Contrary to the general misconception, psychopaths – those born evil – for the most part evade the criminal justice system and wind up as extraordinarily ‘successful’ members of society. They can become CEOs, Supreme Court judges, Presidents, Central Bankers, Media Barons, and leading academics whose ideas can infect the thinking of whole generations.
I think a key to understanding how you can have ‘dumbass’ psychopaths who wind up in prison early on and intelligent ones who end up writing laws and running whole economies into the ground is that we need to consider not one but TWO bell curves on which to plot types of people. When we really get down to it, we’re dealing with two different species, each with its own spectrum of sub-types that are distributed across the two bell curves, and each one being completely alien to the other.
On one bell curve you have normal people. Most of us, of average intelligence and ability to empathise with others, fall somewhere in the middle of this bell curve. Some humans on the right of this curve are exceptionally talented and driven to help others, while others on the left of this curve are pretty dimwitted, but are also essentially kind-hearted, salt-of-the-Earth folks.
Then you have the psychopathic spectrum, which ought to be placed on a totally separate bell curve. These types all have no conscience. Most of them are middle-of-the-road psychos who leave a trail of destruction but generally keep getting away with it because of normies’ complete ignorance of psychopathy and a justice system that is organised on faulty foundations. Some of them do get caught and diagnosed early on, but that is only because they have such poor impulse control that they are so glaringly and obviously not human.
The most successful psychopaths, however, are a whole different kettle of fish. Placed at the far right end of this second bell curve, these super-dangerous types rise to the top and dominate society to the extent of reshaping it in their image. They’re smarter than their less intelligent cousins, possess the kind of ambition that wants to take over and consume the whole world and they appear to possess a kind of discipline: they too will kill, torture, rape, steal from and abuse people as they backstab their way to the top, but they generally keep such urges in check thanks to very well-constructed ‘masks of sanity’, from which they escape into regular and much-needed ‘vacations into filth’, as Harvey Cleckley described it.
That’s why mega-rich far-right wing fundamentalist religious preachers in the U.S. get down and dirty with transvestite prostitutes over some crystal meth on the weekends: the rest of the week they are practically holding their breath playing the role of ‘saintly people’ to their families, underlings and church flock. Their bizarre and sickening indulgences usually take place beyond the bounds of public scrutiny, where others like them will keep mum until such time as a little blackmail comes in handy.
These so-called ‘successful psychopaths’ present themselves as more normal than normal itself. It’s very difficult to catch them out, but it can be done. Once they do reach the top, it’s actually easier to spot them because they’re so busy getting payback on the society of normal man – they send people to wars they themselves create by profiting from arms sales to both sides; they sign off on laws that make life as stressful as possible for their enemy (the normal population below them); they dream up new ways of torturing people by drafting policy papers that hurt people fiscally through increased taxation, ‘austerity measures’ and so on, and also, especially post-9/11, by literally torturing people to justify a fully contrived ‘war on terror’, thanks to which they profit via their ‘security industry’; they pillage the real wealth from economies through their zombie banks, and so on.
Tragically, by the time they reach the top and are seen for what they are, the damage is already done and ‘civilization’ has nowhere to go but down. By this point, successful psychopaths will have eaten their way through the whole fabric of society like a parasitic cancer. Pathological people with mediocre talents are routinely promoted to positions of authority, stifling conscientious objectors who raise the alarm. Historically, normal people have dealt with endemic system-wide corruption by overthrowing their corrupt leaders in bloody revolutions, but because we as a species fail to understand why the disease keeps returning, it’s not long before psychopaths again rise to the top and the cycle begins anew.
With the psychopaths in power continuing to crank up the stress factor and global revolution in the air, the only hope I see for humanity is continuous dissemination of knowledge about psychopathy into the system; knowledge that will make people aware of psychopaths’ existence to begin with, and knowledge that will enable them to connect the dots and understand why the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.