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Cleckley's seminal hypothesis concerning the psychopath is that he suffers from a very real mental illness indeed: a profound and incurable affective deficit. If he really feels anything at all, they are emotions of only the shallowest kind. He does bizarre and self-destructive things because consequences that would fill the ordinary man with shame, self-loathing, and embarrassment simply do not affect the psychopath at all. What to others would be a disaster is to him merely a fleeting inconvenience.
Cleckley also gives grounds for the view that psychopathy is quite common in the community at large. He has collected some cases of psychopaths who generally function normally in the community