Unpacking Psychopathy, Power, and Agency with Dr Emily Bashah
Play • 1 hr 5 min

In this episode of The Optimistic American, Paul Johnson welcomes back Dr. Emily Bashah to discuss psychopathy, decision-making, and agency in the context of hierarchy.

The two also discuss their book Addictive Ideologies, Stanley Milgram’s 1960s experiment and tyranny.

  • Paul Johnson and Dr. Emily Bashah discuss psychopathy, the mistakes that are often made when trying to define it, and the tools that can help explain and identify a psychopath.
  • Bashah explains that not all convicted killers are psychopaths, and that not all psychopaths are killers – there are CEOs, successful politicians, and companies that do share psychopathic traits and tendencies.
  • Paul and Dr. Bashah talk about whether psychopathy has a genetic nature to it or not, and about the differences between narcissists and psychopaths.
  • Paul shares his definition of power and his hypothesis about how it manifests in different contexts such as parenthood and politics.
  • Paul and Dr. Bashah go over taking action, guilt, making decisions, and doing so as an informed person, as well as the tyranny and persecution that happened in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, during the Second World War, in the Bosnian War, and in Rwanda.
  • Paul and Dr. Bashah bring up the role that agency has in the context of hierarchy, and they go over the psychology of a con artist.
  • Paul’s and Dr. Bashah’s new book is called Addictive Ideologies – they focus on one of the key points they make in it.
  • Bashah talks about when and why complacency is key, and about the 1960s experiment of Stanley Milgram.



Mentioned in This Episode:

Addictive Ideologies: Finding Meaning and Agency When Politics Fail You

Dr. Philip Zimbardo

How to Become a Tyrant (Netflix series)

Stanley Milgram

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