How many psychotic traits does it take to create a politician? Apparently more than what one would think. The psychological traits that make up some of America’s most well-known political figures may be a little more complex than the public assumes.
A first of its kind study conducted recently by Southern Methodist University economist Ryan Murphy ranked estimates of psychopathy by state and found Washington, D.C., to harbor the highest concentration of psychopaths by a wide margin over second place Connecticut.
“I had previously written on politicians and psychopathy, but I had no expectation D.C. would stand out as much as it does,” Murphy told Politico.
Though the study found the nation’s capital blew all 50 states off the proverbial psychopathic chart, the finding could be an outlier as an entirely urban area may not be able to to be compared fairly with states with more diverse populations.
“The presence of psychopaths in (D.C.) is consistent with the conjecture . . . that psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere,” Murphy wrote.
The top states ranking in psychopathy were Connecticut, California and New Jersey, while West Virginia, Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina and New Mexico ranked 47–51.
Base on these results, the study suggests those with psychopathic traits tend to be more prevalent in positions of power. For example, large parts of Connecticut and New Jersey’s populations are in suburban areas where a disproportionate amount of Wall Street and other wealthy business-types reside.
“Boldness responds to low neuroticism and high extraversion, meanness corresponds to low agreeableness, and disinhibition corresponds to low conscientiousness,” the author explained.
Murphy concluded “the Northeast and other similarly populated regions,” are the most psychopathic, while rural America tend to have less, adjusted for population density.
“The District of Columbia is measured to be far more psychopathic than any individual state in the country, a fact that can be readily explained either by its very high population density or by the type of person who may be drawn to a literal seat of power”.
Psychopaths can be charming, charismatic and lack remorse, and are more likely to engage in risky and sometimes borderline illegal behavior and activities non-psychopaths normally wouldn’t consider.
Murphy’s findings are disturbing as it implies many of those making decisions which impact people’s daily lives through the federal government and America’s financial system may be clinically psychotic.
[Photo courtesy Soren Dreier]