Comment by Pablo
Pablo has a comment on the post “The End of the World. Or Not.” which raises interesting points.
Pablo – ” A few years ago, I read The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout. Very enlightening. She stgsegus (suggests?) that as much as one quarter of the population falls into this category.”
Serious professional psychologists do not agree on all elements of psychopathy or its little brother, sociopathy. Various psychologists who make an effort to distinguish between psychopathy and sociopathy, and there are many of them, often use the two terms interchangeably. After working for four psychopaths early in my career, at a time when psychopathy was little noted, much less well understood, my interests are on psychopaths who kill large numbers of people or who do major damage to our Republic or to our economy.
Generally, about one percent of the population is considered to be psychopathic, but intelligent psychopaths gravitate toward positions of power, wealth, and influence, as in corporations, finance, and politics. Dr. Robert Hare has prepared the Psychopathy Check List – Revised (PCL-R) that is the primary tool for determining psychopathy. Dr. Hare and associates have found that 80% of corporate managers lead exemplary lives, scoring 3 or less on the PCL-R, just as you might expect of a person in a position of trust and responsibility. But 4% of corporate managers score in the psychopathic range (30 or more on the PCL-R) and these are the ones who do the major damage — WorldCom, Enron, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Boards of Directors and their $10 billion accounting fraud, Bernie Madoff, etc. The sixteen percent of corporate managers between the exemplary and the psychopathic may well be sociopath, or narcissistic, or anti-social.
I question your reported figure of Dr. Stout’s 25% sociopaths, but the number of people who are sociopaths, or who have narcissistic personality disorders or anti-social personality disorders may be about right.
Pablo – “I often wonder if there’s a genetic component involved.”
Me, too. When I first started writing on this subject in the late 1980s, this was one of my first questions. With the recent development in psychological understanding, I can give you a definite maybe as an answer.
Dr. Hervey Cleckley wrote the first clinical description of psychopathy in 1941, and one of his subjects was a middle child (of three children) in an otherwise solid middle-class family. Where did this psychopathic child come from? According to Dr. Robert Hare, psychopaths often display an immature sawtooth pattern in a brainwave analysis, but parents of psychopaths who are not psychopathic themselves sometimes display the same sawtooth pattern — heredity? Apparently. But a dysfunctional family and child abuse are the most common factor in psychopathy.
Pablo – “Does our soft society protect these people, allowing them to remain in the gene pool, or are they so good at adapting that they’d survive under any circumstances?”
Now you are getting into deep kimchi. The worst thing that the Democratic Party ever did (up to that time) to Blacks and to the republic was to pass LBJ’s War on Poverty in 1965. The War on Poverty cost $6.6 trillion over a thirty-year period, left us with a $6.0 trillion national debt, and was utterly corrupt and wasteful. In 1965, over 80% of Black children lived in a family with two parents. At the end of the War on Poverty in 1995, over two thirds of Black children lived in a single parent household, because the WoP paid mothers and children when there was no male present — the males bailed, massively, leaving broken families. Dysfunctional families are a primary element in psychopathy, When you have functional families, Black or white, psychopathy is minimized, but the incarceration/anti-social rate among Blacks is a direct function of Democratic Party social engineering.
Pablo – “In the end, it doesn’t really matter; the scary thing we need to understand is that the government cannot protect us from them, and THEY ARE EVERYWHERE.”
The government has no interest in protecting us from psychopaths or sociopaths; the government is increasingly driven by psychopaths. Any improvement will come from us.
Dr. Martha Stout has more recently been prominently involved in a put-down of Dr. Kevin Dutton, who professes to have found wisdom and virtue among psychopaths. Dutton is the only person to have made such an observation, and Dutton has allowed himself to be played while interviewing psychopaths.