Measuring Madness and the Macabre

Aside from the renowned Dr. Robert Hare and his PCL-R checklist (see Dr. Robert Hare’s Hare Psychopathy Checklist  ) there exists yet 2 more scales rating the depravity and the evil that various criminals possess.  Although most of these criminals are killers, not all are but their crimes are serious enough to quantify them on these scales.  Nasty.

The Depravity Scale
This scale assesses criminals based on the level of their demonstrated depravity in the nature alyssa-bustamante-2-fbof their crimes, and in particular, the acts they commit against their poor victims. It isn’t associated with the DSM-IV-TR and unlike other forensic scales, it involves public opinion as to how depraved a crime/criminal is in order to place on the scale.

Judges and juries who decide that a crime is “depraved,” “heinous,” or “horrible” can assign more severe sentences. However, there is no standard, fair way to distinguish crimes that are the worst of the worst, or “evil,” since this assessment is basedstrictly on personal opinion.In order to guide public opinion and make this assessment more valid, research was guided by legal and scientific study. A two-part survey created the scale:

  1. The first part enabled the public to shape intents, actions, and attitudes
  2. the second involved defining the relative weight of these items

The scale was intended to make participants choose between criminal occurrences and rate them on a scale of 1 – 5, quite a difficult task considering all of the crimes are nasty and unnecessary.  Also, comparing completely different crimes and the mentality of the crooksarticle-1317201742397-0E1FF64900000578-489070_466x308 behind the, is a complex request. An example is which is worse? The prolonged unnecessary torture of a restrained victim or sexual molestation of a child by a priest.  Say what?  Emerging themes include what the perpetrator intended to do, and how he or she felt about the crime afterward.  Which is worst?  Apathy or a sense of satisfaction? A forensic psychiatrist described the scale in this manner:
 “The idea is to create an instrument that will distinguish not who is depraved, but rather what aspects of a given crime are depraved and the degree of a specific crime’s depravity.”

To participate in the online Depravity Scale click here.

Dr. Michael Stone’s Evil  Scale
Stone approached on the opposite perspective in his scale: the depravity of the perpetrator, as determinblog-angry-teened by the nature of the crime. Most Evil is an American forensics television program on Investigation Discovery where Stone rates murderers on a scale of evil that he has developed. The show features profiles on various murderers serial killers, mass murderers and psychopaths . Stone researched hundreds of killers to develop his hierarchy of “evil”. The scale ranges from Category 1, those who kill in self-defense, to the Category 22, serial torturer-murderers. Neurologists and psychologists are interviewed on the show to examine the minds of notorious killers. Partial re-enactments are shown along with news footage, evidence, and reports from locals. Neurological, environmental, andgenetic factors are examined to help determine what drives a person to kill. Background history and pre-meditation are considered when placing an individual on the scale of evil.

Stone rates women and men who kill on his Evil Scale.  Women especially mothers, seem to captivate the public in terms of who is most evil.Women usually kill someone in their intimate circle of friends and family. Marybeth Tinning is a chilling example of a Munchausen Mother who murdered 8 children befomultiple_personality_disorder_by_freysre being brought to justice some 30 years later. Other women torture and murder their own children. Stone claims that killers do not consider themselves to be evil. Historically, people in power regarded killing those who opposed their politics or rule as necessary: such people were obstacles and needed to be removed.  Quite simple.  There have been a plethora of rulers who resorted to extreme torture either to extract information from prisoners, for sadistic pleasure, or as a slow means of execution.  The latter was a warning to the public: such is the fate you can expect if you attempt to oppose me.In other words, take no prisoners.

The scale focuses on traits of psychopathy:

  1. 0 if it isn’t there
  2. 1 if it is mildly there
  3. 2 if it is definitely a factor in the criminal’s mind

This rating makes the maximum score on Stone’s Evil Scale 40. The manner in which the scale works is this: a killer may score on glibness and superficial charm but not to the extreme that warrants a 2, so that criminal would receive a 1. Some examples of evil ratings are here.

An example of notorious killers are ranked here:

Killer                                                Traits                                                  Points
Samuel Collins                               (killed wife) non-psychopathic/jealousy        2
Leslie Van Houton                         Impulsive/Non-Psychopathic/ Accomplice     3
Martha Ann Johnson                      Violent/Desperate/Remorseful                    5
Wayne Wesbrook                            Impetuous/Impulsive/Aggressive               6
Marybeth Tinning                           Narcissism/Attention-Seeking                    7
Charles Whitman                            Smouldering Rage, Easily Triggered            8
Betty Broderick                              Jealous lover/Psychopath                           9
Susan Smith                                   Narcissism/Kills Others in the Way            10
Ed Gein                                           Inadequate Psychopathy/Rageful              13
Richard Farley                                 Egocentric schemer/psychopathic            14
Diane Downs                                   Psychopathic/Egocentric/Scheming          14
Dorothy Puente                                Psychopathic/Cold-Blooded/Multiple        15
Charles Starkweather                      Psychopathic/Multiple Murderer              16
David Berkowitz/Son of Sam          Serial Killer/Sexually Perverse                 17
Gary Ridgeway/Green River Killer  Psychopathic Torture-Murderer               18
Jeffrey Dahmer (highest)                  Psychopathic/Serial/Sexual                     22

An example of ratings 0 – 8 on the Most Evil Graph:

Category Criteria People
01 Those who have killed in self-defense, and who do not show traces of psychopathy.
02 Jealous lovers who committed murder; although egocentric or immature, they are not psychopaths.
03 Willing companions of killers: aberrant personality, impulse-ridden, with some antisocial traits. Leslie Van Houten
04 Those who have killed in self-defense, but had been extremely provocative toward the victim for that to happen.
05 Traumatized, desperate persons who killed abusive relatives or other people, but who show remorse for their crime and are not psychopaths.
06 Impetuous, hotheaded murderers, yet without marked psychopathic traits. Robert John Bardo, Billy Wayne Sinclair
07 Highly narcissistic, but not distinctly psychopathic persons—some with a psychotic core—who kill persons next to them, with jealousy as an underlying motive. Marybeth Tinning, Mark David Chapman, Armin Meiwes, Diana Dial
08 Non-psychopathic persons with smoldering rage, and who kill when the rage is ignited. Charles Whitman, Keith Jesperson
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