Friday, March 29, 2013

The Most Dangerous People

Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Dick Cheney share more than political leanings and power, they share membership in an exclusive group - the 4% of people, mostly unknown, who constitute the most dangerous minority in society.  

Before I go on, it is important that you comprehend the magnitude of a group that equals 4%. It  is a sizeable number of people.  To do that I’m going to use statistics about religion. How many Mormons can you name in ten seconds? Try it.

...8, 9, 10.   Did you start with Mitt and Anne, Donny and Marie?  Then maybe  those handsome sons, Tagg and Craig and Matt and Trig and … oh, wait a minute, I think I’m mixing up Republican families’ photo props. Well, anyway, you know you’ve seen some Mormans in national politics and in entertainment, and there are probably Mormons in your workplace, school and community, but they are a small percentage.   According to  the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the US Religious Landscape Survey, Mormons are 1.7% of the adult population in the US.  Though they are a small percentage,  there are many of them and you can name some. 

So what does 4% look like?  It looks like the adults you know who are religious but not Christian.  Four percent identify as religious and either Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, New Age, or a practitioner of a Native American religion.  Combined, all these people make up  4% of adults in the USA.  *

All of these people fit into our neighborhoods, contribute to our faith communities, and melt into the crowds in  the auditoriums where family members turn out to watch graduations.  Sometimes  members of a particular four percent are identifiable at a glance such as a man wearing a yarmulke or a woman in a burka and this reminds us that though we are all human, we do not all believe the same things.  And while we can accept that we do not believe the same, we always assume that other people share our basic moral code.  This is a big mistake.

If you were able to name some Mormons and if you can name people you know who practice Judaism, you should be able to name as many people who fit into Sarah's 4%er club.   So let's do that now. Name all the sociopaths you can.

How'd you do? Are you thinking: 

Wait, what? Sociopaths?  Nice people don't know sociopaths. My community has no sociopaths. 

And, besides, it's mean to call someone that. That word shouldn't be thrown around lightly. It's only for Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, and Osama Bin Laden and the school/mall/movie theater mass shooters.  

Sarah Palin is a Christian who disagrees politically with Palin Place readers but to say she is like Charles Manson is crazy! 
-->It is a fact that 4% of us  -  approximately the same percentage as the US population over 18 years of age who are religious but not Christian -  cannot, are absolutely  unable to feel shame, guilt, remorse, love, or any conscience-driven or caring-based human emotion.  The diagnosis for this is Sociopath.

It’s hard to believe, I know.  Only recently have I taken a serious look at this. What I learned is fascinating, frightening, and unforgettable. 

Brain imaging has been used to identify how the brains of most of us work, and how the brains of sociopaths work. The brains of 96% of us react to emotional words like remorse,  love and joy with one portion of the brain, and words like pencil and cloud with other parts. Not so with a sociopath. They have no frontal cortex reaction to words that describe feelings of conscience and love and human connection.  Instead, when they hear “heartbroken” their brains light up in the same areas used to solve algebraic equations.  This research supports the theory that a sociopath copies human emotion but never feels it. They try to figure out how to appear to look like the rest of us - If this [heartbroken]  is true, then that [unhappy]is true, and therefore…I should look [unhappy] so I will [frown].  Is this a major emotional situation? If so I will [cry].  Conclusion: frown and cry.  

 This 4% of adults are free of the bonds of conscience,  but you'd not guess it. They usually excel at mimicking emotions. They spend their developmental years memorizing the human emotional reactions of the rest of us and practicing deception. They become expert liars. They manipulate and they are not even suspected of doing so. They are believed, loved, pitied, admired, assisted, promoted, and all manner of good things come their way.

Most of us have no idea who these people are. We are not even sure we believe they exist. 

It's almost impossible to imagine.  How can the 96% of us with feelings imagine being someone who is not at all touched by the horrors of Newton and Aurora? It's like trying to imagine a new color in the rainbow.  We can’t. 

And what we don’t understand, we usually reject. Which, in this case, is a very dangerous thing.  Failing to learn about and recognize sociopathic behavior,  not protecting ourselves  from them, and being unable to warn others about sociopaths in our midst has led to elections of people like Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz.

Elected sociopaths pose a danger for our country, our children and our grandchildren. They are unmoved by the stories of the parents of Newtown. They don't care if children have a diet of Twinkies and Big Gulps. They don't care if your loved one goes off to war based on a lie and comes home draped in a flag.  They don't care about you and me. They don't even care about their own children. They simply cannot care about another human.  Can not. 

We can not trust them to make laws for us. And so we must go into this dark place, these dark minds,  and shine a spotlight. We must dare to consider this, work to understand it, and when we have seen the threat is real, that this mental condition is an enemy out to destroy us as individuals and as a  society, then, and only then, can we begin to protect ourselves and our country.

First,  we must get  up close and personal with the minds of the 4%.

While some sociopaths live mundane lives, many have a kind of glow or charisma that makes them more charming or interesting than the other people.  Yes, that's Sarah Palin. She and those like her are more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than most everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving the rest of us easily seduced.

Dr. Martha Stout, in the book The Sociopath Next Door, provides these seven characteristics, any three of which are enough to support a diagnosis of sociopathy: 
  • failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviours
  • being deceitful and manipulating
  • being impulsive
  • being irritable or aggressive
  • being unconcerned about the safety of the self or anybody else
  • being consistently irresponsible
  • being unconcerned and unremorseful for hurting or stealing
Remember, if you do these things and then have remorse, you are not a sociopath. These are the things a sociopath will do and will never feel bad about it. They may fake it, but they don't feel it.

Sociopaths are found in all neighborhoods, all towns, all parts of the country. They become successful in business, they become teachers, one might be your doctor.  Others are more benign simply because they never leave home. They find a host and become a parasite, living off mom and dad or the unfortunate person who fell in love with them.  Certain traits of sociopaths work particularly well for ponzi-scheming investor/sociopaths and politician/sociopaths: glibness and superficial charm; manipulative and conning; grandiose sense of self;  pathological lying, lack of remorse, shame or guilt;  need for stimulation; callousness/lack of empathy; secretive; conventional appearance. Those traits work well in business, too. Sound like a boss you once had? If you have lived long enough and take enough new positions, you’ve met some along the way.

When a sociopath kills or sets others up to be killed, they don't flinch. They sleep well.   We follow their stories with morbid fascination.   The politicians and or political players who are sociopaths may become famous for their egos, callousness, or nasty commentary. I think Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, John Edwards, Anne Coulter,  and Rush Limbaugh fit this description.  You can add to that the names of other  talk show hosts, other politicians, other pundits.  They say things that ought to make them ashamed of themselves and yet they never seem to be genuinely able to feel regret, remorse, shame, or embarrassment.  If they have been elected, they are the ones who have lied without shame, started wars, destroyed reputations, voted against the common good, ignored the wishes of the people they represent, been intentionally divisive even voting against something they may have proposed, and repeatedly misused the power entrusted to them by the American public. 

Again, four percent is a sizable portion of the population.  Some of them have made a career in politics. They are the most dangerous people we can elect, yet you don’t even know how to bring up the subject.   

While people you and I talk to everyday would probably say flat out that they wouldn’t vote for a Muslim, they can’t even consider a suggestion that Ted Cruz, newly elected to the Senate, is a bigger threat to our society than a  Muslim who is in the 96%. 

We should all be scared of Ted Cruz and all 4%ers in public office. We have to learn to discuss sociopathy.

 We must learn to help others see  it as a threat. Finally, we need to help others recognize sociopaths  - our  own local sociopaths.

After that, we with consciences, the 96%, need to vote our consciences. Our enlightened consciences.

Today is the beginning of a journey. Together we will explore sociopathy.  Next week I will tell you about a sociopath I know very well.  By telling you about her life, the people she has hurt, and her unexceptional existance, you might be better able to recognize sociopaths in your own lives.  Please feel free to share your stories. Together we shall learn how to intelligently discuss this difficult, complex, and crucial subject.

We are only three years from another Presidential election.  Somewhere there is a sociopath who would love to run.  This is serious, folks.  As serious as it gets.

* * * * * * * * *

* In the Pew survey,  non-Christian turned up 4.7% in the Pew poll and I’m subtracting the .7 that are “Unitarian and other liberal beliefs” so that we can  picture 4%.  My apologies to my friend Anita who is the only person I'm sure I know who is a Unitarian.


Anonymous said...

Please add Richard Nixon to the list of sociopaths.
He sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks because he feared they would derail his 1968 campaign. 7 extra years of war and death.

"Liberal" media has not reported this. Sorry for the rant

Anonymous said...

Not to be your buzzkill, but I think the most dangerous people are theliberal ones in DC and who have actual power who has successfully manipulated the media so they won't report fairly on them. Notice that people like Obama and Biden can literally say anything they want, whether it's embarrassing to the country (history errors and that canada vs US absurdity) or hateful towards a large group of people (millions of business owners) and it doesn't follow them. Democrats can lie out of their asses and their supporters make excuses or ignore it.

THAT shouldn't be tolerated.

When are people going to get a clue? Some have and more are following. But it's time to gain perspective and lose the party loyalty when it means saving the country from assholes in DC who have proven they cannot even articulate a simple statement without the script in front of them or memorized.

You can try to refute me by ignoring the things I am talking about, therefore proving my point. But it does no one good.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to this Allison. I have the book, "The Sociopath Nextdoor" but have hesitated to read it from the stories I've heard. So many of my childhood friends have changed in recent years and their hatred of President Obama scares me! We never grew up that way. Some weren't religious growing up but now are "Born again Christians". At first I was glad to see they had become Christians, but not now. They throw out scripture all the time, but it just doesn't add up by their actions. Some of the worst, hateful political emails come from them.

Took Psych in the late 50's. We've come so far that it is mostly new to me, but anxious to learn, even now. It is easier for me to detect abnormal behavior, thanks to my nursing background, but with new testing it isn't so much of a guessing game anymore when MRI's and brain scans can diagnose abnormal behavior!

Sarah certainly has been a learning phenomena! So easy to spot for most, but totally missed by "others"! Kind of frightening, isn't it. But if one lacks a conscience, it is understandable why our country is falling apart, with the money of many of them buying it away from us. Mit Romney was so evident of a mental problem, but he was rich and powerful so he went far before he took over control. Sarah was a perfect match for John McCain.He'd pull in the military and she would get the horny old guys!

A nice replacement for "White Trash in the Snow"! Both a learning expedition!


Anonymous said...

Oh, Allison, I was so thrilled when I saw you quoted from the Sociopath Next Door! :D I bought that as a senior in high school and have loved reading and re-reading it in the decade since. To make the definition clearer for some people, sociopathy was once called "moral insanity."
Not only do sociopaths occur with 3-5% of the US population, but it holds the same percentage worldwide. That's right, folks, you can't just "become" a sociopath from watching American TV or anything that's strictly American. Nature trumps Nurture this time.
Something that's even more glaring about Palin is this additional checklist...

Other Related Qualities:

*Do not perceive anything is wrong with them
*Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
*Conventional appearance
*Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
*Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
*Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
*Incapable of real human attachment to another
*Unable to feel remorse or guilt
*Extreme narcissism and grandiose
*May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

now tell me that when you read that last one the hair didn't stand up on the back of your neck recalling Palin wanting to be President.....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @8:18
The liberal ones in DC are trying to fight for the rights of gays, lesbians, transgendered, and bisexuals to be treated as the human beings they are.
The :hateful" comments toward business owners that you mentioned, I'll assume you're referring to the "I didn't build it" BS that was taken out of context. Please do yourself a favor and read the entirety of the quote. It referred to how as children we are inspired, taught, and given help by our fellow man. NO man is an island, thus everything you accomplish in this life was not soley your doing, but the culmination of years of people pushing you, helping you-- human interactions that have made you the success you are. THAT is not an insult, it is an accurate portrayal of how people grow and learn.
Additionally--- It's easy to call Biden on his history confusions when the local news is the one pointing it out to you. A large portion of the country is sadly ignorant of a lot of history (because if you don't use it, you lose it). I still have a large respect for VP Biden because he has accomplished far more than me in his life. He works tirelessly for those who are still oppressed in today's society.
how can I respect VP Biden despite several blunders and not say the same of Sarah Palin? I can name all the magazines and newspapers and news websites I read. I know the tale of Paul Revere. I know North Korea is not South Korea. And I know Africa is a continent.
There's a difference between having the occasional mixup and being completely ignorant of a 2nd-grader's understanding of history.

jkarov said...

I have a relative who has been a family terror since the age of 10.

She's constantly causing trouble, and has to have drama surrounding her or she doesn't feel normal

She's broken the law many times, and recently had a court case due to her liasion with a boy friend that ended badly.

She's abusive to anyone around her, which caused her marriage to fail, as I knew it would the day she married the guy.

She has gone into serious debt, and I have no idea how she's able to pay her mortgage. I do know that she's way behind on bills, and has no problem just dismissing the 10's of thousands she owes for medical and other debts.

My heart goes out to my 13 year old niece, but anyone who gets involved in her life eventually ends up being abused and screamed at, and leaves her.

She reminds me a lot of Sarah Palin, a consummate liar, a hopelessly narcissistic and egocentric example of the sociopath.

Palin's latest crass joke about her "having the rack" is just a perfect example of seeking the spotlight while parading her false breasts for the world, as though she was still 20 years old

When a 50 year old granny goes out in public looking like this picture, you must know something is seriously wrong.

Allison said...

Anon @ 6:$6 You are so right. The American press should have been all over this!

The Viet Nam war could have ended in Oct. 1968. But Richard Nixon wanted so badly to be elected he sent a campaign worker to the South Vietnamese embassy to derail the peace talks.

The blood of 22000 Americans soaked into Asian soil because Nixon wanted so badly to enter a room to the sounds of "Hail to the Chief."

Thanks for posting,


Allison said...

Mrs G ! The first-hand account I'm preparing for my next post is about someone who claims to be Born Again. It's one of the masks a sociopath might wear. Sarah's a prime example.

And Mitt, oh yes, Mitt came across as someone trying to appear to feel the things the rest of us genuinely feel. Sociopathic behavior 101.

I hope you will share more of your experiences and observations as we travel this road together.


Allison said...

Anon @ 9:32 Thank you for posting the additional checklist ! It's so very Sarah, isn't it?

As this series of posts evolves I plan to give examples of each of the symptomatic and related traits. Finding examples from Sarah's life will be easy. The only challenge will be deciding where to stop.

Please feel free to share from this book or other sources as much and as often as you want. These are very welcome additions to the conversation.


Allison said...

Hello jkarov,

You have my understanding any sympathy. It's very difficult to have a sociopath in your family and they sure can begin early to stink up your life. There is nothing you can to do get them help. They cannot be cured. And your own best efforts to help are fruitless. I know. Believe me, I know.

I'm going to post about next week about a family member. She is a bit older than yours, I think, and has made different choices than yours. But it's no prettier an outcome.

Posting examples like yours will help people see how real this problem is and how common it is. If you ever want to contact me by email, it is:

Good luck to you in helping that young teen deal with a parent who is sociopathic.


Anonymous said...

Allison, I am so excited about this. Will be 74 in a week, and as they say, "Lot of water has gone over the damn" in the meantime. Living is learning and learning helps us cope with our understanding of each other. God helps those who help themselves. When I was 19, I was in a head-on accident that compressed 2 vertebrae in half. No feeling below my waste. Was in the back seat and thrown into the windshield and snapped back. When I was 7 I had polio and my right side was paralyzed. They told my mother I would never walk again without braces. I was measured for them. My mother said "she will walk again, don't order them yet! For many years, she worked with me and made me do the exercises 4 times a day. Each day I got stronger, but I hated doing it. I never wore braces but had to have a tendon transplant in my hand at age 10 so I could write with a pencil and hold a glass to drink. She said, "God isn't going to wave a magic wand over me and all will be normal again, but he will give you the strength to do this." I lost my mom when I was 15, so when I broke my back she wasn't there to encourage me. I asked God to give me the strength to do this on my own. That is my faith. We have to help each other. Every time I turn the key in the car I say a little prayer.. "Please make this a safe trip!" God isn't going to guide my car but it makes me aware to drive defensively and not day dream. God helps those, who help themselves and open doors to those who are educated and can do the task. I certainly don't want a doctor operating on me who isn't educated and expect God to do it for him! Sarah Palin has not studied history, political science or humanities to even know how to dress appropriately or use the English language. It wasn't hard to see she could not be a leader or care for anyone but her own ego. She is a fraud. Yet people worship her.

This is going to be fun. How to take off the rose-colored glasses and see people for who they are. How to deal with people who think guns make us strong. Who has the right to take lives in schools, malls, theaters or on the battlefields? Why can't these "Christians" understand the 10 commandments? Our Constitution? Common sense?



B said...

Perhaps more related to his being a hypocrite than sociopath, but I am waiting for Texas Senator Ted Cruz to speak about, to care about the murders of district attorneys in Kaufman County, TX. Being a "good guy with a gun" did not protect the latest victim and his wife from an assault weapon. Texas becomes more like Mexico, with gang and cartel violence, and Cruz does nothing but feed his ego and insult his elders.

Anonymous said...

While the Sociopath Next Door has some useful things to say, I am overall dubious about the conclusions. Alison, that 4% number should really be 2%. The author ADDED the prevalence in the male population (3%) and the prevalence in the female population (1%) to get 4%. That's just dumb math!

Plus, friends of mine who are psychologists have told me that the author takes examples of characteristics of other mental health issues that overlap with sociopathy to bolster her case. Admittedly, these people spend their lives parsing the fine degrees of mental illness, but more than one of them has said that there is unnecessary fearmongering in this book.

That said, kudos for starting the conversation - just be careful with your sources!

Allison said...

Anon@9:25 AM. Very interesting comments - things a sociopath would say. No, I'm not joking. A sociopath with no friend in the world might think the rest of us actually have some set of "friends who are psychologists" with whom we discuss the validity of research done by PhDs studying personality disorders. And a sociopath with a grandiose sense of self might call the conclusions of a doctor with years of research "dumb" And expect people tbuthelezi their opinion just because they presented it. A sociopath will lie when stating their "facts". Sociopaths give compliments - kudos to you for having mastered that. On the Internet a sociopath can claim to be anything. If you are a sociopath and you participate in discussions on Palin themed blogs, you might claim many things ( I'm a social worker, I had body issues as a teenager, I have friends in Alaska).

For serios readers, The Sociopath Nextdoor is indexed. References to supporting research are documented. Anyone so inclined can trace the works and finding of the set of professionals whose work is sited by Dr Stout. Peer reviews find it well presented and solid. It is not new information, it has stood the test of time. What what posted by Anonymous is not a quote.

Anon, if i am incorrect, give the page number and quote Dr Stout and I will check it out.

Allison said...

Tebuhelezi is phone typing for " to believe ". And I know how to spell serious . At least that one came out readable! Please overlook my thumb clumsiness.

Duncan said...


I'm no psychologist, I don't even play one on TV, but I read "People Of The Lie" by Scott Peck. That there is evil in this world made sense to me, and some people seem better than most of us to use it to their advantage.

Anonymous said...

I am Anonymous at 9:25 AM.

JeezoPetes. I did not call Dr. Stout's research dumb. I called her math dumb. When someone makes dumb math mistakes, it makes me wonder about what else s/he is saying. That is because I work with statistics as part of my professional duties. I am not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV.

As someone who is not a psychologist, then, I talked to friends of mine who are. I happen to work in an office building with three counseling practices in it. Of course, this is all just over the internet, so you can't verify anything of what I say (as you have pointed out). Yet I have still managed to become friends with these people who work in the same building I do, and sometimes we even eat lunch together. We have, in fact, talked about Sarah Palin for several years now. So I asked them about this book, being as how they are psychologists and all and I am not.

You can believe me or not. I was just trying to be helpful. I would love to have your new series be so solid that nobody can poke holes in it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anon at 9:25 AM again. If it was your math that got the prevalence of sociopaths in the population as 4% and not Dr. Stout's, then please fix it.

Anonymous said...

Think of me as a friendly reporter who has come into some information. I hope that John Tiemessen is reading this. My first question is why does John Tiemessen's personal cell phone number appear in Shailey Tripp's cell phone records 6 times each call lasting more than 30 seconds as long as 7 minutes from 2008-2010? Why does Todd Palin's phone number appear in Shailey Tripp's phone records 12 times each call more than 2 minutes? What is the explanation Palin family or Tiemessen? Will you also make a comment on the book Boys Will Be Boys by Bottoms & Tripp? What do you say on the medical records from the All About You Spa that clearly shows that Shailey Tripp gave both Sarah Palin and Todd Palin massages in Feb and March of 2008? Why does the DMV show Tripp lic plates originally issued to Todd Palin in March of 2008? Please Mr. Tiemessen answer these questions. Perhaps this should be printed and shown to Judge Burgess. If you need proof of any of this all Judge Birgess has to do is order a supenoas and look for himself.Final question why has Tiemessen, the Palins, or Officer Padgett not sued Shailey Tripp for defamation, slander, or lies in her book Boys Will Be Boys?

Heather said...

Hi Allison! I was wondering if you could answer a question about your blog! I'm Heather and my email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

Brook said...