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Narcissism. Machiavellianism. Psychopathy. The so-called 'dark triad' of evil personality traits. We have all encountered evil people in our lives, but what does that really mean? Today on the Truth Perspective we look at the psychology of evil, the relation of various measures of such personalities with the Big 5 personality traits, and the correlations with violent, criminal behavior. Is evil just an unfortunate collection of interacting genes? An unfortunate collection of traits on the tail end of the bell curve? Or something else? And finally, what does all this imply for the development of character? Can we transcend our temperament?

Running Time: 01:15:27

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: Welcome back to the Truth Perspective. I am Harrison Koehli. Joining me today are Elan Martin,

Elan: Hi everyone.

Harrison: And Corey Schink.

Corey: Hello.

Harrison: This week we are going to be continuing our discussion from last week on the criminal mind. Last week we discussed a little bit about the book Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton Samenow as well as a few other areas of research including looking at personality disorders in terms of the Big Five personality dimensions as well as just some general discussion on psychopathy and criminality in general. So we're going to be continuing that discussion today.

To start out with, I want to carry on from some of the things that I had mentioned last week about the Big Five because I mentioned that in the latest personality disorder research over the past 10 years or so they've been moving in the direction of looking at personality disorders in terms of the Big Five model and I have identified four or five dimensions of personality disorder that correlate with four of the five personality dimensions. I mentioned that those were obsessional, detached, neurotic and antisocial or psychopathic. There are all kinds of descriptions to go along with those but there are no official diagnostic labels as yet because those are still in development.

But one of the things that I didn't mention is the Big Five research that has gone along with psychopathy in particular and the wider, dark triad traits in general because psychopathy often gets linked together with two other personality type measures, Machiavellianism and narcissism. There's actually been quite a bit of research done looking at psychopathy and these other dark triad descriptors in terms of the five factor model which Robert Hare, who was probably one of the first who did a study on this back in 1994 with Hart on the Big Five in psychopathy and there have been various studies done since then.

What they've found is that psychopathy actually does correlate with all of the Big Five dimensions but the one that doesn't seem to be as well replicated is the openness dimension, like I mentioned last week. There doesn't seem to be a personality disorder correlation with the openness dimension which is kind of interesting. But if we look at psychopathy in terms of the Big Five, it makes sense. I'll read it out and when you think about it, it should kind of click. This is something that I hadn't read about. I hadn't read these papers. I hadn't looked into it. It's just one of those aspects of psychopathy that I hadn't taken the time to investigate. But in one of Jordan Peterson's talks I heard him answer a question about psychopathy where he said "It seems to me that psychopathy just seems to be an extreme of these dimensions of the five factor model." I'm not sure that that's all that it is but he's definitely right and there are the correlations to prove it.

So psychopaths correlate positively with extroversion. Psychopaths are outgoing in the world and of course they've got the gift of gab. They're affable. They can come across as just great people to be around. And that's the kind of act that they put on. But you can't really put on that act if you're not actually extroverted. Psychopaths do seem to be extroverted. Oddly enough, they are positively correlated with openness, at least in one or more studies that found this correlation with openness, .24 which is actually pretty big. They're negative in agreeableness. Now this is something that all the mean or antagonistic personality disorders share. They're all low in agreeableness.

If you've listened to any Jordan Peterson lectures, when he talks about crime and gender differences and he talks about violence, when you take the top hundred most violent people in society they're all going to be men because that's the way that the distribution graphs work, the bell curves. The tails of the bell curve are occupied by men in certain dimensions and by women in others. For example, men on average are more disagreeable than women. Women are more agreeable.

So when you look at psychopathy, psychopaths are probably the most disagreeable people out there. You can't convince them of anything because they're the ones that are right. They know that they're right and they're the ones that are going to try to persuade you to do something or persuade you that you're wrong. You can't play a psychopath unless you're really skilled. You have to have developed that skill in order to be able to put one over on a psychopath. They're the experts at that. They are expert manipulators.

So extremely disagreeable and extremely unconscientious. Psychopaths are not conscientious people and you find this particularly if you've read Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley or even in Samenow's description of the criminal mind. Criminals are not conscientious. They don't take responsibility. They don't take responsibility for their actions. They are not reliable. They expect to get something for nothing. In a sense they're lazy bums. They want something for nothing and that is essentially what motivates them in a lot of cases to commit crime. They feel they deserve things and that they don't have to work for them. So they might have these grand dreams of what they want and what they deserve. They want all the perks of something without putting any of the work into it.

But oddly, there is this aspect of psychopathy where you find that psychopaths do work, they do put effort into certain things. They might plan a crime very well. They might expertly manipulate a situation in the workplace to get something that they want but this seems to be something different than what we just considered - conscientiousness. A psychopath in the workplace won't do the work. He will get someone else to do the work for him and then take credit for it. So they are like parasites, they do manipulate but they don't actually do anything productive or responsible. That seems to be a general trait.

So when you have someone that you think is psychopathic but who seems to be actually very conscientious, chances are they're not a psychopath or they may be personality disordered in some way. Like we mentioned last week in this dimensional model, their personality disorder may express itself just in certain of those personality dimensions in which case maybe it's not the best term to call them a psychopath because psychopaths tend to not be conscientious.

And then lastly, negative correlation on neuroticism. So psychopaths are not neurotic. They do not experience negative emotions like anxiety, fear or worry to the extent that other people do. That seems to be the psychopathic Big Five picture of what psychopaths look like in terms of those personality measures.

Just to get things started off, I want to read two paragraphs on this. One is from a piece called Personality's "Big One" and the Enigma of Narcissism by Scott McGreal. The title's self-explanatory but let me just read this. It's to do with the dark triad, like I mentioned earlier.

Research using the Big Five has found that the most consistent feature shared by all members of the dark triad (that is narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy) is low agreeableness indicating a common core of selfish disregard for others. Apart from low agreeableness, narcissism seems to be more psychologically adaptive than psychopathy and Machiavellianism and this may be because they are related to the other Big Five traits in different ways. Specifically, narcissism tends to be associated with very high extroversion and somewhat high conscientiousness and openness to experience and with lower neuroticism.

So narcissists share low neuroticism with psychopathy but it looks like narcissists might have more openness and somewhat higher conscientiousness. So this person is not necessarily psychopathic. They're narcissistic. So you meet someone in your life and you think "That person's a real narcissist." They may be good at their jobs, they may be hard-working but they're just totally self-absorbed. This is probably more along the lines of extroversion than any of these other factors. So he continues,

Psychopathy and Machiavellianism are both associated with low conscientiousness and tend to be unrelated to the remaining traits with the exception that Machiavellianism tends to be associated with higher neuroticism.

So again, he's quoting one study which doesn't match with the other study that I cited where there are correlations in psychopathy to all these dimensions. You find that in research. It's hard to know who's right about what. But at least in this study, he's saying that psychopathy and Machiavellianism are both associated with low conscientiousness.

You can think about manipulativeness in terms of this, like I just mentioned. Psychopaths and Machiavellian-type people don't want to put the work in. They'd rather manipulate someone else in order to get the benefits from that manipulation as opposed to actually doing the work and being responsible. So he writes,

A combination of high extraversion and openness to experience is associated with social influence while low neuroticism is associated with better psychological adjustment. This seems to fit the profile of narcissists as socially poised and self-confident people. Very low conscientiousness on the other hand tends to be associated with behaviour that can get a person into all kinds of trouble such as drug use and delinquency and this fits with the perception of psychopathy and Machiavellianism as being particularly dark. Consequently, some people have argued that instead of the dark triad it might be more useful to think of psychopathy and Machiavellianism as forming a dark dyad with narcissism as a separate, although related, concept.

Again, this just shows no one really knows what they're talking about because we still don't know how all these things are related, how these personality features are related. We don't even know really what the root of the Big Five is. Like we said last week, it came totally atheoretically. There was no theory behind it, it was just strictly a product of the statistics. So we don't know what really contributes to openness or extroversion. We haven't found the biological correlates exactly. People are doing research in this direction but so far it's still a mystery. It's a mystery why we have the personality dimensions that we do have.

I just wanted to share that on the dark triad. I have one more quote. This is from a paper Psychopathy-the Big Five and Empathy as Predictors of Violence in a Forensic Sample of Substance Abusers by Stefanie Maria Nigel. She writes,

The Big Five factors and empathy domains failed to statistically predict violence despite showing significant correlations with the psychopathy factors. Hence, substance-abusing violent offenders display a distinct pattern of personality characteristics with IA (don't know what that means) being associated with high neuroticism, low agreeableness and low conscientiousness as well as high personal distress and low perspective taking.

In this study she's looking specifically at violent substance abusers. These would be people in a criminal population and found that the Big Five couldn't predict violence. But in these violent drug users what they did find was, again, low agreeableness - so this would be the antisocial type - low conscientiousness - again, this is what psychopaths and Machiavellians possess - but also high neuroticism. This was something that they found in other research too; neuroticism tends to be associated with drug use. On Wikipedia I saw a graph from a study on using the Big Five to study heroin users and they found that heroin users as a whole deviated from the mean of the normal population to various degrees for all five personality dimensions but I think that the neuroticism was the highest one.

That's interesting. It might say something about the relation of drug use to other personality disorder dimensions. The more actual emotional disturbance you have, that seems to be a contribution to whether you'll actually abuse drugs. But then psychopaths tend to abuse drugs as well but probably looking at it in terms of personality, for different reasons. Psychopaths just want to feel good whereas there might be a more emotional reason for the majority of non-psychopathic drug users. Taking off from that, maybe we can go in the direction of violence because this was one thing that we also mentioned briefly last week, that the Big Five can't predict violence and there doesn't seem to be a personality disorder dimension that accounts for actual violent criminal behaviour. That seems to be something separate than just the factors that go into whether you have a personality disorder or not. Corey, I think you had something on that. How about going in that direction?

Corey: I think just looking at the different studies that have been done on children growing up in bad homes or having birth complications and comparing those to controls and looking over the years at how many of them turned out to be violent, one thing that the studies have found is that if a child has no discernable biological risk factors in terms of the standard genes that we've found that are implicated in predisposing people towards violence or they didn't have any birth complications and they were raised in good families, they compared these people to people who were raised in bad families with maternal neglect and absent father and they found that actually there wasn't really a big difference. The kind of social risk factors that we're all told predispose people towards violence didn't actually explain anything.

So then they looked at the biological risk factors, the genes and the complications. They also found that it didn't really make much of a difference. But when they combined the biological and the social risk factors they found that that explained at least nine percent of the variations in the predispositions towards violence. One of the most striking things is that when you take out those biological risk factors and the stable family risk factors, when you look at lead and in The Anatomy of Violence Adrian Raine cites the studies that find that lead contamination in homes actually explains 91% of the variations in violence.

So when you look at just the toxicity in the human condition, that can explain quite a bit of the reasons for the predisposed people towards violence. But when you look at it in an instrumental way and you look at it in terms of personality I think that it's useful to define crime as a way of taking resources. That's what crime is in most ways. You're trying to steal resources from other people when you look at the professional criminal who goes and robs people's houses and resources in terms of women, in terms of food, money. In that sense then the criminal uses violence as an instrument only in as much as he needs to and as much as it fits his size, his weight, his ability to actually use violence successfully.

I think that it really comes down to an individual case-by-case scenario when you're trying to decide when is violence actually going to be used in an instrumental way in order to get what the criminal wants. As we discussed last week, it is an evolutionary viable strategy, at least in terms of our lower and more animalistic instinct to just be a bumbling fool who'll just steal things and impregnates a lot of women and then ends up dying young, but still he passes his genes on.

Harrison: I wanted to say something about that. I liked the way you described crime in terms of taking resources, that ties in again to low conscientiousness because conscientious people work for what they get and they don't steal it. That's the opposite of a conscientious person. So there's a personality dimension and this gets into another book that Samenow wrote, The Myth of the Out of Character Criminal. The main point of that book was to look at people who, if you would ask the people that know them, before they got caught for a crime they'd say "Oh no, that person's fine. They're not a criminal." Then they do something like stealing from department stores and finally getting caught or it might be a violent crime and then out of nowhere the, "Oh that was totally out of character. That came out of nowhere. We didn't expect that."

The point of the book is to show that that is a myth, that actually there's no such thing as an out of character crime. When the crime actually occurs, it is totally consistent with their personality before carrying out that criminal act. So we have these two factors to look at. You've got the actual personality structure and the thinking that goes into the behaviours that make up what that person is, their character. And then you've got the actual crime and the actual violence. We can see this in the data too. We can look at people's personalities in terms of the five factors but that won't necessarily determine whether they will end up comitting crime and violent crime.

These seem to be dissociated in some way. They come together of course because I think that it's probably a majority of the violence will be committed by people who are personality disordered to some degree or character disturbed - there's different ways of saying the same thing essentially - but not all people with personality disorders will go on to commit crime and to commit violence or they just might not get caught at it.

You've got to, maybe three different categories within this personality disordered population. So when we're looking at what might explain the actual violence, like you said Corey, the best direction to look in might be in terms of the assaults on the nervous system that will produce changes in the brain for instance. This might be heavy metals toxicity or that combination between genetic predisposition and certain environmental assault also on the nervous system and that will create this brain abnormality that gets added on top of that already crime-prone personality structure.

Just as a thought experiment, I think I was thinking in terms of this when I was actually reading Anatomy of Violence, if we could imagine a society where we were able to take care of all the risk factors that Raine mentions in the book because he goes through several and gives several policy recommendations. He says that we should be supplementing with fish oils, especially in prisons because they've done studies and found that when they introduced fish oil supplementation among violent offenders that violence actually goes down. They actually get better to a degree. There are several factors like this that indicate that a lot of the actual crime levels could go down with very simple interventions, whether dietary or just health-wise in terms of eliminating heavy metal toxicity, getting the right nutrition. That would seem to go a long way to actually eliminating the crime level.

So imagine this society where this is a utopian - almost - thought experiment. It's not like we're actually pushing for this or thinking that it will be a grand solution to anything, but just imagine that all of these factors were taken care of to the point where you eliminated crime. Well what would you still have? You'd still have those personality structures, those personality disordered people. You would have the people in Samenow's other book who never eventually got to committing that crime, but if they were to commit a crime you would still be able to look back at their personality and say okay, well that explains it. So we still have the personalities but we don't necessarily have the crime.

Just on the practical surface of things, even that would be better than the status quo because no crime is better than a lot of crime and there is a lot of crime.

Elan: You mean a little crime would be better than a lot of crime.

Harrison: Oh yeah, exactly. {laughter} No, a lot of crime!! No. A little crime. No crime would be better of course. I wrote an article a week or so ago on a somewhat related topic - the Gulag because I'd read a paragraph in a certain book that I'd read just talking about Stalin and things like that. But that's kind of irrelevant. One of the points that I made in the article was talking about crime rates because this was a comparison of the number of Americans that are in prison compared to the number of Russians that were in the Gulag system.

One of the things that most people probably know, at least those listening to this show, is that the United States has the highest prison population in the world, not just in terms of numbers, the most actual people, but the higher percentage of the population. Something like four, or is it seven out of every thousand people are in prison. I don't have the figures in front of me. But it's the biggest in the world. But then if you look at a population and a society like Japan, Japan has almost no crime. Of course that doesn't mean that Japanese society's perfect but if you're looking for a neighbourhood to live in and you've got a choice, you're going to choose the one without crime right? At least that's going to be one factor that you're looking at.

So in this hypothetical society we can eliminate crime. Good. What are we left with? Personality disorders. Still it may never reach the level of violence or crime but would still influence the people around you and your life in general to a negative degree. So once we've dissociated those two things from each other I think that is helpful in a number of ways one of which is just in terms of understanding people in general and the people you know and love and interact with in your daily life, but also yourself because first of all, if you look at other people, you should have an understanding of the people around you and whether they are a good influence on you and the people around them or not and what to do about that if they're not a good influence and also on yourself to look at your own personality flaws, the things that you don't like in others that you can see in yourself and which you can then work on.

Of course people with personality disorders won't do this, at least not with most of the personality disorders on three of the four dimensions, like people with avoidant/dependent/ neurotic type personalities. It's debatable how much success they can have in actually becoming better but for the vast majority of the people who don't have an actual personality disorder, we still have features in common with criminals and with personality disordered people. These are the things about our personalities that we instinctively know that we could work on. These are the flaws that we realize that we have, the flaws that our parents and that our friends might point out to us and that if we want to take responsibility for our lives and actually become something and grow into the potential that we could become, those are the things that we have to focus on.

So with that said, maybe we can take a look at some of the things that Samenow notices in his criminal populations, the thinking errors and then we can go from there or take it in a completely other direction.

Elan: Just to get back to Samenow's other book, it's The Myth of the Out of Character Crime is the exact title which is also an excellent book. But one book that we haven't discussed yet which I think speaks to what you just mentioned, is Character Disturbance-the Phenomenon of Our Age which is by George K. Simon. He also wrote some other books, In Sheep's Clothing-Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People.

What we've been doing on the last show and this show I think is multi-pronged. We're trying to understand how criminals think, what goes into the thinking, what's informing the behaviour of criminals, what it looks like and also as you mentioned Harrison, what are those traits or those things specifically that we do ourselves which resemble the types of thinking in worst case scenarios, of psychopaths, of the character disturbed. That is where I think Character Disturbance is really quite useful because Simon has catalogued a very large number of features of character disturbed people, expansive fantasy, pathological desire for adulation and admiration, passive disregard for the rights, needs or concerns of others, reactive aggression, predatory aggression.

What he does is break down all of these features of character disturbed people and gives a very specific description. I can't imagine a person reading this book honestly and reflecting upon their own behaviour and not seeing things in themselves or not recalling a time or two when they've behaved in ways that match the book. So it's certainly instructive in recognizing this behaviour when it's engaged in by others so that you can protect yourself or counteract it or mitigate it, but I think the real crux or meat of it, the real value in it is to recognize it in yourself and be honest enough to try and correct for it in the future so that it's not a pattern, so that it doesn't become part of your character, part of something that you do. The very first step to all of this is just becoming aware of it.

Corey: Right. You become maybe a little more critical of the thoughts that you're having because when we get to this level we're looking at it from the level of our conscious thoughts. Of course it's difficult. We're not conscious of every little thought that goes through our head. That's something that you want to grow in awareness of, how you think and thinking about the way you think is something of an art. It's kind of a step towards philosophy.

I just wanted to read six examples of thoughts that a criminal had, just in the span of a few hours. This was recorded in Samenow's book. The first one was,

When he was passing a jewellery store, he thought of writing fraudulent cheques to make a purchase. When he passed a bank, he thought of armed robbery. When he looked at a National Geographic exhibit he thought of stealing a skull. When seeing an alley he thought of dragging in a woman and raping her. When seeing a woman with a valuable piece of jewellery he thought about how to acquire it by con or force. A stream of thoughts about hold-ups, assaults and homicide possibly followed by suicide.

Clearly, this is darkness. This is abject darkness. We're looking at these things from many different angles and who knows? You look at this individual - I think it was back in the late '70s - and we talked about lead being an issue in terms of contaminating your body and causing these thoughts. There's the biological predispositions. There are social predispositions. But at a certain point, if you ever caught yourself thinking like this you would think some spark within you would say "There is something very wrong with me! I need to get help!!" That's the problem here when we talk about treatment resistance. This is the kind of thinking that this guy is resistant to treating. This is the internal world, the phenomenology I guess you would say, of the criminal's mind.

Elan, you discussed some of the thinking errors and I'd just like to go into a couple more of them. These are what are called automatic errors in thinking which are unconscious. It's difficult to really know that you're doing them but one was the closed channel which means that the criminal operates on the basis of secrecy, of closing himself off from the world and of being self-righteous, so not open to feedback. It precludes any sort of criticism from others and it makes sure that you are never going to get any form of positive feedback to change your behaviour. But on the level that's positive for the criminal, that means he never gets criticized. He doesn't have to expose himself and then possibly find out that he's not the genius that he thinks he is. That could be damaging to that narcissistic mentality.

Another thinking error was "I can't" which is his attitude towards life. There's nothing I can't do that I want to do and if you try to get him to change it's "I can't because of my impulses", "I can't because I was damaged". "This is just the way that I am." I'm sure a lot of people have heard that excuse coming from people who aren't criminals but that's just one of the elements that these gentlemen who investigated found composes a large part of the criminal's thinking; "I can't change. There's just no way. Who can change? It's silly."

Then there's the idea of self-criticism which in reference to being responsible for your life, is ultimately incompatible with criminality. So when you look at criminality from this sense, you get an idea that it is basically a way of living that is antithetical, just a completely alternative way of living to the order and organized conscientious lifestyle that we have discussed in previous shows. This is more or less a conscious choice for a lot of criminals to embrace this. It could be due to any sort of damage to your bodily systems, but like I discussed those thoughts earlier, those are conscious thoughts. There's no sense that I get that this person thinks that there's something necessarily wrong, but it could be exciting. It could be fun. It just sounds like a place of darkness. It's strange.

Harrison: What was the self-criticism that you mentioned? How is that a thinking error for the criminal?

Corey: He is incapable of criticizing himself.

Harrison: So it's a lack of ...

Corey: A lack of self-criticism. Then there's the victim stance, which I think we've all seen enough of in the media these days where whenever the criminal is held accountable for anything he portrays himself as a victim. He doesn't actually think of himself as a victim while he's out committing his daily crimes but it's a convenient thinking error whenever he gets interrogated for doing whatever he's doing or in order to shift the blame onto someone else or as a tactic.

Then failure to put one in another's position where he basically only operates on the very surface, sentimental type of way towards other people where he'll be extremely sentimental towards the babies or the handicapped or his own parents, his grandparents in a very surface and sentimental way. But then when it comes down to it, he doesn't want to associate with them because there's nothing he can get out of it. There's nothing that the criminal sees in his own satisfaction and out of actually dealing with them.

Elan: It seems to me that the criminal puts himself above everything and this includes any kind of spiritual idea as well. There is one quote that jumped out at me in Samenow's book. "The criminal expects to prevail in every situation. He considers himself the hub of the wheel, never one of the spokes. As one man reflected, 'I made myself a little god at every turn'." And Simon in his book talks about No concept of higher power.

Narcissistic characters can't conceive of anything more important, more capable or more potent than themselves. This leaves no room in their hearts for any concept of a higher power or authority. Now, I'm not necessarily talking about the concept of a god in a Judaeo/Christian sense. As adherents to AA precepts know, there are many ways to conceive of a higher power. For the humanist one needs to respect the collective greater good of society. For the non-deist scientists it might be recognizing the nature and complexity of the physical universe that leads to humbly identifying one's self as a relatively insignificant character in a grand cosmic drama. Most of us have a deep, abiding sense that there is something bigger than us.

It reminded me a little bit of the story of Malcolm X. In his autobiography he was quite honest about the fact that he was a criminal, a petty thief, a drug addict, until he finally got caught and was imprisoned. It was there that he had befriended the Nation of Islam representatives and found his higher power, began to read voraciously, educating himself in his years in prison and basically elevated himself from a real low level of existence.

So I think these were subjects that we touched upon a couple of weeks ago when we discussed the Strange Order of Things, how that reverence for something higher, including knowledge, is something that helps us to attain homeostasis from whatever position that you may be in potentially. So I just wanted to throw that out there as something worth considering.

Harrison: Well that just reminded me of a little anecdote that Putin said. I actually don't know when he said it, I just saw the video about a week ago. A journalist had asked him when he started believing in god and his response was that it's a very intimate, personal question, it's uncomfortable to talk about. So he gave a general response. He said that he thinks that everyone is born with some kind of implicit connection with god, with a higher power but that in some people that connection is felt and experienced all the time or to a large degree throughout their life and for other people it's only in a situation like trench warfare where the hardest core atheist asks the question, "Is there something more?" and feels that connection, feels that grand mystery, the ultimate. So for some people it requires, I wouldn't say traumatic experience but an intense experience, maybe a life-or-death one, not necessarily, but to break open the water pipe connecting the divine to the human. For others that pipe is usually clear.

So in some cases I think that maybe we can say that the pipe is completely blocked or perhaps even - I wouldn't say non-existent because I don't think anything can not be connected in some way to the ultimate, but just blocked in some sort of way, even in almost a permanent pathological kind of way. But in others perhaps like with Malcolm X there is an experience that shatters that previous personality structure that opens the pipes a little bit and that leads to a personality transformation. That's something that, again, we brought up just briefly last week; how can we think about personality and personality development. I think we can get into that but first I just wanted to give one observation from one of the points that you mentioned from Samenow's book Corey about the sentimentality of criminals.

I have two things on that. The first would be his example of criminals who, speaking with them, they're just over-the-top sentimental about maybe old people. They care so much for seniors. He gives one example of a guy who's talking about how he just loves old people and his grandparents or something and this guy was in prison for ripping off seniors. There are con men like that who target the old and the frail.

So it's like it's surface deep in some way. It may appear genuine but really it's just this surface level sentimentality for the weak and the infirm but when it comes down to it, if they've got something that they want, that the criminal wants, he'll just take it and maybe even kill that person that he was previously sentimental about. That just led my thinking in the direction of my second observation or thought on that. If you think about that in terms of the political spectrum and specifically the left and liberal thinking, really what it comes down to is that that's the model for leftist thinking. There is this sentimentality, this surface level appreciation for and compassion for the weak and the downtrodden where when you scratch that surface you find out that it's only surface deep. It's not deep at all. This is what inspired George Orwell to say that he didn't think socialists actually cared for the poor. They just hated the rich.

Now you can't generalize that to all leftist thinkers or people on the left side of the spectrum, but especially for the actual politicians involved, when you get into the party system, I think that's more true than any actual genuine sentiment. What you find are politicians like pretty much all of the democratic party, or at least the vast majority, of the ones who have a public presence, you'll find this over-the-top sentimental fake compassion. When you look at their actual policies and what they think and they don't care about these people. They don't care about anyone. In fact the policies that they have are detrimental to the people that they profess to fight for. When it's pointed out, they'll just deny it.

So really it is a criminal political philosophy, at least in the way that it actually manifests in the world. There is a political philosophy to the left, rooted in actual concern and actual compassion but you don't find that expressed in the party systems that put that ideology into practice. It becomes a mask to cover over a criminal mentality.

Corey: Yeah. When you look at the thinking errors characteristic of a criminal you see them in spades throughout that leftist political spectrum these days from having a closed channel where they refuse to have open and honest discussions about their proposed policies to the sentimentality that you're talking about and just the idea of the uniqueness, especially the uniqueness of the individual, celebrating this narcissistic idea of 'I am unique because I'm LGBT or race or whatever and that gives me license to do whatever I want and flaunt it in the public and carve my body up and just do all these crazy body modifications', to lying without any impunity, just lying about things, making them up. Here in the mainstream media you see it every single day.

I think that when you look at it on the social level, when the criminal mentality manifests on the social level, these are people committing non-arrestable crimes really. But at the same time the criminal spirit just runs rampant and it drives people insane because your instinct is telling you that in some way there is a massive offense being waged against you but at the same time the very people who are responsible for putting justice into action are the ones manifesting the most criminal traits. There are obviously a few, like threatening to assassinate the President on Twitter, that you obviously think "Somebody should get punished, disciplined for that behaviour", but it doesn't happen. Instead the more sane and rational members of society are slowly seeing this criminality just keep flaunting itself and flaunting itself and it drives people up the wall. And it should!

Elan: And the more you look, it seems like there isn't any kind of sector or industry or vocation - well I don't want to exaggerate things, but there are so many fields, particularly in the US, that seem to select for psychopathic traits. It reminds me of a questionnaire I once read. I don't remember who put it out but it was one of these personnel/human resources questionnaires that came from a company in Wall Street. Basically someone leaked the questions and did an analysis on it and the questions were designed to select for psychopathic traits! This is what the corporation on Wall Street was looking for.

When you hear something like that, it makes sense of all the geopolitical policies or economic policies that have been inflicted on nations around the world because it's getting back to what you were saying Corey about stealing resources. It's stealing the life force and the energy of people, stealing their health, stealing their well-being in the name of profits and power. It's a plague of being that we're seeing across the board. That's one of the reasons why discussion of psychopathy and all its many guises, and really what you were alluding to Harrison, how complex it is because there isn't any one causal factor. It's a combination of things and it exists on many different levels. It's as overt in some cases as it is subtle in others.

But I think it behooves us to keep looking at it and try to understand it, where it exists and how it exists because the situation has not gotten any better. It seems like the floodgates of psychopathy, anything goes especially in regards to political ideology has just gotten crazy. It has gotten totally insane.

Corey: Yeah, that makes me think in terms of what we were discussing earlier in the show about violence and how you can predict violence, what kinds of factors predict it, but specifically about it being an instrument in order to gain power. At least for the criminal mind, violence is only useful inasmuch as it suits their own personal drive. When you look at this power thrust that you see in today's society, you see a different form of violence. It's still violence but it's covert. It's very much a covert way of trying to gain power in order to just shove their ideology down anybody's throats, but fundamentally just in order to gain power. And it's dressed up as rights for everybody, human rights and freedoms, but when it comes down to it, this is the criminal mind on its covert warpath. This kind of thinking inevitably results in real, actual crimes further down the road. That's the real problem. When you don't nip it in the bud, it becomes a real crime. It becomes real violence and we've seen it throughout history. You've seen it in the Soviet Union and you've seen that kind of drive in Nazi Germany too.

When I was talking about the darkness that manifested in the criminal's thought, it reminds me of a map that some really creative artist made out of Jordan Peterson's archetypal discussions. He created an entire map out of Jordan Peterson's lectures and on the map, down at the bottom there's this giant castle that manifests order. There's the borders around the castle that manifests the protecting from the outside influences. But at the very bottom there's chaos and in chaos that's where the people went and they went deeper and deeper into it in order to prove to themselves that the light didn't exist. They just kept going deeper and deeper into the darkness.

That's what the criminal mind inevitably - it seems to me - is attracted to. You can try and change their mind. You can do all these different sorts of therapies. If you enacted policies around the world that reduced criminal behaviour I think you would still have this fundamental attraction on the part of some people towards darkness or however else you'd want to describe it. You've seen that in Nazi Germany and if you could think of the worst conditions you could put a society through in order to make sure it didn't commit crime, those would be the worst conditions; just the onslaught of WWI and the collapse of the Weimar Republic and then inflation, then Hitler coming to power and all the crazy Germanic racial theories that were floating around at the time.

But the people were programmed to seek that darkness. They were programmed to be attracted to Hitler and his idea of 'Let's just all be damned. We're going to take everything or we're going to go down swinging'. That is I think a very important dimension to the criminal mind, that even if it doesn't reach that level here in the States or if we don't see a revolution or anything at that level, that is still I think the driving force behind a lot of these leftist liberals. On the outside the mask that they present is love and light but on the inside they're just ravenous beasts, just ravenous criminal beasts. I'm not saying that all of them are but at this point in time, anyone who's still on that train is looking to get into that criminal pudding.

Elan: Well you said a few things there that reminded me of some recent stories we've been carrying on SOTT, especially in light of the idea of the criminals violence or threat of violence or bullying and holding that as a club over which to manipulate others to go its way. This story gets back to Syria. We carried a story recently - I think it was Syriana Analysis - that discussed a secret meeting held in Damascus in June where an American military person came to meet with the politicians of Assad's government and basically said 'If you allow us the eastern part of Syria to stay here and you take out the Iranian presence and the Hezbollah presence and let us take some of the oil in Syria, we'll leave you alone'. And the response to that was "No!" The response was 'The Iranians and Hezbollah are here at our invitation and no you're not welcome to our oil. No deal!'

So that was in June. I could be reading this incorrectly but I just find it fascinating that only two months later you have threats of the US militarily attacking Syria again on the possibility that there'll be more chemical attacks, that of course everyone will assume would have come from Assad even though that's ridiculous and nonsensical. Why would Assad want to attack his own people with chemical weapons when in fact he's winning the war and is very close to getting rid of the militants in Idlib, Syria?

So you have an American military presence in the form of naval vessels approaching Syria, threatening to attack. You have all this rhetoric coming out of Washington, specifically from John Bolton. You have the Russian government saying that they have intelligence mentioning the fact that there have been mobilizations of militants with possible chemical weapons accompanied by the White Helmets who it looks like are ready to stage another false flag attack on innocent Syrians.

This point about violence as a tool was never more obvious to me in this incredible drama that we've been seeing in Syria than in this recent development. Of course we've seen it a bunch of times in different iterations but this is yet again, the criminal mind of the US military industrial complex and aligned psychos in Washington that cannot stop themselves from trying to accrue power and resources from Syria and then release at large.

Corey: And on the micro scale, with your average local drug-dealing criminal, that would manifest in the thinking error of ownership. For every criminal wants something, the item or the person is his. As soon as he wants it, it's his.

Harrison: So bringing this back to the personal level, since we're going to end early today, maybe this will be our last topic, spend a few minutes on it. If we look at all of these examples and even using that last one as a jumping off point - ownership. When we think in terms of your own personal personality development, what does this all mean? Well like you mentioned at the end of last week's show Corey, Dabrowski's idea of personality was that personality was only developed. No one has a personality unless you actually shape it. He'd actually argue that very few people in history have ever had a personality, that personality was the goal of humanity and the goal of human development.

So all the ways in which we use the word personality he wouldn't agree with. He'd just say 'No you need a different word for that'. He might use the word temperament or individuality. These are just the basic random lot of traits that you were born with. So no matter where you are on the Big Five, how open or conscientious you are, that's irrelevant. The only thing that actually matters is what you shape for yourself, how you forge and form your own personality and personality is the culmination. It is the goal. It is the manifestation of the ideal that is brought into reality and manifested in the form of your full character and your fully developed character.

So how does that happen? How is that path traversed? Well you mentioned all of those thinking errors that Samenow gets into and one being ownership. You gave that example of the six thoughts that went through this criminal's mind in the space of an hour when he was walking down the street. This reminded me of something that I talked about when I did this show on the introduction to Peterson's Maps of Meaning where he give an example, not to the same degree, but he gives an example when he was at school - I believe it was at university or college - when he's sitting in school in class and he's got his pencil and he looks at the person sitting in front of him and he sees their neck and he the thought entered his mind, the image, the impulse to stab his pencil into that person's neck. His immediate response to that was one of astonishment at himself. 'Wow! That thought came into my head. Where did that come from?'

Really that is a perfect encapsulation of the process of personality development in a very microcosmic form where first of all that thought was conscious and second of all, it was recognized and then countered according to an ideal, according to a value. Now most people will have thoughts like that all the time and never become aware of them, never allow them into their actual consciousness to the point where they realize and accept that they've had those thoughts. So they'll immediately perhaps repress a thought like that. This is the reason that Peterson thought that his rule on parenthood would be so controversial - never let your kid do anything that makes you not like them - because if you look at a lot of parents, a lot of parents have little monster children and in certain moments they hate those children but they will never let themselves admit that to themselves. They might even fantasize about doing something violent to their kid because the kid is acting out so much but because they have this image of themselves as a good person and a good parent, they can't let that thought really come to awareness, come to consciousness. They can't accept that they actually have that thought. No, in their minds they're a good parent and they'd never think anything bad about their kids. Any time you hear that from a parent you know that they're lying.

That's on the level of unconsciousness. That's on the level of these implicit thoughts that control behaviour and if you look at a person like that, chances are those re the people who are going to be violent to their kids or to do something to royally screw up their kids or to just be a bad parent even if parenting doesn't really have that much of an effect on the actual future personality of the kid involved with all the caveats of what we've been saying over the past couple of weeks.

So the first process is what Peterson captured in this example and what this criminal in particular that you mentioned caught, it's to be able to catch the thought and actually acknowledge it. 'Okay, this is what I thought. This is the impulse I had. This is the motivation I had.' Now the criminal can't get to the next step. He can't really grok or feel or think or the combination of all of those, that that is wrong, that there is something better to do. He might just say 'Okay, well I had that thought and I know that Dr. Samenow thinks that's a bad thing so I'm going to tell him that' but really he can't comprehend why that's a bad thing. That's just the way he is. It would take something additional in order to actually acknowledge to himself and to realize why that is a bad thing.

You see this in the little example from Peterson where he has that thought and he's astonished with it because a person like Peterson - and I think this applies to a lot of people, maybe not even the majority but let's say a lot of people - will have a thought like that and it'll be 'That's not the person I want to be'. So you've got the people who can't even acknowledge it and that's the person they end up being, you've got the people who can acknowledge it and still end up doing it because they can't see any path out, they can't see any better option, and you've got the people who have these thoughts and they've got at least an implicit ideal or value to which they're striving with which they can compare that thought and say 'Okay, that's not the person that I want to be'.

In this case it's a dumb example of just poking someone in the back of the neck. There are of course more serious thoughts leading to actions that have greater consequences but even a small one, you add them all up and that leads in a certain direction. So with all these thoughts that come into mind just out of nowhere, it's a constant process of recognizing those thoughts and then putting them up for comparison next to the ideal and seeing how they match up with that and that will be felt as meaningful in the terms that we used a couple of weeks ago. That will be felt in terms of homeostasis, like how do you feel when you lie? There's a feeling that accompanies lying when you know that you're wrong, when you know that that is a self-serving lie, that you're just taking the easy way out, that you're not taking responsibility. You know what that feels like. Everyone knows what that feels like, well at least everyone with a conscience at least in its incipient form, knows what that feels like.

So the process of manifesting the ideal and developing a personality is basically carrying out that process in every aspect of your life to the point where you do not manifest any of those lower qualities when your actual actions are in constant alignment with your ideal and then there is a felt sense of homeostasis and meaning where you know that you are on the right path and that there is nothing that anyone can do to you to make you violate your own values and violate that ideal. So that would be I think, the ultimate vision of where human development and personality development can go and that is why reading books like this is important to give us the raw material to be able to recognize in ourselves what is actually going on in our minds and the kinds of things that hinder us from actually carrying out that personality development.

Corey: Yeah. Maybe we could say that the criminal mind is just the fundamental entropic element that you would drift to if you don't keep your things in order, if you don't keep yourself in order and you just keep drifting. You end up infringing on other people's space, their order, their organization.

Harrison: Their stuff.

Corey: Yeah. You end up becoming a burden. You end up harming them. You end up introducing more chaos and entropy into everybody's lives. I think, like you said Harrison, this is so unconscious for a lot of people. It brings me back to something we've talked about on other shows - the importance of narratives in order to give an image of what it looks like to embody that higher value. For most of us, that's not something that we can probably ever cognitively discover being as wretched sinners. You need to have this heuristic, which is what it functions as for most people in order to say 'what would Jesus do?', that kind of a heuristic even if it's faulty.

But the problem is that it's faulty I think and then we don't really have these up-to-date narratives today that we can use. At least most people don't have those kinds of narratives which leaves people on their own. One of the big things about the criminal mind is that it is this closed system. It's self-referential. It's not information-seeking. It's not reaching out and opening up to feedback which is what we need. That's probably one of the core narratives that we need as a civilization. That is how you maintain order. That is how you defeat entropy. It is by opening up and sharing, articulating the truth as best you can, seeking the truth as best you can regardless of your station in life. Even if you're just a labourer, it's still in each of our ability to articulate the truth and to seek the truth the best that we can.

Elan: When I heard Harrison mention the ideal, maybe some folks hear that and say 'Well I don't have an ideal or a higher aim as such. I'm not even sure what that is.' Well that's part of the process too. You've got to start somewhere. But you don't have to start anywhere. You can languish, but if there is an impetus to find an ideal that's meaningful to you personally, to anyone, then get engaged in the process. Maybe that ideal will not look like what you think it is or maybe it'll change in the process. But I think that is part of the journey, the search and ideally it would be never-ending. So maybe at some point in the future we'll talk about ideals and aims as a subject. It seems like a really good matter to get into in more detail.

Corey: Yeah, like Jordan Peterson would say, you have the past, you have the present and you have the future and then typically the ideal is this organizing force that moves you into the future that you want. But for a lot of people, they don't know what the past is and we have no idea where we are now. In today's climate it's probably even worse than that. It is worse than that. We don't know where we want to go. We don't know where we're at and we don't know where we came from and we're being lied to about it. So it's more important than ever to tune in.

Harrison: And with that said, thanks for tuning in everyone to this week's episode of The Truth Perspective. We will be back next week hopefully. Make sure to catch NewsReal and the Health & Wellness Show. Take care everyone.

Corey: Bye-bye.

Elan: Thanks for listening.