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Jack the Ripper: A Textbook Psychopath?

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  • Caroline Brown
    replied
    Hi erobitha,

    I had noticed that while psychopaths can switch off empathy for their human victims, some become extremely emotional when it comes to the suffering of a pet dog for example.

    This always struck me as particularly monstrous, but it's easier to see how it works with your on/off switch observation.

    Presumably this is also how such people can maintain relationships with a spouse and kids, by keeping the empathy switched on at home.

    Does this suggest that the act of switching it off, when doing harm to others, is a safety mechanism to protect the psychopath from the empathy he would otherwise feel, and therefore from his own conscience?

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    Leave a comment:


  • J.W. Sage
    replied
    I am slightly late to the party on this one, but it is an area I am fascinated by.

    Psychopathy is very much like a spectrum, and Hare's checklist is very good at placing someone with such a disorder on that spectrum. Sociopathy is not a recognised diagnostic term as it stands today. It has no definition in the diagnostic manual. It seems to be used by many clinicians as a "softer" term for basically describing someone on the psychopathy spectrum. The nuances of what one clinician would call a sociopath vs another clinician's definition are open to wide variance.

    Lastly, a recent study on empathy in psychopaths revealed something quite intereting. Lack of empathy is probably the most cited trait of psychopathy, but we all assumed lack was equal to none at all or very little. The study demonstrates that is not the case. Those who score higher psychopathy traits were more adept at switching empathy on and off. When prompted, they could offer empathy to the same levels as those with natural empathy. When unprompted, they did not. Most people are wired with empathy as a default setting. This group can switch it on and off when needed, which makes them experts in emotional manipulation.

    Leave a comment:


  • Big Jon
    replied
    Hi Versa,

    I think the problem is not even the experts cant agree on if the disorders are the same (and ones just a pc or modern term) or different (with subtle distinctions) as the literature does tend to be incredibly varied and often contradictory (not to mention constantly changing).

    Some places refer to ASPD and psychopathy as being the same, but with a modern or updated terminology, while others reckon there are subtle differences.

    Leave a comment:


  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by Big Jon View Post
    Interestingly enough, this dictionary appears to draw a subtle distinction between anti social personality disorder (sociopath) and a psychopath, which is not something I came across in my research for the article.

    According to this the disorders are roughly the same, but psychopaths will also display superficial charm, pathological lying, egocentricity, a lack of remorse and calousness
    As far as I am aware 'anti social personality disorder' and 'psychopath' are the same thing, anti social personality disorder is just a modern politically correct version of 'psychopath'. We have 'disorders' now instead of being summed up in one label... Psychopathy is a broad term under which several personality disorders fall some interlinking with others so what was once described as psychopathy is now described as anti social personality disorder sometimes (mostly) with other disorders describing other aspects of the persons personality traits. So attempting to compare the two is erroneous as one is an older description encompassing the other (if that makes any sense)

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  • Chris G.
    replied
    Hello all

    Following on from Corey Browning's interesting article on "The Mind of Jacob Isenschmid" in Ripperologist 118, I was hunting through the Old Bailey transcripts for any mention of Baltimore for my War of 1812 research. I happened to come across a case of a man named James Sisk who in December 1830 appatently attempted to the Duke of Wellington and other leaders of the British government but ended up wounding a man named John Kingsbury with a pistol outside the House of Lords. The unbalanced man's delusions of grandeur strike me as strikingly similar to those exhibited by Isenschmid.

    The following summarizes the case but access the link through Sisk's name above for the details of the case.

    "JAMES SISK, Breaking Peace > wounding, 9th December 1830.

    "Before Mr. Justice Littledale.

    176. JAMES SISK was indicted for that he, unlawfully, maliciously, and feloniously, by drawing the trigger of a certain pistol, loaded with gunpowder and a leaden bullet, did attempt to discharge the same at John Kingsbury, with intent to kill and murder him ; against the Statute."

    Sisk testified in his defense:

    "The prisoner (who had frequently interrupted the witness, and conducted himself in a wild and incoherent manner) being called on for his defence, stated, as near as could be understood, as follows: - "I have nothing to say - I did what I was commissioned to do by God Ahnighty [sic], and if I had done what I was commissioned to do, every man would have trembled at my presence; it is ten years since God gave me the commission . . . . I came to London a few months ago, determined to preach to the people, and tell them of the judgment of God - I saw death staring me in the face, and I pledged myself to Almighty God that I would then go and preach to the people if he would spare me, and I would put my order into execution; if I had gone to the head Magistrate of the City, and put an end to his life every man would have trembled at my presence: it is shocking to think that the fifteen thousand souls who fell at Waterloo, who that Glorious Being came down and spilt his precions blood for, should be all demned if I had not seen a spot in the sun which has never been seen since the creation of the world, and it is a sure sign that the son of God is coming."

    The conclusion of the case is given as follows:

    "MR. MCMURDO. We consider delusions a very common test of insanity; and that of a man's family conspiring against him is one of the most common, and what we are apt to regard as a test of an unsound state of mind.

    "NOT GUILTY, being insane at the time of the commission of the offence."

    Cheers

    Chris

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  • Big Jon
    replied
    Should have included this image!
    Attached Files

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  • Paul Kearney A.K.A. NEMO
    replied
    Agreed.

    Fascinating subject the human mind...

    Leave a comment:


  • Big Jon
    replied
    I think the psychopath would be better at putting his victims at ease with their superficial charm.

    I quite agree, 10 psychopaths or sociopaths who all commit the same crime might do it for different reasons or in different ways. It alone cannot be used as a motive, except for explaining their blase attitude to human life. But one does not have to have either disorder to be a cold calculated killer. It is just one piece of a very large jigsaw.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paul Kearney A.K.A. NEMO
    replied
    Yes interesting...

    I would expect some dramatic acts from a sociopath, but somehow I regard a psychopath as more concious of imposing himself on those around him, where I regard a sociopath as more reactionary - if that makes sense

    a "set" of serial killers who were all able to be diagnosed as "psychopathic" would still have vastly different MO's and reasons for their killing sprees

    I would have thought that within the category of psychopaths there must be smaller categories in which we could put the serial con-man type organised and greatly pre-meditated killer, and the manic, frenzied, impulsive type killer

    Leave a comment:


  • Big Jon
    replied
    I'd say that people with either disorder could be active or passive. I believe that there are many psychopaths around us who do not kill, but lead normal lives. Whereas I think there are many sociopaths who undoubtedly do horrible and criminal acts.

    If I was to give examples from fiction:

    Sociopath - Tony Soprano

    Psychopath - Hannibal Lecter

    Leave a comment:


  • Paul Kearney A.K.A. NEMO
    replied
    Hi Jon

    Would you consider that a psychopath is like an "active" anti-social person - ie criminal

    Whereas a sociopath can be "passively" anti-social - ie apathetic

    Leave a comment:


  • Big Jon
    replied
    I recently purchased the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology so thought I'd write what it has to say on the disorder:

    "A personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, beginning in childhood or early adolescence and continuing into adulthood."

    It then goes on to list a set of criteria which Nemo has already listed.

    Interestingly enough, this dictionary appears to draw a subtle distinction between anti social personality disorder (sociopath) and a psychopath, which is not something I came across in my research for the article.

    According to this the disorders are roughly the same, but psychopaths will also display superficial charm, pathological lying, egocentricity, a lack of remorse and calousness

    Leave a comment:


  • Jack the Ripper: A Textbook Psychopath?

    Further to Jon Rees' article in Ripperologist 101, I thought I would list the criteria for antosocial personality disorder so as to stimulate discussion on the criteria and whether or not you "feel" that they fit the Ripper


    1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviours as indicated by repeatedly performing acts
    that are grounds for arrest.

    2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.

    3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.

    4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.

    5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.

    6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behaviour or honour finan-
    cial obligations.

    7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from
    another.
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