Wednesday, August 10, 2005

No conscience

Sociopaths are people without conscience. Not only that, but they are unable to feel and express love and compassion of any kind. In many cases, our society idolizes them as they seem to be the successful ones, becoming shrewd CEOs, successful politicians and other leaders. They can also become remorseless criminals, even seemingly charming serial killers (Ted Bundy) and such. In the army they make the best soldiers as they will never for a split second question orders to shoot to kill, as destroying a life doesn’t bother them in any way. In non-military world the same lack of guilt makes them seem like ideal people to lead businesses and other organizations, to function as lawyers and in many other professions, as feelings don’t get in their way. Firing one person or fifteen thousand people is equally easy for them. A destroyed life or career is of no concern to them.

Last week, as I was having my usual trouble with my shoulders and neck and couldn’t do much practicing, I read an interesting book on this subject. 'The Sociopath Next Door' was written by a Harvard psychologist, Martha Stout. Many of the case histories reminded me of people from my past and present life, some family members included. Ms. Stout claims that about 4 % of the U.S. population consists of sociopaths; in some other societies, such as Taiwan, the frequency is much lower. That percentage is frightening as it means there are about 11 million of these monsters in the United States, five in a small business or organization of 125. The purpose of the book is to teach a reader to recognize a sociopath and protect oneself from becoming a victim. The book has 13 rules for dealing with these people in everyday life, a most interesting and useful chapter. It also tells in detail how the brain function of a sociopath differs from normal people with a conscience, as a result of fascinating research done all over the world.

Although the book is not intended to be a literary masterpiece, it offers a lot of important information, and makes a normal person aware of this subspieces of the human race. For instance, how many of us would suspect that a sociopath can pretend to have feelings: tears are easier for them to produce than for me and you, even though they are meaningless and meant to trick us. A sociopath may end up marrying but will always think of his/her spouse and children as possessions, like trophies, as love cannot be part of his or her life.

Since early on I have had a different theory on this subject. As I believe in reincarnation, I don't think there are enough human souls to go around, especially today with the rapidly expanding population. Perhaps the person next to me got his from a hyena, a shark or even an insect; it wouldn't surprise me a bit. Not so nice to meet you, Mr. Portuguese Man-of-War.