If you scratch the surface of any couple out there, you’ll find a gold mine of inside jokes and idiosyncrasies that, when it really comes down to it, go a long way to explaining a couple’s overall dynamic. It can be simple as a morning routine, nicknames or love notes, and it can go off the deep end too, for instance every time I try to get my wife to pick up after herself, she raises her fist in the air and yells out something about woman’s suffrage and marches off to… probably work or something, that doesn’t matter.
But ever since my wife and I read Jon Ronson’s book called The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry (2011) we’ve started a new little game called “you are totally a psychopath”.
The book got its title from the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R). Written by the Canadian academic Robert Hare, the test is the gold standard worldwide for determining if a person is, in fact, a psychopath. In a nutshell, the first half of the test determines the inner psychopath, while the second half determines their functionality in society.
Here’s a great example of the sort of questions the checklist deals with, give it a try and see what you think!
A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a man who she did not know. She thought he was ‘amazing’. She believed him to be her dream partner so much, that she fell in love with him right there, but never asked for his number and could not find him.
A few days later she killed her sister.
Question: What was her motive for killing her sister?
This is one of those questions you really don’t want to get right. According to the checklist, if you answered “She wanted to meet the man again” you’re either very clever or very crazy.
The book says psychopaths live among us, and it’s usually a fine line between a nutcase who drives a beamer and a nutcase that sits in an asylum, it’s all about how they fit into the world around them. So for instance, a crazy person who had no way to empathize with the suffering of others might make a great CEO who had to cut jobs and pensions ruthlessly to make profits, or on the other hand a person who’s uncaring about anybody around them might become great athletes, musicians or scholars simply because they don’t really get distracted by the world and people around them. It’s pretty easy to find successful roles for people who don’t care about anyone but themselves.
But just because you don’t throw your change into a panhandler’s jar doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an amoral monster. The biggest problem Ronson’s book points out is that the test is scary broad and you could fit a whole bunch of normal, non-crazy behaviours that sort of bug you under this checklist, and therein lies our little game. So, for instance, say if a guy got particular, giggling joy from watching poorly written character’s lives torn apart in an episode of NBC’s “Smash”, a wife would be well in her offended right to check “lack of empathy towards the suffering of others” off her checklist. Likewise, if a wife were to throw a small tantrum each and every time she found the dishwasher left open, her husband might be inclined to make some notes concerning their spouses “erratic and OCD behavior.”
It goes on and on. It sounds a little weird maybe from the outside, but it’s a playful way we’ve come up with to list off our grievances with a kind of immunity, it’s how I tell my wife to stop talking during the hockey game, or for her to nag me about leaving clothes around that ends in a tickle fight instead of an argument. It’s genius really, and hey, say one of us really does start swimming in the deep end, I’m sure the doctors will be more than happy to take a look at the notes I’ve compiled over the years.
It’s important for any couple to keep things fun and interesting, that’s what we’re all about at Tokii, embracing the little things that make you and your partner different, irreverent and awesome. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and find that little notebook of hers, I know it’s here somewhere.
Jeremy Beal is the Author of the novel “Johnny Kicker” and a freelance writer for Tokii.com