Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America

Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America, by Derek Robertson.

A new study ranks each state, plus D.C., by their psychopathic tendencies. The race for first? It isn’t even close. …

Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, recently published a working paper in which he ranked each of the states by the predominance of—there’s no nice way to put it—psychopaths. The winner? Washington in a walk. In fact, the capital scored higher on Murphy’s scale than the next two runners-up combined.

US coastal left-voting areas have the most psychopaths:

When Murphy matched up the “constellation of disinhibition, boldness and meanness” that marks psychopathy with a previously existing map of the states’ predominant personality traits, he found that dense, coastal areas scored highest by far…

The runner-up, Connecticut, registered only 1.89 on Murphy’s scale, compared with the overwhelming 3.48 clocked by the District.

This, Murphy hypothesizes, is because psychopaths are attracted to the kinds of jobs Washington offers — jobs that reward raw ambition, a relentless single-mindedness and, let’s admit it, the willingness to step over a few bodies along the way. …

To psychologists, a “psychopath” isn’t necessarily a Norman Bates or Patrick Bateman lurking with an ax in the shadows; it’s a person with a particular collection of antisocial traits, including a powerful sense of spite and an inability to consider the welfare of others. …

The psychopath/nonpsychopath binary matches up, with a few exceptions, with the urban/rural divide, although there’s still disagreement among experts as to why. A psychopath map of the U.S. would also look quite a bit like the red-blue political map, with the red areas notably lower in psychopathy.

Murphy warns against drawing any partisan conclusions, given the diversity in both the data and the country’s political makeup. “The literature supports the idea that psychopaths are attracted to cities, but I don’t think there is strong theoretical support [that] ‘Democratic voters are psychopaths.’”

I wonder if the same is true in Australia? I grew up partly in Canberra and lived there for twenty years all up, and it seemed normal. But when I moved to Perth I noticed that most people generally seem nicer, or at least that was my impression.