Today we talk about psychopaths.
But, why are we talking about a personality disorder? And what does it have to do with privacy?
Years ago when I read my first book on psychopaths (which is the same as a sociopath) I was shocked and terrified and enlightened to discover their existence. At that very moment I was sharing a library with an inter-species predator that wore the face of humans and that saw them as means to an end: as prey. I was shocked to learn that many of the politicians who told me what to do and the CEOs who had ruthlessly etched their way into my life were psychopaths. It was, in short, a wake-up call. And if you want to understand how the world works, and have the faintest possibility of privacy and freedom, you need to know about psychopaths.
A psychopath or sociopath is someone who, for reasons of different brain chemistry, is incapable of experiencing empathy. That’s basically the full definition. But you would be surprised how completely and utterly a lack of empathy changes a creature. Without empathy you do not have a conscience. The author of The Sociopath Next Door Dr. Martha Stout puts it this way:
Conscience is a creator of meaning. As a sense of constraint rooted in our emotional ties to one another, it prevents life from devolving into nothing but a long and essentially boring game of attempted dominance over our fellow human beings, and for every limitation conscience imposes on us, it gives us a moment of connectedness with an other, a bridge to someone or something outside of our often meaningless schemes.
Empathy involves stepping outside of your own subjective experience to imagine what it is like to be someone else and experience their discomfort and pleasure. Think of Christ’s Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and its variants across other religions. Think of the social contract. Think of the non-aggression principle, which says that you should not use force against another except in self-defense. All of these philosophies have in common the fact that you must be able to recognize other people as things in themselves. By contrast, expert Dr. Robert Hare notes, psychopaths have a “callous disregard for the rights of others.” Psychopaths literally cannot consider others as anything but objects. “The feelings of other people,” notes Hare, “are of no concern to psychopaths.”
Nor is this speculation. Ample interviews with psychopaths have evinced these facts, as have empirical measurements. Tests have been performed where people sit awaiting an electrical shock. Regular people have measurable anxiety, but psychopaths have none leading up to that moment. Other studies have found that psychopaths have no difference in neural response to emotional words compared to neutral words. Their brains are fundamentally and physically different from the rest of us by virtue of “altered processing of emotional stimuli at the level of the cerebral cortex.” (Stout) To put it in religious terms, a psychopath is a non-human creature in the guise of a human that is devoid of a soul.
Without the ability to step beyond one’s own experience, a number of things follow for the psychopath. Psychopaths cannot comprehend and plan for the future. They have very little imaginative capability at all. They live entirely in the moment and for pleasure. They are narcissistic and entirely self-absorbed. They have no commitment to others. They are more likely to take up extreme drug use, sexual promiscuity, childhood violence, and adult violence—to violate others. They are drawn to power and enjoy control.
Especially in our pro-“mental health” world you might be shocked by what I’ve just described. You might think that a psychopath is someone who is simply misguided or who does bad things now and then, if not evil—but surely they can be corrected or saved. Others will say that psychopaths must be seriously demented—at least the ones who take to violence. They must be totally disconnected from reality. None of this is true. A psychopath is biologically disposed to prey on others, nor are they psychiotic. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be treated, and they have nothing in common with you except a human face. Would you call a wolf evil, misguided, or think it in need of a cure for killing a deer?
Crucially, psychopaths are not psychotic. They’re not schizophrenic. They’re not bipolar. They see the world as it is. In fact, they see the world in some ways more clearly than normal humans because they carefully observe human emotion and behavior dispassionately. They are incredible chameleons, capable of shape-shifting and lying and faking in the extreme. They find human emotions puzzling and alien, since they cannot feel themselves, but they recognize that it drives humans and can be used to manipulate them—they simply must put on a face, read their lines, and with any luck they might convince someone that they have feelings too. “Astute observers,” Dr. Hare notes, “often get the impression that psychopaths are play-acting, mechanically ‘reading their lines.’”
Despite being a “personality disorder,” psychopathy is simply a human-invented term: in fact psychopaths believe humans to be the ones with the disorder of over-emotionalism. In interviews psychopaths argue that regular people (whom they might trendily call “neurotypical” people) are irrational for letting empathy and conscience guide them. Dr. Hare notes: “Psychopaths don’t feel they have psychological or emotional problems, and they see no reason to change their behavior to conform to societal standards with which they do not agree. Psychopaths often believe they are superior to humans, that humans deserve to be manipulated by them, and that emotions are an evolutionary hindrance that they in their superior biological form have jettisoned. As other psychiatrists have noted, they have no desire for change.
It follows that psychopaths have a great capacity to prey on humans. Here are some important statistics which you need to etch into your brain. Psychopaths—people born biologically without a conscience—make up around 1% of the population. They make up 20 percent of the prison population. They commit 50% of the serious crimes. All according to Dr. Hare and reiterated by other experts. Let me rephrase and reiterate that: psychopaths commit 50 times as many serious crimes as regular humans.
But psychopaths are obviously not all murders. Dr. Stout notes that:
though they are horrifying when they occur, brutal murders are not the likeliest result of consciencelessness. Rather, the game is the thing. The prize to be won can run the gamut from world domination to a free lunch, but it is always the same game—controlling, making others jump, ‘winning.’ Evidently, winning in this fashion is all that remains of interpersonal meaning when attachment and conscience are absent.
Not surprisingly, psychopaths are drawn to government and other cutthroat leadership positions where they can control others. In fact, they’re very good in these roles and ascend quickly. It’s entirely possible, though here we get into speculation, that around 10% of government leaders are psychopaths. Give or take. It could be much higher. Think about what this means for your understanding of the world. Many people think that the government exists to help them. They say to themselves that “surely people wouldn’t do something like that. They wouldn’t try to take advantage of us. They at least have some greater good in mind.” What they miss, besides the entirety of history, is that these “people” are not actually people but psychopaths, whose entire motivation is power and control. And they could not care less about you and your well-being. As Dr. Hare has remarked: “Serial killers ruin families. Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.”
I know this is a lot to take in, but let’s continue anyway. A psychopath in a high up position can absolutely scar the world. Hitler may have been a psychopath, and certainly the brutal people directly beneath him who ran his programs were. Imagine in wartime the person who is able to take orders and kill without questioning. Or sacrifice armadas without batting an eye. Or authorize bombings of cities where civilians are. For a psychopath this is easy and, in fact, he will be applauded for having composure to make the “tough decisions.” Likely historical psychopaths were Stalin, Cambodian mass murdering dictator Pol Pot, and Romanian maniac Nicolae Ceaușescu, who Dr. Stout theorizes in her book may have actually created psychopathic children and exported them to the West. That’s a story for another day. Today many psychopaths rule countries. I’m not going to list who I think they are for obvious reasons, but you can tell by their actions and their words that they’re soulless. Look at their reptilian, predatory eyes.
I speak often of the impending socioeconomic collapse, the signs of which are all around for anyone with eyes to see. During times of chaos psychopaths always rise to the top. They will be in government advocating and implementing the worst policies: whether welfare or warfare. They will set up police states in the blink of an eye. And if things get real dire, there will be roving hoards during times of lawlessness and they will include and be led by psychopaths. They will kill, rape, and destroy countless lives with utmost efficiency. They will be experts at this. One observer of psychopathy leaves us with these words about a patient of his: “The most salient thing about Earl is his obsession with absolute power. … He values people only insofar as they bend to his will or can be coerced or manipulated into doing what he wants. He constantly sizes up his prospects for exploiting people and situations.”
Okay, so what can you do?
1) Start to notice and understand psychopaths
I just explained to you that a portion of the population views you as prey; I would hope that you would want to know more. Start with Robert Hare’s book Without Conscience. You can also try out The Sociopath Next Door, The Bad Seed, Shakespeare’s play Othello, Doug Casey’s High Ground novels, and Silence of the Lambs.
Psychopaths can be recognized by the following characteristics (which come from Dr. Hare’s book Without Conscience):
Glib and superficial
egocentric and grandiose
lack of remorse or guilt
lack of empathy
deceitful and manipulative
poor behavior controls
need for excitement
lack of responsibility
early behavior problems
adult antisocial behavior
Obviously be very cautions about pronouncing people in your life as psychopaths—that’s a dangerous thing to do; people who play psychiatrist can have others institutionalized prisoners for life—but seek out confirmation of your assumptions. Especially watch out for government leaders. They’ll favor war and chaos, encourage strife and division among their own citizens—which gives them pleasure. They won’t think twice about passing laws that harm people, whose own subjectivity they literally cannot conceptualize. They’ll tell you that privacy is for them and not for you. They’ll laugh and relish the power that they have over you as they systematically break or bend the laws supposedly there to keep them in check. They’ll play the game according to their own whims.
Recognize that not every human face houses a human soul. Anyone who inserts themselves into your life should be treated with some amount of skepticism. Ask them difficult questions about emotions and morality. Get them to do things for which they receive no benefit except to help you. Speak softly but carry a big stick.
2) Avoid psychopaths and understand your role in the food chain
Psychopathy is incurable. Move away from them as best you can. It doesn’t matter if that is your friend, your boss, or your grown-up child. Once you accept this brutal fact, you have no reason to keep them in your life. Just be careful not to offend them. If you were a fish living in a shark tank, would you go out of your way to antagonize sharks? Or would you keep your distance and always keep them in mind? Know that if a psychopath turns violent, there is nothing on earth save boredom that will stop them from coming after you. Seek out help when you need it.
3) Limit the influence of psychopaths in your life.
I’ll remind you of Dr. Hare’s words: “Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.” There are countries on earth whose leader I look at and can tell immediately: this is likely a psychopath. You do not want to live in these places. Powerful governments are the feces to the the psychopathic fly. It is in your power to seek out a weaker government.
Broadly speaking, the West tends to foster psychopaths more than anywhere else. Ethical cohesion has evaporated, removing any check that would slow down a psychopath. By contrast, Asian countries, which expect communal submission and beat ethics into their citizens, are believed to have many fewer psychopaths. The Asian psychopath is confused by a world in which he are not the center of attention and which demands him to participate in a group rather than as an individual. Put this as one more check mark in the “pro” category for living in places like Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Though group-think has its own dangers.
The philosopher-investor Doug Casey in his High Ground book series describes psychopaths in great detail. One of the recurring creatures is Sabina, a highly attractive and intelligent psychopath who carves her way through Washington by manipulation, sex, violence, and pathological lying. She exhibits no emotions except frustration and anger, and as the books progress makes decisions that destroy millions of lives in her quest for power. Such lives mean nothing to her. Our protagonist Charles Knight fights against psychopaths in various ways. He hops from country to country, makes allies, earns money to aid him, and defends himself when necessary. You don’t have to stay in the country you were born. Be international. Places in Central and South American have a very desirable residency process. Many options exist. You could simply keep traveling and work online. Always stay one step ahead of the next tyranny and war zone.
4) Practice privacy
When you know that psychopaths are walking the streets, you start to understand why I advocate privacy methods. By withholding your home address, phone number, and email, anyone upset with you online or otherwise cannot track you down. When you have your Tinder date pick you up and drop you off far from your house—or drive yourself—you’re not risking as much. When you use private messengers your psychopathic rulers don’t know about you. When you diversify your finances, put them behind trusts and LLCs, and store some physical gold in an offshore vault, it becomes more difficult for the psychopath to hunt it down—legally or otherwise. Privacy is the greatest protection you have. Foster it, practice it, live it, and remember that it is your first and greatest protection against the inter-species predator: the psychopath.
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Reprinted with the author’s permission.