Anders Breivik, Sociopath: Addendum

From following the various testimony snippets of Breivik, he clearly has twisted cultural values that the majority of us do not harbor. Yet, it is perplexing as to how much of his claims are true. Breivik stated that he created an organization called the Knights Templar, which of course is a borrowed name for the knights allegedly charged with protecting the Holy Grail. The purpose of the Knights Templar, according to Breivik, is to create a new image for national socialism, presumably to oppose what he sees as the enemy, multiculturalism and immigration.

I think it is worth noting that Breivik appears to be ruled and guided by extreme ideology, but to what extent is he manufacturing it himself? Clearly, there is a history of national socialism in Europe and Breivik seems to have sympathies for the Serbian militants who were active during the Kosovo war, so he no doubt has inspirational sources and justifications for his views, but the fact that he wrote his own 1801 page manifesto suggests that his ideology and his behavior are largely a part of his own brain child. This is to put him in stark contrast to killers who appear to have just become wrapped up in the ideology of organizations or charismatic individuals such as Charles Manson.

The only reason I raise this point is because if you “create” your own culture by working in isolation and living hermetically, does that blur the line between sociopath and psychopath? In other words, are you merely justifying your own behavioral inclinations or do you genuinely believe there to be a greater good to your actions? From what I have read of psychopaths, it does not appear that many have complex ideas about a greater good that extends beyond their own selfish desires. Another reason that I believe Breivik to be a sociopath.

4 thoughts on “Anders Breivik, Sociopath: Addendum

  1. Crifter

    he is not a sociopath. sociopaths are impulsive, promiscuous and charismatic, also extroverts. breivik was meticulous, patient, methodical and is more introverted, he may lack remorse but not because he is a sociopath – he is a fanatic and may be lunatic, but of different sort


    1. Jack P Post author

      Going by the definitions used by Robert Hare (the PCL-R guy), I do think that Breivik is a sociopath, as distinguished from a psychopath (who is impulsive, promiscuous and charismatic). Sociopath and psychopath gets tossed around a lot, and they often get used interchangeably. The key part of a sociopath, though, is being fully guided by a strong ideology, which Breivik certainly has. I sometimes get mad at my fascination with these people, because a person who can commit such acts almost doesn’t deserve fascination, only condemnation. From a neuroscience perspective, I really want them to scan his brain, after they lock him up, of course.


      1. Crifter

        OK, lets go over the PCL-R list and score from 0-2 (0 does not apply, 2 applies fully, 1 somewhat)
        1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM — the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

        0 or at most 1 – not particularily charming

        2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH — a grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

        ok, here we give 2
        3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM — an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

        0, he is methodical
        4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING — can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.
        0, he is honest
        5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS- the use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.
        0, he is not conning
        6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT — a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and un empathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

        ok, you can give him 2 for no remorse (though this is because of his views of this as military action)

        7. SHALLOW AFFECT — emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

        he is not gregarious at all, but can say is unemotional – 1 to 2
        8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY — a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

        he is not inconsiderate, he was protecting people who were bullied; 1 at most
        9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE — an intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

        not a parasite – 0
        10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

        does not apply at all – meticulous; 0
        11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR — a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.

        0, not promiscuous

        12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS — a variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

        1 at most, had problem with father, but probably 0 here
        13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS — an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.
        – quite the opposite, has direction in life (fanatic right wing) – 0

        14. IMPULSIVITY — the occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

        not erratic at all – 0

        15. IRRESPONSIBILITY — repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

        he is very responsible and organized – 0

        16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS — a failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

        can put 2 here (though he is not a classic manipulative; but for the sake of argument, lets give it 2)

        17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS — a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.
        – here 0
        18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY — behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.
        here also 0
        19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE — a revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.
        here also 0
        20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY — a diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes.
        here also 0, 1 at most (this was his first crime)

        so, score 7-10 out of 40; for sociopaths has to be more than 25; for psychopaths more than 30; normal is around 5. With respect to sociopathy, Breivik is more like a normal person. He has some narcissism in him, but not a sociopath at all.


  2. Jack P Post author

    While I do appreciate you laying out a PCL-R analysis, I cannot take it too seriously because one, I do not know if you are a trained mental health specialist, and two, you have not been able to interact with and profile Breivik with him as your patient.
    The PCL-R analysis is a measure of antisocial personality disorder, with scores of 30-40 being considered psychopathic. Sociopathy is not psychopathy. In fact, Hare makes this apparent in his book with Babiak, Snakes in Suits. Sociopaths have a sense of morality, but a key difference is that it has been shaped by a moral subculture; a system that is not accepted by society at large – the warped national socialism that Breivik flaunts. It appears to be, on the surface, his beliefs that have permitted and justified his acts – which he is happy about.
    A PCL-R analysis of Breivik is redundant.



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