IDENTFYING A PSYCHOPATH—Jack the Ripper Part 1
By Michael James Cook PhD, Retired Clinical Psychologist
Let’s examine the traits of a psychopath which is a disorder that affects 1% of the population of the world. Just the mere mention of the words conjures up a whole host of Hollywood movies. The Zodiac Killer, Norman Bates, and of course Jack the Ripper. What might spook you is that you have in your life time actually met one or even married one. You’re laughing because you’re reading this and you are still alive. To show symptoms of this disorder does not mean they are going to slash or strangle somebody.
The psychopath is a genius at disguise because he or she lives their own reality in their minds. It’s a misinterpretation that these people live a reclusive lifestyle because of their disorder. Most psychopaths portray a superficial charm endearing themselves to people that they want to get close to. This is because they are driven by ego and a high self-esteem. They believe that they are highly intelligent and cannot be outsmarted by anyone.
They manipulate and lie extremely well because they have the ability to change themselves like a chameleon depending on the scenario. They do this as a protection mechanism to avoid being exposed due to their disorder. They are fraudsters and emotional fakes who cannot empathize on an emotional level. This often becomes the psychopath’s Achilles Heel, because essentially they are cruel.
To achieve their goals they are completely devoid of guilt from the pain which they may inflict on others. They will vehemently deny responsibility for their actions and, as in most cases with people who suffer from this disorder, they don’t seek psychological help. This only fuels them to carry on their parasitic lifestyle feeding on others’ achievements, stealing others’ idea or plans, which can often be seen in the workplace. This trait of the psychopath is usually what the movie industry picks up on… someone who has no remorse. And, because of their spontaneous behavior they tend not to lay down roots or sustain a long term relationship.
Research shows that psychopathic tendencies can be detected at an early age. I personally think this is a grey area because behavioral problems in children so young can be disguised or misdiagnosed as a host of other behavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder or mild autism. What is it that we learn first in life—the ability to talk, then walk, and as we get a little older we lie and manipulate our parents. We soon are able to divide and rule the weakest parent to get what we want.
As I mentioned earlier, exposure is their biggest fear. Most psychopaths will have been involved in criminality because of their disorder. They tend to lean towards committing fraud or becoming con artists. Their reality does not comprehend that they may be caught and due to this they will reoffend.
Again, psychopaths cannot perceive themselves in long term relationships so they are usually promiscuous and easily get bored with any form of routine. Those that do get married get divorced after a short period of time. Think about it now, you may have met one without even knowing, but again you’re still alive. These are commonly defined traits of this disorder in being able to identify a psychopath, but it is the X Factor question that turns them to committing heinous acts of violence. I chose to examine Jack the Ripper case because of its worldwide notoriety and the abundance of theories as to the identity of who he, or she, was. Like all unsolved murders it is a perfect vehicle for conspiracy theories ranging from the bizarre to the credible.
Unsolved now for nearly 128 years, let me give you a little background before the next part of this article. The facts we do know from the Modus Operandi are that he murdered five women in the White Chapel area of London from August through November 1888. That’s not to say there were not others. The psychopath in many cases evolves because they crave attention. The five murders attributed to Jack drew attention because of the grotesque nature in which they were murdered and mutilated. It became a signature for him. In the height of the public’s appetite for information about the case an inexpensive broadsheet newspaper in London increased its circulation to one million a day which was unprecedented at the time.
In the next article I will look at the murders themselves and some of the theories as to who Jack the Ripper was. Could he have been a member of the Royal Family, a doctor, or a member of the Free Masons?