Sociopaths, Psychopaths, and Narcissists! Oh Joy!

People are crazy. People are lazy. One person is Patrick Swayze. Wow. Great. Tremendous. What am I doing? Why am I here? Oh, yes. I was going to write about sociopaths, narcissists, and psychopaths and how our society is built to reward them.

Let’s start with the good old-fashioned sociopath. If you don’t know what a sociopath is, you are one. I’m kidding, that’s not true. So, what is a sociopath? It’s the fork in the road. You can take the pass less traveled, or the socio path. No. That’s not right, either. I have a hard time focusing.

Sociopaths and psychopaths can both be characterized by what is known as antisocial personality disorder. People who are sociopathic have a broken moral compass, so that voice in your head that tells you “hey, I don’t think this is the right thing to do,” has a hard time getting through for people who are sociopathic. On top of that sweet cherry pie, sociopaths have a very difficult time feeling empathy. Sociopaths are often arrogant with a sense of superiority, lie and deceive people in order to take advantage of them, and will often use charm and wit to get what they want out of people. There are tons of other “symptoms,” but I’m just going to focus on these for now. (I’m going to write a longer, detailed article on this, but for now this is just more of a thought experiment.)

I have this hypothesis that the modern society heavily rewards people who are sociopathic, psychopathic, or narcissistic, and if we don’t recognize it then we’re pretty much doomed. Not the message you were hoping for, I assume. But hey, life ain’t all ice cream and boners.

Psychopaths! What makes them different from sociopaths? Well, as sociopaths have a limited capacity for empathy, psychopaths are without a conscience altogether. Psychopaths are also more capable of living what looks like a “normal life.” Sociopaths tend to be more erratic and disorganized. Psychopaths also tend to feel less guilt for their actions than a sociopath, often feeling no guilt whatsoever. I think when most people think of psychopaths, they think about serial killers. And while most (if not all) serial killers are likely psychopaths, being a psychopath doesn’t automatically mean you will be violent.

Narcissists! Woohoo! These are even more common than people with ASPD, and you’ve probably got one in your life, as it occurs in 6.2% of people. Narcissists struggle to maintain emotional empathy, and can have the desire to take on leadership positions, but don’t do it for the greater good and usually don’t support democracy (1). Okay, this is what I wanted to focus on instead of getting bogged down in specifics here. Let’s get some thought experiments running here, Captain Asscheeks.

Weird, Microsoft Word tells me Asscheeks isn’t a word. Unreal. Anyways, think about how much easier it would be to make money if you had no empathy. If you felt nothing when you fired somebody, you could be slinging people in and out with lubricated ease until you find exactly what you’re looking for. Imagine how much easier it would be to sell something if you felt no regard for the person you’re selling to. Think of how much easier it would be if you thought manipulating people for your own personal gain was a fun thing to do. We’re talking fat cash here, folks. And that’s exactly whose got it. Organized narcissists. Controlled sociopaths. Functional psychopaths.

That doesn’t mean everyone who has a lot of money is one of these things. That’s not what I’m saying here, Patricia. My point is that we have to be careful, because many of the people we idolize are not who we think they are. There are plenty of successful, rich people like Naval Ravikant, Stephen Curry, and Joe Rogan, who are clearly healthy and empathetic individuals who happen to make a lot of money. These types of people are my personal heroes, because they work hard, excel, and try to be the best people they can be while still maintaining a strong sense of humility and empathy. We need more of them.

The types of people who worry the living tits out of me usually occupy the corporate and political world. The Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump, Joe Biden types. When I watch these people speak and look into their eyes, I don’t sense a shred of genuine empathy. “What can I do to help me?” seems to be their collective motto. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Joe Biden does care about you. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg just wants everyone to be happy. Maybe Donald Trump really does care about things besides Donald Trump. But I don’t think so.

I think a lot of people recognize this problem: that our society seems to reward people who are ruthlessly selfish and manipulative; but I don’t think a lot of people have their finger on a good solution. (Did I just use a colon and a semi-colon in the same sentence? You’re fucking right I did.) Often times I will hear people blame capitalism. I do agree this is a fault of the capitalist system, but it’s even more a fault of popular alternatives like communism or socialism. The types of people who desire unrelenting power will get it. The more control you give them, the worse things end up for the rest of us. The benevolent overseer of the egalitarian society? Sorry, but they’re not showing up. They never have.

I don’t think we should try and change the system. It’s too easy to blame something else, and it simply won’t work. I think we need to look inside ourselves. We have the power to change what we value. We have the ability to stop paying attention to decoy politicians like the President while more sinister things happen in the wake of our distraction. We have the capability to stop being greedy in our own right. We have the opportunity to wake the hell up.

If we’re going to let religion crumble, we better have something to replace it besides nihilism, hedonism, and narcissism. Otherwise we’ll be led by exactly what we become: a selfish tyrant who cares little about anything but their own pleasure. We have to kill the narcissist within our own souls before it takes us over.

I think our hope lies in consciousness. I believe that the universe is conscious and that we’re all part of one giant consciousness field. There’s something in the field of quantum physics called the “observer effect.” You may have heard that light can be both a wave and a particle, depending on if we’re observing it or not. The same is true for an electron. It doesn’t actually show up unless we look for it. I’ll save that rabbit hole for another time. The point is that conscious thought appears to affect the actual physical reality around us. Give that one a good old fashioned Google search and watch your brain explode.

Alrighty then. I’d like to turn this into something better than it is so please drop a comment if you have any suggestions around cluster B personality disorders and how they affect our society. Neat.

 

Works Cited or Whatever

 

 

  1. Marchlewska, Marta, Kevin A. Castellanos, Karol Lewczuk, Miroslaw Kofta, and Aleksandra Cichoka. “My Way or the Highway: High Narcissism and Low Self-Esteem Predict Decreased Support for Democracy.” British Journal of Social Psychology (2018) . doi:10.1111/bjso.12290.
Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian from Northern California. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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