Much of the research about psychopaths had been conducted among prison populations. It’s probably necessary to find a “captive” audience for this research—psychopaths (or sociopaths, but I’ll call them psychopaths in this post) wouldn’t come in for testing and treatment voluntarily, because they don’t believe there is anything wrong with them.
Dr. Robert Hare estimates that psychopaths (the term he uses) make up 1 percent of the general population of North America, but almost 25 percent of the prison population.
Let’s turn these figures around. Sometime in October the population of the United States will reach 300 million people. If 1 percent of all these people are psychopaths, that means there are 3 million remorseless predators roaming the United States.
The U.S. has the highest prison population in the world. As of June, 2005, there were almost 2.2 million people behind bars in the U.S. If a quarter of them are psychopaths, that would mean 550,000 psychopaths are locked up.
Do the math. Three million psychopaths, 550,000 of them locked up. We can assume there are 2.45 million psychopaths on the loose in the United States.
Trail of destruction
From what I can see, every psychopath is capable of creating havoc in the lives of many other people. For example, I found evidence that at least 15 women were victimized, to different degrees, by my ex-husband, James Montgomery. This doesn’t count the companies that were suing him, businessmen he defrauded and countless women he contacted over the Internet who may have escaped.
Other people have written to Lovefraud describing the incredible trails of destruction left by the psychopaths who have crashed through their lives.
So let’s say every psychopath affects 15 victims. (I think that’s a low number—think of the con artists bilking senior citizens and the corporate psychopaths at Enron—but let’s not get out of hand.) That would mean 45 million people in the United States have had their lives disrupted by psychopaths.
With these kind of numbers, it’s amazing that there is so little awareness of this personality disorder.
That’s because these people are called criminals, con artists, pathological liars, deadbeats, philanderers, drug abusers, bullies, cheats, credit risks, rapists, murderers, thugs or run-of-the-mill jerks—which they are.
But the root of the problem is that they are psychopaths.