Correcting the Psyochopath ?
Are these traits intrinsic to the individual and can they be corrected?
Psychologists have given up. Corrections not possible. So avoidance is advised.
Henry: Correction depends on many variables.. Before we can think about correcting these abnormalities, we need to find ways of protecting ourselves from their influence. That means first admitting that such people exist and are found in positions of power, and second, learning to recognize the signs of their manipulations and the pathological traits of our own thinking in order to free ourselves from their influence.
Laura: As Henry says, there are many variables. When speaking of psychopaths, specifically, the general consensus today is that they are not only incurable, they are un-treatable.
The first problem is that if you want to treat a problem, you have to have a patient. The word patient comes from Latin, and means "to suffer." A patient, by definition, is someone who is suffering and seeks treatment.
Psychopaths do not experience distress and do not think that anything is wrong with them, they do not suffer stress or neuroses, and do not seek out treatment voluntarily. They do not consider their attitudes and behavior to be at all wrong, and do not benefit from the many treatment programs that have been set up to help them "develop empathy" and interpersonal skills. The psychopath recognizes no flaw in his psyche, no need for change. They will, however, participate in treatment programs in prisons in order to gain their release.
When the recidivism rate of psychopaths and other offenders who had been in treatment was examined, it was found that the rate of general recidivism was equally high in the treated and untreated group, 87% and 90% respectively, however the rate of violent recidivism was significantly higher in the treated group than the untreated group; 77% and 55% respectively. In contrast, the treated non-psychopaths had significantly lower rates of general and violent recidivism; 44% and 22% respectively, than did untreated psychopaths, 58% and 39%. So it seems that treatment programs work for non-psychopaths, but actually make true psychopaths worse.
A Canadian journalist reporting on this study wrote: "After their release, it was found that those who had scored highest in terms of 'good treatment behaviour' and who had the highest "empathy" scores were the ones who were more likely to reoffend after release."
That's the psychopath for you: they can fake anything to get what they want.
The question is: how can therapy make someone worse? Robert Hare's conjecture is that group therapy and insight-oriented therapy actually help psychopaths to develop better ways of manipulating, deceiving and using people but do nothing to help them understand themselves.
Freud argued psychopaths are untreatable in psychotherapy precisely because having a conscience is a prerequisite for being able to use psychotherapy. It is the conscience, and the related capacity for concern for others, that drives the serious scrutiny of one's motives, which underlie one's behaviour. Yet psychopaths lack conscience and concern by definition.
SC: How can one tell if one is not himself a psychopath? That we haven't been influenced ourselves by the effects of their perversion/pathology while they occupy positions of power in an administration where we find ourselves - in a trade union, a political party or elsewhere?