A talk with Nadja Heym, a psychology researcher who specializes in dark traits, like psychopathy, narcissism, and sadism, and who has researched so-called “dark empaths”: people with dark traits who have a good amount of empathy. We delve into some nuance in the area of psychopathy.
Topics discussed include: How she defines psychopathic traits; The misuse of the term “psychopath” (and related misuse of other terms like “narcissist”); Can we say from a brain scan if a brain is “psychopathic”?; “Bad seed”-like concepts of how psychopaths arise; Can an environment (like a highly competitive job) make someone have more psychopathic traits?; What are “dark empaths”?
Resources related to or mentioned in our talk:
- An online psychopathy test on IDRLabs.com meant to diagnose psychopathic traits
- A paper by Heym and colleagues The Dark Empath: Characterising dark traits in the presence of empathy
- Vice piece by Heym There’s a Little Bit of Psychopath in All of Us
- Nadja Heym’s Google Scholar page
- Wikipedia page for The Mask of Sanity, a 1941 book that did a lot to define how people think of the term “psychopath”
- Wikipedia page of Robert Hare, whose test is used to assess psychopathic traits
- A piece expressing skepticism about James Fallon’s claims of having a “psychopathic brain”
- The Bad Seed, a famous 1954 novel about a young, murderous psychopath
- One of many resources examining link between autism and psychopathy
- A Guardian article with quotes from someone who claims to be a psychopath but who struck me as sounding just autistic
- Wikipedia page for book Confessions of a Psychopath, the veracity of which many people are skeptical about (it’s strange to me that so many people seem to trust anonymous accounts, especially considering how we know people love attention, and love making money selling stuff)