Thursday, June 18, 2015


     The murder of nine blacks in a Charleston SC church by a alleged deranged young white male had us doing some basic research into psychopathology.  A friend forwarded to me the CNN article, "The Birth of a Psychopath" which had appeared only a few days prior.
     In previous posts on this blog we reported finding on another mental disease schizophrenia which appears to be far more common that one might assume.  We consequently wondered how predominate psychopaths were in the population.  This CNN article claims 1% of the men in America were probably psychopaths.  (I then noticed this article was written Kelly Daniel ).  I have followed the references in her article trying to get to the root source document that supported this statistic.  I came up with nothing.
     The FBI article that she references Psychopathy says
It is estimated that approximately 1 percent of the general male population are psychopaths, and 15 to 20 percent of the prison population are psychopathic.
It in turn references
Robert D. Hare, “Psychopaths and Their Nature: Implications for the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems,” in Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior, ed. Theodore Millon, Erik Simonsen, Morten Birket-Smith, and Roger D. Davis (New York, NY: Guilford Press, 1998), 188-212.
As I researched this number I came across another wildly reported claim on this topic.
One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is likely a clinical psychopath, writes journalist Sherree DeCovny in an upcoming issue of the trade publication CFA Magazine (subscription required). In the general population the rate is closer to one percent. 
Dr Hare took exception with this reporting ( and recommends the following blog to explain
Here’s the problem — many journalists and reporters nowadays just rely on professionals to make a claim, and don’t ever challenge or bother to verify the claim. I’m not sure why this is, but it seems to be the new defacto standard.
I did what any journalist writing about a famous researcher should do before saying he said something that seems a little “out there” — I contacted Hare to ask him about this data. Here’s his response to the claim that 1 in 10 (10 percent) of financial industry employees is a “psychopath:”
Dr Hare, said "I don’t know who threw out the 10% but it certainly it did not come from me or my colleagues"
 Dr Hare denied the claim that 10% of those on Wall street are psychopaths, but he didn't deny the 1% of the population claim.  So I continued to look for substantiation of that number. I "googled" What percentage of people are psychopaths / sociopaths?and I came upon 

I followed every link hoping to get to the actual research. No success.  All the respondents on this website just threw around the oft-quoted numbers with no references.

Some of the best comments were
The primary problem in estimating the prevalence of APD [Anti-social Personality Disorder] is the near impossibility of obtaining a representative population sample. The rub here is that, by definition, sociopaths would tend to either avoid or manipulate research studies. 

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