Mary Ellen O'Toole, Ph.D. has spent her career studying the criminal mind. One of the most senior profilers for the FBI until her retirement in 2009, Dr. O'Toole has helped capture, interview and understand some of the world's most infamous people.
Dr. O'Toole is recognized as the FBI's leading expert in the area of "psychopathy." Her work in psychopathy has put her on the forefront of mental health and law enforcement efforts to apply the concepts of this personality disorder to both violent and white collar offenders and their behavior and crime scenes. She lectures internationally on the application of the theory of psychopathy to real life situations. She continues to lecture at the FBI Academy on psychopathy and interviewing. She has served as adjunct faculty to the FBI's Prestigious Leadership Development Institute (LDI) at the FBI Academy and also frequently lectures at the Smithsonian Institution about everything from Sherlock Holmes to personal safety. She is a Fellow with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
interview Notes: mostly my questions , to encourage you to LISTEN to the interview.
Rob: Tell me a story about psychopaths
Serial killer in the NW. Gary Leon Ridgeway-- Green River Killer-- plead guilty to 49 murders in one county in Washington.
So, psychopaths are the opposite of hair-raising. They are like chameleons.
Description-- no empathy, no bonding with children, spouses. They view feelings as a weakness.
Research on Psychopathy-- spearheaded by Robert Hare.
20 traits of psychopathy exist in every psychopath.
What is the goal of the FBI in terms of understanding and dealing with psychopaths.
Teach FBI and law enforcement across the country about psychopaths and interviewing them. Psychopaths are predators. The officer interviewing a psychopath is their prey.
How do they behave differently in Crime scenes?
What would no-empathy behavior look like?
torture, post-mortem mutilation, no defensive injuries on victim, even if the victim is very street-wise? Why would they let their guard down? "Verbal camouflage or persuasiveness that got them to put their guard down."
How do they behave differently in court?
example-- Ariel Castro-- kidnapped two girls in Cleveland. Made an hour statement, he blamed the victims, blamed law enforcement, didn't take responsibility. He completely twisted everything around. He took over the courtroom. Because the courtroom is a stage for the psychopath. His final words had to do with making arrangements to view his baby daughter-- the daughter he had with one of the victims.
What advice do you give to prosecutors?
Psychopaths seek attention, act indignant at being accused.
Is it possible for a prosecutor to accuse a person in court of being a psychopath?
no. Must use PCLR test by Robert Hare.
So, a prosecutor could bring in the score on Hare's test, showing the accused scored over 30 (psychopath range.)
Expert might describe crime scene as manifesting symptoms of psychopathy.
Rob: In Hare's book he talks about using the test to assess people up for parole.
parole, child custody hearings
it sounds like the legal system makes it hard to bring up psychopathy.
Prosecutors can label the behaviors--
How would someone who is a psychopath show up in DSM5?
Antisocial Personality Disorder APD IS in DSM5, but it does not include absence, profound, stunning lack of affect or emotion. Emotional attachment to another human being is not there.
Current research suggests that there are genetic links to psychopathy. Brain scans and fMRIs.
How is that genetic link manifested biologically or psychophysiologically?
parts of the brain light up in normals and don't light up with psychopaths.
Can't say, based on brain activity alone, that a person is psychopathic.
What part of the brain is involved?
"If you're worried about being one, chances are you're not."
How many psychopaths have you actually interviewed and talked to?
Probably about 15 serial killers,
About 15% of prison population are psychopathic.
I understand that the recidivism rates for psychopaths are much higher.
Especially among sex offenders. Co-morbidity or presence of other disorders effects recidivism"
What is done to protect the public from people who are psychopaths but who have not broken the law.
Law enforcement has no jurisdiction if no law is broken.
Do training with corporations so HR people know what to look for.
I hear from women who believe they are dealing with a psychopathic boyfriend or husband"
Is Bernie Maddoff a psychopath?
if someone has suspicions that they're dealing with a psychopath at work, what should they do?
As a profiler, what advice would you give to someone on how to identify someone as a psychopath?
Look for patterns of behavior. look for people who lack empathy or compassion, lack of anger management, impulsive, disregards feelings of others.
Book: Dangerous Instincts
is there any thing that has been developed to protect the public from the one percent of people who are psychopaths?
There ought to be money spent on investigating psychopathy so as to protect the public. Am I wrong about that?
Then there are the media that are exploiting the idea of psychopathy in shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad.
You have a book, DANGEROUS INSTINCTS; How Gut Feelings Betray Us. How does that tie in with psychopaths?
Assessing for dangerousness vs assessing for psychopathy.
Are there researchers doing research on how to protect the 99% who are not psychopaths?
Research on brain
Would you want to know if you were working with one?
Have you ever been in a job situation working with someone who manifested psychopathic behavior?
De we have psychopathic individuals who are attracted to law enforcement careers?
What would be some signs if someone in law enforcement was a psychopath.
corrupt, takes money on the side, abuses their authority with the general public. People who have been in law enforcement careers who have been rapists and murderers. But does that mean they were psychopathic? The important thing is the behavior.
Any comment on where Narcissist or Border-line personality disorders---
Narcissism is one of the 20 traits of psychopath (grandiosity)
Are there overlaps, in terms of behavior? Yes.
Pick up DSM5 and read on personality disorders.
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