The Mask of Sanity

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The Mask of Sanity, 1982 edition.

The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt To Clarify Some Issues About The So-Called Psychopathic Personality is a book by Hervey M. Cleckley, first published in 1941. A seminal study of psychopathy, it has gone through five major revisions.

In the book, Cleckley describes his patients, their traits, and also examines people who are likely to be psychopaths but who function efficiently enough in society that they neither end up in prison nor in a mental institution. His descriptions remain just as relevant today for understanding the nature of psychopathy.

It should be noted that Cleckley's overall focus is still on relatively "unsuccessful" psychopaths, who do not make their way into societal positions in which they can cause harm on the greatest scales. Other research, e.g. that described in Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology and the later research described in Babiak and Hare's Snakes in Suits, shows that there are also psychopaths who manage to climb to top positions in society. (Such psychopaths have indeed created the pathocracy we live in today.)

This book is available as a free PDF download, the fifth revision having been made available for non-profit educational use by Cleckley's heirs.

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