Is Our Cat a Psychopath?
That’s the question households were asking after an internet story ran recently about a new test for cats developed to see at what degree your feline may be a psychopath.
Researchers; Rebecca Evans, Minna Lyons, Gayle Brewer and Emily Bethell from the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, devised a survey of 46 questions titled The Cat Triarchic + Questionnaire to enlighten youself on the chances your cat might kill you while you’re sleeping.
“”It is likely that all cats have an element of psychopathy,” Evans told Metro. Of course, I took the questionnaire to see where Chester stood on the psycho scale.
Turns out Chester scores very low on the cat survey so nothing to worry about. Right?
Chester is not the innocent cute little fur ball who meows his way around our home like he doesn’t know what’s going on. The problem was clear to me, Chester didn’t need to be compared to other cats, he had to be measured against the human standard of psychopathy. That’s because I strongly suspect there is a lot more going on between his pointy ears than a simple cat questionnaire was going to expose.
Maybe if they had made a statement to respond to like; “my cat would lead a military coup: 1) Does not describe my cat 2) Describes my cat slightly well 3) Describes my cat moderately well 4) Describes my cat very well 5) Describes my cat extremely well 6) My cat already has taken over a country and commands a junta.” Then do I think they would better understand the psyche of our pet.
So, what is the definition of a psychopath for humans?
From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
psychopath – noun
psy·cho·path | \ ˈsī-kə-ˌpath
Definition of psychopath
: a mentally unstable person – especially: a person having an egocentric and antisocial personality marked by a lack of remorse for one’s actions, an absence of empathy for others, and often criminal tendencies
Change “person” to “cat” and that sounds like Chester. But how will we determine the true degree of his psychopathy?
“Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths.”Robert Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
Robert Hare, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia is considered the foremost authority on psychopaths and developed the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. His revised version list 20 categories used to access psychopathy. We’ll use his poll for Chester.
Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised results for Chester
|Glib & Superficial Charm||✔|
|See Stimulation or Prone to Boredom||✔|
|Conning & Manipulativeness||✔|
|Lack of Remorse or Guilt||✔|
|Callousness & Lack of Empathy||✔|
|Poor Behavior Controls||✔|
|Promiscuous Sexual Behavior||✔|
|Early Behavior Problems||✔|
|Lack of Realistic, Long-Term Goals||✔|
|Failure to Accept Responsibility for Own Actions||✔|
|Many Short-Term Marital Relationships||✔|
|Revocation of Condition Release||✔|
Based on the checklist scoring system, Chester is definitely a psychopath.
Intrigued, I also took the test for myself, but due to HIPAA privacy rules, I
won’t can’t release that information.
Hail to the Psychopaths
Food for thought – what do serial killers Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and Aileen Wuornos have in common with U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy? They’re all psychopaths.
The criminals (that’s the first three), were all diagnosed as psychopaths. Historians were given a list with the traits that makes up a psychopath to rank all the Presidents; the two Roosevelts and JFK finished one, two, three having the most psychopathic traits at the time of the survey in 2012.
“People for some reason don’t seem to mind psychopathic behavior when it’s done on their behalf…If you’re gonna lie, lie and save me, save us”, University of California Irvine neuroscientist James Fallon said about voters of the body politic, on a Big Think video from 2014.
Just imagine where Donald Trump would stand if that survey was conducted now.
I showed Chester his results from the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised questions and he just shrugged it off.
“Ok, you got me Sherlock Holmes,” Chester said sarcastically. “Yes, I’m a psychopath and so are most cats, unless they’ve run into too many walls chasing their toys. You don’t need to worry about me breaking out of the basement during the night and assaulting you while you sleep. I’ve got a good thing going on here and there’s no reason to mess things up. Just keep the kibble coming and don’t bother me when I’m napping”
I exhaled like I had gotten a reprieve from the governor while sitting on death row.
“By the way,” Chester continued. “How did you score on that test?”
“I didn’t take it,” I said while avoiding eye contact with my psychopathic cat.
“Oh, I was just curious,” Chester said disappointedly. “Incidentally, I’m reading an interesting book called Silence of the Lambs. I thought it was going to be about adorable little lambs. It’s not. I’ll let you borrow it when I’m done if you want. It’s giving me some weird ideas.”
“Like what,” I asked with great trepidation.
“Just ideas,” Chester said innocently.
That night I gave Chester some extra kibble, plus a few fava beans and a bottle of Chianti, then double-locked the cellar door for the night and let Hannibal Lecter have an evening of undisturbed sleep.