‘I, Psychopath’

‘I, Psychopath’

I’m just watching a fascinating documentary and wanted to share it with you.

‘I, Psychopath’ is about a man who admits that he’s psychopathic (and narcissistic) and gladly presents himself for this documentary. The documentary maker, together with us, is about to find out just how difficult and gut wrenching it is to be dealing with someone with this deeply pathological afflication. Tables get turned and yes the psychopath stays true to his nature.

Classic psychopaths could be characterised as having been born without a conscience, lacking basic care about other people’s well-being and often consciously and intelligently manipulating others for their own interest without hints of remorse, sense of ethics of morals.

In this amazing Australian documentary we travel to Skopje to meet Sam Vaknin and his wife. He undergoes psychological testing and we get to see his disturbing persona in action. We follow the crew around Europe visiting various psychologists and we learn about both Vaknin’s sadistic cold blooded nature, his inability to regulate his emotions (which becomes apparent when he gets a brain feedback exercise through functional tomography) and also how his wife’s psychological profile fits that of a professional victim, though not nearly as much as the researchers expect it to.

Psychopaths can be viewed as social predators. They are often not physically violent and their methods vary, tending to the complex psychological. They often deceive, emotionally manipulate and end up using and abusing others. They can be charming, charismatic and psychologically deadly. Vaknin illustrates this in disturbingly rich detail even when he’s manipulating his own filming (or especially when!). As many of you probably already know, there is evidence that many psychopaths find a cozy existence inside corporations that favour the bold, narcissistic and ruthless. 1 in every 100 people are psychopathic and when they are born to middle-class families instead of becoming bank robbers, they often end up becoming the CEO of banks!

This doco is both disturbing and fascinating and I have a deep recognition of Vaknin’s traits as I have grown up with a sociopathic psychopath myself. For those of us with intimate knowledge of psychopaths this is a partially reassuring if disturbing film, for the rest of you I hope it’s riveting though without the personal resonance. You may recognise and understand a psychopath better after this film, however, you may not be better equipped in dealing with him/her. As one of the psychologists says: everyone can be a victim, it just means that you are a normal human being.

So there’s little final consolation, but plenty of rich insights ripe for further thinking and discussion!

*If you are in Australia, you can see this program through the ABC television’s iView website, for the foreseeable future*

You can also watch it online for free here.

.. and can discuss it on the film’s own website here.

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