Psychopaths, Power, and Politics
Incisive Analysis of Psychopathic Politicians
"Psychopathy is not a rare phenomenon. Dr. Hare estimates that psychopaths consist of 1% of the population. Other psychologists have estimates as high as 4%. That represents between 3 and 12 million Americans, millions of which are ... residing in positions of power with a psychological need to control and manipulate others. They are drawn to occupations that allow them to wield power over others, such as police, military, intelligence, and finance."
~~ From Chapter 3 of Timothy Silver's landmark book Lifting the Veil
Do psychopaths sometimes end up in positions of political power? Sadly, this is a topic that many people don't even want to discuss. It's an uncomfortable thought that some of the people running our world will lie, cheat, and do anything necessary to get what they want. Yet the truth is, we all know that many politicians and others in positions of power and authority are devoid of ethics and morals and will do whatever they can to gain more power.
The revealing essay below delves into psychopathy and how it affects politics in our world. You will learn the key signs of a psychopath and how and why some are able to rise to the very top of the global food chain.
This essay is taken from the incredibly profound online book Lifting the Veil, which uses hundreds of footnotes with links to highly reliable sources which reveal countless political and economic manipulations carried out in secret worldwide by powerful, well-hidden groups for decades. By educating ourselves and shining light into these shadows, we can more effectively work together to bring positive change to our lives and world. Thanks for caring. Please spread the word and don't miss our "What you can do" section.
Note: Lifting the Veil by Timothy Silver is available free online. This landmark book is the best, most reliable summary of all that is hidden going on in our world that we've ever seen. Take the time to read it in full and you will not be disappointed.
Chapter III: Psychopaths, Power and Politics
“There is no such thing, in the psychopathic universe, as the 'merely weak'. Whoever is weak is also a sucker; that is, someone who demands to be exploited.” – Psychologist Robert Rieber165
What exactly does the word mean? Entertainment media bombards us with a particular version of the psychopath, one that is irrational, dangerous and violent. Someone who doesn't fit in, who 'just doesn't seem right'. Is this an accurate description?
Dr. Robert D. Hare, an eminent psychologist on the subject of psychopathy, portrays the disorder in a drastically different light. In his book Without Conscience, he describes psychopaths as being conscienceless yet rational, not suffering from any insanity or debilitation; instead they are logical, manipulative, predisposed to crime, selfish and without guilt, shame, remorse or empathy.166 In other words, these men and women are not mentally ill in the sense that we traditionally imagine. Psychopathy is surely an illness, but it is not a neurosis that will manifest symptoms others can easily perceive. Often, the psychopath will be aware of his condition and completely conceal his aberrant traits.
In Without Conscience, Dr. Hare presents numerous case studies and statistics to illuminate the world of the psychopath; the evidence points towards a world full of people programmed for evil. Dr. Hare stresses multiple times that the psychopath is someone who has a strong desire for power and the need to manipulate others, not for personal gain but simply for the sake of manipulation. While some psychopaths are erratic, others have the ability to completely conceal their condition behind a carefully constructed social persona.
Dr. Hare's list of psychopathic personality traits include:
• Displaying glibness and superficial charm
• Being in constant need of stimulation and prone to excessive boredom
• Acting in a conning or manipulative way
• Showing shallow emotional responses
• Acting out promiscuous sexual behavior
• Behaving irresponsibly
• Avoiding long term relationships
• Feeling a grandiose sense of self worth
• Lying repeatedly without remorse
• Lacking any remorse or guilt
• Lacking empathy for others
• Having poor behavioral controls
• Displaying behavioral problems early on in life
• Behaving impulsively
• Failing to accept responsibility for actions
• Displaying signs of criminal diversity
Dr. Hare's predecessor Harvey Cleckly, perhaps the first psychologist to study the psychopathic phenomenon decades earlier, compiled a similar list:
• Superficial charm and average intelligence.
• Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.
• Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations.
• Untruthfulness and insincerity.
• Lack of remorse or shame.
• Antisocial behavior without apparent compunction.
• Poor judgment and failure to learn from experience.
• Pathological egocentricity and incapacity to love.
• General poverty in major affective reactions.
• Specific loss of insight.
• Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations.
• Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink, and sometimes without.
• Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated.
Most of the case studies Dr. Hare presents in his book are from the prison population and anecdotal accounts from those who have been abused. This is a natural, structural problem in the study of psychopathy: the study is limited for the most part to the 'Unsuccessful Psychopath', those who could not conceal their traits or whose social circumstances led to blue-collar crime.
Yet Dr. Hare also spends some significant time devoted to the 'Subdeviant Criminal', the psychopath who has control over his deviance and the ability to hide it from the populace. Instead of the petty criminal, these men and women occupy positions in business, government, industry, and law. Their condition goes entirely unnoticed by the populace; their employers, peers, even their family and those who love them are fooled.
How can such deception be possible? Consider that psychopathy is not an 'acquired' illness. Instead, it has strong genetic components and manifests itself in early childhood.167 168 169 170 From an early age, the psychopath recognizes that to fit into society in any manner they need to develop to ability to lie extensively. Over time, they become exceptionally good at it. Their entire public persona becomes one complex act, a web of lies to hide their deviant personality.
165 Professor Robert W. Rieber, a Fellow at Columbia University and eminent Psychologist and Historian. Quote available here, taken from his book The Individual, Communication and Society: Essays in Memory
166 When discussing books, I will try my best to find a publicly available PDF; For Without Conscience, I was unable to. You can view the details of the book on Amazon.com here.
167 Blonigen, Daniel M. et. al. (2005), “Psychopathic personality traits: heritability and genetic overlap with internalizing and externalizing psychopathology.” Psychol Med
168 Glenn, Andrea L. et. al. (2011), "Evolutionary theory and psychopathy.” Aggression and Violent Behavior (PDF Warning)
169 Caspi, A, et. al. (2002). "Role of Genotype in the Cycle of Violence in Maltreated Children." Science
170 Tikkanen, Roope et. al. (2011). "Psychopathy, PCL-R, and MAOA genotype as predictors of violent reconvictions". Psychiatry Research
* * * *
A recent series of studies published in Psychological Science highlights the pleasure that persons with psychopathic tendencies derive from abusing others. These studies reveal that certain people take great pleasure in sadistic behavior, suggesting that in these subjects there is an “intrinsic motivation to inflict suffering on innocent others, even at a personal cost.”171
In one experiment, researcher Erin Buckels, from the University of British Columbia, found that there is a certain subset of people who chose to intensify the discomfort of others through directed white noise once they found that there would be no consequences for their actions. They were also willing to expend extra time and energy to be able to amplify the discomfort they were causing their 'opponent'.
“Some find it hard to reconcile sadism with the concept of ‘normal’ psychological functioning, but our findings show that sadistic tendencies among otherwise well-adjusted people must be acknowledged,” – Erin Buckels
“The researchers hope that these new findings will help to broaden people’s view of sadism as an aspect of personality that manifests in everyday life, helping to dispel the notion that sadism is limited to sexual deviants and criminals,” – Association for Psychological Science
Erin Buckels concludes that her research may offer valuable insights into domestic abuse, animal abuse, and military and police brutality, through the understanding that disposition to sadism and abuse is a personality trait that manifests itself in every day life. The true insights which can be derived from her work and those of other psychopathy researchers go much deeper than police brutality; they shed much needed light on the widespread relationship between evil and power.
171 Association for Psychological Science, “Everyday Sadists Take Pleasure In Others’ Pain,” September 12, 2013
* * * *
Understanding the nature of psychopathy alone does not reveal the full picture. Numerous researchers have differentiated between 'primary psychopathy', that which is genetic, and 'secondary psychopathy', that which is acquired through environment.172, 173, 174 Unlike the primary psychopath, who is born with their condition and lacks entirely the capacity for empathy and other higher human emotions, the secondary psychopath occasionally manifests these traits.
In other words, non-psychopathic individuals can exhibit psychopathic behaviors through the conditioning of their environment. Two well known studies in psychology underscore this.
The first is the Milgram Experiment. A volunteer would be placed at a booth with an apparatus that sends an electric shock to a person in another room. The volunteer believes the man in the other room is a fellow volunteer; in reality he is an actor that is not actually receiving electric shocks. The volunteer asks the actor a series of questions, a wrong answer means the use of an increasingly high voltage of shocking.
The volunteer would be prompted by a man in a lab coat to continue administering the shocks long after it had become unsafe. The verbal prodding would range between 'Please continue' and 'You have no other choice, you must continue'. After the shock reached 300 volts, the actor would stop answering, but the man in the lab coat would continue insisting on shocks. Dr. Stanley Milgram repeatedly found that nearly 2/3rds of people would continue to the maximum voltage of 450, long after they had believed their peer to be incapacitated.
Regarding the experiment, Milgram wrote:
“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."
The second experiment is the Stanford Prison Experiment. Volunteers were asked to simulate a prison in Stanford's psychology hall; half of the participants simulated prisoners and the other half guards. The guards were told to make the prisoners feel powerless though not resort to violence. Zimbardo, the lead experimenter, found that many of the guards stepped far beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted, leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. A third of the guards had displayed 'genuine sadistic tendencies'. Some prisoners were emotionally traumatized and had to leave the experiment early. Zimbardo argued that his experiment shows that people internalize authority and submission.
Though the nature of the Stanford Prison Experiment does not lend itself to empiricism, it does give some credence to the idea that 'power corrupts' and changes people. Furthermore, an experiment published in August 2012 by the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed definite psychological changes associated with power. It found that people who considered themselves in positions of power literally perceived the world around them differently.175
We would like to think that humanity has evolved since these experiments took place, and since the atrocities that were revealed after World War II. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In 2008, the Stanley Milgram study was reproduced, with only slight alterations to conform to modern ethical standards, and found the exact same results: A vast majority of participants were willing to inflict significant pain on another human if pressured to do so by perceived authority.176
We do not need to rely on psychological studies to see the power of perceived authority causing abuses: we have tangible evidence of the relationship emerging frequently from the War on Terror. Most recently, it was revealed that the CIA made doctors and psychologists working at various Department of Defense institutions violate the ethical codes of their profession in order to become involved with the torture and degrading treatment of terror suspects.177
“Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra "first do no harm" did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.” – The Guardian
The report, compiled by the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers, supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP), found that doctors working with the Department of Defense and CIA routinely participated in waterboarding, sleep deprivation and force-feeding, the latter being against the rules of World Medical Association and the American Medical Association, while gathering and sharing intelligence.
"The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve. It's clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice. We have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again." – Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce.
While participation in waterboarding and force-feeding may not be shocking to the desensitized public's sensibilities, it is still very revealing that physicians and psychologists who would otherwise balk at the suggestion that they would violate their professions ethical codes, do so without hesitation when it is done in the name of War. And after all, the United States did sentence Japanese war criminals to death for the act of waterboarding during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East following World War II.178
Armed with this context, it is easy to understand the ease with which psychopaths can manipulate institutions and societies. A majority of people do not even have the psychological capacity to refuse authority, at least under situations of pressure. Putting the average citizen in positions of minor authority such as a police officer can cause behavioral and physiological changes in that person, disposing them to abuse. Therefore a psychopath in a position of power essentially has a vast pool of tools at their disposal to act out their twisted desires of manipulation and control.
172 Newman, Joseph P. et. al. (2005), “Validating a Distinction Between Primary and Secondary Psychopathy With Measures of Gray’s BIS and BAS Constructs”. Journal of Abnormal Psychology
173 Skeem, Jennifer et. al. (2007), “Two Subtypes of Psychopathic Violent Offenders That Parallel Primary and Secondary Variants”. Journal of Abnormal Psychology (PDF Warning)
174 Dean, Andy C. et. al. (2013), “Secondary psychopathy, but not primary psychopathy, is associated with risky decision-making in noninstitutionalized young adults”. Elsevier
175 Yapp, Andy et. al. (2012). “The powerful size others down: The link between power and estimates of others' size.” The Journal of Experimental Psychology. (PDF Warning)
176 BBC, “People 'still willing to torture',” December 19, 2008
177 The Guardian, “CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds,” November 4, 2013
178 Huffington Post, “Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding,” April 24, 2009
* * * *
Psychopathy is not a rare phenomenon: Dr. Hare estimates that psychopaths consist of 1% of the population, other psychologists have estimates as high as 4%.179 That represents between 3 and 12 million Americans, millions of which are the 'Subdeviant Criminals' of Dr. Hare's lexicon, residing in positions of power with a psychological need to control and manipulate others. They are drawn to certain occupations that allow them to wield power over others, such as police, military, intelligence, and finance. Over time, they begin to saturate important institutions, being more ruthless and willing to cause more destruction in their rise up the ladder of power than their competition.
In the exact same manner that you and I naturally exclude deviants from our social groups, psychopaths naturally exclude those of us who allow conscience and morality to influence our decisions and perceptions. The result is a web of mutual conditioning of 'evil', where goals and actions become increasingly removed from the institutions original intention. This process has been occurring for centuries in banks, clandestine agencies, military, police departments, and governments, in nearly every instance hiding behind rhetoric and ideology that masks their true nature.
The rise of this process over decades results in a phenomenon known as Pathocracy.
pathocracy (n). A system of government created by a small pathological minority that takes control over a society.180
Pathocracies have existed throughout history and many exist in the present. Unfortunately, there is a considerable amount of evidence that the United States has evolved into such a system of government, where clandestine and financial institutions saturated with psychopaths have gained enough influence to subvert the democratic process. Their rise to power coincided with the draping of a veil over their existence, through powerful propaganda and subtlety in action. This book is the history of the modern American psychopath in a position of power, and the goal is to lift the veil.
179 Harvard Psychologist Martha Stout makes the 4% claim in her book The Sociopath Next Door.
180 Definition taken from Andrew Lobaczewski, a Polish Psychologist who dedicated his life to studying the Pathocratic phenomenon of the Soviet Bloc. His book Political Ponerology is dense but immensely important. You can read it here.
Note: The above essay is taken from Lifting the Veil by Timothy Silver and is available free online. This landmark book is the best, most reliable summary of all that is hidden going on in our world that we've ever seen. Take the time to read it in full and you will not be disappointed.
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