Can psychopaths or sociopaths join the military?

What Makes Psychopaths Extraordinary?

For the English psychologist Kevin Dutton, uncomfortable encounters with psychopaths are like lessons. He visits the closed institutions of his country and has a mission: Dutton wants to find out how psychopaths manage to commit half of all serious crimes - when they make up only one percent of the population. Why can they cheat or murder normal people over and over again? The results of Dutton's interviews with the inmates of the closed Broadmoor Asylum are as fascinating as they are scary: The brain of psychopaths works differently, and that not only brings them disadvantages in everyday life. In some areas of life, psychopaths are even more talented than average.


You could be the surgeon who saved someone's life - or the man who bashed that person in the skull. “Psychopathy is not a question of black or white. Think of it more like a scale or a DJ booth, ”says Dutton. If all the controls are fully turned up, you will likely end up behind bars for thirty years. But violence is not necessarily one of the criteria of a psychopath - neither is intelligence. However, these characteristics determine how you develop. Those who are psychopathic and also violent often become criminals. But when intelligence comes into play instead of violence, many psychopaths end up in parliament or in the operating room. The controls on the psychopath's desk only need to be turned up in moderation and in the right combination to make a career as a psychopath.
Take the British neurologist Dr. Geraghty (Editor's note: The names of Dr. Geraghty and all inmates have been changed): Thousands of people trust him to go under the knife. There are only a few characteristics that distinguish him from a dangerous criminal. Because Geraghty is one of the best in his field not because of his compassion, but because of his lack of emotion. “I have no sympathy for my patients. I can't afford the luxury. In the operating room I am reborn as a cold, heartless machine that works in harmony with a scalpel, drill and saw. When you are in the process of cutting away and outsmarting death, feelings are out of place. They are insecure and bad for business. I've erased my emotions over the years, ”he explains. In the operating room, his brain is only focused on its task. In doing so, it ruthlessly filters out fear and all other factors that could distract it. Geraghty's performance is above average due to the ability to push his feelings into the background.
Psychopaths would appeal to any model. They are not intimidated by any woman - not because they always succeed, but because fear is a foreign word to them. Your brain is designed differently: “It filters out fear. His amygdala fear center is never operational. This means that a psychopath does not even perceive threats as such, ”explains Dutton. This quality gives the psychopath nerves of steel and great resilience. That makes some psychopaths ideal soldiers. When selecting their SAS special forces, the British Army does everything it can to test the resilience of its recruits to the utmost. “You don't break the psyche with violence, but with threats,” says one instructor. Particularly popular: the truck test. He waits for the recruits when they are physically exhausted anyway. Then the instructors tie up a soldier and put him in front of a truck. They blindfold him. The truck moves slowly forward - until the engine is only inches away from the soldier's ear. The noise is just the beginning: the driver jumps out and lets the engine run. From a distance someone asks whether the driver has pulled the handbrake. Now another instructor is pressing a spare tire to the recruit's temple - the pressure is growing. “After a few seconds we take the tire off, pull off the visor and shout at him. At that moment, many give up, ”explains the instructor.
Such stress tests are a joke to psychopaths. During Dutton's visit to Broadmoor high security facility, the inmates explain to him why: “It has nothing to do with courage. If you're never afraid, you don't need to be brave, do you? The way I understand fear - to be honest, I've never been afraid - it is mostly unfounded anyway. The truck stunt is just a mind game, ”says psychopath Leslie. His tip for everyday life: “Prevent your brain from rushing forward in future scenarios. If you do that, you'll crack your courage too. "Danny, another inmate at Broadmoor Asylum, knows another trick:" Next time you're really scared, ask yourself: What would I do if I were myself wouldn't feel like that? And then just do it. "
For example, almost everyone wants a raise. "But very few dare to ask about it," says Dutton. “A lot of people are afraid of what their boss thinks or what their colleagues think of them.” A psychopath focuses on the positive effects of a raise. This makes him more confident and convincing when talking to the boss. The result: In all probability, he leaves the room with more salary than his colleagues. The psychopath does not care what they think of him - his motto is: “Just do it.” This mentality gives psychopaths another advantage: They never put anything off the back burner and thus work more effectively.
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have even found a way to make stress training and psycho tricks superfluous. With the help of what is known as TMS technology, they can make anyone as nervous as a psychopath within seconds. TMS - transcranial magnetic stimulation - works on the principle of a light dimmer. It can block electrical signals in certain areas of the brain. "The center of emotions, the amygdala, is crucial for the psychopath experiment," emphasizes Dutton. TMS literally switches them off and with it our fear. The disadvantage: the effect only lasts for about half an hour.