When talking about psychopaths, the image which usually comes in mind is that of a dangerous madman, of the serial killer kind. This image is misleading, because psychopaths are much more numerous (from 3 to 10% of the population, according to different estimates), and much more difficult to recognize. However, it is a very influential minority, because they are always craving for power, wherever they can.
This paragraph added February 2021: And this is not a new fashion of «psychoanalysis», as some want us to believe. The disease is recognized by psychiatrists, especially Psych Central, the world reference of psychiatrists (links not checked, since Psych Central self-censors its content to the European Internet): Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms - Psych Central (Antisocial personality disorder is a disorder that is characterized by a long-standing pattern of disregard for other people's rights, often crossing the line and violating those rights) Antisocial Personality Disorder - Psych Central (People with antisocial personality disorder often live a life in conflict with others, because they don't understand the normal rules and laws that most people in society follow)
Awareness of the danger of the sociopaths arrived through the book of Marie-France Hirigoyen, a psychiatrist specialist of victims: «Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity» This is one of the major books on manipulation, even before «1984» and «Brave new world». Indeed, it speaks of real, common facts, that we all face. If I had read it earlier, it would save me the biggest troubles in my life!
Marie-France Hirigoyen basically explains what are these stalkers: cold beings, without emotions, who only seek to use or to destroy other. Their monstrous ego (chapyer V-10) makes them bring everything back to them. And the process they use, stalking, is a suite of insults without reason, of baseless accusations, which target a peculiar victim, seeking to make him feel guilty, and lose hi desire for living. The problem is that, when we do not know their methods, they are difficult to detect. Indeed, they are not alienated: they know well the rules of society, even if they do not believe in their value. They are therefore quite able to look sympathetic, and even brilliant in society. The only way to recognize them at this time is that they always seek to be the center of attention, or to seek power by discouraging others. (Karl Marx typically behaved in this way, and this is how he eliminated all the other social philosophers, to crystallize a century of generous utopias on the sole nascent Communist Party, just a tool at the service of his ego.) In private (business or family), stalkers are however abominable with a selected victim. This extreme moral violence is difficult to understand, and the victims believe that it is their fault, thinking that the psychopath is much superior to them.
Marie-France Hirigoyen calls these people «narcissistic pervert», and classify them among the psychopaths. But since, the more general term of sociopath is more successful (and it includes other disorders with similar social effects, but which are not necessarily psychosis, such as the caracteropathy often attributed to Stalin). Unlike the «natural» neurosis, psychosis is a psychiatric disorder, an abnormality of the brain. But the Sociopaths are not alienated, this meaning that they are aware of the laws and morals, they are aware of their actions and choices, making them legally responsible. It seems that the international classification of psychiatric disorders recognizes this disorder. I say: it seems, as the wikipedia page on this topic has recently (2012) undergone changes, which may reflect a counter offensive to normalize these people.
The reception of Marie France Hirigoyen's book was very positive, and several other authors have developed this theme.
But some attempted to reduce its scope. Thus a thesis much advertised by the media says that stalking at work would be a consequence of the competition in a company. The charge is subtle, but well-targeted: if everybody could stalk, so there would be no special category of persons likely to do so. And therefore not narcissic perverts, no sociopath, no problem. However, there is one, because we meet these people everywhere, even without any competition, and work is just one place among others where they can exert their activity (Unless they create their own place from scratch: party, cult...). I have even seen recently in right media a theory as what sociopaths would be our natural leaders. This looks a bit like a Masters Race... And in more it is grossly wrong, because as leaders they are usually disorganized and incompetent (examples: Hitler or Napoleon). Indeed, for them, the power is only an instrument for their sadistic pleasure, not a way of serving the community.
There also are «genetic justifications» of sociopathy (understand «if it is genetic, then it is good»). The theory of adaptive selection says that if a genetic trait spreads, it is because it is useful for the specie. However the said adaptive selection has no moral sense, and in more Sociopaths may very well have done a counterselection, with their greater ability to use women.
That these people are so numerous means that everyone must learn to protect themselves, starting by recognizing them. As they are fine psychologists, they fully play with our neurosis, and they can manipulate us with a disconcerting ease, whatever for using us for various purposes (cults, dictatorships) or just for their sadistic fun (stalking in family, inquisition, etc.). Hence the interest of the psychoeducation seen in the previous chapter, and especially of a psychoeduquee society, where sociopaths would have no power.
(Permalink) This subchapter added in March 2022: Normally, we are not allowed to diagnose, and especially not in psychiatry. However, we all are bound to encounter sociopaths, often where we least expect them. Indeed, they are vicious and skilled at hiding under seductive appearances, posing as persecuted, leaders, innovators, revealers of problems, etc. As a result, psychiatrists regularly publish lists of criteria, so that everyone can recognize them, and avoid them. There are several different lists, but all describe the same problem, for instance a summary from Psych Central:
-Charming and superficial to people who can give them something such as power, money, or empathy. To everyone else, they are cold, distant, and aloof as if those people do not exist.
-Completely lacking in emotion or the ability to empathize with others, while they possess a strong ability to convincingly show fake empathy and emotions.
-They lie without any master plan.
-Blame others for their own mistakes without any remorse or guilt, taking pleasure in seeing punishment administered to others for their blunders.
-Take unnecessary risks.
-Continue to make the same errors over and over with no self-awareness.
There are other criteria, such as:
-Speak in a blank voice, apparently neutral but threatening. It does not take long to condition a victim to feel an intense fear upon hearing this voice, even before any malignant words.
- The reversal of guilt against their victims
- Pretending to be neutral while they are making malicious statements
And others which are chapter titles in Marie France Hirigoyen's book:
- Refusing direct communication
- Distorting the language (today we would say newspeak, conspiracy mongering, post-facts, etc.)
- Use sarcasm, derision, contempt
- Use of paradox
- Divide and conquer
- Bringing guilt or shame to their victims
- »pardon» to their victims
I would like to add here a criterion that psychiatrists seem not to have spotted, but which could be the most relevant of all:
- Justifying their behaviour at a given date by events which occurred later (Temporal Inconsistency). Generally, when asked «why» they stalk.
If these criteria do not allow us to improvise ourselves as psychiatrists, they can however allow us to identify dangerous people, hopefully before placing ourselves in dependence on them.
Added May 2023: a team of psychologists at the University of Helsinki found that, when sociopaths receive criticism, they unconsciously exhibit facial movements in their foreheads and in the muscles used to smile. This could be a way to detect them, but it lasts for a fraction of a second, so that we cannot rely on this in an everyday life setting. Well, that would work well in record of television speeches, ha ha ha!
(Permalink) Marie France Hirigoyen devotes only one sentence on this aspect, but she says it. Others developed further: Sociopaths are looking for the political power, and they are skilful to obtain it (by their enthusiastic charisma, or their obstinate manoeuvring to eliminate their competitors), to the point that almost all the social, political or religious powers are contaminated by them. If they get the absolute power, they then establish political dictatorships or religious fundamentalism, with silly theories to select their victims without allowing them to defend themselves: accusations of witchcraft, superior races, accusation of being reactionary, transmission of the responsibility of the parents on the children, etc.
But the founding book in this domain, ponerology (the scientific study of evil) is without doubt «Political Ponerology: A Science on The Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes» by Andrew M. Lobaczewski, a Polish psychologist who witnessed helplessly the suffocation of scientific thinking in the universities in his country, following the seizure of power by the Soviets in the aftermath of the Second World War. Such a totalitarian, often grotesque or cartoonish regime, offered many opportunities to refine his theory, but also to study the subtle defences of the people, in a system where a single word can make us a target of the sadists. It is therefore the fourth important book on manipulations, with the previous three. But unlike them, it was not much publicized... A much too large stone in the very small pond of the crooks of all kinds.
It is quite clear that this situation is a major obstacle to the emancipation of society, by the systematic blocking of positive solutions (social, ecology, etc.). Especially, to stand with such absurd anti-life positions, such as the denial of climate change, or the far right rubbish, is an excellent way for the sociopaths to be noticed by the majority. And all the more if media offer them an incredible free advertising! We shall study this problem with more in detail in chapter VI-13.
(Permalink) Sociopaths sometimes gather in groups like the gestapo, for their sadistic amusements. It was a formal organization, with membership card, hierarchy, internal discipline (and we imagine, social security, works council and pension plan, ha ha ha!).
The USSR had similar organizations: NKVD, GPU, KGB, etc. However, putin's Russia has seen an innovation: the same goals accomplished in a different way, by the siloviks. This Russian word means «man of the force», that is all those who have the right to use force against ordinary people. It is a collection of rotten cops, forfeit judges, military brutes, paranoid spies, lawless henchmen, who give each other permission to persecute anyone they want. In theory, they are putin's sycophants, in charge of carrying out his dirty work. But we imagines that being untouchable, they are free to have fun as they please, at the expense of defenseless Russian citizens. The siloviks are the gestapo in self-management, so to speak.
In the democratic system, the government does not maintain siloviks. Moreover, to avoid such abuses, the use of force against citizens requires several keys, held by different professionals (e.g. magistrates and policemen).
However, given the percentage of sociopaths and other racists or abnormals, it happens that groups of friends manage to hold all the keys together. They can then function in the manner of putin's silovics. My children have been victims of such groups on two occasions. I myself have had an attack by employees of Pôle Emploi (French unemployment agency). This last case is very disturbing, because of the policies of recent French governments to haze the unemployed.
It is therefore clear that sociopaths, racists, hazers, haters, etc. must be excluded from the judiciary, the police, the army, the administration, social welfare, medicine, education, politics. «Beruf verboten», according to a famous precedent that has not prevented our politicians from enjoying their caviar. In France, the army has already been sweeping its own door step since the 1980. We are waiting for the others.
(Permalink) A sociopath is often smart (what is called the intelligence of evil) and he is perfectly able of understanding the limits accepted by the society where he plays. He knows that if he exceeds these limits, the society would reject him, so he carefully avoids to exceed them... as long as somebody is looking at him, because in private he can go much further... as long as the spouse or employee bears it.
This implies that, if these limits are abolished, so he feels entirely free to indulge into his sadism: torture, murder, rape, blackmail, physical mutilation or mental mutilation (lobotomy), nothing stops him. This is quite visible when he establishes a dictatorship. In this case, all the sociopaths join the militias, inquisitions and other secret polices, where they grant each other all the necessary permissions for having fun as they want. But this can also occur in normal society, when places are «out» of the common law, when they have victims unable to defend themselves or to testify. When this happens, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, orphanages, hospices become places of physical abuse, in addition of being far too often a privileged field for stalking. This also happens in cults, dangerous factories, etc.
Another typical situation where the sociopaths feel free to go beyond the generally accepted limits, is an ongoing disaster, which «justifies» actions against morals or common rules. We can then consider that they «decompensate». (In Psychiatry, decompensation is the fact of stopping pretending to be «normal», or no longer being able of maintaining an appearance of normality)
This is regularly observed, for example in the World Trade Center fire in 2001, where blokes were ordering people to return at work, while the building was creaking in a terrifying way. This is the kind of stuff we hear only once in the media, and is «forgotten» at once. But this cruel game is well documented in the case of the accident of the Costa Concordia in 2012, where blokes ordered passengers to return to their cabins (BBC) (video on The Sun). The fact is, however, that the Costa Concordia never sank: logically there should be no victims. But there were thirty, who were precisely found in their cabins, trapped here by the heeling of the boat. These deaths are murders, not accidents.
Added in December 2014: the lesson of the Costa Concordia was apparently not enough, since just two years later, the Sewol capsized, as a consequence of fraudulent modifications. And this time it was 304 teenagers who drowned, for obeying the order to stay in their cabins, order given by members of the crew who were themselves fleeing the ship! This time the justice gave severe penalties, and recognized the intentional murder for the captain.
Another dangerous case of sociopathic decompensation is the refusal to warn potential victims of a hazard. The founding historical case is the refusal of the sociopathic authorities and newspapers to evacuate Saint Pierre during the eruption of the Montagne Pelée in 1902 (30,000 submissives steamed). We also often see a series of very recognizable social pathologies: police persecution against those who warn, protection of the guilty against justice, pseudo-philosophical jokes about the death which threatens, delusional pseudo-justifications for «economic imperatives» (sometimes terrorism or pseudo-religious deliria), «maintaining social order» against those who want to prevent the risk, etc. We have a caricature collection of all this stuff, about the Vajont dam disaster in 1963 (Population not evacuated despite very clear warning symptoms, 1900 dead), with even a merry suicide-party of 60 blissfull submissives, installed at the top of the dam to see their beautiful disaster! The only newspaper having denounced the responsible engineers being Communist, the justice claims of the survivors were presented as a Communist conspiracy, while the culprits were discreetly evacuated toward a «very understanding» court...
These tomfooleries are found in virtually all foreseeable danger: nuclear power, tobacco, asbestos, medicine scandals, etc. and we even saw NASA officers doing a public sadomasochist session on an employee who warned of the Challenger disaster. We understand that the climate deniers delusions also fall right in this category, in front of the global catastrophe that our submission is creating.
(A sociopath is often reckless, pretending not to fear death. This is often taken for an admirable courage, but the real reason is very different: his ego (chapter V-10) is unable to consider its own end. Thus death has no meaning for him, and he is not afraid of it! However he knows very well to use our emotions about it, for purposes of blackmail, or for fun.)
In the case of Nazism, the first anti-Jews harassment did not exceeded the «generally accepted limits» of a high school hazing. The authorization by the society to exceed these limits came only as a result of the violent reaction of the Communists: street riots and assassinations, on both sides, quickly created an atmosphere of civil war, a very convenient pretext for things to go adrift. The detonating mixture of blind democracy (chapter VI-11) and civil violence is what actually allowed the seizure of power by the nazis. The conclusion is without appeal: in this 21st century, non-violence for protest groups of all kinds (strikers, environmentalists, anti-nuclear, gays, anti-gay «adoption», women, animal advocates, OWS, autonomists, etc.) is the only protection of our societies against a new rise of fascism. Thin condom, to be replaced at each demonstration, yet the only one able to prevent manipulated masses to vote for well organized extremist parties, ready to replace at once all the responsible in the state, police or local authorities, to suppress any freedom or security without return.
(Permalink) Hitler allowed the soldiers of the German army to refuse to take part in the killings of Jews. Because, he said, he did not wanted «weak» ones in these actions. This example will speak loudly to any victim of stalkers: in their language, being «weak» means to have emotions such as compassion, that they equate to cowardice, while «to be strong» means having no scruples about crushing others. It is actually their normal state, empty of any other feeling that an annihilating rage against everything which opposes their ego. (chapter V-10) Other expressions should alert, such as «rational», «realistic», etc. for saying «pessimistic», «materialist», «against ecology», etc. Denigrating compassion must also alert. We often note verbal inflation, in the point Godwin way, with the immediate use of totally disproportionate expressions: «fundamentalist», «cult», «ideological», «irrational», «social misfit», etc.
To discuss with a sociopath is extremely frustrating, as we never have any grasp on him. Any normal person has the faculty of changing his mind, and to surrender to arguments which show the falsity of his previous opinions. Or at least to stop the discussion when it is clear that it will lead to nothing. Not a sociopath, because precisely, for him the notion of truth makes no sense. Or rather what he calls «truth» is whatever serves his ego. Hence the «relative truth» or the «each one his truth» dear to the sociopaths (again expressions which must always alert), or their changing and contradictory statements, or their biased or incomplete arguments, based on abusive generalizations, errors of reasoning or misinterpreted facts. A technique often used by the incompetent troll in a domain is to return our sentences or our words. Thus, he gives the impression of being more knowledgeable than us, where in fact he even not know the meaning of the words he has stolen.
Other techniques they often use is verbal extreme (to immediately use strong words, such as fundamentalism, ideology, etc.) or personal accusations (of psychological disorders, hypocrisy, bad intentions, etc.). Even if these methods are not specific to psychopaths, they indicate a problem anyway.
Thus it is clear that it is totally useless to discuss with these people. Not only is it extremely humiliating, but in addition it gives them strength. Do not even talk about them, because this is precisely what they are looking for.
(Permalink) Sociopaths are immediately recognizable on the Internet forums or in virtual worlds. They are called trolls and griefers respectively, and they are all the more comfortable that anonymity is generally guaranteed on the Internet, or they think that Internet is above the laws. The activity of the troll is to oppose what is said on the forums. No matter what, he opposes. He can even say on a thread the opposite of what he said on another. Of course, this systematic, insulting, incompetent and hypocritical opposition sparks the wrath of legitimate contributors. To the delight of the Sociopaths, who have fun of the humiliation they cause: this is that they call «feeling to exist».
Too often, forum leaders do not oppose these attitudes, in the name of «freedom», or the idea that it would be personal problems, that people can solve themselves. But precisely they cannot: whatever you say or do, the sociopaths continue to dump their garbage and block any discussion. The only solution is to prune them, what precisely only the moderators can do. Otherwise, they stop to pollute a forum only when the targeted contributor left.
Forum managers must act as soon as the sociopaths manifest. If they do not, then they are accomplices by the fact, and they endorse the legal or moral responsibility of whatever happens: mocking (the most common sociopathic symptom), racism, sexism, historical or climate negationism, etc.
Legitimate contributors must not respond to sociopaths, should not «feed the trolls» (give them the pleasure to show our humiliation, or simply steal us life time). This is part of the hygiene of a well kept forum, and a prerequisite to allow contributors to effectively express themselves freely. A forum where the trolls are tolerated is not a free forum, it is not even a forum at all. It is a place of violence and abuse, a place which opposes freedom and opposes truth.
Another dangerous case is when the moderator himself is a sociopath, or if he uses such methods in order to foster any ideology or interest. This kind of moderator can give in the beginning a feeling of objectivity and neutrality which makes people confident. Signs that should alert first are the multiplication of violent posts by a clique which surrounds the sociopath (and even his alts). Then come public warnings by the moderator. At this stage, we still believe that these warnings are aimed at the aggressors, until the day where the owner ends by accusing us publicly of being the cause of the aggressiveness deployed against us, without prior review or appeal, often relying on an abusive interpretation. So I describe the problem: If you feel bad on a forum, it is that there is an underlying problem. It is better to leave, or use it only when you need it, without getting into the discussions. Most forums provide with means to discuss in private with friends, which allows them to warn them and leave the place without losing our friends.
A rule to follow in all cases, is not to attend the so many «media» forums, or generally forums with advertising: they generally have manipulators who will derail the discussion for purposes of advertising stalking, with no regard for our project. Do not even register, as you will get spam. Still worse are forums which allow to rate the other users: the higher an user scores, the more sociopathic he is!
And finally, if you have good friends on a forum or in a virtual world, always keep a contact outside, in order not to be separated. This is what happened to friends, and even lovers, who were in the «Deuxième Monde», arbitrarily closed without notice.
(Permalink) I know that this part will cause hysterical reactions: how do you dare to compare our innocent angels with SS?
It is that, precisely, children are not angels. They are cute and charming, of course, and it is very good that they are, because in this way we love them, and this is what they need the most. But they are creatures in formation, and therefore things can go wrong at any time, if something does not put itself right in place in their minds. It is clear that we must then respond before it is too late, exactly as when we see them approaching the boiling water pan.
In fact, it is not anomalous that children do nonsense, pass through egocentric stages, or challenge the adults. These experiences are part of the development of their minds. But some specific attitudes must alert. Indeed, psychopathies do not appear miraculously the day of the majority: they put in place gradually, and some signs may be visible as soon as the age of three.
Recently, in France, the Socialist Party (right wing) blocked a law allowing for the monitoring of children with certain symptoms, and this is regrettable, because precisely we could cure them at this age. And too bad for them if they topple the boiling pan on them, the interest of the Party passes before the kids, doesn't it?
And these signs are not subtle results of abstruse tests that only psychiatrists could understand. These are very visible, very well known signs, perfectly identifiable without any ambiguity.
Especially, three things must systematically attract our attention: hazing (in all cases) mockery targeting a specific child (occasional mockery is not a psychiatric symptom, but it must always meet an educative response) and gangs which harass other children. (It is normal that children make gangs, and even play at war. But actual attacks are not normal). Indeed, these activities are not «innocent games»: they are the exact transposition in the children realm of the activities of adult sociopaths. This however does not necessarily mean that the culprits are irremediably lost: there may be still some cure at this age. More reason to take care of them. Before the boiling pan falls...
In particular, hazing and targeted mockery should be strictly banned in all cases, and any repetition must lead perpetrators to psychiatric consultation. This is serious business, disrupting the life and growth of millions of innocent children, with experiences of comparable intensity to adult torture or rape. And the «accidents» and «suicides» are only a very small part, hiding an ocean of suffering for tens of millions of victims (11 million in the United States alone). But especially it is a serious disease, which disrupts the lives of their authors, and alienate them in a world of competition without feelings, when it may still be possible to help them at this age.
Another sign which must definitively alert is the appearance of fascist ideologies in children, tell tale evidence of their fundamental ill feeling, see of their hatred of life: notions of clans, interpreting the behaviour of others in terms of «honour» or domination-submission, dangerous challenges or ordeals, considering that «life» is to fight (To say «receiving life lessons» to mean «to be harassed») etc. These ideologies do not appear spontaneously in children, they propagate through gangs, school, media, video games, etc. But they develop on a propitious terrain... exactly as with adult sociopaths.
Personally, my first observation of an abnormal behaviour goes back to nursery school: I was then six years old. It was only an isolated individual, while I was having normal relationship with my other school mates. But later, from eight years until first university year (French «math sup»), I regularly witnessed collective abnormal behaviour (organized mocking, spying, or even physical threats, often with the complicity of the parents or educators) prohibiting any group relationships, with the exception of the «Lycée de la Barga» in Béchar, Algeria, where I could normally have buddies. If this is not a sufficient statistic, it still learns us two things:
-It is not unavoidable
-It must be dealt with as early as nursery school.
Something that we often hear repeated is that children with a disability, or a bizarre name, etc. «attract» mocking. Such an assertion is not only false, but in more it is a normalization of mockery. It is as serious and as hypocritical as to say that a woman «attracts» rape. Especially when we know that the humiliation of mockery can easily reach the same level than sexual harassment, in intensity and in duration, and leave the same sequels.
Indeed mockery (like rape) is not the business of the one who receives it, it is not his concern, he has other things to do from his life. Mockery is the feat of who produces it, unable as he is to have a normal human relationship without judging or harming. This is why it must always attract an immediate educational response, possibly a punishment. If the problem continues, then psychological counselling may be necessary, or even a sidelining of the community, to protect the victims. As one would do if a child violated his buddies, OK?
Some say that children are innocent. Well, that those people take the responsibility of the problems, then. Journalists, pervert psychologists and video games creators apologists of these things. The authors of books or comics «for children» who praise little egocentric sex maniac monsters. Parents who relinquish their responsibility. Far right educators who say «no morals». Those who encourage these attitudes, or who «do not see» them. Indeed, much too often, teachers, supervisors, educators ignore these problems, or even encourage them. It is in any case a serious professional misconduct, which should lead to the immediate exclusion of the profession.
We too often see adults praising the «vitality» or the «leadership» of little nazi kids, while their victims are treated as psychological cases, social misfits, autistic patients. It is clear that these adults also have a big problem.
Generally, it is impossible for a group of children whatever it is, to develop a harmonious social life and collective activities, if a minority disrupts or terrifies the others. (No wonder, then, if they are unable to do it once adult). Personally, I was regularly confronted to this problem from primary school to university undergraduates, including summer camps and scouting (where totemisation was for long a very convenient pretext), and even in the urban districts, where one small fascist gang is enough to totally cancel the social lives of all the children. And this has always prevented the group to have meaningful common experiences. Depending on cases, the educators encouraged or «ignored» these problems, but I have never seen them addressing them, punish the guilty or even distinguish them from the other children. Many stalker children even had the active support of their parents, themselves antisocial, inadapted or delinquent. The extension and the incredible persistence of the phenomenon come only from there. In comparison, what I saw in the «competitive» work place was much calmer.
This tends to demonstrate that the taboo on infantile sociopathy may do more harm to children than keeping pedophilia cases secret.
(Permalink) Some Orwellian experiences bring shivers in our back, where one «observes» «dominant» children crushing others without intervening, and after talk about it as of a beautiful thing. To encourage children of three to do BDSM, Stanley Milgram is beaten! Precisely, dominance, and a few other troubles could be part of the earliest sociopathiques symptoms, where it would still be possible to act before it is too late. Three years is indeed a crucial age, where many things put themselves in place, sometimes definitively. This is in peculiar is the age where the child learns to control his ego (chapter V-10) , just as he learned to control his sphincters. If he does not do it at this moment, he will remain «incontinent» all his life long, defecating egocentricity wherever he goes.
Stanley Milgram is an American psychologist known for his terrifying experience on submission: a majority of subjects submitted to a fictional authority agreed to severely torture a supposed victim (actually an actor). This experience is often seen as a measure of submission of Humans to evil. Milgram explicitly cites the obedience of the Germans to the nazi authority as an example of this situation. Only a somewhat constant percentage of about 10% always refuses the submission to evil.
A really submissive person (submitted from neurosis, not by threat) feels an attraction for the manipulator, likes his opinions and feels pleasure in obeying him. It is therefore a neurosis, which will effectively remove his victim any critical mind, facing the criminal or crazy injunctions of his adored sociopath. However, even though submission is also a serious disorder requiring care, it is not a psychosis, but a neurosis which can be eliminated by psychology or by spiritual practice.
Some invoke an evolutionary origin to justify the domination-submission system among humans, arguing that this system is fairly widespread in the animal realm, from cows to chimpanzees (implied: if it is genetic, then it is «good» and humans should bend to it also). But this system can also be self-sustaining by the counter-selection carried out by dominant males on submissive females, who might be the only real cause of its persistance troughout the evolution. In fact, many species also have effective social relationship without domination. The most striking case is that of the bonobos, which are as close to us as chimpanzees, maybe more. There is therefore no justification or «genetic need» to reproduce this system among humans.
In any case, it is clear that domination is no longer adapted to the human world: all the great social, moral or technical achievements of mankind came from people who collaborated. Often they use a hierarchical organization, but this is an organization, not a neurotic submission. While if a sociopath or a dominant comes along in such an organization, he brings a mess. We can imagine that an average sociopath would be good at leading a cows herd, but the rich and complex human life is a field he cannot grasp in.
Finally no law of nature forces us to behave like animals, or to submit to the commands of the genes. We are human beings, rational and capable of compassion, and domination and submission being both causes of suffering, our only concern about them is to eliminate them.
Submissiveness is an extremely dangerous psychological disorder, which leads a large proportion of people to voluntarily commit negative acts, see criminal or suicidal acts, on a simple suggestion of a sociopath. The submission of the majority is the main force of dictatorial regimes, which could not exist without it. But it is also what paralyzes democracies (chapter VI-11), by blind obedience to the commands of the media. Finally and above all, it ruins the personal lives of billions of affected people. There is indeed no shortage of petty führers of all kinds for having fun at the expense of their naive submissives.
There are many ethical arguments to consider that in a state crime, whose who gave orders are of course legally responsible, but also those who executed them. It is on this basis that simple members of the Aum cult in Japan were heavily condemned, with the same penalties than their pseudo-guru. However the punishment is not necessarily the solution: to punish the German people for the 1914-18 war favoured the nazism, while forgiveness after 1945 was instead a powerful healing factor. But we must, at a minimum, recognize things: the relationship between France and Algeria are still suffering (in 2012) of the silence of the two governments on the atrocities committed by both sides during the independence war.
In the Stanley Milgram experiment, we may expect that sociopaths are among those who more wilingly obeyed the inhuman orders (which were a too easy opportunity to satisfy their sadistic desires with the protection of the authority). However at the time where the experience was made, the concept of sociopathy was not yet known, and therefore nothing was done to check this point. Today, it was (finally) realized that this experience exceeds the ethical limits, so it will probably never be made again. But more «acceptable» alternatives proved to produce identical results, so that they would allow to assess the role of sociopathy in the participation in a pervert power.
Let us remark that these «more acceptable» variant use techniques similar to the video games, to produce the same results as the physical experience. Which speaks a lot about the motivations and effects of violence in these games.
In any case, useless to cultivate illusions: Sociopaths are not so many. The large majority of those who agreed to continue the torture to its end are ordinary people, who often acted against their human feelings, from mere neurotic submission to an academic gown.
Finally, let us not confuse the neurotic submission with the discipline needed for the running of the society. Even though this discipline is often unpleasant, it never commands incomprehensible, criminal or self-destructive acts.
Added Junde 2022: It is well known from everybody that hazing has never been any «social integration», it is a pure sociopathic amusement, on «consenting» victims, that is to say who do not resist in order to avoid worse. But the real reason is much more perverse: the following year, it is the former victims who will become aggressors in their turn, whether they are sociopaths or not. Thus, they will internalize the abnormal type of society, where sociopaths rule, with a majority of sycophants who place themselves at their service to gain their favor or to avoid ostracism. The price to pay for this newspeak form of «social integration» is to accept to violate the rules of morality. Otherwise the hazing continues...
And apparently this system is not just a sophomores thing: «we wonder» if this system would not be the very functioning of the old society.
(Permalink) In December 2014, due to new information, I rewrote this subchapter as follows:
(Permalink) First of all, the last official term among psychiatrists is Antisocial Personality Disorder, or ASP, even if the popular term remains «sociopath». Therefore, a good reading is an article from psychcentral, a reference website published by physicians and professionals, which lists various causes, on the basis of scientific studies:
-Lack of oxygen. I proposed this cause on the basis of my father, who had sociopathic trends, and who was diagnosed with only 40% blood flood in the brain. The above article cites the lack of oxygen during pregnancy, if the mother smokes, producing sequelae in the brain. I once saw a beginning of carbon monoxide poisoning: the victims suspecting nothing, just entering a state of emotional confusion. About tobacco, it will always be good to ban it, just like other drugs.
-Trauma to the brain, following shocks. The article explicitly cites the shaken baby «game». These injuries could leave sequelae, disrupting nerve impulses from the brain areas that produce emotions and empathy. This is a case of transmission of the sociopathy disease!
-More generally, anomalies are visible in these areas of the brain, in sociopaths, confirming the theory of the inability to feel certain emotions.
-Emotional trauma. The article cites the torture of children in foster care or waiting for adoption, who are deliberately changed of family, so that they cannot establish an emotional connection with it. Their extreme suffering would result in an inhibition of the areas of the brain responsible for emotions, following an automatic process very similar to the one which produces the scotoma of amblyopia (chapter V-14).
-The sociopathy of the parents, or other behavioural disorders (alcohol, drugs, family troubles). As above, these emotional rape in childs would produce the inhibition of the emotional neural circuits, what the thugs call «to receive life lessons», «to become a man», or that hitler called «to be strong».
-Gangs of sociopathic children. Professionals thus confirm my explanations above. However these gangs do not appear as a direct cause, but still as a serious strengthening: the sociopaths acquire here the notion that they would be superior, which leads them directly to political sociopathy or ponerology (see above).
The good new in there is that a part of the brain being inactive does not mean that it is destroyed. This opens the path to possible cures of sociopathy, by medicines, local electrostimulation, or appropriate meditations.
Added in July 2022: some sources indicate that persons with the Prader-Willi syndrome have a manipulative behavior (to be verified). The interesting point is that this syndrome is caused by the absence of a part of the paternal chromosome 15. This suggests the possibility of a genetic origin of sociopathy, through more discrete genetic anomalies or abnormal alleles. There would then be a way to detect them objectively, and perhaps to treat them.
(Permalink) Added in September 19, 2017
This article of Psych Central tells that treating sociopathies is difficult, from the lack of collaboration of the patients, and the lack of medicines. The good new is that they found some drugs effective in attenuating the bouts of violence. Otherwise the solution for the most violents remains... jail.
Added February 2021: A suggestion would be to stimulate the brain centers of empathy, using electric impulses. But I cannot be more specific.
The Toxoplasmosis hypothesis? (Added November 2022)
An interesting article shows that wolves infected with this mind-manipulating parasite are more likely to be pack leaders. This is reminiscent of the ideological virus which says «sociopaths are our natural leaders». Today we know little about exactly how this dreadful parasite manipulates the human brain (Schizophrenia? Depression? Cats Submission Syndrome?) Could it be the toxoplasmosis infection which produces sociopathy?
This hypothesis is easy to check, and if it happened to be true, then the diagnosis and treatment would be the ones of toxoplasmosis.
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