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I’m a member of a question-asking community called Quora. Essentially, it’s a question-and-answer site where you indicate your credentials (whether education, work, or personal experience) to answer a question. By answering questions you build a following and establish expertise in your area. For example, I’m one of the top answerers in the categories of “Suicide” and “Suicide Prevention.”
Sometimes my time on Quora and across the internet brings me into contact with individuals who eschew science or common sense, and I’ve decided to profile those individuals on my “Wall of Shame.”
I met Athena Walker on Quora, a woman who declares herself a psychopath. Athena doesn’t appear to have any other qualifications or training in mental health in which to justify her answers on psychopathy beyond her personal experiences. Personal experience alone is not useful when citations or an evidence-base are lacking.
The question at hand was, at what age can psychopathy be diagnosed? Athena maintains that you can’t diagnose psychopathy before age 25. Reviewing the evidence, we have the DSM-IV and DSM V diagnostic criteria, the ICD-10 criteria, and the ages suggested for assessment tools used to diagnose psychopathy.
DSM-IV and DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria for Psychopathy
The DSM-IV and DSM-V criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), which is what psychopathy is referred is summarized in this 2012 article from the APA. Both the DSM IV and DSM V set the minimum age for diagnosis to 18 years of age.
The International Classification of Diseases, version 10 (ICD-10) lists the diagnostic criteria for what they call Dissocial Personality Disorder, which is equivalent to psychopathy. Knott (2016) summarizes this criteria which focuses on disregard for others, a lack of empathy and difficulty in maintaining interpersonal relationships. No age minimum is listed in the ICD-10.
Hare’s PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist-Revised)
Robert Hare is considered a worldwide expert in psychopathy (Mason, 2000) and his tool, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised has been called the “gold standard” (Egan, 2016) of assessment in psychopathy. The PCL-R requires a minimum age of 18 years old, although a Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV) exists for “assessment of psychopathic traits in male and female offenders aged 12 to 18” (Hare, n.d.)
David Slesinger is a prominent member of the “9/11 truther” movement. This movement rejects the government explanation that two planes flown into the World Trade Centers caused the Towers to collapse. He is a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911), an organization that took in nearly $650,000 in 2014 (the most recent year data is available.)
Despite the massive amount of money AE911 is generating, they have yet to come up with another conclusion accepted by the scientific community.
David Slesinger also doesn’t believe in real terrorism, instead insisting that he believes:
- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama founded ISIS
- The 2017 Manchester terror attack is a hoax
- The 2017 Westminster terror attack is a hoax
- Osama bin Laden was protected by the CIA
- Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 US election
See also: What is Nu-Rekall Mind Science?
Matthew Dovel (or Matthew D. Dovel) operates a nonprofit in Nevada called International Suicide Prevention. This nonprofit has no connection to the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. He touts a treatment called Nu-Rekall that claims being able to claim PTSD, depression and anxiety in one day, in contrary to any medical evidence.
Despite being established as a 5o1(c)(3), Dovel appears to use almost all funds generated to pay himself due to owing over $120,000 in student loans, potentially in violation of IRS guidelines. International Suicide Prevention appears not to spend money.
Since I’ve written extensively about Dovel, I won’t refresh the majority of it here – but advise you to read that blog post for Dovel’s defense in his own words.
American Psychiatric Association. (2012) DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria for the Personality Disorders. Retrieved on May 24, 2017 from http://www.psi.uba.ar/academica/carrerasdegrado/…/material/dsm.pdf
EGAN, D. (2016). The Psychopath & The Hare. Discover, 37(5), 50-55.
Hare, R. (n.d.) The Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV). Retrieved on May 28, 2017 from http://www.hare.org/scales/pclyv.html
Knott. (2016) Dissocial Personality Disorder. Patient Platform Limited. Retrieved on May 24, 2017 from https://medical.azureedge.net/pdf/9331.pdf?v=636220873720454925
Mason, B. (2000) Comprehending the con. Retrieved on May 24, 2017 from https://news.ubc.ca/ubcreports/2000/00jul13/00jul13pro.html