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Denny Hecker’s Brain/A Fine Line Between Slick and Sick

October 14th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Denny Hecker, the disgraced Twin Cities automobile dealership mogul is in the news again. This time, he slithered and manipulated his way into having the federal government pay his attorney’s fees, claiming he was broke, while he continued to spend money on items and experiences to feed his lavish and insatiable tastes. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.  Google “Denny Hecker” and over 44,000 entries appear.   Yet he continues to fascinate and appall us by his lack of remorse, his continued manipulation, and his seemingly unruffled attitude about being $767  million in debt.  We are holding our collective breath if we think that is ever going to change-that this guy will suddenly see the profound error in his ways.

Psychopaths make up 1% of the population according to most estimates.  Sociopaths, the cousin to psychopaths are similar and in some circles are considered almost the same.  However, the distinction appears to be the lack of organizational skills and perhaps a little more social awkwardness in the sociopath versus the psychopath. Sociopaths are a little more common too making up 3-5% of the population. Hecker, the former czar of an automobile empire, is more likely a psychopath.  He is hardly disorganized.

Moreover, we run into psychopaths more frequently than we think.  According to Scientific American Mind magazine (December 2007), it is a myth that all psychopaths are violent. Many of them are in the business and entertainment industry and have not committed any violent acts whatsoever.  Another misconception is that they are irrational when in fact they are quite rational.  They know exactly what they are doing but no emotional consequences or empathy is felt toward another at a genuine level.  They are quite skilled at mimicking emotions leading others to believe they are engaged when in fact they are not.

Indeed,  psychopaths are frequently charming and glib, possessing ultra-honed schmooze skills that can fool even the most stalwart among us.  There is a tendency to lie and cheat and dismiss it as being resourceful and necessary.  Denny Hecker has all of the classic characteristics of a psychopath including narcissism, grandiosity, and a penchant for marrying early and often.   I am certain I am not saying what hasn’t been said by many others.  This man is a psychopath.  He crossed the line from slick to sick.

Get thee to a brain scanning booth, Mr. Hecker!  Perhaps a fMRI will shed some light on your errant ways.  Your brain is a brain gone wrong.  There may be a reason (not an excuse) for your lying, cheating, and swindling ways.  Deep within the brain is the paralimbic system that registers feelings and emotional value experiences.  The brains of psychopaths tend to be underdeveloped, like a weak muscle.  Much of the brain science behind the behavior of a psychopath is emerging and new treatments are being developed, combining medications and therapy.  Maybe there is hope for you too.

The bottom line is that the court can ask Denny Hecker the same questions hoping that for once, he will come clean and tell the truth.  He will see the light and want to make amends.  He will feel remorse for his deceitful behavior.  Brain science suggests to us that he won’t.  We will continue to see this guy on the front page of the paper, same song, different verse.  I think it would be better to invest money in some sort of compulsory treatment for our brother, than to spend money on attorneys, court appearances and the like only to hear the same answers.  There is no point in trying to play fair with a psychopath.   They love the game.

Posted in This Is Madness

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