Are you a psychopath? | DW Documentary

Psychopaths. We may know them primarily as serial killers in Hollywood movies. But very few psychopaths actually kill people; most are living quietly among us. Between one and two per cent of the world’s population are regarded as psychopathic.

Ted Bundy came across as charming and engaging. But he abducted and killed many young women in the U.S.. It can, however, be assumed that people like him are isolated cases. But almost each and every one of us knows someone with psychopathic traits. How can we distinguish between dangerous and harmless psychopaths — and protect ourselves?

Psychopathy is a complex personality disorder and to date, little is known about its causes. But the psychopathy checklist can help in its identification. In the 1980s, the American neuroscientist James Fallon carried out brain scans on criminals and found that anatomical patterns in their brain correlated with psychopathic tendencies.

But what about those who never commit a crime? Martin Rettenberger, a criminologist from Wiesbaden, is interested in what’s known as “successful” psychopaths who live a regular life. One of them is the American attorney M. E. Thomas, who underwent treatment after being diagnosed as a psychopath and has since then been able to lead a stable social and professional life.

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