(The Hidden Evil) Psychopaths, also called sociopaths, are categorized as those who exhibit superficial charm and intelligence and are absent of delusions or nervousness. Their traits include:
- Frequent lying
- Deceitful and manipulative behavior (either goal-oriented or for the delight of the act itself)
- Lack of remorse or shame
- Antisocial behavior
- Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
- Incapacity for love
- Poverty of general emotions
- Loss of insight
- Unresponsiveness in personal relations
- A frequent need for excitement
- An inflated self-worth
- An ability to rationalize their behavior
- A need for complete power
- A need to dominate others
Psychopathy is basically an emotional disorder. The book, The Psychopath, by James Blair, Karina Blair, and Derek Mitchell, states, “The crucial aspect of psychopathy is … the emotional impairment.” According to Dr. J. Reid Meloy’s book, The Psychopathic Mind, although psychopaths don’t feel the emotion in a normal sense, they do experience boredom, envy, exhilaration, contempt, sadistic pleasure, anger, and hints of depression.
Generally, those who believe it’s caused by environmental factors use the term sociopath, and believers of the biological theory use the term psychopath. Psychopathy closely resembles Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD or APD) or Conduct Disorder (CD) as outlined in the DSM-IV. These disorders are detected using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revisited (PCL-R), the DSM-IV, and other diagnostics.
These character types comprise about 4% of the population and span every level of society. Psychopaths can be found in every race, culture, profession, and class. Because the term psychopath has been used to describe APD types and sociopaths, in this chapter I’ll use it as a universal label for these three character types.
Later when I’m explaining how psychopaths always mask themselves when seeking positions of power, it will help to remember the following: If a rational person tries to apply their logic while trying to understand the reason for an objective or act of a psychopath, they will fail. This will be explained in more detail later. Likewise, when a rational person hears of the possibility that a massive lie has been told to a population by a trusted leader, and they attempt to use their logic to determine whether or not such a lie is possible, they will usually not believe the truth (that they have fallen for a huge lie).
The reason for this is that although most of us can identify with small lies, we find it difficult to conclude that such a massive lie is possible. When I use the term massive lie, I don’t just mean a complete falsehood regarding a major event, but also the scope of its influence (global) and the number of people that have fallen for it.
In his book, The Mask of Sanity, Dr. Hervey Cleckley, says that even during the most “solemn perjuries” they show “no difficulty at all in looking anyone tranquility in the eyes.” He adds that they will “lie about any matter, under any circumstances.” He explains that it is difficult to express how completely straightforward they appear when telling a blatant lie.
“The great masses of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.”
“Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths,” agreed Dr. Robert Hare, in his book, Without Conscience. “When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they are seldom perplexed or embarrassed–they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so that they appear to be consistent with the lie.”
Psychopaths are always able to justify their actions, no matter how brutal. They have, “an ability to rationalize their behavior so that it appears warranted, reasonable, and justified,” says Dr. Cleckley. Dr. Hare added, “Psychopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the devastating effects their actions have on others. Often they are completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they have no sense of guilt, [and] are not sorry for the pain and destruction they have caused,” which, says Dr. Hare, “is associated with a remarkable ability to rationalize their behavior.”Psychopathy is usually untreatable. Most therapists won’t work with them because they often end up damaged in the process. Dr. Hare explained, “Such counseling would be wasted on psychopaths.” Some of them will even reflect the wishes of the therapist and pretend to be getting better.
In his book, People of The Lie, psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck had this to say: “Among themselves, therapists will not infrequently refer to a patient’s psychopathology as being ‘overwhelming.’ We mean this literally. We literally feel overwhelmed by the labyrinthine mass of lies and twisted motives … into which we will be drawn if we attempt to work with such people…”
Wikipedia describes that “traditional therapeutic approaches actually make them, if not worse, then far more adept at manipulating others and concealing their behavior. They are generally considered to be not only incurable but also untreatable.” Basically, psychopaths are the way they are for life. In most legal jurisdictions they are considered sane. So technically, they’re not mentally ill, just different.
Dr. Scott Peck concludes, “I have learned nothing in twenty years that would suggest that evil people can be rapidly influenced by any means other than raw power. They do not respond,” he says, “to either gentle kindness or any form of spiritual persuasion with which I am familiar with.”
Where Are They?
When people hear the word psychopath, most think of the famous serial killers locked away in prison. However, most don’t end up in prison or mental hospitals. Dr. Cleckley wrote, “The 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.”
“This outward appearance,” says Dr. Cleckley, is essentially a mask, which, “may include business or professional careers that continue in a sense successful, and which are truly successful when measured by financial reward or by the casual observer’s opinion of real accomplishment.”
“Many psychopaths never go to prison or any other facility,” agreed Dr. Hare. “They appear to function reasonably well–as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, academics, mercenaries, police officers, cult leaders, military personnel, business people, writers, artists, entertainers, and so forth–without breaking the law.” He continued, “Their intelligence, family background, social skills, and circumstances permit them to construct a facade of normalcy.”
“Corrupt and callous politicians, social or career fast climbers, authoritarian leaders, abusing and aggressive persons, etc., are among them,” wrote Dr. Renato Sabbatini in his article, The Psychopath’s Brain. “A common characteristic,” says Dr. Sabbatini, “is that they engage systematically in deception and manipulation of others for personal gain. In fact, many successful and adapted non-violent sociopaths can be found in our society.”
Most of these people are not just right in your churches, schools, charitable organizations, and workplaces, but by their very nature, they are likely running them. It is a core trait of the psychopath to place themselves in positions of influence, not for public service, but for power. “The experience of pleasure is not reciprocal for the psychopath,” stated Dr. Meloy, “it is available only through sadistic channels of power and control.” Achieving power for the sake of having power is the nature of the psychopath. “They love to have power and control over others,” agreed Dr. Hare.
The need for absolute power over others and the wish to inflict pain for the enjoyment of watching others suffer are almost never apparent to the casual observer. The reason for this is that another core trait of the psychopath is disguise. So, unfortunately, these individuals usually mask themselves as good-natured people. If they have tremendous wealth, you can bet that they’ll create charitable organizations as part of their mask.
They are well aware that their mental makeup is drastically different from the majority. They have a sixth sense for detecting and exploiting any weakness you may have. At a very early age, they learn that they can inflict mental and emotional harm on others with ease. They also learn how to detect others like themselves out of a crowd of normal people. Beginning in their childhood, most of them learn to mimic normal emotional reactions in order to blend in with society.
An article on Dr. Hare’s website called, Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert Hercz, describes how Dr. Hare was contacted by Nicole Kidman, who wanted his advice on how to play the part of a psychopath for her film, Malice. Dr. Hare uses the anecdote of a psychopath who had just witnessed an accident where a mother watched her child get killed by a car. There’s blood all over the place, and the psychopath experiences no emotion, but instead, is trying to avoid getting blood on her shoes. The psychopath notices the mother’s emotional reaction to the accident and is fascinated. She goes home, looks in the mirror, and begins to mimic the facial expressions of the mother. “That’s the psychopath,” revealed Dr. Hare.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, states that “any emotions which the primary psychopath exhibits are the fruits of watching and mimicking other people’s emotions.” They are adept at, “using their charm and chameleonlike abilities to cut a wide swath through society and leaving a wake of ruined lives behind them,” Dr. Hare warns.
“More often than not,” says Dr. Cleckley, “the typical psychopath will seem particularly agreeable and make a distinctly positive impression when he is first encountered. Alert and friendly in his attitude, he is easy to talk with and seems to have a good many genuine interests. There is nothing at all odd or queer about him, and in every respect, he tends to embody the concept of a well-adjusted, happy person.”
“Psychopaths are often witty and articulate,” concurred Dr. Hare. “They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming.”
Remember, most of them don’t psychically hurt people, so this is about mental and emotional domination. To accomplish these objectives, they will use their mask of sanity to place themselves in positions within your community. These positions may include school boards, charitable organizations, churches, politics, law enforcement, or any position which they believe will offer them power over others. These are the places where most psychopaths end up, not in jail.