When it comes to common mental illness, the idealized and designed Patrick Bateman from the novel American Psycho may come to mind, but according to one expert, the number of women with neuropsychiatric disorders may be higher than previously thought.

Psychopaths are generally considered to lack empathy and guilt, exhibit antisocial behavior, lie frequently, and are violent, narcissistic, and manipulative.

“Psychopaths are after money, power and control,” said Dr. Clive Boddy, from Anglia Ruskin University, a psychologist in the corporate world.

While the stereotype of psychopaths as violent has led to a more stereotyped view of antisocial criminals – who Boddy argues are often found in big business – the notion that they are often male has persisted.

“The behavior of female psychologists seems to be more subtle and obvious than that of male psychologists, and thus they are less well known,” Boddy said.

“A small but growing body of evidence suggests that female psychopaths tend to express aggression verbally rather than physically, and that the aggression is relational and emotional in nature, more subtle and less overt than that expressed by male psychopaths,” he said. It may involve spreading rumors and lies for personal gain.

One of Bodi’s problems is that the assessment component used to identify psychopaths – known as the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP) – is biased towards identifying problems in men.

He said this is because the first part of the assessment looks at how emotionally withdrawn, selfish, apathetic and manipulative a person is, while the second part – which covers psychopathology – focuses on violent and antisocial behaviour.

“The second body and the measures taken for it are mostly based on incarcerated criminals and psychological research – so the feeling is currently among researchers that these measures are not only suitable for identifying female psychopaths.”

There were fewer studies of psychopathy in women than in men, and reviewers tended to be reluctant to label women as psychopaths, he said.

Some estimates suggest a 10:1 ratio of male to female psychiatric patients, but Boddy’s work, using only the first part of the LSRP, suggests that the figures are much different.

“It’s almost one-to-one,” Boddy said, “although a larger study of randomly selected adults is needed to get a clearer picture.”

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Boddy, who is due to give a talk on female psychopaths at the Cambridge Festival next month, said that only 1% of men are psychopaths, and the diagnosis is at one end.

“Speculations [using the first part of the LSRP suggest] are there About 23% of men “Even if they are not in a psychotic state, they have enough characteristics to be a problem for society,” he said.

Based on a study of white-collar workers, Boddy suggests that such behaviors are not uncommon among women. “About 12% to 13% of women have enough problematic traits,” he said.

Bodi said it is important to recognize psychopathy in women and men, not least because such individuals can have a significant impact on the workplace, where employees are sidelined, abused and harassed. In addition, he pointed out that businesses run by such individuals may lose direction and affect people’s perception of large corporations.

“They see greed, dishonesty and ruthlessness at the top which undermines democracy and the rule of law,” he said.

Bodi has advocated for screening to be applied to job applicants to help protect workers.

“Especially the higher the level – so you have more power and control – more screening tests and psychometric tests are needed,” he said.