Sunday, November 07, 2010

CBCs The Confession : Russell Williams

View The Confession online, A Fifth Estate program.

Before I comment on this particular show, let me just say, that Fifth Estate has exceeded themselves this season. 

I haven't missed an episode. While I've enjoyed the show for years, I haven't watched more than three episodes a season in the past. Of course, we all have different levels of interest in different topics so I suppose it could simply mean that this season so far has covered topics I happen to be interested in and past seasons haven't. Or, it could be the fact that I have registered for their email notifications and am now more aware of the show topics. Or, it could just be that this is a particularly good season.

Whichever it is, I've been riveted, so thanks, Fifth Estate.

The Confession was a fascinating look at the Police Interrogation process as well as a very revealing, albeit brief, glimpse into the mind of Russell Williams. A mind which I believe is quite psychopathic.

It presented a one hour collage of the original 8 hour (I think) interrogation, avoiding sensationalism, and focusing the attention on both the Interrogation technique and Williams avoidance strategies.

Now, I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I have had the rather unpleasant experience of having to deal with psychopaths in my personal life. 

Some were relatives and one has been a life long stalker who continues to stalk me to this day.

I believe that direct personal experience, plus my own self-education, provides me with some unique qualifications and enough personal insight to talk about this topic in an informed way.

Key character traits of the psychopath are that they are pathological liars and narcissists. They have to be pathological liars. It's the only way that they can fly under the radar and maintain their mask of sanity. This mask of sanity is maintained in the same way that all narcissists do it. Through conscious and deliberate image building and image marketing. (While all psychopaths are narcissists, not all narcissists are psychopaths).

Since they are incapable of feeling empathy which is the foundation of most of our positive emotions like love, compassion, etc. they learn from a very young age to imitate those who can.

So, it was quite interesting when during the interview, the following occurred:

1. The interrogator asked Williams how he wanted to be seen and then casually dropped the phrase cold-blooded psychopath

If you watch the show, look for this and watch Williams expression. It's priceless.

2. Later on in the interview, Williams starts expressing concern for his wife and her feelings and in his letter to her deliberately presents an affectionate portrayal of his fondness for his cat.

Note that the McDonald Triad (childhood animal torture, pyromania, and bedwetting) for Serial Killers is now common knowledge as is the likely physiological characteristic of psychopathy, the inability to feel empathy

Since psychopaths are narcissists who work on image building, then it would matter more to them to carefully craft their image as a poor, misunderstood killer than be tagged with the image of a cold-blooded psychopath. This is assuming, of course, that they can't lie their way out of having committed the crime in the first place or successfully point the finger at someone else.

According to Martha Stout, in her book, The Sociopath Next Door, they need and want pity nor matter how evil their crimes.

So, Williams response of demonstrating concern for his wife's feelings and affection for his cat, to the Interrogators casual insertion of the phrase, cold-blooded psychopath, was, therefore, a classic and predictable  psychopathic response.

That is, it was nothing more than a typically narcissistic attempt to correct his image from that of cold-blooded psychopath to that of a poor, misunderstood serial killer. In other words, he does terrible things, he doesn't understand why does them, and needs help, sympathy and compassion. He will say or do anything to keep his mask firmly in place including the copious shedding of crocodile tears for his poor victims.

There was, of course, a lot more in that interview which leads one to the conclusion that Williams is a psychopath, but this was such an obvious example of his psychopathy that it was, in my opinion, worth extracting and pointing out.

Psychopaths in high, privileged positions, like both Williams and the one stalking me, pose a serious danger to our society.

Psychopaths in high, privileged positions who are also entrusted with Canada's Defense and Intelligence, like both Williams and the one stalking me, pose a much more serious danger to our National Security.

This is a serious problem which needs to be addressed by society.

Dr. Robert Hare, Professor Emeritus at UBC, is Canada's internationally renown and foremost expert in the field of Psychopathy and has written numerous books on this topic as well as created the PCL scale which can be used to determine psychopathy in individuals.

According to Dr. Hare, in his book, The Disturbing World of the Psychopath:
"If crime is the job description, the psychopath is the perfect applicant."
Psychopaths are found in every segment of society, and there is a good chance that eventually you will have a painful or humiliating encounter with one. Your best defense is to understand the nature of these human predators."
"Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.
. . . psychopaths are generally well satisfied with themselves and with their inner landscape, bleak as it may seem to outside observers. They see nothing wrong with themselves, experience little personal distress, and find their behavior rational, rewarding, and satisfying; they never look back with regret or forward with concern. They perceive themselves as superior beings in a hostile, dog-eat-dog world in which others are competitors for power and resources. Psychopaths feel it is legitimate to manipulate and deceive others in order to obtain their “rights,” and their social interactions are planned to outmaneuver the malevolence they see in others."
Psychopaths Among Us / Suffering Souls
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