Science of the SpiritS

Heart - Black

SOTT Focus: Hypocrisy of the Authoritarians

©Daryl Cagle

As Sarah Palin's vice-presidential nomination continues to energize the religious right, the hypocrisy of right wing authoritarians becomes more apparent than ever.

According to psychologist Robert Altmeyer, authoritarian personalities are characterized by hierarchical submission to traditional authorities, aggression and conventionalism. Altmeyer has done extensive empirical research on the subject, which is summarized in his book, 'The Authoritarians'.

Alarm Clock

Flashback Best of the Web: Twilight of the Psychopaths


"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it." - John Lennon, before his murder by CIA mind-control subject Mark David Chapman

When Gandhi was asked his opinion of Western civilization he said it would be a good idea. But that oft-cited quote, is misleading, assuming as it does that civilization is an unmitigated blessing.


Do criminal psychopaths enjoy other peoples fear or just not notice it?

­­­When most of us think of killers like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy, we imagine people who feel compelled to harm other huma­n beings, who enjoy causing fear and who feel no remorse for their actions. And for the most part, these characterizations are entirely correct. Serial killers (and many other types of violent criminals) are typically considered to be psychopaths with aggressive and anti-social characteristics. But not all psychopaths are violent -- some are "merely" manipulative, dishonest and incapable of experiencing deep emotions, and they may blend in with society with relative ease. A CEO who cheats his employees out of their pensions and then walks off without a tinge of regret may be a psychopath. Psychopaths, violent or non-violent, have no "moral compass," no conscience. They do not experience feelings of guilt for the crimes or betrayals they commit. A recent study of the brains of psychopaths, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, may shed some light on what's going on -- or not going on -- in these people's heads.

Comment: Also for more information on psychopathy read Robert D. Hare's Without Conscience and Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths go to Work

Black Cat

Flashback Columbine: The Depressive and the Psychopath

Columbine Footage
©News Interactive
Security footage of the Columbine killers.

Five years ago today, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered their classmates and teachers at Columbine High School. Most Americans have reached one of two wrong conclusions about why they did it. The first conclusion is that the pair of supposed "Trench Coat Mafia outcasts" were taking revenge against the bullies who had made school miserable for them. The second conclusion is that the massacre was inexplicable: We can never understand what drove them to such horrific violence.

Comment: Incredibly enough, it seems that psychopaths such as Harris may be the "unsuccessful" ones. For an example of where a "successful" psychopath may end up, we suggest looking no further than the White House.

Indeed they are all around us as this article shows. Contempt for normal human beings can be detected in nearly every aspect of life these days, from the financial dealings of greedy banks, to the corraling of future food supplies by Monsanto.

Heart - Black

Flashback Psychopathy shouldn't be treated as an illness

What kind of person could kill Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? John Wayne Gacy, who murdered 32 young boys during the 1970s, said: "I see myself more as the victim than as a perpetrator. I was cheated out of my childhood. If only there was someone, somewhere, who could understand how badly it hurt to be John Wayne Gacy!"

Gacy perfectly expressed a position that has come to hold the status of orthodoxy in the eyes of the criminal justice establishment. No one is essentially, irredeemably bad: they are made bad by circumstances, and their badness can be cured if their circumstances are made better.

The worse the crime, the less likely it is that the perpetrator was fully responsible for it. He must have been in some way mentally deranged, either by his experiences or by a mental illness, to be capable of it: a reasonable person could not have done it.



"My view is, there exists a group of people in the world that have a disease. I call it the 'power disease.' They want to rule and control other people. They are a more important plague than cancer, pneumonia, bubonic plague, tuberculosis, and heart disease put together. They can only think how to obliterate, control, and use each other. They use people as nothing more than instruments to cast aside when they don't need them anymore. The structure we have now is, the sicker you are socially, the more likely it is that you'll come out at the top of the heap." - Dr. John Gofman

Eye 1

Flashback Best of the Web: Psychopaths Among Us

Robert Hare

"Psychopath! psychopath!"

I'm alone in my living room and I'm yelling at my TV. "Forget rehabilitation -- that guy is a psychopath."

Ever since I visited Dr. Robert Hare in Vancouver, I can see them, the psychopaths. It's pretty easy, once you know how to look. I'm watching a documentary about an American prison trying to rehabilitate teen murderers. They're using an emotionally intense kind of group therapy, and I can see, as plain as day, that one of the inmates is a psychopath. He tries, but he can't muster a convincing breakdown, can't fake any feeling for his dead victims. He's learned the words, as Bob Hare would put it, but not the music.


SOTT Focus: From Cafe to Cybercafe: The Splintering of Society

Coffee and Cigarettes

During a recent visit to Montreal, I was struck by the many changes. I spent the greater part of my life in Montreal, but had not visited in several years. It is normal to find that a place you once lived has changed. Nothing stands still, however, the changes I am referring to go much deeper than the usual new buildings or housing developments.

The social fabric of a community is made up of many elements: knowing your neighbours, or at least recognizing faces on the street; communication with local merchants; places where people get together to meet and talk over a coffee or a drink; population density and the ease of circulating on foot or by bike, via public transportation, or by car. Neighbourhoods with small businesses run by people who live in the area have a different feel from ones that are rife with franchises.

Roaming through my old neighbourhood, the old haunts had disappeared. The local cafe, run by people from the neighbourhood and offering a spot to go and spend an afternoon or evening reading or talking over a coffee and a cigarette, populated with students, professors, artists, writers, and musicians, had gone, replaced by yet another chain offering a prepackaged and franchised atmosphere that could be found anywhere on the planet. The former rows of books, everything from novels, poetry, and drama to philosophy and social science, sitting on battered shelves for people to pick up and browse over a coffee had been replaced by, well, nothing. Emptiness. Mirrors reflecting back the image of the consumer to himself.


Psychopathic Groups and Distorted Definitions

Trademark of the Psychopath

The use of an inner, or esoteric, language to intentionally deceive is a trademark characteristic of the psychopathic personality or psychopathically dominated group. This is nicely summarized in Andrew M. Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes (1998) [1]:


Cunning practitioners of the 'pity play'

Leading psychiatric researchers are convinced there exists a type of person known as the psychopath, unemotional and sinister men and women who are different from the rest of us right down to the basic workings of their brains.

"Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret," Dr. Robert Hare, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, writes in Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of The Psychopaths Among Us.

"Their acts result not from a deranged mind but from a cold, calculating rationality combined with a chilling inability to treat others as thinking, feeling human beings."

Comment: How many people's lives have been ruined by characters like Tom Svekla? Charming on the outside, emotionless and dead on the inside?

But don't get lulled into thinking that psychopaths are always serial killers and repeat offenders. The most dangerous ones never get caught. They are too high in the social hierarchy for that, protected by others of their kind. They sit in judgement upon the rest of humanity in board rooms, court rooms, and legislatures.