So You’re Unhappy: Have You Tried Being More of a Psychopath?
Numerous different alternative methods have been touted as cures for depression — from psychedelics and acupuncture to ice baths and cold showers. But have you ever tried having a lack of empathy instead?
That’s the vaguely toxic question posed in a recent study. While there’s plenty of research showing a link between psychopathic traits and violent behavior, there’s also emerging evidence that not every psychopath is violent or predatory. And when they’re not maliciously using others for their own gain, they’re busy being more content and charming than the rest of us.
Scientists refer to these more palatable psychopathic characteristics as “adaptive traits,” and suspect they’re what keeps many psychopaths from harming others. To test this theory, they interviewed 2,209 college students about their personalities, and found that most of them displayed no more than moderate psychopathic traits — i.e., they probably wouldn’t lie, cheat, steal or otherwise hurt anyone.
Psychopathic traits were gauged on reactions to statements like “Feeling sorry for others is a sign of weakness,” and “Sometimes I lie simply because I enjoy it.” Participants who scored higher on these psychopathic qualities reported more satisfaction with their lives, higher self-esteem and stabler happiness.
So maybe the kindest thing you can do for yourself is be a little bit meaner to everyone else.