Psychopaths do not necessarily become serial killers or lifetime criminals. In fact, you probably hardly notice psychopaths during your day-to-day activities – unless you are unfortunate enough to encounter one as part of your social network, family, or working day.
Of course, there are some psychopaths who become serial killers and engage in generally violent and nasty activities, but these are a tiny proportion of the prevalence of psychopaths living in society, who appear to the outside world to live fairly mundane or ordinary lives.
Just to clarify a misperception of psychopathy. A psychopath is not someone who exhibits psychotic behaviour. They are two different things. Psychosis is where a person experiences severe and debilitating hallucinations, delusions, and other psychological phenomena that mean they lose their perception of reality.
Most of us will never knowingly come into direct contact with a psychopath during our lifetime, and the chances of being the victim of a violent psychopath are very small.
Although we may not knowingly encounter psychopaths, our lives are most certainly affected by the actions of psychopaths.
Psychopaths exist within the management structure of large companies, where they are naturally attracted to positions of power. Psychopaths also like to work as police officers, a lawyers, chefs, or even members of the clergy. Psychopaths are not generally attracted to positions which require emotional interaction or caring – unless there is something else that the psychopath wants that such a position can lead to. Within the medical profession, you will rarely find a psychopath wanting to be a doctor, but the position of surgeon would be highly attractive with the material wealth and power it brings.
As with any sweeping statement, there will always be exceptions. There are executives of large companies who are not psychopathic, and there are doctors who are psychopathic (such as Harold Shipman).
At the beginning of this piece we wrote that most politicians are psychopaths. Again, this is a sweeping statement which could be grossly unfair. Many people enter politics with genuine intentions and manage to hold on to their integrity despite the system.
A more fitting statement would have been that nearly all members of government are psychopaths. However the political system works in your country, you will probably find that those with the most power in the highest positions display very clear psychopathic traits.
Within politics, a psychopath would be attracted to a position where they can gain maximum control with maximum benefit. In some political regimes, positions attractive to a psychopath may not be the highest profile, and may be the ones that offer longer term advantages.
You may notice that some political personalities appear to exist on the edge of the political arena far longer than their counterparts. Sometimes there are shadowy figures that have brief moments in the public eye, return to the shadows, and reappear again some years later as if they had never been away.
There are also those who seem to be able to maintain a very nice livelihood in government or politics no matter how many times their wrongdoings are exposed, and who often seem immune from culpability no matter how strong the evidence of their illegal activity is.
The area of politics is ideal for a psychopath to put what comes to them naturally to maximum effect for their maximum benefit, although it is everyone else who the psychopath sees as being incidental or of no use to their plans who will pay the price.
In the run up to elections, potential candidates will promise anything, will vow to make change to make the lives of the citizens better, will court high-powered business psychopaths for funding – in return for more promises, and will do their best to manipulate the press on their tactical road to potential victory – the goal they see as their right.
How things change when they reach their first target. Once in power, the psychopathic member of government seems to shift their focus away from all of those lies and false promises they made to get elected. Instead, they seem to use their power and manipulate the system for their own advantage, ensuring that fellow psychopaths are ‘on-board’ in the common psychopathic purpose of amassing more power and wealth.
No doubt the psychopaths choose members of their government they know will either have the same objectives as them, or who will comply with their orders and wants. So what we (the people) end up with is a government made up of psychopaths and weak willed compliant servants of the psychopaths.
Inevitably, this will attract other power seekers, probably in the form of additional psychopathic ‘advisors’ and other dysfunctional flotsam who see an opportunity to gain power and wealth.
In very rare circumstances, there may be appointees to the government who may not be psychopaths or sycophants – unfortunate for them.
Although psychopathy is not a learned dysfunction, it may be that those who have to function in an environment dominated with psychopaths and their servants will have to find a way to survive by adjusting their own behaviour. There is no way they would survive by appealing to psychopath’s sense of justice, right or wrong, the greater good, or empathy, because the psychopath simply does not have the mechanisms in place to efficiently process these concepts. In the absence of alternatives, the non-psychopathic person may end up having to become compliant to the psychopathic culture of their colleagues and masters.
There are some who argue that psychopathic traits are desirable in high-power positions where hard decisions have to be made. They claim that the psychopaths ‘ability’ to make impersonal decisions, act instantly, and be assertive are beneficial. While these traits may be desirable as PART of rational decision making in a tough environment, they cannot be used in isolation.
Acting impulsively is not necessarily an attribute when governing a country. There needs to be checks and balances in the analytical process to ensure decisions either do not (or have minimal) negative impact on the population, and are made for the greater good – something psychopaths are incapable of doing even though they will resort to lies and deceit to try and give an impression that they can.
Therefore, psychopathic traits are the least desirable attributes in making decisions which affect a number of people. In the long- term, relying on these traits will cause significant damage because the long term effects are not properly processed and considered. Once a psychopath decides on a course of action they become abnormally focused on achieving their decided objectives and automatically eliminate other possibilities – especially those which directly challenge their decision or self-interest.
In government, we have megalomaniac dictators at one extreme who exhibit very clear signs of psychopathy through oppression and violence, and at the other extreme we have a seemingly more ‘civilised’ government structures typical of the governments of Europe. The only difference between the two is that in the ‘civilised’ structure there are more restrictions on how a psychopath can fulfil their thirst for power and control. If there were not consequences for the psychopath that would make it extremely difficult for them to reach their objectives (usually through a system of removal from office and being legally liable for their actions) the situation may be very different and we may have many more dictators in the world.
In governments such as those in supposed ‘democracies’, the psychopath has to be particularly tactical, and is often intelligent (in a street wise kind of way) and articulate. They are able to fake sincerity and empathy, but if you pay attention, you will notice that they always do it in the same way whatever the situation. They will use a limited range of facial expressions, they will use abnormally long or intense eye contact if talking to an individual, will use very similar tones of voice in similar situations, and will use body language that is obviously learned and unnatural. Some of them are very good at faking (such as Obama) while others are abysmal (such as Cameron).
Cameron uses a repeated set of gestures, a few examples of which are below.
In the first picture, Cameron uses a fist with his thumb on top – something he learned from the same people who taught fellow psychopath Tony Blair. This is an unnatural gesture that is meant to emphasise a point of determination. You will see Cameron use this a lot during speeches, press conferences and interviews.
In the second picture, Cameron uses open hands to try and convey honesty, openness, and integrity, and is attempting to bring listeners in to his perception. Unfortunately for him he has not quite mastered synchronising his face and hands, which often transmits conflicting messages.
The third picture (a classic ‘The Thinker’ pose) is something Cameron uses often when being photographed, or when he knows he is in the camera’s lens. You will notice that the gesture is nearly always made with his hand on the side of his chin closest to the camera.
According to press reports, Cameron spent £66,000 in 2010 flying in Obama’s body language expert ahead of a televised debate – perhaps Cameron just doesn’t have the talent to pull it off, because he demonstrates being insincere nearly all of the time through subtleties in his body language.
Cameron’s fellow psychopaths don’t do a much better job of masking their true natures either. Iain Duncan Smith is a good example. He could almost be ‘Mr Angry’. There have been many occasions when he has demonstrated his intolerance trait. During debates and interviews he becomes obviously frustrated with questions which directly conflict with the point he is trying to make.
As with Cameron, Duncan Smith has demonstrated that he has no empathy, no conscience, remains unemotional, has a high opinion of himself, is deceitful and a liar (having recently been exposed for falsifying statistics to support his agenda), and there have also been reports from within parliament of his aggressiveness and bullying towards people who do not immediately do what he wants.
Other members of the UK government have been exposed as being corrupt, or at least attempting to manipulate they system to their financial advantage, and have been exposed as liars and manipulators.
A common trait in the current UK government is that the psychopathic members seem to be almost immune from prosecution or investigation. Even after being exposed, they continue as though nothing has happened. There is never a show of remorse, an apology, or an admittance that whatever it was they did was in any way wrong.
A contributing factor is the protection they afford each other – not because they like each other – but because to allow one of their number to fall who may be useful to the others is not beneficial to their individual and collective objectives.
The situation in the US government is very similar. Obama is very good at what he does – masking his real body language, and can even drum-up a crocodile tear on occasions when the cameras are on him.
Even though he is a polished performer, Obama has let his true nature slip a few times – only very briefly – but enough to expose his psychopathic traits.
An interesting thing to consider is that the members of government in the US and in the UK are probably being used by manipulators who serve behind the scenes. In many ways, both Cameron, Obama, and their power thirsty cronies, are probably being used by much more powerful and intelligent psychopaths who have appealed to the selfish and self-gratification traits they know to be a driving force in psychopathic nature of both Obama and Cameron.
Both in the US and the UK, the policies of recent governments have certainly been to the detriment of the population of those countries – and the populations of many other countries. There has been incredible manipulation through the use of governmental power and deception which has resulted in policies being introduced that seem to defy logic or any reasonable consideration for the people they affect.
Highly plausible alternatives have been ignored, and both governments seem to have pursued other avenues with dogged determination and little thought. This is psychopathy on a massive scale.
Even when the reasons presented to the public for engaging in these policies have been exposed as blatant lies, both governments still plough on despite the protests of the masses – never stopping to take a breath and reconsider alternatives which would be beneficial to the majority.
Both psychopathically driven governments treat the people they are supposed to represent as nothing more than tools to be used as a resource to facilitate the psychopathic agenda. They have manipulated laws and systems to ensure they remain in positions of power (in some form or another) and to ensure their amassment of power continues for some time to come.
It is futile to try an appeal to their sense of justice, right and wrong, truth, empathy or conscience because they have none, and any such appeal has no meaning whatsoever to them.
If someone were in a personal relationship with a psychopath, the advice most mental health professionals would give is to get out as soon as possible.
Psychopathy is considered by many professionals to be untreatable at the current time, although there are some drugs which can reduce certain aspects of the condition. The best advice many health professionals give is that those with a psychopathic disorder are kept in special institutions (not hospitals or prisons) where they would live out their days.
Perhaps that puts into perspective how dangerous it is to have these people in our society uncontrolled, let alone allowing them to control our countries.
When a serial killer is caught, or when someone callously takes advantage of the vulnerable in our society and is labelled a psychopath, we call for justice – for them to be locked away for the rest of their lives, to be taken out of our society so they can do no more harm. We want them punished for their crimes against ‘decent’ people, and to be kept away from us because of the potential damage they are capable of.
So what is the difference between psychopathic serial killers (who are probably responsible for less suffering and death than our governments) and those who are in power making millions of people’s lives a misery every day?