Here’s a fun Christmas/ Boxing Day game to play. Is your average fox hunter a psychopath?
I’m asking of course because of the recent horrific photo taken of a fox being ripped to bits by the Barlow Hunt which was out ‘following a scent trail’ near Matlock in Derbyshire. Despite the evidence on the ground the hunt was later quoted on the BBC News website saying:
“The Barlow Hunt operates within the law to comply with the Hunting Act 2004.
An incident occurred on 17 December which we believe was solely due to the presence of anti-hunting protestors who were distracting and confusing our hounds by blowing a hunting horn.
The police have been informed and we will fully cooperate with any enquiries regarding this matter.”
The dogs were confused by a hunting horn? Excuse me for asking, but isn’t how they’re trained in the first place…
The reaction on social media from hunt followers was more revealing (as it always is), ranging from the dismissive and insulting to the downright bizarre. On the flip side the reaction from pro-wildlife supporters was that this was surely evidence of psycopathy – which is defined online as “personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behaviour, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits” (and sometimes considered synonymous with sociopathy)?
Now, many of us (myself included) like a bit of amateur diagnosing. And who can resist the lure of ‘is this evidence of psychopathy’? How about we start with those three characteristics above, and how they might relate to the average foxhunter (I mean the bad ones, of course, not the lovely types who pat foxes on the head as they pass them by and greet hunt monitors with a cheery halloo and offers of a quick swig from the port flask to keep them warm)?
Persistent antisocial behaviour. You’d have to say yes to that, surely? There are numerous examples on the internet, but even this week hounds from the notorious Quorn Hunt jumped over an open grave DURING a burial (the Hunt ‘explained’ that “some hounds drifted off the scent of the trail that had been laid for them to follow while legally trail-hunting.” As they apparently so often do).
Impaired empathy and remorse. Do fox hunts EVER express empathy for the animals they hunt or the hounds they put down when they get too old to chase a fox? If they do I’ve not seen it. And remorse? It’s tempting to suggest that ‘only if they get caught’, but perhaps there’s evidence online somewhere. Let me know…
Which leaves egotistical traits. I think it’s fairly evident to anyone who’s ever witnessed a hunt, seen a video of a hunt, seen a photo of a hunt (blimey, even seen a painting of a hunt), that your average foxhunter has a certain ‘sense of self’ that it seems fair to characterise as egotistical (or, as it’s so easily and somehow aptly misspelt, ‘egotestical’). Or entitlement. A disdainful holding of the nose whilst also looking down it, simultaneously acknowledging yet willing themselves to ignore the dreadful oiks trying to halt them going about their god-given right of chasing the native wildlife with their dogs. Low in self-esteem, these people are not.
Amateur psycho-analysing, maybe, but all good fun.
Interestingly, there is a much more detailed scale designed to help us (well, not us exactly but proper clinicians) to recognise a psycopath. It was apparently designed based on work with prison inmates in Vancouver, so how applicable it may be to rural hooligans on horseback (many of which haven’t been convicted of any crime yet) I don’t think we can be certain, but it’s called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. And it’s even been ‘Revised’.
As the internet explains, The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) is a diagnostic tool used to rate a person’s psychopathic or antisocial tendencies. It was developed in the 1970s by Dr Robert Hare, a Canadian professor and researcher renowned in criminal psychology, who spent three decades studying the concept known as the psychopath.
The PCL-R is accepted by many working in the field “as the best method for determining the presence and extent of psychopathy in a person“. According to Dr Hare (who does seem to be something of a go-to expert on this) psychopaths are said to exhibit the characteristics listed below. In a proper assessment, incidentally, each characteristic is ‘ranked’ from zero (patient doesn’t show this) to 2 (‘uh oh, time to throw away the keys to the cell’, which is my interpretation, and probably not something that would appear in many doctor’s notes, no matter what they think privately, but we’re just having some fun here, m’lud):
- glib and superficial charm
- grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
- need for stimulation
- pathological lying
- cunning and manipulativeness
- lack of remorse or guilt
- shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
- callousness and lack of empathy
- parasitic lifestyle
- poor behavioral controls
- sexual promiscuity
- early behavior problems
- lack of realistic long-term goals
- failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- many short-term marital relationships
- juvenile delinquency
- revocation of conditional release
- criminal versatility
That’s quite a list, eh. So, how might we amateurs amuse ourselves this Christmas and Boxing day by playing the ‘Apply the PCL-R to foxhunters’ game?
Well, let’s start by saying that of course it would be utterly improper (and disturbing frankly) to even guess about the bedroom behaviour of the average foxhunter (or average terrierman, come to think about it) – but how about points 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, and 8? Or 14,15,16? They seem to cover much of those three traits from up near the top of the page. Those ones about lack of empathy, over-inflated egos, and ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’. And how about that ‘failure to accept responsibility for own actions’? Classic, in my humble opinion.
Of course, no-one would really suggest that there is anything as the ‘average’ foxhunter in real life. Just because they do the same thing, wear the same uniform, and live by the same rules doesn’t mean that foxhunters are homogenous, like some sort of brutish, weird cult. Of course not.
That would be as daft as calling all sabs and monitors heroic, pro-wildlife, generous, kind, self-sacrificing, wonderful people – I mean, surely one or two of them might try and get out of the odd round down the pub surely?
Anyway, ‘Just how psychopathic is your average foxhunter‘ is the game. What do you think? Could be some high-scoring chaps and chapesses out there, but I’ll leave the scoring up to you. Wouldn’t it be interesting to compile some sort of ‘Sidebar of Shame’ list of the worst scoundrels? Sadly I won’t be uploading the names of potential ‘winners’ (or losers?) from what will undoubtedly be witnessed in the coming weeks, but maybe you can play at home as you go through all those video clips and photos…
All joking aside, and much more importantly, can I just say to all the incredible sabs and monitors who might read this: thankyou for everything you do, and keep safe out there, eh..