Am I A Psychopath Or A Sociopath?
If you are anything like me — and for your sake I hope you are! — you read the Herald Sun (Australia’s newspaper of record) with the fervency of a porn addict watching pornography. Sorry, that’s the best analogy I could make right now. Well, wouldn’t you know it, today the Herald Sun ran an article that quotes a study published (BY SCIENTISTS!) as saying a poor sense of smell might be a sign of psychopathy.
I’ve dabbled in understanding psychopathy and sociopathy before. Why, you ask? It might stem from my friends constantly asking me why I am incapable of feeling empathy. Yeah, that probably has something to do with it. The way I just kind of…zone out whenever they’re trying to tell me about their lives or their problems. It’s almost as if I want to be the exact center of attention, and anything that deviates from the topic at hand (ME.) makes me lose interest. So maybe I have a tendency to disregard the the rights of others. My callous unconcern for the feelings of other might label me a sociopath (or an “antisocial personality”), but I’m by no means a psychopath, right? No, I’m definitely not a psychopath. Shallow emotions, yes, I have those. But I don’t have reduced fear. I cannot tolerate stress (just ask my gastroenterologist!). I’m not manipulative (am I?), I’m not impulsive, or parasitic. Superficial charm? Egocentricity? Lacking empathy? I guess it’s, like, 50/50 odds that I’m a psycho, at least according to the Wikipedia definition of the word.
So when I read this article about having a bad sense of smell, I was concerned. I have a really bad sense of smell. I don’t want to be a psychopath. There has to be some kind of test I can take to prove to you all that I’m not a psycho, right?
Yes, Evan. There is such a test. It’s called the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale. Which, for some reason, calls itself a test of sociopathy, not psychopathy. Honestly, I don’t know the difference so for the sake of this test we’ll assume they’re the same thing. I took the test, and these were answers, followed by my results. The test is broken down into a series of questions in a multi-choice response format. You can choose one of five points on a scale of Disagreement or Agreement. For the sake of judging my answers, we will call “1” a disagreement, “3” a does-not-disagree-or-agree, and “5” an agreement.
1. Success is based on survival of the fittest; I am not concerned about the losers. My answer: 3. I can’t claim I’m not concerned about the losers, but I’m not hovering over them like an EMT would a car accident victim. I’m not pounding on their chest trying to revive them, but I’m praying for their luck to change. And, that’s just it! Sometimes it’s not all survival of the fittest, it’s just luck. I guess I feel bad for some of the losers, but not all of them. Not the assholes.
2. I find myself in the same kinds of trouble, time after time. My answer: 3. This is kind of a vague question, because what do you mean by “trouble”? Do you mean, like, jail time? Because I’ve never been incarcerated. But I also have a hard time avoiding mistakes I’ve made before. For example, I would say that dating a series of “clingy” or “emotionally crippled” girls is a troublesome mistake that I’ve made a few times. So, yeah, I get myself into trouble like that over and over again, but it’s not like I keep butchering my neighbors cats over and over again. This is almost as vague as that Scientology Personality Test I took a few years ago.
3. For me, what’s right is whatever I can get away with. My answer: 1. No, there are things that are wrong. Lying, cheating, stealing, murder, violence, all that stuff. Have I lied before or cheated before and gotten away with it? Sure. But that doesn’t make it right!
4. I am often bored. My answer: 4. This is another unfair question. 90% of the time I sit here trying to think of something to blog about I am bored. Yet it’s a choice I make every day. I don’t have to do it. I choose to because I want to get better at it. I want to make some money off of it. That’s not going to happen if I’m out drinking and partying, which is a lot LESS boring, but a whole lot less productive, too. I think a lot of my most creative ideas come about when I’m bored. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
5. In today’s world, I feel justified in doing anything I can get away with to succeed. My answer: 2. Trust me, I’ve tried a lot of things to get ahead in life. I want to make more money. I want to have a more respectable job. And I’m doing whatever I can to make those things happen for me, but again…this question is a little too open-ended. Is applying for jobs, networking, sending out e-mails and asking around considered “anything I can!” Or does the question asker mean, “I’m willing to burn all the other applicants’ resumes so that I can be the only person considered for the job.” Because that I won’t do. I might. I might consider it. It’s tempting…
6. I find that I am able to pursue one goal for a long time. My answer: 3. There are some things in life I am totally willing to pursue for as long as it takes me to achieve the goal. This is especially true with women. I have a hard time taking “No” for an answer. Lots of times in the past I have gotten myself really drunk and texted or called a girl who rejected me just to tell her she’s making a mistake. I haven’t done that in a few years. But for a long time I was willing to do it. As far as, like, my goal of winning the lottery? My goal of trying really hard to think of something cool to blog about? My goal of not consuming caffeine? Fuck no. Those goals are abandoned within hours — sometimes even minutes — of my setting them.
Ugh…how many questions are there on this test?
7. My main purpose in life is getting as many goodies as I can. My answer: 4. The way this questions is worded creeps me out. If by “goodies” you mean money, free swag, poker chips, or records, then fuck yes I want those goodies. If by “goodies” you mean cocaine, or candy or Happy Meal toys I could use to lure a small child into my domicile? No. No thanks. I don’t need those “goodies.”
8. I don’t plan anything very far in advance. My answer: 1. I like to plan things really far in advance. In fact, this is one of the things I hate the most about living in Los Angeles. I want to make plans for tonight, tomorrow, or the next night, and everyone in this lazy piece-of-shit city is like, “I don’t know, maaaaan. Can I let you know later?” Or they make fun of me for being too uptight about having enough time to drink at the bar. It’s like, why make a plan to meet at a bar at 9 when we could show up at 1? BECAUSE THAT’S THE POINT OF MAKING PLANS, ASSHOLES. Sometimes I get made fun of by my friends because they’ll say, “Oh, we’re going to Tijuana tonight.” And my response is, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier, I just made plans?” And they say, “That was stupid of you. We just decided to go right now.” THAT’S NOT HOW PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO FUNCTION. See, just today I got my pass to attend NAB in Vegas again this coming April. I can put that on my calendar now. I know I can’t cover for anyone at work on those days. I’m not the type of person to wait until April 5th to buy my tickets for something that is on April 8th. Let’s do it now. Let’s get it over with. Let’s move on to the next thing. MAKE PLANS IN ADVANCE, PEOPLE.
9. Making a lot of money is my most important goal. My answer: 4. I suppose the most important goal in my life would be to have fun, to meet a nice girl and settle down, that kind of thing. But I’m pretty sure I can’t make that happen unless I’m a bit more financially stable, so for right now making a lot of money is a pretty-damned-important goal in my life. I don’t want to live in a crazy house with 8 people for the rest of my life.
10. I quickly lose interest in tasks I start. My answer: 4. I’m already over-analyzing each answer on this test. I don’t want to be doing it anymore. I just want to find out if I’m a psychopath or a sociopath or whatever this questionnaire is testing for. What is this even about? I don’t care anymore.
11. I let other worry about higher values; my main concern is with the bottom line. My answer: 2. What the hell do you mean, “higher values”. Are you talking strict numbers? Like, a billion? I don’t know, I don’t care about a billion. I don’t even care about a trillion. Those are pretty high values. If other people want to worry about how many 0’s are in a billion or a trillion, so be it. I don’t want to think about how much a pile of a billion dollar bills weighs, or how tall it would be stacked one on top of the next. Let other people worry about those values. That being said, I don’t think about the bottom line that much. I wish I used that line more, though. I feel like people would respect me if in the middle of a conversation I interjected, “Yeah, Phil. But the bottom line is…” and then I said something really profound. The bottom line is, I think my answer “2” speaks for itself.
12. Most of my problems are due to the fact that other people just don’t understand me. My answer: 3. Last year my friend Joel told me I should sign up for an online dating website. He said his girlfriend and he met on one, and he thought I’d be “good at it” because I’m witty and quick, and I could joke around and attract girls. I tried it for a month and never got responses from any of the girls. Probably because they didn’t understand my sense of humor. So, yeah, the problem with my brief foray into the world of online dating was that people just didn’t understand me. But it’s not like I have a tenuous grasp of the English language. It’s not like I’m stuttering or lisping or mumbling and people are constantly going, “EH!? EH!? SPEAK UP I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Although, to be perfectly honest, I do tend to speak quietly and people tell me they can’t hear me. Shit. Maybe I should change my answer to a 4.
13. People who are stupid enough to get ripped off usually deserve it. My answer: 1. No, that’s not true at all. That’s like saying if you steal from the mentally handicapped it is okay because they don’t know any better. Just because you’re sub-intelligent doesn’t make you ripe for ripping off. Some things are just off limits, man. Rob from the rich smart guys. Those are the ones who a) probably deserve it and b) Can withstand losing a couple bucks.
14. Before I do anything, I carefully consider the possible consequences. My answer: 4. This would be a no-doubt five if it weren’t for the fact that sometimes I get drunk and take a girl home without considering the consequences. Or in my more reckless days I might have once or twice driven home when I shouldn’t have. I wasn’t thinking about the consequences of my actions then, so I can’t say “Before I do ANYTHING…” because that just wouldn’t be true.
15. Looking out for myself is my top priority: My answer: 4. Listen, if I’m walking down the street and I see a dog darting in and out of traffic, am I going to corral it and help it to the sidewalk, or look to see if it has a name tag so I can bring it home? Sure. But if you’re asking me whether or not I’ll stop my car when I see the dog darting in and out of traffic just to corral it and help it to the sidewalk, or to look and see if it has a name tag so I can bring it home, the answer is “NO.” I’ve probably got somewhere to be. I’m probably running late. Let someone else handle the dog. Someone who isn’t in the middle of driving someplace.
16. I have been in a lot of shouting matches with other people: My answer: 2. I think the only shouting matches I’ve ever been involved in were with my parents. I don’t typically shout at friends, I just ignore them or ditch them and go hang out somewhere else.
17. I tell other people what they want to hear so that they will do what I want them to do: My answer: 2. This is a clear question about manipulation. I try not to be a manipulative person, but if teachers or bosses got on my back, of course I’d do whatever I had to do (or say whatever I had to say) to get them off my back. That’s just something we have to do in our lives. I’m not trying to control anyone’s mind. I’m not trying to convince somebody to murder somebody else. That’s the kind of manipulation I think of when I read this question. The ways I’m manipulative are more, like, “Oh, don’t draft Trent Richardson with your 3rd pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, I hear he’s got an injured ankle.” If that’s manipulative…fine, you caught me. Now what?
18. When I get frustrated, I often “let off steam” by blowing my top. My answer: 2. Oh no, I don’t blow my top. I do the more sinister disappear-for-a-few-hours-and-make-people-worry letting off of steam. I do the, “Oh my god I’m really worried about Evan, that look in his eye when he silently stalked out of the house didn’t look good” letting off of steam.
19. I would be upset if my success came at someone else’s expense. My answer: 3. Look, do I want to strike it rich even though someone else has to DIE? No. Are there instances in which I could see myself becoming successful at someone else’s expense? Sure! What if I witness a crime and I write a book about it? What if my boss does something highly illegal and I blow the whistle on him? My success would come at their expense. They’d go to jail. I’d get a book deal. I think that’s a fair outcome.
20. Love is overrated: My answer: 3. I don’t know, what day is it? Friday? Nah, love isn’t that overrated today. It seems like it’d be cool. Has it been totally overrated in the past? Oh yeah, definitely. Will it be overrated in the future? Probably. Ask me tomorrow or on Sunday.
21. I often admire a really clever scam. My answer: 3. Look, if someone else does something to beat the system and then they tell me all about it, I might think, “Wow, that’s pretty ingenious.” But that doesn’t mean I’m going to beat myself up about not having the idea first. At one of my old jobs I accidentally stumbled onto one of my co-workers stealing from the company. I turned him in. I could just as easily have started up the same racket for myself, and no one would have expected it, but I didn’t. Because I’m a good person. And also my mom was my boss. That would have been really awkward.
22. I make a point of trying not to hurt others in pursuit of my goals. My answer: 3. Listen, sweetheart. If you can’t deal with your feelings being hurt, you’re not meant for success. You hear that? Bono? Billy Corgan? That fat guy from the Decemberists? Gail Simmons? Sara Roemer? Anyone else I’ve said horrible things about over the course of the past 7 years? I’ll gladly hurt your feelings all over again in the future if it means I can monetize this page.
Sadly I think I hurt more fans’ feelings than famous people’s feelings when I “hurt others” in the pursuit of making this website popular.
23. I enjoy manipulating other people’s feelings. My answer: 2. It’s enjoyable when it is fantasy football or telling a friend I’m not interested in that girl he likes, then fucking her behind his back. Anything more than that would be cruel.
24. I feel bad if my words or actions cause someone else to feel emotional pain: My answer: 2. My answer to number 22 should apply to this as well. Do I feel bad that Gail Simmons was so insulted by my constant Twitter/blog sexual banter that she blocked me from following her on social networks? No. She’s a public figure. Grow a pair of balls (or grow some hair on your already-existing balls) and get over it. You’re famous. I’m nobody. You’ve already won.
25. Even if I were trying very hard to sell something, I wouldn’t lie about it. My answer: 3. Anyone who has ever used eBay to make money cannot answer this question with a number above 3. That’s just how selling works. One time a customer came into the store and I tried to sell him on a copy of the Eraserhead soundtrack. I had no idea what this guy’s musical tastes were, but I told him “In Heaven” was one of the greatest songs all time, and he should spend the $30 to pick up the soundtrack on vinyl. He never came back into the store after that. Did I lie to him? I don’t know, Eraserhead is alright, and “In Heaven” is a catchy melody that lasts…what…two minutes? But the rest of the soundtrack is totally fucked up and 98% of the population would never bother paying $30 to hear it. And that rare out-of-print DVD I sold you for $100 last year? Yeah, okay, maybe it was closer to very-good condition than very-good-plus condition. But that shit is all subjective. Thank your lucky stars I’m not European or I would have graded it near-mint.
26. Cheating is not justified because it is unfair to others: My answer: 3. I’ve had to answer 25 other questions, and I’m not even sure what this one means. Are you telling me cheating is unfair to others, so we shouldn’t do it? Or are you telling me cheating would be justified if everyone was on a level playing field? I’m confused. I don’t think the answer to this one question is going to affect my score, so I’ll just give it a 3 and move on.
27. What is your gender? Male.
28. What is your age? 29.
29. Are you [sic] answers accurate and can they be used in research? Yes.
30. What is your favorite movie? Apocalypse Now (Hooooo boy….)
Here are my results. Someone else let me know how I did. None of this makes any sense to me. I think I’ve lost the ability to understand English. I think I’m not psychopathic, but I could always be wrong. Science and science words have a way of confusing me.
Mugstar – Man With Supersight [MP3]
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