Booking photo of Amy Bishop released by the Huntsville Police Department. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Harvard-educated biologist was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of going on a shooting rampage during a faculty meeting at an Alabama university in 2010.
Bishop killed the biology department chairman, and two professors. Three faculty members were shot and wounded.
Bishop denied having anything to do with the rampage.
Shelby Center for Science and Technology on the University of Alabama in Huntsville campus.
Is Amy Bishop a psychopath?
Psychopathic killers are very cold-blooded. They typically do not act on affect, and they are much more likely to be found among serial killers than among spree killers. Psychopathic killers find some kind of pleasure in taking lives, whereas Amy’s rampage appears more as the desperate act of an individual with serious grievances.
I just stumbled across this article from the Seattle Times, published in 2003, and written by Alex Tizon. When reading about serial killers, you can’t help wondering if there is just something special about the Pacific Northwest. This article puts those thoughts into some context.
That is the persona of many con artists, abusers, paedophiles, and killers. Ted Bundy was handsome and educated. The number of young women he raped and killed has not been determined, but it may have been more than 200.
Psychopaths are estimated to make up 1 percent* of the population but constitute roughly 15 to 25 percent of the offenders in prison and are responsible for a disproportionate number of brutal crimes and murders.A recent estimate by the neuroscientist Kent Kiehl placed the national cost of psychopathy at $460 billion a year — roughly 10 times the cost of depression — in part because psychopaths tend to be arrested repeatedly.The societal costs of nonviolent psychopaths may be even higher. Dr. Robert Hare, the co-author of “Snakes in Suits,” describes evidence of psychopathy among some financiers and business people; he suspects Bernie Madoff of falling into that category.
* Opinions about the percentage vary. 1% is the most moderate estimate.
Dennis Rader confessed to ten murders over a span of nearly 30 years upon his capture in 2005. In between murders, he lived a remarkably normal outward life with a wife and two children. He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church and had been elected president of the Congregation Council. He was also a Cub Scout leader. His killings all took place in Kansas.
As a child, he tortured animals. He also harbored a sexual fetish for women’s underwear and would later steal underpants from his victims and wear them himself.
“When it comes to nature vs nurture I’ll say this: A psychopath is born, a sociopath is created.”
It is well established by scientists that psychopaths are born without the capacity for empathy. The parts of the brain and certain connections that are responsible for giving us a conscience are different in psychopaths. Upbringing and childhood experiences will affect other aspects of an individual’s personality but they do not cause this disorder. A psychopath can come from a loving family and have had a good childhood. Ted Bundy is an example. For the rest of us, it’s very important to understand how they function and to know that they will not change, no matter how kind and tolerant we are towards them. If anything, they will take advantage of a well meaning person. They regard compassion as weakness. Many of us compensate for our feelings of inferiority in different ways. Psychopaths and narcissists are different. They genuinely believe that they are superior and entitled to special treatment.
I think it is important to identify psychopathic behavior not just because it may be crime related. Based on descriptions of psychopaths in Robert Hare’s books, most of their behavior is not criminal. However, much of it is hurtful and damaging to their victims.When the CEO makes a bad business decision that leads to the company’s decline or collapse, they hurt the employees, the investors, and even other companies if their collapse triggers an effect industry wide. In addition, modern corporations tend to reward psychopathic behavior and drive non-psychopaths to emulate it. Until the point of failure, the corporate psychopath is often the favored son who is groomed for and often installed in top executive positions. The meme of the corporation functions as a responsibility relieving mechanism to let corporate psychopaths focus on ROI to the near exclusion of other interests. It drives them to sub-optimize the corporations in favor of a few metrics that reward a small class of people with an interest in the corporation. Those people get rewarded and move on to the next corporate job and the workers, investors and partners take the hit, but no crime has been committed. A company that I used to work with has a practice that I overheard being discussed by an executive and a person who was considering moving up to an exec position. The exec told the candidate: “It is a little known secret here at [company] that management is conserved. (and, by implication, resources—meaning employees—are expended) when business failures occur.” The candidate was concerned about what would happen if his product did not succeed. The answer is that ‘leadership’ is viewed as a capability to be conserved by the company and the leader whose bad business decisions led to the failure of his/her division would be protected and moved to a new group while layoffs would take care of excess employees. [needless to say, I felt a strong desire to expend both of these leaders, however, I did not]. In the world of nature, animals are embedded in an ecosystem and cannot externalize costs and risks to hapless investors, customers and suppliers. Either they behave in an ecosystem friendly way, or, statistically, they decline and fail as a species. Under the guidance of single ROI minded psychopathic leaders, (large public shareholder) corporations often act as if they are living alone in a sea of food and can do what ever they can get away with. With their manipulation of government to bias the rules of the economy in their favor, they often get away with it for some time. So, respectfully, I disagree with the idea that psychopaths are only of interest if they are committing a crime. Here is a link to a documentary: Are you good or evil? This science I hope leads us to be able to detect psychopathic killers before they murder people.