In his landmark book on psychopathy, The Mask of Sanity, researcher Hervey Cleckley theorized that some people with the core attributes of psychopathy — egocentricity, lack of remorse, superficial charm — could be found in nearly every walk of life and at every level, including politics. Robert Hare, perhaps the leading expert on the disorder and the person who developed the most commonly used test for diagnosing psychopathy, has noted that psychopaths generally have a heightened need for power and prestige — exactly the type of urges that make politics an attractive calling.

There is more at work than just the drive to seek office, though; psychopaths may have some peculiar talents for it, as well. Research has shown that disorder may confer certain advantages that make psychopaths particularly suited to a life on the public stage and able to handle high-pressure situations: psychopaths score low on measures of stress reactivity, anxiety and depression, and high on measures of competitive achievement, positive impressions on first encounters, and fearlessness. Sound like the description of a successful politician and leader?