A Phil-for-an-ill Blog

February 19, 2009

Musings on Psychopathy

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

A friend wrote me:

In a nation ruled by psychopath bankers, those who are not genetic psychopaths, are induced to behave like psychopaths to survive. When the rules are set up to make a society “adaptive” to psychopathy, it makes sociopaths of everyone. As a consequence, a very large number of people are effective sociopaths. (Here we use “sociopath” as a designation of those individuals who are not genetic psychopaths)

To which I replied:

Indeed, it’s a sad fact of life that the world glorifies the psychopath and that success in the world today all too frequently seems to require a psychopathic mindset. However, I think the problem with humanity at its root cause does not stop with the psychopath, I think it goes deeper. In fact, I think the prevalence of the psychopath is merely symptomatic of a much more basic problem lying at the core of humanity.

That problem, I’ll have you know, is that humans by-and-large simply have lost their humanity. If a tree were to represent humanity and if one should judge that tree also by its fruits, then, through the occurrence of rotten fruit (toxic humans or psychopaths) this tells you that something also is terribly awry with the tree itself.

Let’s first address the question, what is a psychopath? Basically the mind of a psychopath is the human mind absent its humane component. The mind of the psychopath is virtually completely ego, which is the natural or animalistic mind. With ‘humane’ I mean the abstract substance that keeps humans and societies of people from flying apart; it’s the psycho-spiritual ‘glue’ that holds us together and includes notions of care, love, kindness and respect for fellow human beings. Without those attributes humans seize to be human and stand to degenerate into wild animals if given half a chance. Psychopaths are schoolbook examples of wild animals, ferocious predators to be exact, although they may excel in disguising their nature by acting civilized in most situations. Just like wild animals however, psychopaths are likely to be not dissuaded from accomplishing their goals and satisfying their needs even if it goes at the expense of others. The psychopath, unlike normal people, has no conscience that gets in the way of their selfishly parasitic antics and wants.

Psychopaths assume they can afford to hurt fellow human beings because they have no empathy for (most of the other) people, which they are inclined to label as weak and simply worthy of being ‘dealt’ with as soon as they are perceived to have become a liability. Psychopaths assume they can afford to act selfishly and ruthlessly since they expect their psychopath peers to just follow suit and who they feel may even, heaven forbid, try to outcompete them, and loss is not an option in the “code of conduct” of the psychopath.

In addition, psychopaths rationalize their ruthless and inhumane behavior by feigning victim rather than perpetrator. By convincing themselves that their actions are merely of a defensive rather than offensive kind, they have a basis to rationalize their hostile behavior towards, what they regard as, people who are threatening them in any way, shape or form. If you’re into movies I recommend that you watch (or recall) Casino (1995) in which a character named Nicky, played by Joe Pesci, is blatantly clearly a psychopath. In a rare moment of psychopath ‘honesty’, you can actually hear Nicky complain somewhere in the middle of the movie that he is fighting a war with animals (I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t recall his exact wording) and that his hostile behavior is but a defensive answer to an offensive and cruel habitat. From his warped pathological point of view it’s perfectly acceptable to act as a predator if one is defending himself from fellow predators.

How does a psychopath come into being? Although I cannot refute a possible innate predisposition as a result of selective breeding if you will, I think environmental factors are also quite significant in the creation of degenerate human beings such as the psychopath. After all, if a human being is subjected to a cold and cruel upbringing, preferably from an early age onwards, then a cold and cruel human being is the likely adaptive outcome. When the cold and cruel human beings grows up, the same creative process is likely to be recycled with their own offspring, if the type of upbringing is of repetitive kind (traditional/generational).

Psychopaths emerge in a world where natural and materialistic darkness rather than delicate and vulnerable human light rules. And sadly this is how the world is run today. It seems that humans eagerly and proudly en masse have degenerated into wild and/or decadent animals. Just flip on MTV and be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of narcissistic, mind-numbing and superficial hedonism slung your way. They are signs of an egocentric and decadent world out there and it’s getting clearer that this is the general devolutionary direction humanity is headed, if left unhampered.

As such, the phenomenon of the prevalence of the psychopath in the world today is not only a severe indictment of humanity as a whole but it should also, in my opinion, be interpreted as an alarming barometer reading indicating that something very fundamental is wrong with humanity.

If we compare humanity to a disease-ridden and weakened human body then the psychopath can be viewed as the tumor that is allowed to thrive because the human immune system is too incapacitated and worn-down to prevent or reverse its manifestation. One may try and cure the body using traditional allopathic brute force medicine by proceeding to cut out the cancerous infestation and although this may offer temporarily relief, chances are that the cancer will come back, through metastasis, in an insurmountably lethal way.

Therefore, while psychopaths are indeed the most toxic and extreme psychopathological manifestations of the human ego, suppressing them and them alone is not enough I’m afraid. Rather it is the ego, the part in us that systemically holds us down in a degenerated state of spiritual ignorance and retardation, that deserves suppression, or at least deserves a good and thorough overhaul.


Also see:

When Does Psychopathy Flourish? (Musings on Psychopathy II)

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