Be a happy psycho!


Harness your inner psychopath, the press release says. Ten or 20 years ago, that would have conjured images of leashing a brain-chomping zombie as a pet.

“Psycho” used to mean the guy who slashes motel guests as he wears his dead mother’s house frock. Now, psycho, or the slightly more polite “psychopath,” just means a different way of looking at things.

We have come a long way on acceptance of different personality types. Some call it “defining deviancy down,” to quote the late, great Pat Moynihan, but that would be applying moral standards to what is essentially an amoral pursuit. This is not lowering the bar for acceptance, but removing it altogether, recognizing that everyone has a role.

The press release was for Andy McNab, a former British Special Air Service soldier who learned he was a psychopath. Instead of feeling guilty about it, he recognized that his traits come in handy when he needs them. One would think that a low score on the empathy scale would be an asset in a profession requiring the readiness to kill other people.

By the way, if you’d like to measure how psychopathic you are, here’s a test. It’s a short quiz designed, basically, to gauge your empathy. It’s not scientific – in fact, there is no actual diagnosis of psychopath or sociopath.

Some people might place these under the scientifically sanctioned “antisocial personality disorder,” but that just sounds crazy. Everybody is born with more of something than the other. People with less empathy and more aggression tend to be good entrepreneurs and salespeople. People with more empathy and less aggression tend to be good artists — who don’t sell very well.

Most organizations, whether it’s an insurance agency or a Moose Club, benefit from a mix of people capable of carrying out different duties and contributing other perspectives.

The key to happiness and effectiveness is recognizing and developing who you are. If you carry guilt for being less empathetic, then that’s like a cheetah who feels bad about chasing down and dining on a gazelle. It’s what cheetahs do and look darn good doing it, too. Until the blood-spurting part, that is.

But it is important to remember not to cause unnecessary harm. Use the power for good!

So, as nutty as it sounds, go out and be the best psychopath you can be!




Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Connect with Steve →

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