So I wear my mask, hiding my transgender status, to avoid the stigma of being associated with such. The stigma associated with psychopathy is much different. Whereas the stigma of being transgender seems to come from a gut feeling of revulsion by society, the stigma of being psychopathic seems to stem from fear. Although some may fear that the female transgenderist will commit sexual violence in ‘female’ spaces, most are more repulsed by the idea that human bodies are not supposed to evolve that way – it is a reaction of disgust, much like that feeling you had walking in on your roommate performing sex acts involving peanut butter, imported Pabst Blue Ribbon, and a latex sex doll (The PBR was for the doll, apparently – or maybe your roommate’s dog, Waffles).
The stigma regarding psychopathy is rooted in a deep fear of what we are capable of (I’ll mention generalities, but leave the stats to you, later in this post). It does not help that the media and film circles paint us as unhinged beings of destruction much like that asshole EF(big number, probably 373) tornado at the end of Twister. Imagine scenes out of Silence of the Lambs, Battle Royale, or any Shia LeBouf movie and you’ll get a feeling for just how fearful (or repulsed) people are of psychopaths.
Now I think that fear, mostly of the unknown, can be justified in the general case. We lie, manipulate, deceive, and have next to no empathy or conscience. However, that alone does not make us dangerous. Many psychopaths can, and are, be socially responsible – e.g. aren’t members of the four horsemen. An acquaintance of mine described psychopathy as being a combination of mindset and action. Our mindsets may be resistant, some believe incapable, of change, but we do have full control over our actions. We know what is socially right and wrong and we have to make a conscious decision as to whether we act accordingly. I sometimes do social good and sometimes do social wrong. The fact that I can do wrong, and without regret or remorse, should elicit negative feelings in many. However, non-sociopaths can, and do, wrong on a daily basis also. The realm of poor behavior is not confined to the psychopath, yet we don’t fear the church going, pious neighbor of getting his torture face on.
As such, the stigma against psychopaths is great. It invades all aspects of the social structures around us, from the neighbor or friend to the justice system. The punishment and scorn resulting from anything we do is blown out of proportion compared to that resulting from the same exact action by a non-psychopath. Are you a psychopath and do you go hunting for sport (assuming you can even own a weapon)? WATCH OUT HE IS GOING TO GO FROM KILLING DEER TO BECOMING ENGROSSED IN A BACCHANALIAN ORGY WHILE SWIMMING IN THE BLOOD OF HIS ENEMIES WHILE SURROUNDED BY NAKED AMAZONS HELD AGAINST THEIR WILL AND THAT ARE BEING FORCED TO DRINK BUD LIGHT OR HEAVILY EXPIRED FRUITOPIA. The writing may be hyperbolic, for effect, but the basic gist is the same: non-psychopaths tend to think that psychopaths are simply not in control and have an insatiable desire to hurt people. I’m not saying that no psychopath may have such problems, after all we have a need for instant gratification and very low self-control, but non-psychopaths can do such things too. The proportion of psychopaths and non-psychopaths that end up in legal trouble is statistically different. However, the majority of people in prison are not psychopaths.
So yes, there is great stigma associated with being a psychopath. Some of it may be deserved. One can flip through the book, Without Conscience, and see plenty of reasons why some psychopaths are deserving of being shunned and abhorred. However, all this stigma accomplishes is that it pushes us deeper into the shadows. It forces us to avoid introspection and discussion with others regarding the differences between psychopaths and non-psychopaths. It makes people hide in the basement at the faintest sound of thunder when really it was one CGI tornado that made a mess of things. The stigma does not help the psychopath choose socially responsible ways, it just makes her more eager to wear her mask better.