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