I’m not sure when I first became aware of the term sociopath. I feel like I’ve always known about it but never really knew what the term meant. A couple of years ago I got curious and checked out The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout, PhD., from my local library. In the book, Dr. Stout writes a list of the traits of a sociopath with the statement, “Chances are good you’re a sociopath if you possess three out of seven.”
- failure to conform to social norms
- deceitfulness, manipulativeness
- impulsivity, failure to plan ahead
- irritability, aggressiveness
- reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
- consistent irresponsibility
- lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another person.
This list got me to wondering if I knew any sociopaths and it brought me to my own backdoor. My ex was extremely handsome and charming and could manipulate anyone, including me, to get what he wanted. I’d long suspected something was off, but being the good girl and dutiful wife, I put him through law school, against my better judgment, only to be ditched, after seventeen years of marriage, as soon as he passed the bar exam. Turns out he has three of the seven traits of a sociopath.
Now, I realize I’m not the first woman to be dumped after putting a man through law or medical school. But it was the way he handled it that shook me to my core. I won’t bore you with the gory details. Let’s suffice it to say he’d always had a coldness about him, a lack of empathy, and a strong sense of entitlement. And then there was the charm. According to Dr. Stout:
One of the most frequently observed of these traits is a glib and superficial charm that allows the true sociopath to seduce other people, figuratively or literally—a kind of glow or charisma that initially can make the sociopath seem more charming or more interesting than most of the normal people around him.
Before reading Dr. Stout’s book I’d always thought of a sociopath as someone like Charlie Manson or John Wayne Gacy or a ruthless madman like Hitler, Saddam Hussein, or Idi Amin. But it turns out there are many gradations of this antisocial personality disorder, beginning at the low end of the spectrum with narcissism.
I guess I ought to be grateful. At least I didn’t put Ted Bundy through law school. Once I made the realization regarding my ex, I began to look deeper into this disorder and what I learned is far more disturbing.
According to Stout one in twenty-five people are sociopaths. That’s 4% of the population. Donald W. Black, MD, author of Bad Boys Bad Men, estimates 3-4 1/2% of the population may meet the criteria for this disorder. We’re talking about one quarter of a billion people on the planet and at least 8 and possibly as many as 12 million in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot of people. Most of us are not aware such a large number of them walk, live, and work among us. Turns out they’re everywhere. Some are in prison, some can’t hold jobs, but many of them are in high places in our society, from CEOs of large corporations to high positions in our government and the military.
When I read the following statement in Dr. Stout’s book a chill ran down my spine:
“If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and have a special talent for whipping up other people’s hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction. In fact, terrorism (done from a distance) is the ideal occupation for a person possessed of blood lust and no conscience, because if you do it just right, you may be able to make a whole nation jump. And if that is not power, what is?”
The first image that came to mind was George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of their Murder, Inc. cohorts, conspiring and starting illegal wars based on lies, and with the help of media banging the drums for war until, finally, the American people cried for revenge, even though Iraq and Saddam Hussein had no connection to 9/11. Amazing how well their little shell game worked. Seems people are easily manipulated especially when fear is applied.
But the Bush administration is no longer in charge. We now have a kinder gentler face of empire. The velvet glove with the silver tongued president. Obama came into office promising hope and change and transparency. He promised to fight the “good” war. But now five years later he’s expanded the wars. And according to Jeremy Scahill’s film, “Dirty Wars,” we’re entangled in illegal covert actions across the globe.
We’ve learned Obama enjoys holding his “Terror Tuesdays,” where he decides who will live or die, and without due process. He is prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, all in one. And then there’s his fascination with drone warfare, and using the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as his own private military unit. According to Jeremy Scahill, JSOC is currently in one hundred countries where they engage in covert actions and drone strikes, become attached to local forces to hunt individuals, run night raids and who knows what else. There’s also a program called Find, Fix and Finish where they target, fix their pattern, and finish them off. Obama is deeply involved in the third F, or Finish.
Here we have a commander-in-chief who has never served in the armed forces, never served his country on the battlefield, but yet is filled with blood lust. He has a private “kill list” and has ordered the assassination of four American citizens (that we know of) without due process. In fact, after ordering the assassination of the American cleric Anwar Awlaki, he then ordered the assassination of his 15-year-old son who hadn’t seen his father in years, Obama ordered him killed for who he might become. This makes the Thought Police from Orwell’s 1984 look like good Samaritans.
Stout asks, “Why do we allow leaders who are motivated by self-interest, or by their own psychological issues from the past, to fan bitterness and political crisis into armed confrontation and war?”
Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report refers to Obama as the “more effective evil.” I have to agree with that assessment. Obama has neutered the anti-war movement, the faux liberals, and the African American community. If a Republican president were doing these things there’d be a huge outcry, but now there’s barely a whimper from anyone. Obama has managed to make this form of murder acceptable and assassination without evidence normal.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want innocent civilians murdered in my name nor do I wish to live in a surveillance police state. And now thanks to Edward Snowden, the jig is up and Obama’s been caught with his proverbial pants down, so to speak, and he’s trying to Gaslight the American people. We ought to be discussing these draconian unconstitutional practices not obsessing over where Snowden is.
After 9/11 Congress gave the government a blank check, and thus began the surveillance state. Now 70% of this mass spying is privatized, with little or no government oversight. They’ve built huge computers in Utah to house all the data. Several whistleblowers have come forward to report the abuse, which included a spying program called Trailblazer that used $6 billion in taxpayer money and was a total bust.
Top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian illustrate what the Fisa court actually does – and does not do – when purporting to engage in “oversight” over the NSA’s domestic spying. That process lacks many of the safeguards that Obama, the House GOP, and various media defenders of the NSA are trying to lead the public to believe exist.
No individualized warrants required under 2008 FISA law.
Glenn Greenwald, “FISA court oversight: a look inside a secret and empty process. Obama and other NSA defenders insist there are robust limitations on surveillance but the documents show otherwise.”
And woe be unto the person who dares to stand up to the lies, hypocrisy, abuse, waste, and illegal activity of our government or the military industrial complex. Obama has prosecuted twice as many whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act as all other presidents combined. Just take a look at what happens to those who have the courage to speak truth to power. Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, Michael Hastings, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, to name a few, are under attack, on the run, in prison, or dead.
And what about the unbridled assault on our civil liberties? Obama, made it legal to use the U.S. military on its own citizens, signed the NDAA into law, and now any American can be tossed into a gulag, indefinitely, without due process.
Look, it ain’t easy but I finally cut my losses and divorced my narcissist of a husband and it’s time for the American people to “divorce” Obama. I know we all love our bad boys, but how much longer will we allow his lying, hypocrisy, mass murder, assassinations of U.S. citizens, and siphoning off our civil liberties, all in the name of protecting us from the “boogieman?” Seems to me the real enemy is sitting in the Oval office playing God, and needs to be stopped.
Like any addiction, it will be painful at first, but believe me; once the fog clears we’ll feel a whole lot better. You’ll thank yourself or me for this intervention. And our children and grand children will thank us and the world will breathe a collective sigh of relief.
But first we must stop with the excuses. I made excuses for my sociopath of a husband–as well as Obama for the first couple of years he was in office–but after awhile I had to face the facts: if I didn’t get out of the relationship I was going down. And guess what? We’re all going down if we don’t do something, and fast. These guys have no conscience and no empathy and that’s what makes them so dangerous. Their narcissism only keeps them focused on what’s good for them!
It appears our society not only reveres these sociopaths, we actually celebrate and look up to them and this sick form of hero worship is killing us. Seems we’ve undergone a sort of mass hypnosis. Or have Americans just turned into zombies or the walking dead? I ask you, is this any way to live?
“We’re seeing an unprecedented epidemic of depression in our society,” says Dr. Andrew Weil. “More people are being diagnosed with depression than ever, including millions of children. The latest statistics I’ve seen are that more than one in ten Americans is on prescribed antidepressant medication.”
By the way, the best antidote for depression is action, but are we so brainwashed and lazy we can no longer think for ourselves? Are we just boiling frogs? Will we, like the Germans after WWII, feign, “I didn’t know.”
I also realize Obama’s not really in charge. He’s merely following orders from his corporate puppet masters, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex. I also know there’s no two party system; there’s only one party and that’s the corporate party that serves the corporations, the “too big to jail” banks, Wall Street, and the MIC. So you see, we’re screwed unless we act and act soon. The noose is tightening. The time is nigh. The circumstances are dire. If not now, then when?
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind. — George Orwell
Here’s a short (37 minutes) but informative video, Defense Against the Psychopath, on how to spot and deal with psychopaths.
My companion blog, Is Obama the Trojan Horse, a Psychopath, a Bad Boyfriend or all Three?, was published on January 6, 2012.
And now a shameless plug, my eBook, Is It Fascism Yet? is available on Amazon.
Jill Dalton is a recovering army brat/writer/performer who has appeared in film and television as well as performing her solo plays in New York and around the country. Most recently she can be seen in and consulted for William Hurt on the HBO film, “Too Big To Fail.” Her articles have been published on: Dandelion Salad, RSN, OpEdNews & Progressive Activists Voice. She is currently writing a screenplay. Read Ms. Dalton’s new ebook, Is It Fascism Yet?