By Paul Rosenberg
August 08, 2014 "ICH"
the bad news: Predators walk among us, and they are
indistinguishable from normal people. These
differently wired humans have a predatory advantage,
and they use it. This is not a plot from a scary
movie; this is real.
I am deadly
serious about this, though by the end of this
column, I will also explain why there is also good
predators are called sociopaths (psychopaths
in the clinical literature). They rather seldom
damage our bodies, but they make careers out of
bleeding our souls.
trying to be dramatic, by the way. I was holding
this subject for the next issue of my
subscription newsletter, but the more I worked
on it, the more I was convinced that I should
publish some key points ahead of schedule. This is
we go any further, Iíd like to give you two
essential facts that will allow you to protect
yourself from sociopaths. If you can remember these,
youíll avoid a lot of pain:
1 in 50 people
is a predator.
At least 2% of
the overall populace are sociopaths, and some
estimates are double that. Perhaps 75% of them are
male, though no one knows why. That means that at
least every thirty-third man is a sociopath, and
every hundredth woman.
Most of us
have a feeling that everyone has some goodness in
them. This is generally a useful feeling, but itís
only true for 49 out of 50 humans. That last one is
a predator without a conscience.
I donít like
the sound of that any better than you do, but it has
been proven over and over and over. We need to face
the facts, and we cannot treat these people like we
do everyone else.
You must pay
attention to inauthentic emotions.
have a ďtellĒ that gives them away: Emotions that
are not quite right. They donít have much in the way
of positive emotions themselves, so they fake them.
But they can never fake them completely.
expressions of emotions are very complex, involving
dozens of muscles, increased or decreased blood flow
and pressure, pulse rate, posture, tone of voice,
and more. Normal people are deeply familiar with
these complicated arrangements and innately
understand their patterns.
on the other hand, doesnít feel them and canít grasp
their patterns. He or she must mimic them. But
because of the great complexity involved, the
sociopath can never mimic them terribly well.
So, you must
notice inauthentic emotions, remember them, and not
ignore them in an effort to be nice.
The How and the Why
There are a
lot of things to understand about sociopaths, and we
canít cover them all in one column, but I will give
you the basics, which are these:
Sociopaths have a profound lack of empathy for
the feelings of others. They lack the internal
feedback system by which normal people monitor
themselves. (Most people call this ďconscience,Ē
which is probably as useful a term as any.)
Sociopaths do not have this and donít feel bad
about abusing other people. Itís not that they
feel bad and ignore itóthey donít feel it at
Sociopaths understand that they are different
from normal people and learn to mimic normal
behavior. This mimicry has a purpose: It gets
the sociopath what he or she wants.
sociopath hides his or her difference. After
letting it show a time or twoóand probably being
punished by a parent as a resultóthe sociopath
covers up the truth and keeps it covered. But
the reason for hiding it is not embarrassment
(the sociopath doesnít feel embarrassment), but
because it hinders him from getting what he
sociopaths have no empathy for others, making
use of normal people feels just fine to them.
Likewise, they feel no remorse.
Empathy, as viewed by the sociopath, is a
weakness, and he considers himself superior,
because he isnít burdened by it.
Because they lack an internal feedback system,
sociopaths are excellent liars. For example,
they can often pass lie detector tests, since
those tests register the effects of our internal
feedback system, which they donít have.
sociopath is likely to maintain a group of
people who believe whole-heartedly that he is a
good, kind, honest person. Heíll work in
calculated ways to create and maintain that
opinion in them.
what Hervey Cleckley wrote about sociopaths in his
classic text on the subject,
The Mask of Sanity:
ugliness, except in a very superficial sense;
goodness, evil, love, horror and humor have no
actual meaning, no power to move him.
Now we come
to the question of why sociopaths are this way, and
we do have some answers.
brain scans indicate that sociopaths have unusually
small amygdalae (the part of the brain associated
with emotional reactions, decisionmaking, and memory
processing). A region of the brainís frontal cortex,
called the orbitofrontal cortex, seems problematic
as well. This region, which communicates with the
amygdala, is also involved with decision making.
cause of sociopathy is almost certainly organic.
Someday it should be curable with genetic
engineering, but for now, there is no cure at all.
That means that you have zero chance of talking a
sociopath into behaving well.
repair a sociopath tells him that youíre a ripe
sucker, and nothing more. Heíll play along, tell you
what you want to hear, fake the emotions he thinks
youíll respond to, and bleed you dry, emotionally
and physically. And heíll never feel a momentís
remorse as you finally contemplate suicide.
Yes, I know
this is dark stuff, but itís better to be forewarned
than to learn through harsh experience.
Why This Is Actually Good News
that sociopaths make up 2% of the total population,
and considering that a sociopath is responsible for
several times more damage than the average person
(Iíd guess at least five to ten times as much),
thenÖ training people to recognize and avoid
sociopaths would eliminate a serious percentage of
And it gets
better. Aside from natural causes like diseases, the
number-one source of pain on Earth is political
systems. For today Iíll pass up the argument of
whether states are necessary or not; instead, Iíd
like to make a simpler point: Governments, like all
hierarchies, are havens for sociopaths. And
governments have, over the last century, killed
approximately 260 million people. (See
Death by Government, by R.J. Rummel.)
would happen if millions of people, because they
were able to recognize sociopaths, stopped
empowering and obeying them?
to think of any single thing that would eliminate
human suffering better than sociopath recognition,
and Iím not coming up with much. Furthermore, it
would be easy: websites, billboards, tiny radio and
TV ads, flyers, handouts, and just about anything
else could be used. The concepts are simple and
potent, and the motivation to avoid pain is inherent
in human nature.
less than corporate charities spend, something like
this would change the worldÖ more, better, and
to think about.
Free-Manís Take is
written by adventure capitalist, author, and freedom
advocate Paul Rosenberg. You can get much more from
Paul in his unique monthly newsletter,