Shark-dragging video shows lack empathy, need for power and control

A licensed psychologist who reviewed the viral shark-dragging video and disturbing images of animal treatment attributed to a Florida man said they show a lack of empathy and a need for power or control.

“An individual who is able to engage in cruelty to animals and not have any remorse shows a disconnect and a lack of empathy, a lack of consciousness,” said Rachel Needle, a West Palm Beach-based psychologist. “I’d be curious to see what their family is like in terms of kindness to others and to animals.”

Needle said while there is some research linking childhood animal abuse to adult violence, there is no direct link between abusing animals and the likelihood someone will abuse humans.

Related: Man in shark dragging video asks for increased police patrols.

The shark-dragging video, and a subsequent video that shows people pouring beer over a hammerhead’s gills, have sparked nationwide outrage and spurred more than 8,000 people to sign a petition demanding the men in the videos serve 1,000 community service hours and have their fishing licenses revoked.

“This sociopathic behavior demands attention and prevention,” the petition says. “Many feel that this act of violence is in fact a criminal act.”

Needle said sociopaths tend to be more impulsive and have difficultly forming relationships, where psychopaths are selfish, manipulative, have a lack of remorse, and are considered more dangerous than sociopaths.

She said the fact that there was more than one person involved may also explain the lack of feeling of responsibility for the act.

“Certainly they weren’t thinking they were going to get into any trouble,” Needle said. “People want to show of everything on social media and they probably thought this was cool.”

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Screen capture of violent shark-dragging video that went viral this week.

Author: Kimberly Miller

Kimberly grew up outside Washington D.C. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 1995. Her beats have included K-12 education, universities and colleges, real estate, and general assignment.

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