Psychopaths Rule our World
For most of my adult life, I have wrestled with ideas and people I felt were insensitive to the basic needs of others.

I have been frustrated with people who seem to believe that human suffering is something to be increased rather than alleviated or eliminated. I have searched in vain for ways to resolve conflicts between people. I have deeply pondered why some people "just don't get it."

It seems that I am the one who "just didn't get it." Many of these people are sociopaths. They can't experience some basic human feelings that I assumed everyone felt.

That discovery came from reading Martha Stout's book, The Sociopath Next Door.

Forget ghosts, goblins, vampires, witches and zombies. They are, as far as I can tell, just imaginary. They are extremely dependent on our gullibility and ability to suspend disbelief in the absurd.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, are very real.

Sociopaths can be objectively diagnosed. Sociopaths cause real pain and misery. Sociopaths can and do kill or caused to be killed millions of people, with impunity. They enjoy it. They can't understand why others don't enjoy it.

A sociopath is a person who suffers from antisocial personality disorder as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of mental disorder IV of the American Psychiatric Association. Basically it is a person who exhibits "a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others." They can feel no guilt or remorse for their evil deeds.

According to Stout, one in 25 people is a sociopath. That's 100 times more people than have colon cancer.

Sociopaths are often quite gifted at manipulating well-meaning people into horrendous antisocial acts. Sociopaths are charming, intelligent and well groomed, so they are well positioned to be trusted, loved and followed by unsuspecting victims. Their ability to position their destructive deeds as unfortunate but "pragmatic solutions" make them appear to be "decisive leaders," so they quickly rise to super power positions, climbing the mountains of misery they manufacture.

Sociopaths are often too clever to engage in mere serial killing. Anyway they would just get bored with that after awhile.

They get into politics and religion. There they can cause millions to suffer and die for God and country and get paid well for it. Or to get closer to the action and get paid even better, they might become merchants of death, selling arms.

They often become leaders of cults or supremacist groups. They know their group isn't superior to any other group, but they derive great entertainment from goading otherwise loving, peaceful people into hating and fighting each other.

Are sociopaths running the world? Are we being manipulated by sociopaths in our families, jobs and social groups? Read Stout's book, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare or Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes) by Andrzej M. Lobaczewski. Then you decide.

Happy Halloween.

Lawrence Diggs, Roslyn, is a South Dakota Humanities Council scholar. He makes presentations and conducts seminars worldwide on food, culture and human dynamics. Write him at americannews(at)