One shoe bomber terrorist inspired the US to invest billions in airport security, required hundreds of millions of shoes to be removed.
That's because there was a risk that was known.
But there are a million psychopaths and over eight million sociopaths who we know are out there, predators, doing damage, hurting people, killing people, bullying, stalking, stealing, corrupting.
A small percentage get caught. Most of the ones who get caught are the low functioning, stupid ones, the violent ones, the ones who have co-morbid problems like drug addiction or alcoholism. The smart ones, the higher functioning ones get jobs at big corporations, in city, state and federal government. They even become judges and certainly become lawyers too.
Some speculate that it takes a sociopath to become a CEO of a major fortune 1000 company.
One commenter on a previous article in the series suggested
Given the current situation, there's no protection from sociopaths who navigate the system avoiding arrest. They break rules but then intimidate or bully or charm people to cut them slack. They turn on their interpersonal intelligence to gain sympathy from those who say we should show them compassion. The best current defense may indeed be to leave. That's not acceptable to me, and of course, killing is not acceptable.... The best defense is not to engage with them. You can't win. If you are forced to work with a psychopath then you either kill him or leave."
That's why I'm engaging in writing this series. Good people should not have to leave to be safe from sociopaths.
If one shoe bomber caught without having followed through on his intended crime can evoke billions in defensive policies and procedures, how can we be ignoring a million psychopaths and eight million sociopaths?
Instead of the GOP legislators worrying about 30,000 gay immigrants, out of 12 million, how about worrying about 120,000 psychopaths and half a million sociopaths-- maybe more.
I am saying that I want to see more research funding invested in developing better ways to identify sociopaths. One thing I'm seeing in the comment threads on the articles in this series is a lot of misinformation or wrong assumptions about sociopaths.
Sociopaths and psychopaths are not severely mentally ill. Generally, they are unable to claim the insanity defense in court because they know what they are doing. They just don't care and don't think laws apply to them.
Some say to show them compassion.
I will show compassion to a wolf in a national forest, in a designated area. But if the wolf is in my home, on my town's streets, or at my business, I will do everything in my power, once I know it is there, to protect myself and all around me. I WANT to know if it is walking the streets or halls. I don't want to wait until it attacks and injures or kills someone. I say this in response to the people who say we should wait until a sociopath commits a crime.
I don't know if there is something for a psychopath comparable to a forest for a wolf. Whose neighborhood would you want the sociopath to be operating in? Whose workplace or home?
Some say that sociopaths and psychopaths have skills that are useful. I find that hard to accept. In the book Snakes in Suits, the authors describe how devastatingly destructive psychopaths are to businesses and the workers they hurt. The psychopaths do show characteristics which appear attractive-- great people skills, great talkers, great sales abilities. But the bottom line is that these predators don't work for the company. They only work for themselves and their skills end up not being applied to the benefit of the company, or military.
Psychiatrist Donald Black, M.D., author of Bad Boys, Bad Men, says that the worst kind of sociopath is one with narcissistic traits. They hurt people to feel better about themselves. They work in jobs to look good, to get kudos and rewards to their ego and brutally hurt people if their egos or image is threatened in any way.
These parasites feed off of hurting others-- so they make themselves feel better. They can be bullies, stalkers or internet trolls. I'm not saying that all bullies or stalkers or trolls are sociopaths or psychopaths. But, if you've had to deal with someone like that, you may have been dealing with a psychopath.
Just acting trollish again and again could be a sign-- not enough to label a person a sociopath, but perhaps enough to raise flags and suggest further checking, like flags at airports lead to some people being further checked.
There are a good number of websites that identify IP addresses where spammers originate their emails. Those IP addresses are blacklisted by major email services-- comcast, hotmail, gmail, aol, yahoo-- all block emails coming from those IP addresses.
But I'm guessing people from those IP addresses can still post on most websites. And there are problems with IP address identification processes. There should be federal laws and international treaties that make certain that IP addresses reflect where you're operating.
Some people use blind IP addresses. I'm actually OK with them too. Some people in some nations where the laws block free speech need access to blind IPs. But there's no law that says free speech should be anonymous. (Go ahead, comment on that. It's a worthy discussion.) I think one way, in the US, to make it easier to identify sociopaths is o tighten up IP address allocation.
What I've written above is a digital way to start flagging potential sociopaths. It is not nearly enough, so please don't attack it as a stand-alone. I'm not saying that. We need to identify a collection of behaviors that raise the percentage of likelihood that we are on the right track in terms of identifying a sociopath or psychopath.
Clinton Callahan writes in his article Beware the Psychopath, My Son...,
Such a dangerous question has almost never been successfully asked. The reason is because we mistakenly confuse healthy for normal. Human psychological diversity is the health of our race. There is no normal because healthy humans continuously evolve beyond all normalizing standards. The terrorism of searching through hierarchies for anyone deviating from normal is no different from witch hunts or Inquisitions. You must remember that hierarchies thrive on such low dramas, torturing victims until they confess to evil beliefs. Not so long ago the church and state ongoingly acquired significant income and property through witch hunts and Inquisitions. This continued for over two hundred and fifty years. Ten generations of Europeans understood pogrom as normal life. Let us not return to that nightmare. Testing for normal is guaranteed to backfire in our face. There is no normal." How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people? What is the portrait of a true psychopath?
But there is conscience.
We have very little empirical evidence to support the idea that true psychopathy is the result of an abused childhood, and much empirical evidence to support that it is genetic. The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of being able to identify even the most devious psychopath. Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans! A missing internal connection between the feeling heart and the thinking brain is detectable.
Psychopaths are incapable of authentic deep emotions. In fact, when Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an emotional reaction until they intellectually concluded that it would be better if they had one, and then they whipped up an emotional response just for show."
I like where he's going. It's not about identifying non-normals. I embrace and support the idea of people being different, being creative, making a conscious decision to stand out from the crowd, as Emerson and Thoreau celebrated.
Callahan has more to say that is cause for thought:
I have started speculating that there are so many sociopaths and psychopaths in positions of power that they are blocking serious efforts to identify who the predatory psychopaths and sociopaths are, so they can be dealt with.During the past fifty years, psychopaths have gained almost absolute control of all the branches of government. You can notice this if you observe carefully that no matter what illegal thing a modern politician does, no one will really take him to task.
"The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths.
All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination.
The inventor of civilization -- the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers -- was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies -- especially military hierarchies.
Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as their power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld -- the overlapping criminal syndicates that lurk above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it.
I believe it is a mistake to take the liberal/progressive approach of kindness and compassion when it comes to brutal, conscienceless predators. I refuse to believe that those who suggest compassion would truly act that way if they discovered there was a sociopath in their child's classroom.
One last thought. Some commenters have suggested that the whole idea of sociopaths and psychopaths is pop psychology. I don't accept that. These people exist. They are real. They are dangerous. They are ruining our planet our culture. It is time we do a lot more so we can protect ourselves from them. I am not calling for any immediate actions against psychopaths or sociopaths. I am calling for massive action to learn more about them and how to prevent them from hurting others.