‘Subclinical Psychopathy And The Cops’: A Quick But Alarming Way Into George Floyd Murder Trial

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If you’re trying to follow the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd – the 2020 killing that re-invigorated the #BlackLivesMatter movement and sparked worldwide protests against police violence – there’s unfortunately not a lot of interest in Australian media.

But there is plenty of content on Youtube if you’re prepared to go looking, including live streams to the ongoing court case. It began just over a week ago and is set down for at least a month.

The testimony has so far been compelling, albeit gut-wrenching. If you’ve never quite worked out why Floyd’s death sparked so much anger, then following the trial will almost certainly get you there. There’s numerous videos from bystanders showing Chauvin strangle the life out of a man (of whom there’s no evidence he committed a crime), including continuing to apply severe pressure to Floyd’s neck for more than three minutes after he passed out.

And if you’re looking to get up to speed quickly on the issue, this video from Dr Todd Grande, a licensed mental health counsellor and former associate professor at Wilmington University, is a very good option. Grande weighs in on the basic facts of the case, but he also provides a scientific perspective about the personalities on trial.

Grande is well worth a follow on Youtube (I started supporting him on Patreon as well here, where you get bonus videos). He puts up new content virtually every day, analysing the situations and personalities behind major news events both breaking and from history. He even occasionally weighs into Australia stories – this one profiles Kathleen Folbigg, who recently lost an appeal against her conviction for the murder of her four children.

A video Grande released in early February is also worth a watch. It’s not specifically related to the George Floyd murder trial, but there’s content in it that’s very relevant.

Grande analyses the firestorm of felony charges that has engulfed Jeremy Dewitte, a Florida-based business owner facing almost two dozen felony charges for impersonating a police officer. Dewitt is a growing media sensation in the US for all the wrong reasons, and he recently featured in a sycophantic episode on Dr Phil.

During the analysis, Grande notes that “…the police impersonator is someone who has some of the components seen in normal police officers, like excitement seeking, assertiveness, a desire to dominate, rigid thinking, and subclinical psychopathy….”

Subclinical psychopathy refers to “individuals who exhibit many of the characteristics of psychopathy, except for some of the more severe antisocial behaviours. This constellation of traits allows the subclinical psychopath to avoid incarceration”.

This video from Grande goes specifically into more detail about police and psychopathy, with a discussion on two research papers from 2018, but it’s important to note (as Grande does) that contrary to popular belief, psychopathy is neither a good nor a bad thing. We all have psychopathic traits, and some of those traits are very useful, especially if you’re working as a police officer. For example, if you’re trapped in a burning vehicle, you don’t want a cop turning up who scores low on the ‘Fearlessness’ scale. It’s when those psychopathic traits reach extreme levels that things can go pear-shaped… and you can end up kneeling on a man’s neck until he dies in plain view of dozens of witnesses.

As Grande notes in the video, police recruits in particular have higher intensity levels of some psychopathic traits which are considered anti-social.

Grande also has a very interesting discussion on the movement that followed the killing of Floyd to ‘defund the police’ here.

Grande has a very dry style (and a sense of humour to match – he can be extremely funny at times, in a very deadpan way), but if you’re looking for no-nonsense facts, and sensible analysis, he’s a good find. He’s an ‘honest broker’ on the internet, in an age where saying stupid and outrageous shit is the best way to get attention. So he’s a rare find.

You might not always agree with his opinions, but you can’t buck the science on which Grande relies. In short, he makes people Dr Phil look like, well, psychopaths.

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Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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