Pathocracy: A System Run By And For Psychopaths


What is Pathocracy?

Definition: pathocracy (n). A system of government created by a small pathological minority that takes control over a society of normal people (from Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, by Andrew Lobaczewski)

Pathocracy from Greek pathos, “feeling, pain, suffering”; and kratos, “rule”.

A totalitarian form of government in which absolute political power is held by a psychopathic elite, and their effect on the people is such that the entire society is ruled and motivated by purely pathological values.

A pathocracy can take many forms and can insinuate itself covertly into any seemingly just system or ideology. As such it can masquerade under the guise of a democracy or theocracy as well as more openly oppressive regimes.


  •  suppression of individualism and creativity.
  •  impoverishment of artistic values.
  •  impoverishment of moral values; a social structure based on self-interest and one-upmanship, rather than altruism.
  •  fanatical ideology; often a corrupted form of a valid viable ‘trojan’ ideology which is perverted into a pathological form, bearing little resemblance to the substance of the original.
  •  intolerance and suspicion of anyone who is different, or who disagrees with the state.
  • centralized control.
  • widespread corruption.
  • secret activities within government, but surveillance of the general population. (In contrast, a healthy society would have transparent government processes, and respect for privacy of the individual citizen).
  •  paranoid and reactionary government.
  • excessive, arbitrary, unfair and inflexible legislation; the power of decision making is reduced/removed from the citizens’ everyday lives.
  • an attitude of hypocrisy and contempt demonstrated by the actions of the ruling class, towards the ideals they claim to follow, and towards the citizens they claim to represent.
  • controlled media, dominated by propaganda.
  • extreme inequality between the richest and poorest.
  • endemic use of corrupted psychological reasoning such as paramoralisms, conversive thinking and doubletalk.
  • rule by force and/or fear of force.
  • people are considered as a ‘resource’ to be exploited (hence the term “human resources”), rather than as individuals with intrinsic human worth.
  • spiritual life is restricted to inflexible and indoctrinate schemes. Anyone attempting to go beyond these boundaries is considered a heretic or insane, and therefore dangerous.
  •  arbitrary divisions in the population (class, ethnicity, creed) are inflamed into conflict with one another.
  • suppression of free speech – public debate, demonstration, protest.
  •  violation of basic human rights, for example: restriction or denial of basic life necessities such as food, water, shelter; detainment without charge; torture and abuse; slave labour.

What is a Psychopath?

Although there are many evidence-based psychological tests to measure psychopathy, the most well researched is undoubtedly Robert Hare’s psychopathy checklist which is used extensively around the world.

Hare describes psychopaths as “intra-species predators” who use charm, manipulation and/or violence to satisfy their own selfish needs.

Lacking in conscience or real feelings they take what they want regardless of the consequences to others. In pursuing their goals they are likely to be cool under pressure, calm, emotionally flat and lacking in feeling. And by these criteria, Dexter is indeed a quintessential psychopath.

The general consensus is that psychopaths don’t change over time, although the number of their criminal acts might well reduce with age. However, most experts believe that they remain thoroughly unpleasant individuals throughout their life.

Psychopathy is a socially destructive personality disorder usually characterised by a combination of emotional, interpersonal and behavioural traits. The most common of these are egocentricity, extreme impulsivity coupled with irresponsible behaviour, pathological lying and a lack of guilt or remorse. The condition is not a defined mental illness – both legally and in a psychiatric sense psychopaths are generally declared sane, although there is some evidence that a combined diagnosis of schizophrenia and psychopathy occurs occasionally.

The Compensated Psychopath

The famed Swiss psychiatrist Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig, Jungian author of The Emptied Soul, believes that many psychopaths (a.k.a. sociopaths) who walk among us are often those who hold upstanding positions in society. Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig calls them “compensated” psychopaths. Unfortunately, psychopathy showing up in places other than a prison or mental hospital is an extremely serious and all too common social problem, partly because just one compensated psychopath can so adversely affect the lives of so many unsuspecting, trusting people.

These psychopaths can be economically and emotionally (if not physically) “socially dangerous” – capable of unbelievably appalling acts. In 1941 Dr. Hervey Cleckley discussed the “partial psychopath” when he talked about “incomplete manifestations or suggestions of the disorder” in psychiatrists, physicians, businessmen, etc. “Compensated” psychopaths were described as the subclinical psychopath or subcriminal psychopath by the famous Dr. Robert Hare. These doctors are all talking about the same problem – psychopathy. Pure psychopaths really do exist, but even so, they are very, very rare. It is the vastly more common so-called compensated, or partial, psychopaths (Adolph Hitler is an extreme example; see link 3, below) who are the far more insidious, and pervasive, social problem.

Hervey Cleckley (best known for co-authorship of The Three Faces of Eve), a pioneer in the field who provided the first coherent, thorough description of what he called the “psychopath” (and the “partial” psychopath), wrote:

“Although they occasionally appear on casual inspection as successful members of the community, as able lawyers, executives, or physicians . . . . [t]he true difference between them and the psychopaths who continually go to jails or to psychiatric hospitals is that they keep up a far better and more consistent outward appearance of being normal.”

“Partial” Psychopaths

Regardless of whether they are characterized as compensated psychopaths, partial psychopaths, subclinical psychopaths or subcriminal psychopaths, these psychopaths cause others to suffer immeasurably from their own psychopathy, and conveniently for them they do it without a trace of their always nonexistent conscience. Dr. Robert D. Hare, the world’s foremost expert on the psychopath, has described psychopathy as “a socially devastating disorder defined by a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics.”

Particularly characteristic of the psychopath are shallow emotions, the utter absence of empathy, guilt, or remorse, glibness/superficial charm, manipulativeness, inconsistency, deceitfulness/lying and a grandiose sense of self-worth.

Lacking any genuine remorse, psychopaths also lack the motivation to change. It’s generally thought that not only do psychopaths not get better with treatment, they actually get worse because they learn how to better manipulate the system, as well as the clinicians who try to treat them. According to Robert Hare, “Administrators actually took it to mean that not only are they not treatable, but if they’re going to be worse, let’s do everybody the service of not treating them.” Dr. Hare believes in developing a good treatment plan; there just isn’t one yet.

The term Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) was originally meant to replace the charged (and not clearly distinguishable) terms psychopath and sociopath to describe psychopathy, but Dr. Hare argues convincingly that ASPD and psychopathy are in reality, by their actual definitions, describing different disorders. The incidence of ASPD has been estimated at 3% in males and 1% in females, while the rate of psychopathy is about 20% to 50% of the rate of ASPD. With 300 million people, the United States therefore has a range of roughly 1.2 to 3 million psychopaths within it’s borders in 2006, and because there are fewer than 100 (clearly dangerous) serial killers, this suggests that about 1.2 to 3 million other socially dangerous psychopaths, existing on a continuum of varying degrees of severity, are wreaking their havoc in countless other devastating and socially dangerous ways.

The Psychopaths Are Winning

Psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley, in his seminal work The Mask of Sanity (1941), which first put together the characteristics of psychopaths, noted that psychopaths are “apparently sane, often dynamic . . . almost always seductive . . . impress others with their sincere motives and positive intentions and wind up causing great institutional and personal harm. With an unexplainable capacity to engender trust, even in experienced and cynical observers, these people create chaos . . . The single most powerful diagnostic test was his own willingness to cash their checks . . . Charm, a quick sensitivity to the unspoken needs of others, and a certain flexibility with the truth are woven into a personal charisma that entrances.”

As psychiatrist A. J. Mandell noted,

“Cleckley speaks of the psychopath’s immunity from anxiety, extraordinary poise, sense of well-being, and remorselessness.”

Psychologist Robert Hare, in his classic book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us (1993), states:

“Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. 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. Their bewildered victims desperately ask, “How can we protect ourselves?”
Dr. Hare notes that the psychopath “can use words any way he wants. If you catch him lying, he’ll just shift gears and go on as though nothing had happened.”

To explain why people are so easily taken in by these superficially charming and socially adept, but socially dangerous, psychopaths, in Without Conscience Robert Hare quotes from William March’s The Bad Seed (1954):

“Good people are rarely suspicious: they cannot imagine others doing the things they themselves are incapable of doing; usually they accept the undramatic solution as the correct one, and let matters rest there. Then too, the normal are inclined to visualize the [psychopath] as one who’s as monstrous in appearance as he is in mind, which is about as far from the truth as one could well get . . . These monsters of real life usually looked and behaved in a more normal manner than their actually normal brothers and sisters; they presented a more convincing picture of virtue than virtue presented of itself – just as the wax rosebud or the plastic peach seemed more perfect to the eye, more what the mind thought a rosebud or a peach should be, than the imperfect original from which it had been modeled.”

Robert Hare recently said, “The majority of people and therefore workplaces are easy prey, because we still want to believe that people are inherently good. We don’t really want to believe that such people exist.” So it is that Dr. Hare, the world’s best-known expert on the psychopath, concludes that the ultimate problem is – “Us!”

Furthermore in Dr. Robert Hare’s book, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us he concludes “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. Such morally incomprehensible behaviour, exhibited by a seemingly normal person, leaves us feeling bewildered and helpless.”

By contrast, writer Henry Lloyd-Roberts concluded by re-framing the issue from the opposite perspective in “How to Spot the Office Psychopath”:

. . . These ‘qualities’ are fundamental in helping them [psychopaths] climb the corporate ladder:

They can be manipulative, arrogant, callous, impatient, impulsive, unreliable, superficially charming and susceptible to flying into rages. Further redeeming features include a fondness for breaking promises and blaming colleagues when things go wrong. It is their single-minded focus, however, that helps them to achieve their corporate goals.

According to Professor Hare, who led the research, “Wherever you find money, prestige and power you will find them. The most important thing is to be aware you are working with a psychopath. Then you are in better position to deal with them.”

The fundamental characteristic of all psychopaths is having no conscience and consequently lacking any empathy with their fellow man. Small wonder then that they seem to particularly thrive in industries where a little ruthlessness goes a long way, namely business, law, politics and the media.

A Garrison Keillor-type might call such people well-compensated psychopaths, but like I said, they’re winning!

Sources for this article include:

Definition of Pathocracy

Capitalism: A System Run By and For Psychopaths

Recommended Books:

The Mask of Sanity – Hervey Cleckley, M.D

Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us

Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)

The Emptied Soul: On the Nature of the Psychopath (Classics in Archetypal Psychology)

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