Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Enigmatic Case of Robert Charles Browne

Who Are These Guys?

Among the most dangerous features of psychopathy are a callous disregard for the rights of others and a propensity for violating norms. They might not necessarily become outright criminals, let alone killers, but the likelihood of exploitive and deceptive behavior is high. Without remorse, psychopaths charm and manipulate others for their own gain. They lack a sense of responsibility and they con others with no regard for the feelings of others. In fact, they don't see others as fully human as themselves. Those with low inhibitions against violence may kill.

Psychopaths are considered to be suffering from a personality disorder (not a mental illness) that involves traits such as narcissism, impulsivity, and callousness. From brain scan studies it appears that they fail to process the emotional content of situations, such as empathy, concern, or alarm. Those who commit crimes have proven more brutal than other criminals, more aggressive and more diverse in their activities. They also represent a high percentage of repeat offenders. They're resistant to therapy and intolerant of frustration. It doesn't matter whom they hurt; what matters is that they get what they can for themselves. Because they don't have what people need for living in social harmony, some psychologists refer to them as unfinished souls.

Robert R. Hare
Robert R. Hare

Robert R. Hare, a renowned expert on the disorder and author of Without Conscience, says there are indications that the personality structure and propensity for unethical behavior is shared by both criminal and noncriminal psychopaths, and they may be as common as one in every hundred people. "Psychopathy," Hare believes, "touches virtually every one of us."

For the most part, when they do offend, their crimes are cold-blooded. With those who are serial killers, there appears to be a strong tendency toward sadism. They find victims easily because they're glib, charming, and predatory, while their victims are generally na´ve. They dispense with anyone, without a thought for the suffering of either the victim or their families. Thus, there's no reason to believe they'll tell the truth whether under oath or not .

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