“They are everyone, and they are no one.”
The term “psychopath” gets thrown around a lot these days, maybe you have even used it yourself. But what does the word really mean? Well, some great science has been done over the past century on this subject, and while we don’t yet know everything, we do know a lot.
Psychopaths are people whose brain defect – usually inherited – makes them unable to feel they have done anything wrong. They are not psychotic; they know what they have done. They just can’t feel it was wrong.
Another way to put it is that there’s nothing a psychopath feels he’s not free to do. Therefore, because there are limits on our behavior (it’s called “civilization”), the psychopath is always seething with rage.
Movies and TV have given most people a false impression of what a psychopath is; the whole “Hannibal Lecter / Silence of the Lambs” thing.
In reality, most psychopaths are not serial killers or even in prison. They are doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers… every kind of person. Rich and poor; young and old; Black, White, and Asian. They are Conservative and Liberal; Democrat and Republican; Capitalist and Communist. Every category, every place, every group has some.
Many people are uncomfortable with the term psychopath; it sounds so final. If someone was born evil, then environment isn’t everything. So, they invented the term sociopath to make themselves feel better.
Actually, there are both Psychopaths and Sociopaths. The psychopath was born broken and can’t be fixed; the sociopaths, as the name implies, are soci-alized to be psych-opath-ic.
The sociopath will only tell the truth if doing so does not inconvenience her in any way. If telling a lie will get her what she wants, she does that, and does not feel bad about it. They are not malicious, though; it’s purely a practical matter.
The psychopath, OTOH, finds causing others pain and problems to be meaningless fun; it can also be reinforcing for them. This really gives you a window into just how different (almost… alien) their psychology is.
You know how you enjoy a nice game (or three… or ten) of Tetris? Imagine if you made a move in one of the games, and suddenly the cops arrest you and charge you with some horrible crime. And the TV news and interwebz are all painting you like some kind of horrible person. So now you’re like “WTF?” and you feel unjustly persecuted.
Well, that’s how a psychopath feels when he rapes and murders some cute young girls, and then is arrested and put on trial. He cannot feel he’s done anything wrong, so “you must have done it to yourself.”
The Gender Distribution
You may have noticed that I said “he” when referring to the psychopaths, and “she” when referring to the sociopaths. There are female psychopaths, but the males outnumber them by several times (and the male psychopaths do tend to target women for financial and other crimes). I did not mean to imply that sociopaths are only or even primarily female; there certainly are many male sociopaths. There has, however, been a rise in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and the increase has been almost entirely in girls / women.
The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 4) sweeps both the terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” into the diagnosis “APD” (Antisocial Personality Disorder), thereby confusing the public about what is what and how big a problem it is. Fortunately, we have the good doctors Cleckley, Hare, and Stout to clear things up.
The classic work on the subject is Mask of Sanity, by American psychiatrist Hervey Cleckely, M.D. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but fortunately, it is free online.
Picking up where Cleckley left off, Canadian Ph.D. psychologist Robert Hare wrote Without Conscience, which is still in print; check your local library or bookstore, or click the title for Amazon. This book is primarily the result of his study of psychopaths in prison.
More recently, he teamed up with industrial psychologist Paul Babiak to create Snakes In Suits, about the corporate-ladder-climbing psychopath.
American Ph.D. psychologist Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door is a great look inside the mind of conscience-less people, for those who just have to understand what they’ve experienced (I know you’re out there).
[Note: Her other books – The Myth of Sanity and The Paranoia Switch are also both good.]
SJ‘s (Conservatives) can feel shame, but are genetically unable to feel compassion. SP‘s (Artisans / Liberals) are like the mirror image of the Conservatives in that regard, able to feel compassion but not shame. The N’s (NT and NF) can feel both shame and compassion.
The Psychopath cannot feel either shame or compassion.
The official estimate of their incidence in the population is one percent. This may be true in civilized countries like Canada, Japan, and Western Europe. I personally think it’s got to be somewhere more like two percent in the U.S.A., because our culture of leaving people to fend for themselves is an environment that selects for exactly those qualities.
Hare says in Without Conscience that they are responsible for up to 50% of all crime.
The Indirect Effect
So, if they are only 1-2% of the population, why did I write a whole chapter on them in a book about attraction, and why should you tell all your friends to read it?
Because most people have not been taught what we know at this point about them, every thought you’ve ever had has been infected in some way, to some degree, with the psychopath’s (illegitimate) point of view. If this is your first exposure to the science of psychopathy, you might start seeing them everywhere, or thinking everyone you know is a psychopath. And you’re right.
Ha ha, just kidding. No, they really are only a couple percent of the population, but because of the lack of awareness about the science that’s been done, their influence is way beyond their numbers. The vast majority – though not actual psychopaths or even sociopaths – are somewhat psychopathic. If you received anything like a decent education, you learned “Species evolve, individuals adapt.” Like Truman (Jim Carrey) in the movie The Truman Show, people just automatically try to fit in to the world they were born into; and you were born into a world run by psychopaths.
You see, as Polish psychologist Andrew Lobacewski (who studied “pathocracy” under both Nazi and Soviet occupations of his homeland) described, psychopaths know they are different, recognize each other, and form networks for mutual protection and advancement.
The Twilight of the Vampires
Vampire = psychopath = defective and inferior.
They are not heroes, they do not have superpowers, and there is no such thing as a good psychopath who fights the bad psychopaths because he loves a girl. The idyllic romance ‘tween Bella and whatz-his-name is the Trojan horse inside which that lie gets smuggled into a generation of girls.
No, they don’t have fangs, or sleep in coffins, or burst into flames in the sunlight. That’s entertainment industry bullshit.
There has been a huge push in recent years for psychopaths and sociopaths, to portray them as just regular fellas (Sopranos), cool and interesting (Mad Men), doing justice – unlike those incompetent cops (Dexter), and even an oppressed minority (True Blood).
Just because they find themselves fascinating doesn’t mean you have to.
The Lie is like air to The Evil; without The Lie, The Evil dies. The Truth is like air to The Good; without The Truth, The Good dies. And lying is like breathing to the psychopath: just something he does all day every day, without thinking about it.
It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at something – playing tennis, playing the guitar, sculpture, whatever. Born psychopaths get that much practice lying before becoming adults. Then they go on to become presidents of companies, lobbyists for industries that poison us all, or the elected representatives at all levels of government who protect those businesses instead of protecting the human citizens.
They do not lie to each other; they do not cheat each other; they do not steal from each other; they do not rape, torture, or murder each other. But they see no reason not to do all of those things to us.
If most humans naturally adapt to their environment, what will be the effect of a “Dog Eat Dog” socio-economic system? “Lookin out for Numero Uno” and “I got mine.”
The Specific Lie
They train us to lie to ourselves, because that’s what’s best for them.
There is one lie in particular that they want everyone to believe: that a psychopath is what “a real man” is. They don’t think there’s anything wrong with them. In fact, they view their lack of conscience as a lack of hindrance that makes them superior. The male psychopath sees himself as the way a man should be, and therefore anyone who is not like him (i.e., anyone who has a conscience) is “a pussy.”
This is an insidious lie, because men don’t want anyone – men or women – to think they are pussies. So, they “man up” by becoming psychopathic.
The Appeal of The Bad Boy
(Not all Bad Boys are psychopaths, and not all psychopaths are Bad Boys, but there’s more than a little overlap between the two populations.)
The Bad Boy, by being bad, gives The Good Girl permission to be bad. He’s no doormat. Ohhh, no. He defies society’s conventions. Hell, he ignores society’s conventions. And that’s just so exciting, isn’t it?
The Woman who has never had a fling with a Bad Boy, when she does, she feels alive in a way she never did before. His take-charge / take no shit attitude just seems to activate something so primal in her brain (and by “brain” I mean pussy, he he).
The Package Deal
But with the excitement comes the tears; it’s a two-fer one deal. So, inevitably, our Good Girl laments, “Why can’t I meet a nice guy?”
She doesn’t really want a nice guy; what she wants is a man who can make her feel as much attraction as the Bad Boy, but without the pain and problems. The psychopaths don’t want anyone to know this, but Doormat or Psychopath are not the only two options.
There is a third option…
Copyright (c) 2010 Jeffrey A. Brauer. All rights reserved.