On the night of February 17th a young actor from Kerala, Bhavana, was raped by six men. She was in her car, being driven from Kochi to Thrissur. It was a planned attack by her driver, Martin, and her former driver, Sunil, whose services she had terminated as she had come to know that he was a suspect in a murder case.
Why did Martin agree to Sunil’s plan instead of warning his employer? What is the equation between these two men apart from the fact that Sunil got Martin his job?
People trust their drivers. To the best of my knowledge, such horrendous incidents are not commonplace, though in clinical practice I have seen a significant number of women who have been abused by drivers and servants as children. Now, mothers often go along when drivers drop off and pick up their kids from school. This practice has been prevalent for many years now.
There was no way Bhavana could have suspected Martin, not even when he got out of the car to investigate the staged accident. How can we run background checks on our employees before hiring them, because nearly everyone can produce a fake good reference? And how reliable are our instincts, especially when dealing with experienced conmen?
Is this case about Bhavana or about Sunil? Bhavana was the unfortunate victim. She didn’t do anything wrong. Is Sunil a case of antisocial personality disorder – otherwise known as psychopathy?
- police say he’s a rowdy sheeter
- is a suspect in another murder case
- has planned and executed this incident
- no remorse, no empathy
Sunil’s sister has said to the media that “he doesn’t share good relations with the family since he turned 17.” Further information is not available, but it seems unlikely that they had only minor disagreements.
Psychopaths make up about 1% of the general population and as much as 25 % of male offenders in correctional settings. Dr. Robert Hare, the psychologist who came up with the 20-item test called the Hare Psychopathy checklist, says psychopaths may be a result of an evolutionary survival mechanism. This article appeared in ‘The Independent’ in 2012.
Is he right? Are people’s aspirations, ambitions and need to survive in an increasingly expensive and competitive world generating adaptive mechanisms that belong in the *psychopathy checklist? Maybe not the full-blown psychopath personality, but just traits getting exaggerated?
Dr. Liane Leedom, a psychiatrist, and Linda Hartoonian Almas, an educator with criminal justice experience, who has worked as a police officer, have explained psychopathy from a behavioural sciences perspective. They say it is not an adaptation but an aberration. This is how they explain it.
There are four social behaviour systems involved in adaptation:
- attachment system
- caregiving system
- dominance system
- sexual systems.
Psychopathy is associated with excessive sexual responses, lack of caregiving, and aberrant dominance responses. ‘Caregiving’ behaviour, however, may be used to gain power and dominance, so the recipient of the ‘care’ may be fooled until the psychopath’s objective is achieved.
Here’s the link to their article:
In 2006, during a genetic imaging study in which he was a control subject, Dr. James Fallon, professor of psychiatry at UC Irvine, discovered that his brain was similar to the brains of psychopaths!
In 2013 he gave a TED talk on exploring the mind of a killer. He mentioned the interaction of risk genes, brain damage and the environment, that result in psychopathic behaviour.
This is his conclusion regarding why he became a successful neuroscientist and family man instead of a psychopath.
“But why, in the light of the fact I have all of the biological markers for psychopathy, including a turned off limbic system, the high risk genetic alleles, and the attendant behaviours, including well over half of those listed in the psychopathy tests and low emotional empathy, did I turn out to be a successful professor and family man? One most likely reason is that although I have the genetic makeup of a “born” psychopath, some of those very same “risk” genes in someone showered with love (versus abuse or abandonment), from childbirth through the critical first few years of life, appear to offset the psychopathy-inducing effects of the other “risk” genes.”
As I’ve said in an earlier blog post, being born with the risk genes for psychopathy doesn’t mean the condition has to manifest.
To think that one man’s warped mind came up with a callous, inhuman and remorseless plan that needlessly devastated an innocent young woman. There are strong rumours that Sunil was paid to do this, but the fact remains that he had no qualms about going ahead with it.
Arrogant and Deceitful Interpersonal Style
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Deficient Affective Experience
Lack of remorse or guilt
Callous/Lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Impulsive and Irresponsible Behavioural Style
Need for stimulation/Proneness to boredom