“Antisocial Personality Disorder is primarily defined as a lack of empathy,” I said. I’d looked it up, too, a few months ago. Empathy is what allows people to interpret emotion, the same way ears interpret sound; without it you become emotionally deaf. “It means I don’t connect emotionally with other people.” — Dan Wells, I Am Not A Serial Killer
” The majority of serial killers are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone. They are not monsters and may not appear strange. Many serial killers hide in plain sight within their communities. Serial murderers often have families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community. Because many serial murderers can blend in so effortlessly, they are oftentimes overlooked by law enforcement and the public.” — FBI.Gov
“We know the kinds of behaviors psychopaths reliably exhibit (such as superficial charm and a lack of empathy; for an inclusive list see Hare, 1990), we know that they typically have a low resting heart rate (Lorber, 2004)” — What Would We Find Wrong in the Brain of a Serial Killer?
“Most psychopaths are not violent, and most violent people are not psychopaths,” according to psychologist and researcher Scott Lilienfield
This blog post is not about serial killers. It’s really not about Antisocial Personality Disorder. It’s about understanding that when given a set of goals, objectives, tasks,… a person with less emotion will be more successful than you. The closer you are to being a sociopath, the better you are at most anything. I have no proof, it’s just an idea, but history and media, kind of shows us this. We usually have no problem with it. We regularly view characters with little or no empathy as successful and effective.
Perhaps the most famous is Mr. Spock. He’s half Vulcan and half human. He shows no emotion but has to constantly wrestle with keeping emotions in check.
“It’s a struggle we all face,” says Henry Jenkins, humanities professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Are we driven by our emotion or by our intellect? And how do we reconcile those two things?”
One of the things Jenkins studies is Star Trek fan culture. He says Spock’s struggle makes him an unlikely sex symbol.
“Spock is sexy for a large number of people, male and female,” Jenkins says. “Many of the female fans I studied really are attracted to the emotional depths of this character.” Like many men, Spock “represses outward signs of emotion,” Jenkins says. He’s a character “who tries to hold it all in, but who seems to be sensitive, sensuous at certain times.”
Gene Roddenberry patterned Spock after the most famous LA Police Chief, William H. Parker. While Parker has been portrayed in many films [by Bruce Dern, Nick Nolte, etc], his reorganization of the police force is what is legendary. He eliminated the cop on the beat and mobilized the force. He took the personal, emotional, interaction, out of the structure based on his military experience. Cars, radios and less cops. More function, less emotion. It worked. “Not incidentally, this also furthered Parker’s belief that isolating his officers from the streets would reduce opportunities for corruption” — Wikipedia.
So if I discuss Spock, I guess the emotional half would be Kirk? Well, he is famously polyamorous and is married to his ship. He’s charismatic [as many sociopaths are] and he’s killed before. How many times can someone hear, “He’s dead, Jim”, and not go crazy? Bill Shatner still kicking ass on Priceline dot com!
Stout writes in The Sociopath Next Door that 4% of the population are sociopaths. Robert Hare (who believes that 1% are sociopaths) says that only 20% of prison inmates are psychopaths although they are responsible for 50% of the major crimes.
Then there is James Bond. Who is he, really? He’s a killer who sleeps with lots of women. Empathy and Bond cannot exist in the same place and same time. Just like that character in Van Damme’s “Time Cop”. I’m not the only one that thinks that way. Here is a comment from Matt Damon about his “Bourne” character vs Bond.
”They could never make a James Bond movie like any of the Bourne films,” Damon says scornfully. Because Bond is an imperialist, misogynist sociopath who goes around bedding women and swilling martinis and killing people. He’s repulsive.
What is amazing is the popularity of a misogynist sociopath. The Bond franchise has earned, $6,198,420,185. Not too shabby for a character with no empathy.
I had to do some research for a woman’s viewpoint. In some experiments, when experimenters set up a “nice guy” vs “sociopathic” profile on dating sites, the sociopath wins hands down. While many have heard of the Oedipus Complex there is a similar concept with women. It is called the “Electra Complex”. Basically women are attracted to someone like their father. If their father becomes more remote or was just born that way, the female seeks emotionally remote males. The ones that never say, “I love you” but women will get them to “change for me”. They based a character on this premise in the estrogen soaked, “Sex in the City”. His name was Mr. Big. He apparently could be romantic and attractive with a woman then find one the next night and be totally comfortable acting the same way. No empathy, no emotion, just conquest. Women love that stuff apparently. The character was based on Ron Galotti who is a very powerful publisher. [Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ]. Big was not a phallic reference but the idea of ‘big man on campus’. Galotti apparently was exactly that. So I wondered what his background was. Did he show signs of compassion and empathy? Well, when he was stationed in the Philippines during the Viet Nam war he was a loan shark and ran a brothel. Nothing says empathy like PIMP and leg-breaker.
So I’ve covered some fictional characters based on real characters. Bond was based on Ian Fleming and several other military and spy types that Fleming knew. What about businessmen? Well here is an interesting quote from a book. –
“But then I met Al Dunlap. [That would be “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap, former CEO of Sunbeam and notorious downsizer.] He effortlessly turns the psychopath checklist into “Who Moved My Cheese?” Many items on the checklist he redefines into a manual of how to do well in capitalism. There was his reputation that he was a man who seemed to enjoy firing people, not to mention the stories from his first marriage — telling his first wife he wanted to know what human flesh tastes like, not going to his parents’ funerals. Then you realize that because of this dysfunctional capitalistic society we live in those things were positives. He was hailed and given high-powered jobs, and the more ruthlessly his administration behaved, the more his share price shot up”. — The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry
There is a list of professions where sociopaths thrive. They are in fact, all the cool ones. See if you are on the list. If you are and not a sociopath, you will always get beaten.
- Civil Servant. [source – http://www.policymic.com/articles/44423/10-professions-that-attract-the-most-sociopaths]
I would have to add professional athlete to that list. Check this out — > http://brojackson.com/basketball/all-great-athletes-are-sociopaths If you don’t want to read that whole article, I love this quote from it.
“The sports world’s best and brightest are sociopaths, and it’s time we embrace the traits that make them great.”
Now based on patched together internet references I’m painting a picture that to be wildly successful at relationships, sports, business or being science officer on a Starship it would be a fantastic advantage to be a sociopath. That also means, like President Jimmy Carter said, “Life is not fair”. Good guys finish last, all the pretty girls love bad boys and you can have no worries, regrets, sadness, jealousy and good sleep by adopting some of the traits of politicians, CEO’s, surgeons and serial killers. To be more blunt, your empathy is messing with your success. When you strip emotion from a memory in becomes less memorable. I can for example remember doing things at under one year of age. I know others who forget what they said a few days ago. For those of us with great sensitivity and ample emotion, events are colorful, intense, textured and long lasting. For those with no emotion they are simply lessons, clues, outcomes. They can line them up on a spreadsheet, squeeze the numbers and fulfill their objective. They don’t wrestle, debate, worry, regret or vacillate.
So while this seems to be an awful way to go about life, realize a person with a different set of tools will always be more successful than you. The photograph that is featured in this article? Very, very, successful man. Here is a bit of his history.
In 1966, JWG’s father-in-law offered him the opportunity to manage the three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants he had purchased in Waterloo. The offer was lucrative: $15,000 per year ($108,000 in 2014 dollars) plus a share of profits. JWG accepted the offer and, following his obligatory completion of a managerial course, he and his wife relocated to Waterloo in the autumn of that year.
In Waterloo, JWG joined the local chapter of the Jaycees, regularly offering extensive hours to the organization in addition to the twelve- and fourteen-hour days he worked as a manager of three KFC restaurants. Although considered ambitious and somewhat of a braggart by his colleagues in the Jaycees, he was highly regarded as a tireless worker on several fund-raising projects. In 1967, he was named “outstanding vice-president” of the Waterloo Jaycees. At Jaycee meetings, JWG would often provide free fried chicken to his colleagues and insisted upon being given the nickname “Colonel” by his colleagues. The same year, JWG served on the Board of Directors for the Waterloo Jaycees. — Wikipedia
JWG = John Wayne Gacy.
So remember, unless you have these specific set of tools, the cards are stacked against you.