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Page 3 Profile: Henry VIII, King of England

Our ’Enry, great king or a bit of a psychopath?

It’s perfectly possible he was both, according to a new study. Some might say taking six wives and having two of them beheaded is proof enough all was not right with King Henry, but now Professor Kevin Dutton of Magdalen College, Oxford University, believes were he alive today, the man who installed himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England would be diagnosed as a psychopath.

How did he work that out?

Biographers of King Henry and other famous Britons were asked to rate their subjects based on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory. The entry level score for psychopathy is 168, and King Henry rated 178. He showed the rebelliousness, spontaneity and physical fearlessness necessary to be declared a psychopath. “One of the most important criteria of all is the emotional detachment and lack of empathy, and he scored very highly,” said Professor Dutton.

Any others we should know about?

The average person scores around 110, so Oscar Wilde’s score of 161 is well above expectations. Winston Churchill, with 155, was “high on a number of a number of psychopathic characteristics, like persuasiveness and physical fearlessness,” while Isaac Newton, on 134, was “top for Machiavellian self-interest, like [moors murderer] Ian Brady.”

Is being a psychopath necessarily a bad thing?

Unquestionably, yes. But having a few psychopathic tendencies can be a help rather than hinder. “They’re ruthless, they’re fearless under pressure, they’re mentally tough, charming and they’re charismatic,” said Professor Dutton.

How can I avoid being a psychopath?

Women are far less likely to display psychopathic tendencies than men, though Elizabeth I did manage to score 130. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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