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The psychopath next door

November 16, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
How many psychopaths do you encounter in a typical day?

Psychopaths aren't necessarily psycho murderers like Hannibal Lector or Red John on "The Mentalist". Apparently, they are out and about in daily life and you have probably met more than your share. Psychopaths have great self confidence, little fear, lack empathy, don't feel guilt, are egotistical, are manipulative, demonstrate thrill seeking behavior and can be petty criminals, according to an article in The Week. The article can be found at

Sadly, journalism is one of the 10 top career choices for psychopaths, though I don't think I have encountered one in my line of work. I also don't think I'd qualify as a psychopath since I can manage to feel guilty and responsible for things great and small that I did 30 years ago. Your average psychopath would assume it must be someone else's fault.

Other common career choices for psychopaths include CEO, lawyer, TV or radio media person, salesperson, surgeon, police officer, clergyperson, chef and civil servant. Quite a list, isn't it? It does make you wonder a bit about what the folks on Wall Street and in Congress are up to.

Psychopaths are less drawn to being care aides, nurses, therapists, craftspersons, beauticians, charity workers, teachers, creative artists, doctors or accountants. I would assume psychos are less interested in those fields because most of them involve interacting with and helping people and don't provide a lot of opportunities to control and manipulate and gain power over people.

And accounting is probably just too boring for excitement seekers.


Article Comments



Nov-20-13 12:00 PM

As the theory goes, psychopaths are drawn to careers that give them power over others and a feeling of importance, so being a police officer would fit the bill. A police officer's and a criminal's psychological profile might not look too different in some cases. Of course, most people who go into that field are NOT psychopaths, any more than most journalists or most surgeons or most civil servants are.


Nov-20-13 9:15 AM

Having worked under a person who's nickname at corporate was a certain German leader during WWII, I would have to comment that a psychopath for a neighbor isn't the worst situation to be in.


Nov-20-13 6:52 AM

Andrea.. That's a little scary about police officer being up there on the list of favored careers of psychopaths,


Nov-19-13 11:45 AM

I wouldn't know what's wrong with Zimmerman, but a lot of the information that came out about his childhood and past relationships during the trial suggests he has had a number of problems with women. One crime doesn't necessarily make him guilty of another. Since police officer is up there on the list of favored careers of psychopaths, I suppose neighborhood watch volunteer might qualify too if it gives the someone a sense of importance and power, which psychopaths are supposed to like.


Nov-19-13 7:56 AM

George Zimmerman does appear to have more than his share of problems, judging by the way he keeps being accused of domestic violence. I don't think I ever said I thought he was necessarily a wonderful human being; I said I didn't think the circumstances of the Trayvon Martin shooting added up to a guilty verdict and that under the law in effect at the time, he shouldn't have been charged.


Nov-18-13 5:22 PM

Well, I can't really see the stereotypical psycho having the patience for doing someone's taxes. I'm sure accounting is exciting for people who want to be accountants.


Nov-18-13 1:44 PM

I resent the accountant comment


Nov-17-13 12:11 PM

As for Alec Baldwin, I don't know that he qualifies as a psychopath, based on recent behavior. He seems to have an anger management problem and to be completely incapable of holding his tongue. That probably just makes him a jerk.


Nov-17-13 11:55 AM

The stereotypical surgeon has the god complex because he deals mainly with unconscious patients in the operating theater. He is responsible for life and death decisions. Your typical pediatrician deals with a lot of screaming babies -- higher level of patient contact, different skill set required.


Nov-17-13 6:32 AM

"Psychopaths have great self confidence, little fear, lack empathy, don't feel guilt, are egotistical, are manipulative, demonstrate thrill seeking behavior and can be petty criminals"

According to that description I definitely have a psychopath on the adjoining property.


Nov-16-13 11:41 PM

Alex Baldwin comes to mind..


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