How Do We Find The Truth?
We are going to explore the idea of Eric being a psychopath from a clinical point of view – not opinion.
The simple answer is that psychopathy is not a diagnosable disorder – it’s not even a real disorder; psychopathy is just a theory. Are you shocked? It’s true.
People believe Eric Harris was a psychopath because Dave Cullen wrote an article that claimed to have diagnosed Eric as a psychopath post-mortem. His source was Frank Ochberg, one of the leading authorities on psychopathy next to Robert Hare.
It’s very important that we examine this subject from a clinical point of view, because we can make up anything we want about what we believe psychopathy is – but if we are not working within the clinical aspect relevant to its origins, we are just literally randomly spouting off opinions that have no basis in fact.
I have formally studied psychology and abnormal psychology extensively. I’ve also had lengthy discussions with Frank Ochberg, so I speak from true and objective knowledge here.
First, there is a book called the Diagnostic & Statistics Manual (“The DSM”) that has every diagnosable disorder inside and lists the clusters of symptoms associated with each disorder. This is what psychiatrists use to diagnose and treat a patient. Psychopathy is not in this book. Why? Because psychopathy is not a diagnosable disorder. It is a theory – a concept – a postulation that can never be clinically proven. It’s virtually impossible. Any diagnosis of “psychopath” by Robert Hare or any other psychiatrist/psychologist means nothing to the APA, is not recognized by the APA, is pure opinion, and is still not verifiable.
So why is psychopathy not a disorder? The very concept that makes someone a psychopath (as opposed to just having Anti-Social Personality Disorder) is impossible to prove clinically. That concept is a biological incapability to feel remorse. It is not possible to prove someone is biologically incapable of feeling remorse.
Labeling someone as “psychopath” or any “disorder” is just a label that identifies a cluster of symptoms. It doesn’t explain anything. Even if psychopath were a real disorder, and diagnosable, it wouldn’t explain anything. It would just tell us what cluster of symptoms someone was displaying. How can you tell if someone is displaying the symptom of the INABILITY to feel remorse? You can’t. It simply isn’t possible to clinically prove someone’s ability or inability to feel remorse. We can measure a person’s display of remorse or lack thereof, but there is no way to differentiate between someone who chooses not to feel remorse and someone who is biologically incapable. And the ability to clinically prove a biological incapability is the only distinction between “psychopathy” and “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.”
While someone with Anti-Social Personality Disorder will often choose to perform actions that are amoral regardless of the consequences, the psychopath literally is unable to feel empathy, or rather, identify with the pain of others. They have no moral compass. They are literally unable to feel remorse. It’s not that they simply choose to ignore any remorse they may feel like the ASPD person does. No, the psychopath, in theory, is hard-wired to be biologically incapable of even feeling remorse. But such a claim of biological incapability is clinically impossible to prove, therefore psychopath will never, ever be recognized as a disorder.
So now you can see why it is not a recognized disorder – there is no way to clinically prove that someone lacks the ability to feel remorse. Plenty of people choose not to feel remorse. But there is no way to clinically prove someone is biologically incapable. You can take the example of a guy who robs a house and shoots the homeowner for pulling a gun on him. The robber will feel justified in his actions until the day he dies. That homeowner pulled a gun on him, and so he will feel no remorse because he feels justified – he feels RIGHT. Does that make him a psychopath? No. There is no way to tell if he is incapable of feeling remorse or if he’s just choosing to remain righteously justified in his actions.
This next part is very important!
No psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose post-mortem. This is a legal impossibility. Anything said about Eric post-mortem is all just guesswork. And that guesswork is based on limited knowledge and a lack of personal interaction. And guess what? Personal interaction is necessary to diagnose someone. And any psychologist will tell you that it would take years to even start to see the signs of what is being called “psychopathy.”
So now we’ve got a journalist who does not have a Ph.D. who has performed a legally impossible post-mortem diagnosis that concludes Eric has the imaginary disorder of psychopathy. What?
I spoke to Ochberg at length about this, and while he says nothing but good things about Cullen, he also agrees with me regarding the impossibility of ever being able to prove if Eric (or anyone for that matter) is, indeed, a psychopath.
Hitler and Stalin and all of those people exhibit qualities of Anti Social Personality Disorder which boils down to poor impulse control, being glib, charming, and taking advantage of being able to influence people to get what they wanted – but plenty of people commit crimes on a daily basis that require them to put aside remorse or any identification with other humans in order to get their end result. Robbery, crimes of passion, etc. Hundreds of thousands of people put aside empathy to get what they want and are in jail for it – and most of them to this day believe they are justified and right. They won’t ever show you remorse. But that doesn’t mean they are incapable.
If someone were a psychopath and thus incapable of feeling remorse or relating to another person through empathy, they would not necessarily be violent. It just means that if they wanted to be violent, they would have no ability to feel remorse and there would be less of a filter there. But again, there is no way to prove that this is a biological impossibility – and not just their need to justify their behavior and feel “right” and simply choose to ignore other people’s feelings.
There are no levels to a psychopath because a psychopath is only a constructed theory of a possible biological impossibility to feel remorse. It can never be proven therefore will always remain a theory.
In the end it doesn’t matter if Eric was a psychopath or not. But if he were, all it would mean is that he was not biologically capable of feeling remorse or empathizing with others. And that in itself doesn’t mean anything. It still doesn’t solve anything.
Any psychiatrist or psychologist who diagnoses Eric post-mortem is not to be taken seriously as a professional. Legally one cannot diagnose post-mortem, because it requires in person interaction, and psychopathy is not a diagnosable disorder to start with. It’s only a theory, hence why it is not in the DSM and there is such a huge debate even among psychiatrists and psychologists. They can’t even agree on what a psychopath really is. It’s like the debate about what “God” really is – everyone has their opinion, and no one can prove God exists or doesn’t exist and so it cannot be taught in schools because it’s just an idea, a concept – not tangible. Psychopathy is no different.
Reasons to believe Eric was a psychopath:
A well-known journalist published this diagnosis, citing a real life psychologist as a source, so it must be true!
Reasons to question it:
Psychopath is not a diagnosable disorder – it is not in the DSM
The people claiming Eric was a psychoapath never met him. All they have to go on is his writings he left behind as an angry teenager that don’t differ from many others.
The only difference between “Anti-Social Personality Disorder” and “psychopathy” is that while someone with ASPD may choose not to feel remorse, a psychopath is biologically incapable of feeling remorse.
The problem is that it’s impossible to clinically prove anyone has a biological incapability of feeling remorse when many people freely choose not to in order to stay righteous in their poor decisions.