On Today's Sociopaths -- and How to React to Them
Please -- get this must-read book: "The Sociopath Next Door," by Martha Stout, Ph.D. During the volatile months ahead, we'll need to soberly become fluent in sociopathy -- because dealing with countless sociopathic influences nearly everywhere will prove to be the prickliest part of facing the gauntlet of financial collapse. Yes -- and there's a reason for the following Biblical Scripture:
Matthew 19:24, New International Version (NIV, 1984):
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
by Donald Croft Brickner
When actor Denzel Washington last appeared on Jay Leno's The Tonight Show on February 9 of this year, it was in part to promote his latest movie, Safe House -- in which Washington plays a really, really bad guy.
He stated both this about his character -- and about his source material, a book published in 2005 by then-psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Martha Stout:
“There’s a book I read called, 'The Sociopath Next Door,' and it really became sort of the Bible for me in developing this character," Washington said. "I think he is a sociopath. I think he doesn’t have a conscience. I think he is an atheist and a murderer and a liar.”
Now, Washington was not describing any and all sociopaths, per se -- Lord knows, almost one sociopathic character a night turns up on our TV sets, mostly as murderers and serial killers, thanks to our dysfunctional cultural obsession with cops, criminals and crime-solving shows -- but rather he was talking about the character he was playing.
Sociopaths aren't necessarily atheists, for instance -- and certainly the majority of atheists are not sociopaths. Most sociopaths are twisted sisters, however, regardless of their sex or creation beliefs.
And make no mistake here: the world views of most sociopaths (if they have any at all) are necessarily both icy cold and ugly (God, or no God) -- and, worse, the world view of those in their culture (how one views their community and the cosmos in general, along with their perception of their place place in them) has been shown in empirical studies to be the primary influence in a sociopath's vicious, secretive, game-playing and relentlessly manipulative makeup.
For most of us -- and Stout points this out in her book -- the most common interpretation of evil is the inhumane act of a sociopath.
For no other sentient creature on earth lacks an entire conscience except them.
Sociopaths, also known as psychopaths, are human monsters.
Yet incredibly, they don't need to be incarcerated or destroyed. No.
* * * * *
The American culture did not create sociopaths from scratch, one should understand, BTW -- 35-50 percent of sociopathic makeup has been attributed in studies to the likes of genetics -- but our cultural influences are responsible for not only at least half of their development, but for an ever-growing increase in their numbers.
Those cop shows on TV, as well as the reality shows, along with destructive gossip talk shows, with all of their cynicism, severe self-absorption, competition and one-upsmanships -- all of whose characteristics are just as common in the workplace today -- are leading influences in the rapid development of today's sociopath.
Have you seen the dark new sitcom, The B---- in Apt. 23, yet? What, are we now attempting to turn psychopaths into "fun" people? Well, it's not working.
Regardless, Stout said, sociopaths can't be cured -- ever. But they can be treated if they seek help. Their personalities weren't formed by maladaptive parents, being poor or any other childhood malady that might have caused distress or fear, or even hate, as far as that goes, studies have demonstrated.
It's that missing conscience that makes these folks who they are.
* * * * *
Six years ago when Stout's book first appeared, she stated that one in 25 people walking the streets everywhere -- four out of every 100 people, in all lines of work, in all nations, or 4 percent of all human beings -- are sociopaths.
That's a lot of people. Here in America alone, that total comes to almost 13 million people. Thirteen million!
On February 28, then, The Huffington Post published the following article, claiming that one out of 10 Wall Streeters were sociopaths: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/wall-street-psychopaths_n_1307168.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=1101142,b=facebook
The article has since been altered, above, to suggest that it was retracted because it's data wasn't of empirical determination, but rather that of a (probably) significant overestimation. (The tone also suggests that the revisionists don't think highly of psychologists.)
I thought it would be a big story. It wasn't. No TV networks picked it up, even as a target for their corporate wrath -- which exists a'plenty behind the scenes. You may have noticed that Wall Street is treated with kid gloves by all of our media, except PBS' Frontline and CBS' 60 Minutes. The networks justify that behavior so as to prevent a run on the banks, or so it's implied.
In May, in fact, Frontline ran a four-hour four-part series on Money, Power and Wall Street -- which explained, in clear language, the blow-by-blow corruption and blindness of our banks, and the unbelievable greed and manipulation of our entire monetary system. It was a terrific piece of in-depth research, and highly enlightening.
In any case, the Wall Street sociopaths' newspaper story disappeared. Snap!: it was gone. The print media's corporate sociopaths surely saw to it.
We not only have sociopaths running amok in our banks and in the U.S. Congress, we have them everywhere.
They're pretty easy to ID, I've found over the years. But they don't get noticed by most people, who truly can't imagine others can be that warped. The sociopaths' aggressive natures, and smiling auras of confident invincibility, induce their bosses at work to view them as take-charge, assertive team players, deserving of advancement.
Which usually proves to be a disaster for everybody concerned.
Such bosses wouldn't know a sociopath, of course, from a nun.
* * * * *
According to Stout, multiple scientific studies have discovered that less than half (35 to 50 percent) of our personality characteristics are innate -- which is to say, brought to the table of life by human beings at or before birth, as by genetic influences.
Further research, meanwhile, also has surprisingly disclosed that childhood influences from parents, friends, teachers, etc. do not contribute to a sociopath's makeup.
The culture they grow up in, however, does.
Sociopaths don't care about you, or anybody else. But because they've been forced to go through life effectively developing faked compensation for human wellness concerns (which they just don't have), they go unidentified. They are often Oscar calibre actors.
* * * * *
Many sociopaths are our political leaders, obviously. I can think of several in the Tea Party alone -- which suits the open aggressions of the sociopath to a 'T.' Of course, so does Wall Street -- and so does Congress, both breeding grounds for the corrupt and greedy.
Our bankers, along with all of the above, might best be described as Skyscraper Sociopaths, let's call them -- at least those who actually are sociopaths. Not everyone in every institution actually is, believe it or not.
There are even some pleasant, decent bankers out there -- well-meaning ultra-wealthy folks, too. Not everyone in our midst is, or will turn out to be, a monster.
Most human beings are genuinely decent and caring, actually.
And so on.
* * * * *
There are ways to pick psychopaths out of any interactive group or workplace. The on-scene trained psychologist/psychiatrist can be one source for doing that.
But sociopaths can perhaps best be accurately diagnosed by way of studies using the "Psychopathic Deviate" (Pd) scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which has been "formulated to sort out people with sociopathic personaltiy traitsfrom other groups of people," Stout says in her book.
"The inventory includes several validity measures as well, including a 'Lie Scale' to expose attempts to beat the test."
To get a copy of "The Sociopath Next Door," please go here:
* * * * *
I think the day is coming (really, really soon) when we're going to have to come up with a means of diagnosing the sociopaths in our midst -- and publicly ID them, when it's appropriate. Exposure is key. They need not be taken out back and flogged.
They're still deserving human beings, living out their incarnations in our non-primary physical universe -- just like the rest of us.
From personal experiences, I can tell you that the most threatening thing you can do to a sociopath is to strip away their mask in public. They're forever gauging how well their act is playing to their audience(s), wherever and whenever that may be.
And they're highly sensitive to discovery. Catch them in the "act," so to speak, in front of many others, and you threaten their power.
Not much can be done in such instances, unless one wants to set out convincing higher-ups that Joe or Mary Blow is, like, a whack-job -- which probably won't go over very well, anyway.
In such cases, you either learn to live with the sociopath -- or move on to a new setting. You're not likely to win when authorities refuse to believe what you're trying to tell them.
The sociopaths have had entire lifetimes to master their "craft." Even though murder is rarely part of their MO, telling lies is just part of their tool kit. You're a newbie to this kind of competition.
And most authorities just won't believe that such a monster exists.
But that's going to have to change now. And knowledge is power.
* * * * *
Globally, we're right on the threshhold now of economic collapse.
Just this week, Bill Clinton and Ben Bernanke both made public statements, each related to the economy, that actually shocked their listeners. Clinton suggested he'd be willing to sell out on taxing the wealthy to avoid having the economy nosedive again.
Not a real courageous remark on Mr. Clinton's part, one notes.
As for Bernanke, he told Congress just today to "spend," if they want to save this economy.
They won't be the last major public figures to begin making startling comments, either. This entire proceeding, this entire spiritual melodrama, shall we say, is barely underway as yet.
But it's a serious, serious business -- and what none of us wants is for some global public participant to do anything that might threaten our planet's surival. As we've seen in the Middle East, where psychopathic leaders have historically ruled the roost, any sociopath who's out of control needs to be removed from power.
Now, more than ever. What's coming our way is a Very Big Deal.
* * * * *
And so, here's what I see, from my long-standing perspective:
Once the economies fall -- which must happen if we're ever going to lick our global addiction to Hubris (still the number-one reason why this expanding, gigantic mess exists to begin with!) -- I'm all but convinced that, as bad as circumstances might seem, no real damage is likely to grab hold of many of us on a long-term basis.
Rich people won't be so rich -- and for them that could be daunting and disheartening. But, like us, they'll get over it, and adapt. It's not that big of a deal. It just isn't.
What we don't need are any more sociopaths in power -- and so we're obliged to remove them from all positions of influence.
Just that. Little else will be required, at least in the early going.
Our institutions and Wall Street can take up that cause without our having to force them to do it. They'll recognize the importance, once the digits begin disappearing off of their greedy-leader boards.
Yes, a lot of seeming havoc will appear on occasions to upend our planet's apple cart.
But appearances won't necessarily prove to be realities. What's taking place is a first. It's all new.
And, so, for now, I offer just this one, simple idea: Try to relax.
The world is changing -- very probably into something wonderful.
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Tags: Sociopath , Psychopath , Wall Street , Psychology , Politics
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