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Psychopaths, Secret Societies and the New World Order

By Jerry Russell and Richard Stanley.

Revision level: 1.0,   3/25/2003

Psychopaths and the science of personality:  For many years, psychologists have studied the frightening reality of  psychopathic or sociopathic personalities  -- the serial killers, the child abusers,  the pathologically consistent liars and incorrigible thieves.  The scientific study of these individuals was systemically organized by Hervey Cleckley and his 1941 classic "The Mask of Sanity", and today the specialist  Robert Hare is one of the foremost authorities in the field.  According to Hare, the key emotional and interpersonal  traits defining the psychopathic personality syndrome are: a smooth, glib capability to lie, manipulate and dissemble; a completely callous lack of empathy or concern for others; shallow emotional affect and lack of remorse; and egocentric grandiosity.  

While most psychological studies of psychopathy have been based on prison populations, there's an emerging (and controversial) recognition that many individuals with this cluster of personality characteristics, are not in prison.  The traits of these individuals are so distinctive that they may even represent a distinct  taxon, a true sub-species of mankind -- consisting of otherwise normal human beings who are completely lacking in normal human responses to social interactions with others. 

 In his book, "Without Conscience", Hare writes:

"To give you some idea of the enormity of the problem that faces us, consider that there are at least 2 million psychopaths in North America; the citizens of New York City have as many as 100,000 psychopaths among them.  And these are conservative estimates.  Far from being an esoteric, isolated problem that affects only a few people, psychopathy touches virtually every one of us.

Consider that the prevalence of psychopathy in our society is about the same as that of schizophrenia, a devastating mental disorder that brings heart-wrenching distress to patient and family alike.  However, the scope of the personal pain and distress associated with schizophrenia is small compared to the extensive personal, social and economic carnage wrought by psychopaths.  They cast a wide net, and nearly everyone is caught in it one way or another.

The most obvious expressions of psychopathy -- but by no means the only ones -- involve fragrant criminal violations of society's rules.  Not surprisingly, many psychopaths are criminals, but many others remain out of prison, using their charm and chameleonlike abilities to cut a wide swath through society and leaving a wake of ruined lives behind them.

Together, these pieces of the puzzle form an image of a self-centered, callous and remorseless person profoundly lacking in empathy and the ability to form warm emotional relationships with others, a person who functions without the restraints of conscience.  If you think about it, you will realize that what is missing in this picture are the very qualities that allow human beings to live in social harmony.

It is not a pretty picture, and some express doubt that such people exist.  To dispel this doubt you need only consider the more dramatic examples of psychopathy that have been increasing in our society in recent years.  Dozens of books, movies, and television programs, and hundreds of newspaper articles and headlines, tell the story: Psychopaths make up a significant portion of the people the media describe -- serial killers, rapists, thieves, con men, wife beaters, white-collar criminals, hype-prone stock promoters and "boiler-room" operators, child abusers, gang members, disbarred lawyers, drug barons, professional gamblers, members of organized crime, doctors who've lost their licenses, terrorists, cult leaders, mercenaries, and unscrupulous businesspeople.

What about politicians?  Well, here we have to be careful, because in any individual case it can be very difficult to get the data that's needed for a complete scientific diagnosis.  However, in some cases there is enough information available to make a persuasive case.  For example, Chris Barr in his essay Towards a unified theory of Clinton notes the psychopathic aspects of Clinton's obsessive-compulsive work habits and decision-making processes, his multiple sexual escapades and denials, and his slimy yet inescapable "Sun King" charisma.  Unfortunately, Barr's article is less attentive to Clinton's murderous attack on Yugoslavia,  his coverup of the Vince Foster scandal,  and his cynical manipulation of the financial markets to produce a massive and artificial boom-bust cycle, all of which would prove much more devastatingly that Clinton was a cold-blooded killer and pokerfaced liar.  

Regarding our current President,  George W. Bush, how much clearer could it be that we are dealing with a psychopathic, insane individual?  Elsewhere on this website, we argue that the events of 9/11 were a cynical hoax, intended to provoke America into fighting aggressive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions of innocents, in a quest for Imperial power.  If this is agreed, then it really should not be necessary to offer any further evidence of the psychopathy of George W. Bush.  But there is much more:  in this essay by Bev Conover of Online Journal, Bush isn't a moron, he's a cunning sociopath, we learn that in his youth, George W.  "enjoyed putting firecrackers into frogs, throwing them in the air, and then watching them blow up."  Reporter Richard Gooding of the tabloid STAR stated,  in a well-referenced article, that Bush was the president of Yale's Delta Epsilon Kappa fraternity --  which  "barbarically branded its new members on their backsides with a red-hot metal rod as part of a sadistic hazing practice."  Reportedly, "the branding resulted in a second-degree burn that left a half-inch scab in the shape of the Greek letter Delta."   

While he was not busy slumming at Delta Epsilon Kappa, Bush also joined the highly elite Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale.  Some boys just can't get enough of that "Greek" party lifestyle.

There's a lot of controversy over whether psychopathy should be viewed as a disease caused by some sort of organic birth defect or brain damage. Injuries to the frontal lobes can cause a syndrome that's similar in some respects, but Hare has done a series of studies showing that they're not identical, and that "true" psychopaths basically have highly intact cognitive skills, unlike victims of brain injuries.

Whether it's a "defect" or not, our speculation is that the psychopathic personality is an inherited trait (although this would certainly be controversial among psychologists, many of whom would argue that it can be a result of traumatic childhood experiences or brain injuries.)  From our perspective on the literature,  it seems reasonable to speculate that it may be only a matter of time before scientists  isolate the particular genes that are involved in creating a pre-disposition towards the  psychopathic syndrome.

A paper by Harris, Rice & Quinsey (1994) argues that psychopathy is a "taxon" -- that is, a discrete subclass, more or less as distinctive as male vs. female, or cat vs. dog.  This is based on a statistical analysis of a population of subjects with their scores for psychopathy. The distribution of scores is strongly bimodal, indicating a lack of "shades of gray" for the psychopathic personality syndrome.  This is a strikingly unusual result in personality research, which usually finds a continuous range of variability in personality traits.   While a five-factor personality model (introversion/extroversion, agreeableness,  conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness) is often considered sufficient to describe the normal range of personality, the psychopathic personality is very difficult to represent within this space (see Miller et al., 2001),  exhibiting highly differentiated sub-traits within the major personality dimensions (where we would normally expect to find correlated sub-traits.)  The unusual pattern of sub-traits is, in our view, another basis for believing that psychopathy represents a distinct genetic syndrome.

A review article "the sociobiology of sociopathy an integrated evolutionary model"(Mealey, 1995) treats "primary sociopathy" more or less as a synonym for Cleckley/Hare psychopathy, and argues that it's an evolutionary adaptation -- that enables a percentage of the population to fill the ecological niche for cheaters and scam artists. 

Along these lines,   Kent Bailey(1995) argues that psychopaths should be called "warrior hawks", and that a healthy contingent of them would be necessary for the survival of any primitive band, faced with the need to survive in violent competition with neighboring tribes.  "Warrior Hawks" is perhaps a kinder, less judgmental euphemism for the phenomenon.  But on the other hand, it might be unfair to those who might favor warfare in some specific set of external circumstances.   "All warrior hawks are psychopaths"?  Dramatic, but probably not strictly accurate.  (Some warrior hawks might only appear to be psychopaths.)

A related issue is the extent to which "normal" individuals can adopt the behavior patterns of psychopaths.  The ideals of empathy, social cooperation and altruism have been supported by a wide variety of philosophical, ethical and spiritual arguments over the years.  More importantly, they may also be backed by millions of years of evolution, as many species have adopted cooperative modes of behavior for survival.  A revulsion for excessive wanton cruelty may be literally instinctive for most human beings.  Nevertheless, any evolutionary tendency towards kindness, empathy and cooperation can apparently be overcome in certain circumstances -- for example, when the government issues a call to war, and tells the people that the enemy must be killed as a matter of the society's own survival.

The psychopaths have developed an extraordinarily powerful camouflage mechanism.  When it fits their purposes, they are glib,  friendly and easy-going, devoid of the petty anxieties that trouble most of us and cast a pall over day-to-day interactions.  They are the very embodiment of charisma and chutzpah.  In this way, they stay hidden and undetected by their victims until a trap is sprung.  Precisely because most human beings have an instinctive internalized sense of fair play and altruism, they are incapable of seeing when another human being does not share these attributes.   We simply do not believe that such evil could exist -- and when we do undeniably encounter it, we may be tempted to ascribe it to supernatural causes, invoking the Devil himself.  It is particularly stunning and incredible to contemplate that a powerful and reputable person, a company president or a Senator, or the Ruler of our Country, could possibly be a true psychopath, a man devoid of conscience.

Yet we maintain that this is quite frequently the case, from the beginning of history down to the present day.

REFERENCES

Bailey, K.G.  The sociopath: cheater or warrior hawk?  Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 18, 542-543.

Harris, G.T., Rice, M.E. & Quinsey, V.  Psychopathy as a Taxon: Evidence that Psychopaths are a Discrete Class.  Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(2), 387-397.

Mealey, L. (1995). The sociobiology of sociopathy an integrated evolutionary model.  Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 18, 523-599.

Miller, J.D., Lynam, D.R., Widiger, T., & Leukefeld, C. (2001). Personality disorders as extreme variants of common personality dimensions: Can the five factor model adequately represent psychopathy? Journal of Personality, 69, 253-276.

Next:  Government, Religion, Psychopathy: A theory of how the world works.