Section 2: The Material

Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations

10. Pierre



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10. Pierre

Some of the patients who have been presented give concrete and abundant

evidence in their behavior of a serious maladjustment and one of long duration. The

diagnosis of antisocial personality can seldom, if ever, be


made with confidence except on such a record. Many persons at some time in their

lives steal, cheat, lie, forge checks, indulge in foolish or destructive conduct, behave

regrettably while drinking, and engage in unfortunate or paradoxical sexual activity. It

can hardly be denied that some of the most stable and admirable of people have, during

the course of achieving maturity, done all these things and worse. One important point

that distinguishes the psychopath is his failure to learn and adopt a better and more

fulfilling pattern of life. Another and perhaps a more fundamental point, which will be

elaborated subsequently, is that psychopaths give a strong impression of lacking the

fundamental responses and emotional susceptibility which probably play a dominant

part in helping other people avoid this type of maladjustment.

It is perhaps worthwhile for us to consider now a patient whose record so far

may not establish him beyond question with our group of those clinically disabled but

whose inmost reactions, in so far as one can judge them, strongly indicate that his

disorder is the same and that his subsequent career will unmistakably place him.

Not long ago his parents made an appointment for him by mail. They

accompanied him from a thriving community in northern Florida where for the last

sixty years the members of this family had been sober and respected citizens. There was

a good deal of pride in these people, not a vain or pretentious self-esteem but a modest

dignity that seemed to be cherished more as a responsibility than as an ornament.

These parents were truly concerned about their son. A dozen or more letters and

reports from schoolteachers, from the family physician, the rector of the church, the

scoutmaster, a high school coach, and others, arrived before the patient. From this

material came many facts and opinions. The patient's remote antecedents had lived in

or about Charleston, S.C., in colonial times. They had never been famous for wealth or

political influence, but in the Revolutionary War, as well as in the War Between the

States, they had played a part which rooted them deeply in sectional traditions of

distinction. In Florida, where this branch of the family had moved almost twenty years

before the present century, they had established a good name and a sound, unsnobbish

sort of prominence. Unlike the fictional Southerners preoccupied with (frequently

exaggerated) glories of the past, the ____'s had continued to live primarily in the present

and to live rather effectively.

One school teacher who had done graduate work in psychology gave a good deal

of consideration to this boy's name, which, as a fair equivalent, we shall give as Pierre.

As she pointed out, an Englishman can be called Percival, Jasper, Evelyn, or Vivian

without much risk, but in the ordinary


American community such a name might endanger a boy's soul. This young man had

been christened Pierre ___ ___ ___ probably not as an extravagant gesture toward the

exotic or to past glories but almost as a matter of course. Such given names had been

customary among these descendants of early Charleston Huguenots, and the present

generation felt nothing conspicuous in what to them was so familiar and commonplace.

In these parents speculation probably never arose about how a French name might

sound to the fellows who played football in the vacant lot by the gashouse and

"rabbitted" sissies with brickbats. In agreement with his thoughtful teacher's final

conclusion, I am inclined to believe that his name, despite its potential dangers, caused

the patient little difficulty. Even before he began school he was always called Pete. And

his family conformed to this custom.

After his parents had been interviewed separately and together, Pete came into

the office. He stood about 6 feet tall, held himself well, and appeared more mature than

would be expected of an 18-year-old boy. He at once impressed me as being enviably at

his ease. Though not extraordinary in its features, his face was pleasant, candid, and

alert. As our conversation progressed, indications of excellent intelligence soon

appeared, along with suggestions of a character forceful but not undesirably selfassertive

or aggressive.

Pete expressed disappointment about having had to withdraw from college and

seemed remarkably frank in discussing the causes of his predicament. His story was the

same incomprehensible story already heard from his parents and corroborated by the

several detailed reports.

A forged check had brought Pete before the dean. He did not deny his guilt but,

in a straightforward way, seemed ready to meet the consequences like a gentleman. The

dean was puzzled not that a young man might forge a check but that it should be this

particular man with his fine record, his appearance of sincerity, and his brave way of

handling a situation presumably painful and embarrassing.

Several points made the incident difficult to explain. The check had been cashed

at a little tavern by the gates of the college, a place virtually integral with the campus

where students were intimately known to the cashier and the waitresses. The owner of

this place, a college-life character for generations, prided himself on calling the freshmen

by name and on his closeness to the boys. It would have been easy for Pete to cash

such a check at dozens of places where his chances of escaping detection would have

been vastly better. He had, it would seem, picked the place where his misdeed could

most easily be traced to him. Furthermore, he had not chosen as victim someone

unlikely to find him out but the father of a girl he had been dating


regularly during the seven months he had been at college. In forging the name, he had

taken no great care to disguise his handwriting or to make a good imitation of the real


There was difficulty in conceiving of a possible motive. With the dean Pete

seemed thoroughly at ease. In a manly, well-controlled manner he expressed his

profound regret and his willingness to make restitution or to submit to any penalty. The

check amounted to only $35.00 and could scarcely represent an urgent need or

something deeply longed for. Pete's allowance, although not injudiciously large, was a

little more than the average among his fellows. Despite his apparent frankness he could

give the dean no substantial reason for the self-damaging act by which he had neither

gained nor hoped to gain anything of consequence. During a prolonged consideration

of the affair, Pete remained so calm, so free from ordinary signs of guile and excusemaking,

that those in authority could not dismiss the possibility of some point that this

boy might, through honor or chivalry, be concealing. No definite hypothesis of this sort

could be devised, but the dean, despite such plain indications for drastic action, decided

to temporize. Meanwhile, another forged check, this time for $15.00, showed up. This

was drawn on the account of a lady in his hometown, an intimate friend of his mother's.

While judgment was pending, two more forged checks were discovered-one for $15.00,

another for $23.00.

Even now the authorities found it difficult to regard this boy as an ordinary

forger. He showed nothing in common with people who are placed in the category of

the delinquent. Instead of being expelled, he was allowed to withdraw from college.

He had made a good academic record during his seven months as a freshman and

was popular with the students. Letters were contributed in his behalf by the high school

principal at home, by his minister, a former Sunday school teacher, a scoutmaster, and

even by the mayor of his hometown. All of these expressed confidence in Pete as "a

splendid young man of high moral standards ... .. a regular fellow," "a fine Christian

character," "a well-behaved and clean-minded boy who deserves every consideration."

During our numerous interviews, Pete seemed to express himself freely. "I just

don't know why I did it," he said at first. At other times he said he must have been

impelled by desire for money. As the subject was returned to from day to day, his

explanation varied. "It seems there was some sort of an impulse I can't account for," he

once suggested. A few days later it was, "I just didn't think what I was doing."

No one familiar with the whole material of these interviews would have difficulty

in seeing plainly that none of these reasons were very pertinent. Pete admitted he had

not even spent the money. He had no particular need


and no special plans that might call for extra cash. His statement about some impulse

is, of course, interesting; but the more Pete discussed this the more evident it became

that he was not referring to anything like compulsive behavior in the ordinary

psychiatric sense. Apparently he fell upon this remark as upon his other ever-varying

explanations in a vague effort to fill out verbally a framework of cause and effect which

as human beings we all tend to manufacture when we cannot find it in actuality. There

was no specific breathtaking and unbearable drive to do this irrational act and no vivid

fulfillment in its accomplishment. He had done it as a lazy man might swat a fly. Pete

was not discovering real motives in himself but reaching at random for plausible or

possible reasons that might have influenced some hypothetical person to do what he

had done. It was rationalization in the purest sense but not adequate enough to

convince the patient himself.

Among dozens of other possible explanations he mentioned that shortly before

one of his forgeries he had received a letter from one of his friends in Florida

mentioning the friend's plan for a weekend trip to Miami. Pete recalled a feeling of envy

and suggested that he might childishly have felt that he, too, would like to have a sort of

treat or adventure or break in the routine. By getting this extra money he would, in a

vague way, be keeping up with his friend, having a little lark, or indulging himself in a

sort of reward or bonus. Or he might think up some way to spend the money that

would constitute an equivalent to his friend's weekend of pleasure. Under discussion

this, too, broke down as a factor of much pertinence. The envious thought of his

friend's trip had been brief and trivial. It had not preoccupied him or exerted strong or

persistent emotional pressure as sometimes such apparently illogical and inadequate

factors do exert in human behavior. And he had neither executed nor continued to plan

any adventure in which the money might be used or wasted.

The patient realized that all the impulses he mentioned were without strength to

drive him into a dangerous or even a mildly unpleasant act. The more one talked with

him, the more plain it became that he had realized how readily such forgeries could be

detected and laid at his feet and that he had, before and during the acts, been far from

unaware (intellectually) that serious and undesirable consequences were likely to follow.

There was no question of Pete's having been merely thoughtless or impulsive in the

ordinary sense. He was not negligent in reason and foresight, but somehow the

obvious, and one would think inevitable, emotional response that would inhibit such an

act did not play its part in his functioning. There had been no anxious brooding over

consequences, no conscious struggle against temptation or overmastering impulse. The

consequences occurred to him, but rather casually, and he did not worry about them

even to the point of carefully


estimating his chances of getting away with the forgeries undetected or just what

penalties he might face if he failed. He drifted along, responding to rather feeble

impulses but without adequate consideration of consequences.

This boy, as he clearly pointed out, had no inclination to leave college. He had

been remarkably free of homesickness and, in fact, happier, he said, than ever before in

his life. He had chosen the college himself, largely on the basis of renown and social

prestige. Though very much smaller, it was regarded by many as more or less equivalent

to Harvard or Yale. He had won a scholarship awarded by a hometown civic group on

the basis of character and all-around qualities rather than on mere superiority in grades.

He had no difficulty in passing examinations and obtaining admission at the college of

his choice.

In this discussion several points of interest emerged. Until his last year in high

school he had planned to go to West Point. There had never been, he admitted, any

real interest in military life, and he frankly stated he had never intended to remain in the

army after graduation. The idea of wearing an impressive uniform and the most

superficial aspects of being a West Pointer seem to have been almost his sole motive.

In explaining his change of mind, he frankly spoke of his desire to be among wealthy

and socially prominent people and pointed out the particular advantages of the place he

had chosen. Such motives of course may influence in a way most, if not all, people.

But this young man seemed influenced to a degree truly remarkable. As the discussion

progressed, it began to appear as if such values alone affected him. In the ordinary

climber or snob it is usual to find this sort of dominant attitude only under concealment

that fools the subject if not the observer. With Pete there seemed to be no awareness

that such aims should not be given primacy and, indeed, exclusive sway or that there

was reason to pretend otherwise.

In further talk along this line his fundamental attitude began to shape up into

something much less simple than that of the ordinary opportunist or the vulgar

schemer. Something distinctly and almost terrifyingly naive emerged behind a readily

volunteered and not very appealing life aim. It became clear that this was far from a

truly dominant and persistent aim. It had been donned like momentary apparel,

somewhat as revelers may try on for a moment paper masks or fancy costumes at a

party, only after a moment to discard them. Pete apparently was not an ordinary

example of the shrewd opportunist intently set on pursuing a policy of material success

with little regard to ethics or esthetics. Gladly, and in a sense, one might almost say,

innocently and sincerely, he accepted such a scheme and such evaluations. And these

motivations probably influenced his conduct more


often than any other conscious motivation. But even here there was no persistence of

aim, no goal regularly beckoning, no substantial emotional force driving, even in a poor

or perverse channel, toward fulfillment. Such values prompted Pete, but their influence

was more that of transient recurrent whims than of adequate human striving.

This bright and pleasant young man volunteered information about numerous

acts in the past which had not been detected. He had occasionally stolen, usually taking

articles of little value, from friends and from stores. No evidence of any distinct motive

or any strong thrill of adventure could be brought out in connection with the petty

thefts. He had also, with gracious and "between us as gentlemen" approaches, put

pressure on a number of his father's friends to "lend" him small sums which he never

thought of repaying. During the previous summer he had, by complicated and

ingenious schemes, secured sugar for a Negro man who made whiskey illegally. In this

way he obtained several hundred dollars, nearly all of which he squandered aimlessly

and unexcitingly while on house parties with a group he liked to impress. Though he

worried little about getting caught, he had proceeded with some caution and cunning.

Even his closest acquaintances had not suspected him. Earlier, when rationing was in

effect, he devised a method of stealing gasoline from an uncle who managed a business

considered important in the war effort. Through this connection he gained access to

relatively large quantities of gasoline and, by careful planning and clever execution, made

off with a few gallons at a time until he accumulated enough to bring substantial sums

on the black market. Though a member of the honor council in high school, he had

never hesitated to cheat on examinations, He did this not only when he felt he might

otherwise make a bad mark but also routinely somewhat in the manner of a gentleman

paying respect to what he regarded as the conventions, This practice had not been

officially detected or become widely known among his classmates.

Pete did not bring out these facts painfully and with reluctance. It was not as

though he were taking advantage at last of an opportunity to unburden himself by

confession. Apparently he had never been burdened. Nor did he show that boastful

relish sometimes seen in people who seem proud and defiant about the delinquent acts

they confess. In a gentlemanly way he seemed to be discussing ordinary matters of a

conventional life.

He had repeatedly spoken of his remorse about the forgeries at college and

spoken convincingly of his resolution never to make such mistakes in the future. In

telling of his earlier delinquencies, which had never been discovered, he did not

spontaneously bring out an opinion that this sort of behavior also should be avoided.

When reasons for this were suggested, he readily agreed. There seemed, however, to be

little shame or real regret and


no effective intention that would last much beyond the moment of its utterance.

Though a considerable number of delinquencies and examples of very badly

adapted conduct emerged as this patient was seen over a period of time,* it is not these

in themselves that so strongly suggest he shows the disorder called psychopathic

personality. What is most suggestive of this disorder is very difficult to convey, for it

came out in attitudes disclosed as he talked about his emotional relations, his principles,

his ambitions, and his ideals. It is easier to demonstrate such things by citing concrete

acts or failures to act than by commenting on what has been merely spoken and what

from this and the accompanying expressions, tones, etc., has been sensed or surmised.

It may be worth while, however, to attempt a few points.


This attractive and fine-looking young man had been going out with girls for

several years. Apparently they found his attentions welcome. Though he sometimes

spent the evening alone with a girl, he still preferred double-dating or getting together

with several couples. He had almost entirely escaped the shyness and unpleasant selfconsciousness

that trouble so many boys in their teens. He had never attempted sexual

relations and seemed to have less than ordinary conscious inclination in this direction.

No overt homosexual inclinations could be brought out in ordinary interviews or with

the patient under intravenous Amytal or hypnosis.

For over a year Pete had been going regularly with the daughter of a millionaire

who had recently moved to Florida from the Midwest. Jane was only 16 years of age.

Though not an only child, she had been born very late in her parents' lives and after her

sister and two brothers were almost adults: The siblings had long ago married, leaving

her to grow up as the center of her aging parents' concern and attention. This situation

may account for the early overprotection and domination Jane experienced and for her

tendency toward social withdrawal and her deep and painful insecurity.

Her parents, by now quite old, set in their ways, and out of touch with Jane's

world, sensed something wrong and set out on the disastrous course of pushing her,

managing her, and trying by an irresistible tour de force to make her precipitately into a

reigning belle.

A few years earlier her mother had nagged her day and night about overexerting

herself and had insisted that she have breakfast in bed and not arise until 10:30 A.M.

She had also insisted that she take tomato juice between meals (for vitamins) and milk

(for calories). There had also been


* Not all of these need be brought out here.


arguments about taking a nap every afternoon, swallowing numerous vitamin pills or

unneeded laxatives, and carrying out all sorts of quackish health rituals which had

attracted the mother. Now this frustrated, frightened, and unprepared girl was pushed

suddenly into equitation instructions, tennis every other afternoon, private lessons in

Italian, and elaborate parties with imported champagne. The mother took her to New

York and arranged some rather artificial frolics at the Stork Club and El Morocco.

There were also yachting parties during which this sensitive girl tried valiantly to make

conversation and carry out the motions of gaiety from Daytona to Miami. Jane seemed

like a gun-shy yearling pointer and promptly developed nocturnal enuresis.*

The more difficulty she showed in handling herself, the more vigorously her

mother pushed her, and the more she suffered and showed her terror. Most of the

young men herded by the mother's almost ferocious efforts and by all sorts of indirect

bribery to these overdone parties made almost open fun of Jane. Her uneasiness and

dutiful but brittle efforts to carry out a false role led them to speak of her as a "drip."

This good and essentially normal girl, in the midst of constant mockery which

she, unlike her mother, often detected, found herself attended by Pete. He was without

mockery. Nor did he, like some of the condescending youths drawn by parental largess,

attempt lovelessly to feel her breasts and to initiate her into the intimacies of a soul kiss.

Pete behaved "like a gentleman." He was cordial and polite, and he treated her mother

and father with a respect that seemed properly deferential in contrast with many in that

brash, immature gang who came for the handout and the opportunity for mockery.

He was more acceptable also than the snide older men who were inclined to

show her attention. Among these she encountered a few partial and cynical

homosexuals who apparently enjoyed any travesty on what ought to be a normal coming

together of girl and boy. Jane did not know which ones were the homosexuals or

scarcely even that there was such a thing as homosexuality, but she sensed under their

superficial politeness what seemed like subtle attitudes of defeatism, condescension, and

only formality where it is natural to seek warmth. They gently mocked her taste in

reading and in music and were politely supercilious about her clothes and about how she

rode a horse.

After them it was almost a joy to be with Pete. Her parents, too, found him

respectful and a lad of fine, manly qualities. He was obviously intelligent,

* I have reliable, firsthand information on Jane's situation in addition to what came through the present



and he lightly and unpretentiously expressed in words principles of the highest, truest


Too much a child still and too backward to seek a mature heterosexual role, too

inexperienced to recognize or even to imagine what a genuine lover might offer or seek,

Jane found Pete the most acceptable companion available. Unacquainted with the

feelings and attitudes of young men in normal love, or even with milder but real

interests of this sort, she had no frame of reference in which to evaluate her chief

suitor's monumental inadequacy. She had, in, fact, little means even of perceiving it.

Pete himself discussed his girl without the slightest awareness that he lacked any

requisite of a romantic lover or of a satisfactory husband. Both of Jane's parents

encouraged his attentions. An impressive mahogany speedboat and a new Cadillac

convertible were virtually put at his disposal. He found himself not quite the possessor

of these and of many other luxuries but conspicuously in the center of them. It would

not be difficult to imagine such a situation turning an ordinary boy's head, confusing

him with grandiose fancies, and, perhaps, initiating a career of delinquency.

Perhaps such an explanation is correct, but I am not convinced. Pete was not

dazzled and swept off his feet. He was not, it would seem, particularly excited. He

expressed a liking for Jane and her family and showed evidence of being attracted by the

outer appearance of things in this rather glittering world. There was no indication that

wild passions for wealth had been aroused and a steady young man lured off toward

false goals. Nothing seemed capable of arousing any real drive or passion in Pete, much

less a wild one. The pseudoideals about wealth and prestige and the halfhearted

impulses of which he spoke had existed long before he knew Jane. They were, however,

at best tepid and unsteady aspirations, not strong or really purposeful drives, not

constantly beckoning temptations deflecting natural aims. Pete might let himself drift

toward a fortune and, when caprice stimulated him, even paddle a bit toward this goal

or effigy of a goal, but he was not the sort of man to swim with frantic vigor toward

either positive or negative shores. Fortune hunting might come nearer to arousing him

than another aim, but even this did not challenge him to life and human purpose or

bring to birth a long-range plan of action. Even in this direction he found nothing to

which he could commit himself in actual emotion.

Though his plans were not definite, Pete admitted he felt he would like eventually

to marry Jane. He had not weighed his chances to do so very carefully but he felt they

Were good. "Oh, yes indeed!" he replied, when asked if he were in love with her. As

his feelings about her were discussed, it


remained impossible to detect any sort of affective content to which those words might

refer. The more one investigated Pete's attitude, the more strictly verbal his statement

appeared. His reply was a reflex response, the carrying out of a superficially polite

routine, a purely formal nod doing justice to vague conventions more or less to the

effect that of course one loved a girl if he were seriously considering her for a wife.

Pete approved of such conventions. Rather proudly, he denied any outstanding physical

passion for her or any specific attraction of this sort. He had sometimes held her hand

and he kissed her good-night. These contacts, one would judge, were little more

stimulating to him erotically than such doings between brother and sister. The idea of

kissing her as a lover would have seemed to him vaguely repellent, perhaps "common."

He was more neutral, however, than negative toward this as a possibility and seemed

pleased that he could say he had never given such things much thought. He was

consecrated to higher and more practical aims.

As the discussion of his attitudes toward his girl developed, it became increasingly

apparent that he neither liked nor disliked her. He had not questioned his heart

particularly along these lines or so formulated it to himself, but it was plain that she was

little more than something incidental in the eventualities toward which he felt himself

drifting and was willing to drift. When this was suggested to him, he agreed that it was

correct, with no shame or sense of having been detected in anything to regret or explain.

"Many people put too much emphasis on love, it seems to me," Pete said, not

argumentatively or even with strong conviction but somewhat gropingly, as if he were

feeling his way toward some position on which he could base his comments. It was not

hard to believe he might just as readily have drifted into the opposite position.

"I don't feel the way so many other people do about love," he continued. "Other

things, it seems to me, are a lot more serious and important." On being urged to make

this point more concrete, he added, "Well, for instance, if a boy and a girl decide to

marry and unite two families so they can own a good insurance business or a big

pulpwood mill."

There was nothing that suggested active cynicism in this young man. He was

shaping up something that might pass in his awareness as a sort of goal. In a sense his

attitude was idealistic. It was at least the shadow or verbal form of what might be called

an idealistic or what he seemed to consider a "higher" type of impulse, but the shadow

was, I believe, without substance. Even here one felt an affective hollowness, a lack of

the energy that goes into purposive human functioning, and to such a degree as to

convince one that this verbal evaluation could never muster sufficient strength, could


never matter enough to him, to become a real goal or to make him work toward it

consistently or with enthusiasm.


His other activities, convictions, and relations gave indications of a Similar deficit

in his functioning. In response to leading questions he mentioned numerous

"ambitions." He was not at all evasive, and he seemed entirely unaware that his inmost

self might contain anything incomplete, pathologic, or deviate. In fact, one felt that

nothing could really embarrass this bright, agreeable, and poised young man.

"Another thing I'd like when I get older is to be a vestryman in the church," he

said, with what looked a bit like enthusiasm. I believe, however, that enthusiasm is a

misleading word. His tone of voice, his facial expression, and the myriad other

subthreshold details not clearly perceived, in which we feel out our evaluation of a

person's reactions, all suggested affect. But this affect did not, it seems, extend deeply

enough into him to constitute enthusiasm or anything else that could move a person

very much. Nor do I believe that what affect might have been present will be capable

of directing him toward any consistent aim. A well-made cardboard box carefully gilded

could scarcely be distinguished by visual perception from a cubic yard of gold.

I do not think his expressed wish to become a vestryman can be accounted for by

a desire on his part to impress people that he was penitent about the forgeries and

meant to compensate for them in the future. I think this wish was as real as anything

could be real for this person. It had been a feature in his plans over some years.

In discussing his motives he said, "I don't exactly know why it seems such a good

idea to be a vestryman. It just seems to me sort of pleasant and I think I'd like it. It

might strike you as a little odd, too," he continued thoughtfully, "because I'm really not

very much interested in religion. Now Jack ___ and Frank___- are terribly interested in

religion. They're all the time talking about it and bothering themselves. I'm not like that

a bit. I can't see any point in making such a commotion about something of that sort."

To the next question he replied: "Oh I don't mean that I don't absolutely and

completely believe every word of the Bible. And I believe everything the church

teaches. Of course I believe things like that." I hardly think he was trying to deceive me

or, as this is ordinarily understood, trying to deceive himself. A person to whom rigid

theological beliefs give comfort might deceive himself in order to overlook

implausibility in what he would like to assume is true and might, I am sure all will agree,

do so without


being quite aware of it. This boy did not seem to have any such need. It seemed, with

due respect to the difficulties of putting such concepts into words, rather a case of there

being nowhere within him ally valid contrast between believing and not believing or

even between a thing of this sort being so or not so.

"Probably why I want to be a vestryman," he went on, "is because people seem to

think a lot of them, consider them important, and sort of look up to them." There was

no sign of irony, playful or otherwise, toward the social group or toward himself.

Sincerity is a word which for most people implies positive emotional reactions. Not

merely in this boy's superficial attitude, yet in a peculiar but important sense, one could

say there was a striking lack of ordinary insincerity.

In discussing his relations with others he admitted a decline in his affection for

his father. He expressed no negative feelings and said he felt, perhaps, he loved his

father about as much as, and probably more than, one might expect of the average boy

of his age. "But, being perfectly frank, I can't say I love him the way I do my mother. I

am crazy about mother. She and I are very close to each other." By leading questions it

was brought out that he estimated his love for his mother as deep and genuine. He

rated it as a feeling not less strong than the maximum that an ordinary person can

experience, though he was not boastful or extravagant in phrasing his replies. A few

minutes later he mentioned, among other people, the mother of a male friend.

"Oh, Mrs. Blank is a wonderful person. She and I get on perfectly. She

understands me. I love Mrs. Blank better than anyone."

"Do you love her better than your mother?"

"Yes," he replied without hesitation, "I love Mrs. Blank a great deal more than I

do Mother. I couldn't love anybody as much as I do Mrs. Blank!"

He had been frequently thrown with this lady, but apparently his relations with

her were superficial and there was no evidenct of particular or uncommon affection on

her part toward him. She had no idea that he would express himself about her in such a


A little later he said that his ideal of what a woman should be and of the sort of

wife he would like was embodied in the fictional Scarlett O'Hara. It was pointed out

that this character was thought by some to be portrayed as amazingly selfish, frigid,

dishonorable, ruthless, faithless, and petty and that, furthermore, she was scarcely the

sort of woman to make a husband happy. He did not deny any of this. Mrs. Blank,

who in his own appraisal and in reality was honest, faithful, gentle, and, in nearly all

important respects, the opposite of Scarlett O'Hara, was now recalled to him and he was


asked how he could choose both these incompatible figures as a single ideal. He then

said that maybe he was mistaken about Scarlett. He had read the novel and

remembered it in detail.

There was no indication in him of a reaction such as awakening to an error, or

even of surprise accompanying his verbal withdrawal from his fictional heroine. He did

not seem to feet any need to revise his attitude as the ordinary man does on finding

himself in error. The fact that he had been, as admitted by himself, on the wrong track

seemed in no way to stimulate him toward getting on another track. He impressed me

as being this way about the most serious and practical matters and no less so than in this

small theoretical question. It was not hard to get the feeling that he had never been on

any track at all, that he had not really been committed to his first proposition and so he

had nothing to withdraw.

This young man's parents, in his absence, spoke of his having been an unusually

loving and demonstrative child until he was about 14 years of age. "We worried," his

mother said, "because he was too considerate and affectionate. He never did anything

wrong. He would do so many sweet, attentive little things to show us how he felt. He

used to stay at home and seem to want to be with us so much that I thought it might

not be good for him."

After 14 a difference became discernible and finally striking. He gradually

changed from being overattentive until, in recent years, he seemed cool and showed

little convincing evidence of affection to his parents. He seemed to want to be out all

the time. Though the parents felt uneasy about these changes, they reassured

themselves. He did not drink and had the reputation of being very moral, "pureminded,"

and proper. He was liked by his friends, did well but not brilliantly in school,

and usually took the lead in superficial activities at clubs and social gatherings.

Occasionally incidents arose that briefly alarmed the parents. The boy, when he

wanted to have his way about small matters, sometimes seemed utterly unable to see the

other side of a question. Once when his mother was physically indisposed and needed

to get a number of articles downtown, he refused to help her, saying that he was going

to the movies with another boy. His indifference struck her as extreme, and she

suffered not only considerable inconvenience and discomfort but also sharp hurt. That

night when, as usual, he wanted the family automobile, his father refused him, pointing

out that he had not behaved toward his mother in a way to deserve this favor.

According to his parents, he reacted as if an arbitrary and vicious injustice had been

done him, showing what looked like a quiet indignation, politely controlled in its grosser

aspects but consistent with what one might


feel who is for no fault provoked and deeply wronged. Both parents felt that they had

often given in to him too much.

On another occasion when he had shown unwillingness to put himself out in

even the smallest degree for the comfort of his mother, who was then recovering from a

serious attack of illness, his father had pointed out to him that his mother might have

died and still was in danger. "Well," he said, "suppose she did. Everybody has to die

sometime. I don't see why you make so much of it." He seemed honestly surprised at

his father's reaction. In discussing this with me, he still seemed to feel that the most

important point in the matter was the factual correctness of his statement about


Unlike most psychopaths, this patient as yet shows relatively little obvious

disturbance in his social situation. There is no trail behind him now of a hundred thefts

and forgeries, repeated time after time in clear knowledge of the consequences. He has,

in general, avoided outraging his friends and acquaintances by vividly antisocial acts or

distasteful and spectacular folly. Many of his contemporaries smoke, swap bawdy jokes

with gusto, sometimes get a little drunk, and not a few indulge in illicit sexual

intercourse. Not doing these things, by which "goodness" or "badness" in people of his

age is often judged by the community, he has acquired a considerable reputation for

virtue. He goes to church regularly. All this tends to offset what negative qualities he

has shown and makes it hard for his friends to realize things about him they might

otherwise grasp. Though far from being truthful, his frank manner and his ability to

look one in the eye without shame have so far concealed most of his serious

shortcomings, not only from his parents but also from a fair percentage of his


Many of Pete's contemporaries do not, as a matter of fact, regard him as the

excellent character and promising young man he appears in the eyes of his elders. He

has no really close friends. Bound by no substantial attachments, he has, one might say,

the whole of his time and energy for superficial relations and is able to cultivate many

acquaintances with whom he is in a sense popular. He does not get close enough to

anyone in true personal relationships to be recognized well in his limitations or to be

well understood. What little warmth he possesses is all on the surface and available to

one and all. What he offers to the most casual acquaintance is all he could offer to

friend, parent, or wife. In general he is accepted as a person representing virtue and

manifesting affability. Having no serious interests or aims, he is free to devote more

attention than others to social clubs and to young people's organizations sponsored by

school or church for moral purposes. It is easy for him to say the right things and go

through the proper


motions, for he has no earnest convictions or strong conflicting drives to cause


Behind an excellent facade of superficial reactions that mimic a normal and

socially approved way of living, one can feel in this young man an inner deviation, an

emotional emptiness, comparable in degree with what seems to lie at the core of

schizophrenia. He lacks, however, all the characteristics by which a diagnosis of

schizophrenia is made. Not only are the gross and demonstrable symptoms such as

delusions and hallucinations absent, but there is no oddness, no peculiar inwardness and

constraint, no abstruse stiffness of manner, or any of the other subtle, sometimes

inexpressible, qualities and shadings that can be felt in the patient with simple

schizophrenia or in those with schizoid personality. On the contrary, he is glibly

sociable, utterly at ease. He mixes readily and tends to lead in his group. There is

nothing guarded and shy on the surface of his personality and probably nowhere within

the range of his consciousness.

Whether or not the formal diagnosis of antisocial personality (or psychopath) is

established in this case is a question I am willing to leave open. There is much in his

conduct that would indicate such a disorder. It is not what he has done that points so

strongly in this direction but how he feels and inwardly responds. When one deals with

him directly, he offers more of an opportunity than the previous patients to sense at

close range some of the attitudes that can often be surmised only at a greater depth

beneath the unaccountable conduct and the verbally and logically perfect front of the


Almost three decades have passed since the experiences with Pete in his early life

that have just been reported. Since then I have not had him under regular observation,

but from time to time information reaches me about his career that seems to confirm

my fear that he was, and is, a classic psychopath.

In his marriages he has behaved so similarly to other patients described here that

there seems little reason to attempt a full and detailed account of the disastrous

experiences of his wives.

Let us note, however, that when married to a relatively wealthy and sexually

attractive second wife, he spent most of his evenings over a long period with various

married women much older than himself. None of these women seemed to tempt him

erotically or to answer any intellectual or other understandable emotional need. They

were, on the whole, a remarkably unprepossessing lot. His account of these relations

makes it very difficult to believe he found anything but mild boredom in them.

Apparently this boredom was more acceptable than what he was able to find at home

with his good looking young wife.


The married woman with whom he most often spent time was twenty-five or

thirty years older than Pete. She was quite plain, often ungrammatical in speech, and to

most people devoid of charm. Her husband, a former bootlegger, was at the time

engaged in a business involved with illicit gambling schemes that often kept him from

home until late at night. Pete seems to have won the confidence of this woman

completely for he succeeded in stealing from her a good deal of valuable jewelry and

also securities which he apparently persuaded her to make over to him in the guise of a


Pete, like so many others of his type, seemed to evade the more serious

consequences of this episode and of other major antisocial behavior in which he has

continued. During fairly recent years he made headlines in the newspapers of a large

city by a more than ordinarily ambitious and ingenious exploit. This concerned breaking

and entering, and the removal of furniture and other valuable contents from a large


The house, sometimes spoken of as the - mansion, had been the home of a

wealthy and distinguished family but for many years had not been occupied. The older

generation had died and the several children had married and for a long time been living

in distant cities. Very handsome furniture, rugs, pictures, silver and china, and other

expensive possessions had been left in the ancestral place. Pete apparently gave a great

deal of thought to his plans and worked out the details with care and excellent

judgment. On the appointed night he and his confederates moved several trucks and

vans up to the house and after breaking in the doors loaded the vehicles with its most

valuable contents and calmly drove away. Measures were taken ahead of time to disarm

the suspicion of anyone who might happen on the scene and if the necessity should

arise to reassure the police that nothing objectionable was going on. According to the

report a burglar alarm system had been carefully studied and silenced to facilitate the


The last available information indicates that Pete continues in a versatile fashion

the typical career that distinguishes the people described in this volume.


Next: Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 11. Frank


Energy Enhancement          Enlightened Texts         Psychopath           The Mask Of Sanity



Section 2, Part 1


  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 5. Max
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 5. Max, This patient first came to my attention years ago while I was serving my turn as officer of the day in a Veterans Administration psychiatric institution. His wife telephoned to the hospital for assistance, stating that Max had slipped away from her and had begun to make trouble again. With considerable urgency and apparent distress she explained that she was bringing him to be admitted as a patient and begged that a car with attendants be sent at once to her aid. He was found in the custody of the police, against whom he had made some resistance but much more vocal uproar. The resistance actually was only a show of resistance consisting for the most part of dramatically aggressive gestures made while he was too securely held to fight and extravagant boasts of his physical prowess and savage temper at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 6. Roberta
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 6. Roberta, This young woman, sitting now for the first time in my office, gave an impression that vaguely suggested-immaturity? The word is not entirely accurate for the impression. Immaturity might imply the guarded, withdrawn attitude often shown by children in the doctor's office. It was another, in fact, almost an opposite feeling that she gave. Something less than the average of self-consciousness, a sort of easy security that does not arise from effort or from pretense-some qualities of this nature seemed to enter into the impression at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 7. Arnold
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 7. Arnold, This patient had recently left the hospital (A.W.O.L.) while out on pass. The following letters arrived from him after a few days: Baltimore, April 4th, 19-- Saturday, 2 P.M at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 8. Tom
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 8. Tom, This young man, 21 years of age, does not look at all like a criminal type or a shifty delinquent. In fact, he stands out in remarkable contrast to the kind of patient suggested by such a term as constitutional inferiority. He does not fit satisfactorily into the sort of picture that emerges from early descriptions of people generally inadequate and often showing physical 'stigmata of degeneracy' or ordinary defectiveness at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 9. George
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 9. George, This man was 33 years of age at the time I first saw him and admitted him to a psychiatric hospital. He stated that his trouble was 'nervousness' but could give no definite idea of what he meant by this word. He was remarkably sell-composed, showed no indication of restlessness or anxiety, and could not mention anything that he worried about. He went on to state that his alleged nervousness was caused by 'shell shock' during the war. He then proceeded to elaborate on this in an outlandish story describing himself as being cast twenty feet into the air by a shell, landing in his descent at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 10. Pierre
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 10. Pierre, Some of the patients who have been presented give concrete and abundant evidence in their behavior of a serious maladjustment and one of long duration at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 11. Frank
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 11. Frank, The following letter was received by an influential senator in Washington and referred by him to the hospital at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 12. Anna
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 12. Anna, There was nothing spectacular about her, but when she came into the office you felt that she merited the attention she at once obtained. She was, you could say without straining a point, rather good-looking, but she was not nearly so good-looking as most women would have to be to make a comparable impression. She spoke in the crisp, fluttery cadence of the British, consistently sounding her 'r's' and 'ing's' and regularly saying 'been' as they do in London. For a girl born and raised in Georgia, such speaking could suggest affectation. Yet it was the very opposite of this quality that contributed a great deal to the pleasing effect she invariably produced on those who met her at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 13. Jack
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 13. Jack, My prolonged acquaintance with our next subject began on the occasion of his return for a fourth period of hospitalization. He was accompanied by the sheriff who had brought him from jail in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was affable and courteous, entirely rational in his conversation. Though rather carelessly dressed, he made an imposing figure of a man; he was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighed 210 pounds, had red hair, blue eyes, a quick, humorous glance, and a disarming smile. Though 45 years of age, he appeared to be in the early thirties. His body retained good athletic lines, and he sat or stood with an easy poise at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 14. Chester
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 14. Chester, In his first admission to the closed ward of a psychiatric hospital, Chester W., 24 years of age, was friendly and alert. His freedom from anything that would suggest an ordinary psychosis was immediately noticeable. He explained to the examiner that he did not suffer from any nervous or mental disorder and emphasized the statement that no question of such a condition had ever come up in his case. He said that he came to the hospital for further examination of a serious injury to his ankle which he sustained while in the army and for which he hoped to get a pension at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 15. Walter
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 15. Walter, Walter is an only child. In the old South Carolina city where he spent his early years, he is remembered by his first playmates as having been not only normal but also a particularly desirable friend. During his grammar school days he was a good but not an exceptionally bright pupil. He was happily at ease with boys his own age, being generally looked to as a leader, though never aloof or dictatorial. He was somewhat less inclined than usual to the more destructive forms of mischief so dear to the typical young male, yet no child could have been more secure from the taunts often evoked by primness or piety in the schoolboy. It is nothing short of incredible to imagine the term sissy, withering and still unhackneyed stigma of those times, ever having been applied to Walter by anyone. That term, in fact, could not have been defined better by those who used it than as his direct opposite at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 16. Joe
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 16. Joe, This patient came in the custody of two friends, both state officers in the American Legion, to apply for admission to the hospital. He had with him commitment papers showing that he had at his own request been declared incompetent. Joe was alert and intelligent and conducted himself in a manner that suggested a person of poise, good judgment, and firm resolution. He was anything but the sort of figure that might come to mind in thinking of a patient sent for admission to such an institution at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 17. Milt
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 17. Milt, An incomplete account of this patient will be offered. His behavior and his apparent subjective reactions differ little from those of the patients already presented at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 18. Gregory
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 18. Gregory, I first saw this patient when he was 13 years old. He was referred for study and treatment by a psychiatrist who had already tried to deal with his problems for several years and who had shown great personal interest in his complicated situation. Gregory came to me from the detention center in a large southern city where he had been confined after setting fire to the local cathedral. Though he did not succeed in causing serious damage to the cathedral, the exploit was considered daring and precocious for a boy of his age. Before he was controlled by confinement in the detention center he set another fire in a large apartment building that caused substantial damage at

  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 19. Stanley
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 2: The Material , Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations, 19. Stanley, During the summer of 1972 a small item of news appeared in many of our daily newspapers over the country. It was an item that immediately engaged my attention at





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