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Transcript: Interview with a Psychopath Neuroscientist Entrepreneur

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J.F.: Absolutely. Yeah. That's true. Which is why more and more I had to externalize this and really ask everybody close to me, including psychiatrists who knew me so well, really what they thought of me and what I do because I couldn't really trust myself. First of all I did not know, until a few years ago, that I was, really had these traits that were so off-putting. I thought I was always a great guy and so I had to go to great measures and went all the way back to my childhood and high school and everything and people who are now psychologists who knew me when I was much, much younger to really sort it out because in many sense people won't tell you the truth and you certainly create a whole narrative for your life which I did. And so, yeah, I think I have to keep watching myself because I keep saying you're probably kidding yourself. Like you're saying, you're probably rationalizing something. So trying to cut through that has taken a couple of years, I'll tell you.

R.K.: And I give you a lot of credit for bringing a lot of science into this picture. It was really an eye opener for me. You've done a great job of describing some of the many, many scores of factors that can contribute to different ways that a person can manifest as a psychopath and it's fascinating. In your journey, you started off I think just saying, well, I haven't been convicted of committing any crimes and I haven't hurt anybody physically, I think I'm being accurate there, and so I don't fit the profile of a psychopath and you came up with this three legged theory that one leg was the one that kind of saved you. Could you go into that theory and where you stand with that now?

J.F.: Yeah, when I first, quite by serendipity through my family scans saw mine, which is extremely pathological and looked just exactly like the worst serial killers I've been looking at, and then I laughed it off and then the genetics came in and I laughed it off and I was the same way. I had inherited all of these what were considered high-risk alleles and yet here I was and I was a family man and I had a great job, successful, happy, so I said two things are going on here. One either the theory is wrong or something is really missing or I'm completely kidding myself. And so I had to go through each of those and find out where the glitches might be and where maybe the most fruitful honest answers to this were. And the bottom line I came out with, I just happened to be watching my mother pruning in our backyard and she was pruning our plants, she comes over, she loves to do that, she's like ninety six now and I was thinking about this, while I was just sitting there, she was sitting on this three legged stool. I said what is wrong with this theory, and then I realized it was her and my family. I was raised so incredibly wonderful and after I started talking about this to her she started to tell me things about my youth and how dark I had gotten and what she was worried about and probably why I was treated so well. They were wonderful parents and extended family, my aunts and uncles and grandparents and everybody around me. They went the extra mile for me to, I think, protect me and it was for a couple of these reasons that I detail in the book and that she doesn't argue with. And it was at that point I realized that that might have been the mitigating thing and when I checked those gene alleles I had that I thought were risk alleles, well they are, some of these serotonin ones especially. They are if you're brought up in a very hostile, abusive environment but if you're brought up in a very loving environment, it has the exact opposite effect. It's like these alleles are opening up your frontal lobe to what it expects to find in your life, whether you live in a hostile world, or a loving world.

R.K.: And so I would say that it was a combination of love and luck because you've disclosed that as a teenager you did engage in illegal actions that could have gotten you arrested.

J.F.: Oh yeah and in fact when caught, many times I was able to make the cops laugh and they said this is a good guy, he's smart, he's okay, he's just with these hooligans and the others guys might end up overnight in jail and I would never be. I was able to navigate that with, I guess with charm but I came across. I wasn't stressed out. I don't respond to stress or to groups of people even. So it was just, it was lucky because of the family I grew up but I was also lucky because I think and I never thought this, I was quite opposite in my beliefs a few years ago, that I was growing up. Now I look like hell, but all during that time, I was very athletic, five marks in sports through college and everything and I was good looking and I was in great shape and very personable and bright and I think I was able to navigate with all of these things together even though people at that time thought there was something wrong with me. One doctor and a priest in college who thought I was really quite evil even though he couldn't pinpoint anything.

R.K.: So you've gone through your life with people telling you, because you mention a number of occasions in the book where your colleagues, psychiatrists and what have you have literally said to you, for you to have done that you have to be a psychopath and you always shrugged it off.

J.F.: Just completely blew it off because you know, when it was all in front of me, this is after twenty five years of interacting with these guys, one much longer actually, back to the seventies and I just thought they were saying, Oh Jim, you're crazy. Like somebody says, you're crazy. So, Rob, I just figured, oh yeah, you crazy fun guy. And they go no, what you did was psychopathic and you do these things all the time. And when they all said it to me, and then people who are close going way back who are professionals who really have hung around me they know what I do. They say yeah we've been telling you forever but see you're kind of a fun guy, you're interesting, you're bright, so we put up with this other stuff. And you don't kill anybody or hurt anybody but you are not right.

R.K.: You know, I got to digress a little. When I did the interview with the author of Confessions of a Sociopath it was the first radio interview she was doing, the others were all print interview and I, frankly, I was kind of nervous about it to be dealing with a predator. And I don't quite have that same feeling with you. Maybe it's because you've disclosed who you actually are, maybe it's because you have painted a different picture of your life story and you are doing things that are making a difference, maybe it's because you're taking it public, and maybe it's because it's just how smooth you are.

J.F.: Yeah. Well-or a combination. These are conversations I have with my family and my colleagues. Because they said well what are you doing now? You're doing this, you're being nice because, and you're coming out with this because you're trying to protect yourself from any sort of behavior later on, you're doing that because you have so much, you're so narcissistic that you want to prove that you can do something that's impossible, it's on and on like that. And I'm trying to consider all of those things but for me, frankly, Rob, it's fun. It's a game. And now I am the target of the game. Which makes it, it kind of adds a little bit of the interest. Instead of trying to manipulate other people all the time and being on the make, generally all the time, now I'm dealing with myself. And it's a game all the time with me, what game are you playing with yourself.

R.K.: Well I've done a good number of interviews with people who are experts on this and they all say that it's all a game to psychopaths and sociopaths. Manipulation, control, that's the game that they live for.

J.F.: It's, you know in my case and probably in other people's case who are kind of these successful type of psychopaths or near-psychopaths, I have everything I want. You know what I mean? I've always had all the money I wanted and the sex and any power I wanted because there was always people asking me to be in leadership roles- the head of the faculty, the hospital, the head of this, the head of that. It started when I was a teenager and it was just something because what's called a fearless dominance. You know that's one of the traits. It's not what Hare calls it but it's part of the PPI thing and I have that. People respond very positively to it. So all I have to do, if I go out to a bar tonight and start talking to people they'll be calling me all week to try to get in touch with me to try to have me work with them and have, you know, it's automatic and I think I just get pleasure out of knowing I can do it and without, you know, to abuse anybody, to hurt anybody, or that kind of thing is for chumps. But to be able to play the game and not need it and, I think, just gives me such a rush that that's what I'm feeding off of.

R.K.: Well, wait a second, because in your book you do say that you've hurt people and people have told you that you've hurt them. Your daughter and I think your sister wrote to you and they sent you a letter saying how much you'd hurt them. So are you one of the chumps?

J.F.: Well, but with that one, when I got those letters and when other people close to me and they finally said, I can't be with you anymore, I can't be close to you, I can't be alone with you, that really surprised me because I'm saying wait a second, I'm a loving father, I'm a loving brother and all of that. And when I read it, it was just like I said, what's wrong with them? This must be, they must be, stressed out because it's not me. But now, the past couple of years, in looking at that and then talking with them about it and everything, I know I really did blow it off because I don't, as my mother says, Jim, you just don't care. And I care to win and I like being with people and I'm quite social, but it's, "why?" Why I'm doing that and I like to think it's because I really like people and I try to help people but I've got to admit, it's partially because I get a buzz out of manipulating them. And that's not so great.

R.K.: So this just don't care thing, that ties in with the lack of empathy and this is a hard core sign of psychopathy.

J.F.: Right. And it's, you know but I gave a talk in India about this just recently and a person who is a psychiatrist and also a science writer talked to me. She said, I've got to talk to you. She said what you're talking about, she says, you call it psychopathy, but it's very Buddhist. I went, Buddhist? She says, yeah, because you live in this flat world where everybody you treat everybody emotionally the same in terms of connectedness. Now, I can see a child in trouble and I can cry. And that started early, very early on in life and I still, it still gets to me. And I actually am involved in a lot of charities and philanthropy and I think I'm doing good things for the world, as much as I should or could. But I'm not, being close to me I don't give any more than if you were a stranger. And so I'm disappointing to people close to me in that way but it doesn't mean I don't have... I have sympathy. I have a kind of empathy for everybody. Do you know what I mean? And I do, you can see it in my behavior. But beyond that, personally I don't care.

R.K.: Well ,one of the things you do in your book is you talk about how there are some behaviors that get locked in with the genetic manifestation because some genetic patterns manifest at certain developmental stages and I got this impression that this caring for children was one that kind of got locked in before the other stuff happened. Did I get that right?

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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My first impression: grandiosity. ... by Dan Baron on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6:23:18 PM
And, I forgot: narcissism. Do you think that mayb... by Dan Baron on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6:53:14 PM
A very interesting interview Rob. Thank you for tr... by Daniel Penisten on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:22:21 AM
Good try, Bob. But I didn't see anything that coul... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 3:46:53 AM
What happened here? The interview is fascinating a... by lynn Faulkner on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 8:11:58 AM
Lynn and Daniel, the second half of the interview ... by Rob Kall on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:02:55 AM
'bringing a lot of science into this piccture...' ... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 9:50:44 AM
Mark, please explain what specifically you see as ... by Rob Kall on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:04:20 AM
I do not want any confrontation here but I thin... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 11:01:58 AM
Oh, it would be only fair to mention that I do not... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:20:34 PM
How dare you, Mark? I laugh aloud! You haven't the... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 2:50:38 PM
Don't you realize, that the last place a person wi... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 3:09:51 PM
I hope this whole rant is a joke ... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 7:09:33 PM
Yes, a joke. My humor is such, that I say the oppo... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 7:35:53 PM
I figured it out as it shows in my comment about C... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 6:19:19 AM
A new cottage industry. Proclaiming (or almost) on... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 6:48:17 PM
In the tone of the comment:If doctor Who here ac... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 7:18:06 PM
2009-11-08 The boss of Goldman Sachs claimed ye... by Dan Baron on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 12:05:58 AM
(continued)****************Like many other banks, ... by Dan Baron on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 12:10:44 AM
On the subject of the psychological make-up of peo... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 5:56:51 AM
But again, I had been saying this all along like ... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 6:21:29 AM
I think that two visual indicators of narcissism i... by Dan Baron on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 8:20:48 AM
Daring and fantastic interview, thank you! It call... by Daniel Noel on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 11:20:24 PM