Further Cleckley – The Mask of Sanity

Despite a “casual disregard of primary responsibilities” (p197) “the psychopath presents an important and challenging enigma for which no adequate solution has yet been found.”

  1. Lacking vital elements in the appreciation of what the family and various bystanders are experiencing, the psychopath finds it hard to understand why they continually criticise, reproach, quarrel with, and interfere with him. (p391)
  2. Figures representing authority or respectability naturally irk him…. (p391)
  3. It is not necessary to assume great cruelty or conscious hatred in him commensurate with the degree of suffering he deals out to others. Not knowing how it hurts or even where it hurts, he often seems to believe that he has made a relatively mild but appropriate reprimand and that he has done it with humour. What he believes he needs to protest against turns out to be no small group, no particular institution or set of ideologies, but human life itself. In it he seems to find nothing deeply meaningful or persistently stimulating, but only some transient and relatively petty pleasant caprices, a terribly repetitious series of minor frustrations, and ennui.
  4. In certain aspects his essential life seems to be a peevish bickering with the inconsequential. (p391)
  5. The lack of aversion to conduct and situations which to the normal person are repulsive is striking and paradoxical in the psychopath. (p392)
  6. Such a superficiality and lack of major incentive or feeling strongly suggest the apparent emotional limitations of the psychopath. (p393)
  7. To the psychopath the basic axioms of life must seem different from what they seem to normal people (and also very different from what they seem to people with severe obsessive disorders) (p394)
  8. Observation of the psychopath makes it increasingly plain, however, that he is not reacting normally to the surroundings that are ordinarily assumed to exist. (p394)
  9. The psychopath has a basic inadequacy of feeling and realisation that prevents him from normally experiencing the major emotions and from reacting adequately to the chief goals of human life. (p394)
  10. What I regard as the psychopath’s lack of insight shows up frequently and very impressively in his apparent assumption that the legal penalties for a crime he has committed do not, or should not, apply to him. (p351)
  11. The hedonistic and self-centred acts of many psychopaths often go relatively unpunished. Studies by Robins (1966) and Gibbens, Briscoe, and Dell (1968) have shown that a surprisingly large number of psychopathic persons somehow manage to avoid incarceration in spite of the fact that their behaviour may be grossly antisocial. In many cases they are protected by family and friends who may themselves be their victims.
  12. In other cases they may be charming and intelligent enough to talk their way out of prosecution. In any event, their behaviour may be relatively unchecked and unpunished; and therefore very rewarding, persistent, and firmly established.(pp111-112)