by Alfred Lehmberg
What follows is a discussion of sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder) and the expressions of the psychopathic personal philosophy. Additionally, its relationship to an increased potential for what is otherwise a dismissed, ridiculed, and maligned theory of general conspiracy is explored.
A brief so-called "history in relief" of sociopathy is provided, useful definitions are included, but the remainder of the paper will delineate characteristics and causes for sociopathy as it exists to provide a fertile bed for endemic conspiracies of all types and flavors even cosmic ones some, very rationally, suspect (Dolan, 2000).
It is; this writer deduces moreover, that it is the sociopathy itself... that is the medium and the mechanism of a very real generalized conspiracy stealthily plaguing us today while a justified concern about it is, way too airily, dismissed as the ignored... "paranoid ravings of a lunatic fringe" (Klass, common knowledge).
To begin: there is no separate history, as such, of sociopathy because, this writer contends, history is itself, in many, many cases, the obvious chronicle of the sociopath. Moreover, learned writers make every indication that it is the sociopath who, by and large, writes the history regarded anyway (Parenti, 1999). It may not be much of a stretch that this is a convenient and arbitrary history precluding much of the record of that which conflicts with the self-involved interests of those... who conveniently cobble the historically extant together to serve their absorbed self-interest. Such has been so.
Indeed, Pro-social people (socio-philes) have lived side by side with the socio-path as long as one can look back into recorded and even unrecorded history. This is so even if that history ~is~ suspect because it is not generally written by the sociophile who didn't survive to write it. When a cohort of Winston Churchill's worried how history would view iffy events Churchill is reported to have said, "...don't worry! I'll write the history!" The spoor of sociopathy remains plain perhaps because it is in relief. Evil accuses first what it practices.
Sociopathy, for better or worse, fairly inundates history with its poster children those infamous faces who pop into mind when one hears the word of their unsettling name. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Speck, Gilmore, or Manson these are the faces who materialize unasked as one hears the word sociopath, but these convenient caricatures and easy materializations are very misleading. See, the preceding suggests that the garden variety sociopath makes itself easily known. This is far from the truth.
That's right, Sociopathy wears a legion of *friendly* faces, actually. As one is exposed to the variously posited but ultimately united versions encompassed by the definitions of it one can easily stretch this hateful condition to include not only the popular, respected and otherwise revered person no one would suspect... but to each and every one of us.
Be very afraid.
Consider: preachers don't tell on "preachers"; cops don't tell on "cops"; doctors don't tell on "doctors". Politico's don't tell on one another when there is a *greater* goal to be gained. The rest of us avert our eyes from the inconvenient and unsettling obvious. We don't tell on our friends to some sliding scale extent...
This is the hot-house fecundity any conspiracy must busily thrive in! Moreover, consider the near infinite potential... we have a system of laws and codes only to protect individuals from an unrestricted sociopath!
What ~is~ a sociopath or psychopath?
The sociopath may be defined as one who steals from, lies to, and cheats on those around him while being unaffected by conscience and unhampered by responsibility for his or her egregious acts (Morris, 1988). He is someone we have reason to fear and dread because he can so often be found where he was least expected. Interestingly, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton could be handily painted as sociopathic personalities, by way of example.
Like "The Simpson's" Montgomery Burns a classic if caricaturized sociopath, consider that Bob Dole seems unaffected by all the terrific death and abject misery his support of big tobacco has caused throughout the years. Bill Clinton might be a sociopathic lothario who cheated on his wife for over a decade with no apparent remorse, or crisis of conscience. To some degree Ronald Reagan wouldn't begin to admit to the existence of AIDS as long as he thought it was a targeted disease that only affected gay persons. Consider the stockholders of the tainted blood banks of Reagan's time, men and women who kept on selling their AIDS contaminated blood products when they KNEW (on some level) they were infecting people with the killer virus. The radius of affected persons increases.
Truly, conspiracy seems to have a plethora of persons available who can too readily embrace it make busy use of its divergently profitable and autocratic criminal utility. Sociopathy is everywhere, reader... perhaps, astonishingly, even in a mirror's reflection.
Another definition, for contrast, indicates that the sociopath, a sufferer of an "antisocial personality disorder," has no feelings for others, is selfish and aggressively compassionless otherwise prone to irresponsible behavior and so is happily willing to exploit others for profit of all types (Wood, 1993). Here lies the spark, tender, and motive for a pervasive conspiracy.
In amplification of this assertion, it is pointed out in another study that the preceding definition included every predator businessman, golf course doctor, slick mouthed evangelist, Fat-cat politician, impostor, cold fish prostitute, and Furman-like police officer alive on this planet (Coleman 1976). The point is that, though truly caustic, the definitions that this writer discovered could be extended to MANY more people than is typically thought!
If an illegal act can be committed for power, profit, or pleasure, there is an ABUNDANCE of people anxious to take crafty advantage of that act, reader. If conspiracy is possible, and it assuredly is, the preponderance of sociopathy makes it likely.
In a quick sidebar, most people have the concepts of sociopath and conspiracy wrongly applied. Folks confusingly think "psychotic" psychopath. Or that the sociopath is a psychotic or *crazy*. There is no such animal. The sociopath, or psychopath (the terms are roughly equivalent), is by definition NOT psychotic ~ NOT crazy.
Astonishingly, one has to be certifiably SANE to be a true psychopath (Coleman, 1976)! Additionally, as clarification, the first definition of conspiracy is ALWAYS clearly criminal. Four child pornographers agreeing to go downtown for burgers and cokes is not a conspiracy, their shared plan to disseminate their material is (Princeton.edu, 2010).
Moving on, there is a blending detected in the definitions of sociopathy to include (surprisingly) every person... (!) who for want of some absent capability... just can't cut it in our overly harsh global society (Coleman, 1976), and so cuts monstrous corners... with no personal guilt or regret with regard to those corners, or the persons innocently standing on them. There are, as well, the sociopaths defined as "criminal", but still another definition (definitions and characteristics swim through the literature as near indistinguishable fishes, this writer concludes) presents itself, again, with an attendant component to describe the "attractive user type", the social predator (conman-woman) that we even make movies about and grant inappropriate allowances for (Coleman, 1976).
Sweetly charming while cunningly, mindfully and artfully uncaring these predators might relieve you of your money, your dignity, your life, or your individuality. Sometimes, the victim, astonishingly (inexplicably!) still loves the sociopath when that sociopath has relieved them of their money and their self-respect (Morris, 1988). One can see ready parallels in the leaderships of all major and minor institutions, agencies, and governments, forgetting the girl next door.
Speculations on the potentials for insidiously convoluted conspiracy are generated in the minds of psychopaths and supported by the sociophiles who love them. This writer contends that we have conspiracy of all types, known and unknown, because there are so MANY of these unidentified sociopaths, on site, more than merely willing to take advantage of them.
As mentioned earlier, the definitions swam confusingly with the characteristics. Again, this writer believes in the non-admitted ubiquitous-ness of the sociopath, and predicts his presence where one prays not to encounter him.
For Example, Robert Tilton (an "Oral Roberts" type cubed!), just another gold-digging televangelist, might be one of these types. Convicted of graft, he's too quickly back on the early morning southeastern television speaking in *gainful* tongues.
Consider the Bush-pardoned banker types who fled the country with billions of dollars of our mother's and father's entrusted money unguarded in Reagan's frenzy of bank deregulation. Into what predatory form has any "oil man" evolved?
More characteristics of this stealthy and well camouflaged psychopath includes a "winning cheerfulness and grace with social skills" that compels people to ardent trust and doting consideration to facilitate them (Morris, 1988). Consider Michael Keaton in the film Pacific Heights.
There are the ruthless Machiavellian types who rise to terrific power in business and the military (McConnell, 1980), and there are the women who coldly stand behind them. These become the fire brand political types like Huey Long, or they refine sociopathy politically offstage... like Nancy Reagan or Barbara Bush, perhaps. Like Dick and Lynne Cheney, perhaps.
Many of them are smart as the clichιd whip and possess near genius or genius intelligences (McConnell, 1980). This compounds the problem with them, and adds a scary dimension because we don't have a clue how many there really are (or where they really are!) as they make lucrative use of this criminal intelligence! Sociopaths can hide in plain sight!
How many are there?
...So very few of them are getting in for professional help, it is estimated (Wood, 1993). Why would they? They're as happy as proverbial clams as they are, above the law.
Indeed, the only possible idea of prevalence that we have at all comes from prison studies which, very conservatively, put the population at 3% of all men, and 1% of all women (Morris, 1988). The reader is reminded that the vast majority of successful psychopaths are not caught. This writer suspects a lot more. Note, also, the interesting 3 to 1 advantage enjoyed by men... and white men at that. ...Damn few serial killers of color... and this writer suspects these suffer inordinate publicity.
Other characteristics include a complete and utterly unimaginable (for the majority) lack of guilt (Hallahan, 1994). This is the person who can perform the most bloodlessly god-awful and socially abusive criminal acts, and not only express guiltlessness, but ultimately blame the consequences of their act on the injured party! "She was beggin' for it."
These people are easily frustrated and prone to impulsive thoughts that they act on, mindlessly uncaring of the consequences of their figurative or literal trigger pull (Coleman 1976). These are the people who can put up a good front as they shine the victim on with attractive lies, half truths, and sly manipulations for their benefit... completely uncaring about the personal cost to the target victim, inevitably incurred (Coleman 1976).
Sociopaths share, generally, a complete lack of respect for any authority or mores save their own, and FOR that reason end up, over and over again, in trouble with the law (McConnell, 1980) WHEN they're caught! A sociopath can be a child so viciously, hatefully, and destructively afflicting that she is completely isolated from family, peer, church and school groups (Hallahan, 1994). As all of this dissolution might occur, the sociopath will take no hand in the responsibility for any of it. It's just not their fault, they corrosively and conveniently reason. They are only availing themselves of an opportunity that, "...anyone could (should) take," they reason in interview.
What causes this sociopathic loathing for ones fellows?
Some believe that while there is a genetic predisposition for a few, the majority had faulty models to imprint from their family experiences were bad (McConnell, 1980). Others go on to say that there was some kind of emotional detachment early in life that caused the disconnection of the sociopathic individual from the society at large (Morris, 1988). The preceding concludes the view of social learning theorists.
The COGNITIVE THEORISTS contend that "arrested development" is the culprit for the behavior (Morris, 1988). There is a school that believes the sociopath is a result of chemically out of whack neurotransmitters (Morris, 1988). This BIOPHYSICAL paradigm presupposes defective inhibitory mechanisms in the brain, or an inability, because of this lack of an inhibitory mechanism, to arouse the emotions of guilt and remorse in the subject (Coleman, 1976). Some psychologists believe that the sociopath is under-stimulated and performs these horrific, destructive, and socially corrosive acts in a frenetic search for any kind of feeling at all (Coleman, 1976). Conspiracy seems almost probable with regard to a person described as such.
Family relationships may have more to add than was reflected in McConnell at the beginning of a previous paragraph. Coleman (1976) breaks faulty family relationships into three subgroups of (1) early parental loss and that emotional deprivation; (2) Parental rejections and inconsistencies; and, (3) faulty parental models with toxic family interactions.
Then there are the supposed SOCIOCULTURAL factors. Easily, the living conditions of the inner city ghettos may be creating sociopaths out of whole cloth ( Coleman, 1976). Overpopulation may be a contributing factor as less and less respect needs to be paid to any one individual...
An aside. This writer, informed how intelligent he truly is, considers Charles Manson and wonders what he could have been... presuming his removal from the debilitating social experiences he'd reportedly had. A reflection: what strange and undiscovered conspiracies must exist in the fertile imaginations and implementations of this resultant and growing ARMY of psychopathic individuals? And, more of them, still, every day as a normal function of our population increase.
What IS a sociopath, where are they, and how can they be detected?
How CAN we know, when we can't even nail down prevalence effectively?
...And knowing that they are there with frequently easy regularity... ...provides greater potential for that, presently, too easily dismissed conspiracy we perceive in the shadows of our lives otherwise. How can we know, reader, given that the radius of those included in a sphere of sociopathy may be much bigger than we imagine the attendant conspiracies much grander than we thought?
It may be that we, on at least a level, are all sociopathic. Consider that on any given day, thirty thousand children starve, finally to death, after years of physical wasting disease and cognitive disintegration. We all know this we see Archie Bunker's daughter on TV every day another likely profit dodge? Our news media knows, our government knows, you know, and I know... still they starve. Innocent children suffer unending torment in a tolerated squalor while we concern ourselves with the cut of a suit or a shade of a nail.
Conspiracy is by definition a criminal act, corrosive to society at large. The world is filled with an outguessed amount of passionately engaged and creative criminals... sociopaths, consumed and concerned only with the continuance of their diverse personal agendas and advantaged lives!
We do ourselves a disservice, it appears, to reflexively dismiss conspiracy (of any type or flavor to include the aforementioned cosmic) in the mistaken tradition that our society protects us from these legions of undiscovered and non-admitted monsters. They do not. Verily, too often they ARE the psychopaths!
Every day exposes the ongoing sociopathic record of these vicious people, people capable of and perpetrating ANYTHING one can think of (and much more that one would not!) to secure advantage for themselves... or their class, the same thing. Such is the present fabric of our lives promising to get worse.
We are not served by dismissing conspiracy, we ARE served by investigating it. Posner has not settled the issue regarding the assassination of JFK. Klass does not settle the issue regarding UFO's. The authoritarian admonitions of our institutional leadership do not convince us that they have our best interests at heart.
Doctors want to soullessly market drugs and services, insurance companies want to treat their courtrooms like money-tree orchards, preachers want to prosecute their campaigns of intolerance and social hatred while they fill tax-free collection plates... we won't even mention the dirty politicians and the all-business captains of industry or their coteries of pandering lieutenants.
The rest of us? The rest of us are dashed, contused and senseless, on the slick rocky outcrops of ignorantly maintained, totally ignored, and readily dismissed conspiratorial shores. All this while the well meaning and ill meaning alike airily dismiss those rocky outcroppings as unfounded, unsubstantiated, and unproven.
Conspiracy lives, folks, it's not in our mind. Conspiracy's real. Just look, and you find.
Coleman, J. (1976). Abnormal psychology and modern life. Dallas: Scott, Foresman and Company.
Princeton.edu (2010) http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=conspiracy
Dolan, R. (2000). An unclassified history: volume one 1941-1973. New York: Keyhole
Hallahan, D. & Kauffman, J. (1994). Exceptional Children. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
McConnell, J. (1980). Understanding human behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Morris, G. (1988). Psychology an introduction. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Parenti, M. (1999). History as mystery. San Francisco: City Lights Books
Wood, E. & Wood, S. (1993). The world of psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.