Are psychopaths personally attractive
Why do women love psychopaths?
Afton Burton wants to marry Charles Manson. The 80-year-old has been jailed for ordering several brutal murders in California for over 40 years. The 26-year-old Afton is not an isolated case with her fascination for a serious criminal. What makes offenders like Manson so attractive to many women?
The psychiatrist and psychotherapist Borwin Bandelow has not only dealt with anxiety and panic disorders for many years, but also with the bizarre allure of terrible criminals. In his book "Who is afraid of the bad man? Why perpetrators fascinate us", Bandelow examined exactly what makes criminals so interesting and attractive to other people. We asked the Deputy Director of the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Göttingen.
Professor Bandelow, what's behind your fascination for a criminal like Charles Manson?
Borwin Bandelow: Charles Manson meets the criteria for an antisocial personality disorder. He has the feeling that he is a chosen one, that many people have to gather around him in order to fulfill his mission. Of course, this "anti-social" category does not mean that people like Manson have a malfunctioning social brain. On the contrary, it may even work better than normal people. People with an antisocial personality disorder can very well empathize with their counterpart, grasp their thoughts. While you and I would use this ability for the benefit of others, they use your ability and charisma for their own good.
What goes on inside women like Afton Burton?
There are several reasons women are attracted to criminals. At Afton Burton, it will be Little Red Riding Hood syndrome. She is fascinated by the animal, the evil of the perpetrator. Your brain has been brainwashed of some sort. She hides the murders, thinking they didn't happen or were blamed on him. We also know this phenomenon "love is blind". Simply put, the brain has two areas: the rational brain and the reward system. The latter just thinks straight away, wants to eat, drink, have sex. If this system is triggered, the ability to criticize is switched off.
What other reasons are there?
In tamer syndrome, women feel that they are in control of the beast. Burton may even be afraid of being raped or beaten. But since there will be no love cell in the Manson case, she is safe from him. When it comes to Amiga syndrome, women are convinced that "mine is completely different". They are inspired by the good of man and they believe: through my love or my religion I can reverse the polarity. Women with borderline syndrome are also among these "prison brides".
What does science know about the biography of these women?
It would certainly be interesting to know the statistical background. There is no study, partly because there are too few cases. But the reward system works the same for all of us. It is independent of intelligence and education. It can happen to any woman. Among the supporters of the multiple woman murderer Jack Unterweger (editor's note: The Austrian Jack Unterweger hanged himself in his cell after his conviction in 1994), all social classes were represented, from very young girls to the wealthy company widow. I got to know one of them. Astrid Wagner is a lawyer, educated, good-looking. On the face of it, she is peddling it successfully: She has now written three books and is also using her fame to get more clients for her law firm. But the real drive is the criminal's sexual fascination.
Does the phenomenon also exist in men?
Yes, only to a much lesser extent. That's because only six percent of prison inmates worldwide are women. But I think, for example, of Amanda Knox, the "angel with the eyes of ice". I have looked very closely into the case and personally believe that she committed the murder of her roommate. She looks good and has received an incredible number of applications from men.
What makes the fascination disappear again?
Infatuation lasts between 18 months and three years. There are women who are similar, and there are women who are in love even after the man dies. In 2013 I was in a talk show by Markus Lanz together with Astrid Wagner. And she talked about Unterweger in such a way that Lanz said: "You still love him."
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