Was Jesus a psychopath?
Yes, according to Oxford University psychologist, Dr Kevin Dutton, who applied a standard measure of psychopathic traits, the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (Revised), to various historical figures â€“ as well as to current presidential candidates. So the science is settled.
That Donald Trump scored (or was scored by Dr Dutton on his behalf) at 171 and Hillary Clinton at 152, I wasnâ€™t surprised; even a cursory glance suggests pathological narcissism bordering on sociopathy.
I was surprised, however, that Trump apparently just edged Hitler, on 169, and that the Prince of Peace apparently scored 157. â€œHillary â€“ Less Psycho Than Christâ€ â€“ now, hereâ€™s a winning campaign slogan.
By the way, thank God that the good doctor did not try to score Mohammed (PBUH) or else this wouldnâ€™t be the last we were hearing about him (Dutton, not Mohammed). Funny omission, though, donâ€™t you think?
The research was published by â€œThe Scientific Americanâ€ behind a paywall (enough to turn one into a psychopath) so I canâ€™t provide you with a proper analysis, beyond the instinctive â€œbullshitâ€ and advice that some scientific research needs to be taken not just with a grain of salt but with a whole bloody saltshaker (possibly to tap the scientist on the head with until they return to their senses).
â€œLike most statistics, the devil is in the detail,â€ says the article. â€œThe figure represents a combination of grades across eight different categories: social influence, fearlessness, stress immunity, Machiavellian egocentricity, rebellious nonconformity, blame externalisation and carefree non-planfulness and cold-heartedness. And good or bad is, as always, a matter of opinion.â€
In other words, this is the sort of thing that one could pretty much get whatever result one wants (Or: â€œProfessor Robyn Young of the Flindrs University school of psychology says the test, when not administered as a self report, is invalid. But she says the Scientific American Minds article was intended to be a matter of interest, not a scientific one.â€ She could have added itâ€™s also large meaningless, if fearless and influential prophets can score high while also being highly empathetic, caring and moral, which are the last things one would associate with psychopaths).
This, by the way, is a partial (i.e. reconstructed from the article and this one) ranking:
1)Saddam Hussein, 189
2) Henry VIII, 178
3) Idi Amin, 176
4) Donald Trump, 171
5) Adolf Hitler, 169
6) William the Conqueror, 165
7) Jesus, 157
8) Saint Paul, 157
9) Napoleon, 153
10) Winston Churchill, 155
11) Hillary Clinton, 152
12) Nero, 151
13) Oliver Cromwell, 136
14) Margaret Thatcher, 136
15) George Washington, 132
16) Elizabeth I, 130
17) Mahatma Gandhi, 119
On a serious note, itâ€™s clear that throughout history many leaders and other famous figures have suffered from various mental problems or were otherwise outside the â€œnormâ€. Some might have indeed been psychopaths, but they have probably been outnumbered by narcissists (certainly in the democratic politics). And for every Stalin who was acutely paranoid, there have been many more â€“ like Lincoln or Churchill, who have suffered from depression. In fact, as Nassir Ghaemi argued in his very interesting 2009 book â€œA First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illnessâ€, counter-intuitively, some mental problems such as depression can actually help make great leaders even greater, particularly at the times of crisis, as they enable greater empathy and realism.
Just in case, though, watch out for that Jesus guy. You just never know these days.