An article written by Duncan MacMartin, The Way of the Psychopath published by OpEdNews.com, made some interesting claims that I was eager to challenge. Since the ability to “comment” is closed, I will answer it here.
Human beings have been domesticated like cattle over millennia by insidious and ruthless predator-parasites who easily walk among us. Their predatory nature has been largely sanitised and camouflaged by centuries of our begrudging tolerance and cowardly acceptance. Almost all of our great institutional ideas have been adjusted, perverted, corrupted and even radically transformed into environments that greatly favour their ways and tactics.
Human beings have been domesticated like cattle over millennia by insidious and ruthless predator-parasites who easily walk among us. Their predatory nature has been largely sanitised and camouflaged by centuries of our begrudging tolerance and cowardly acceptance. Almost all of our great institutional ideas have been adjusted, perverted, corrupted and even radically transformed into environments that greatly favour their ways and even radically transformed into environments that greatly favour their ways and tactics.
What strikes me at once is the complaint that we are “domesticated like cattle” so much like a complaint a psychopath might make. I guess anyone with spirit would feel disgusted at the tameness of the average citizen, how easily he/she is controlled by the government, the media and the educational system. The article says psychopaths are on the top, running the whole show, something you have often said as well. I’m sure some psychopaths are in the 1% running things but I think the machine which runs “civilization” contains a multiplicity of personalities, just as the 99% has its fair number of psychopaths. Isn’t the “anti-social personality” just a label for those who refuse to play along with their assigned role?
I agree that the 1% are parasitic and that the 99% is a lot like cattle with the exception of a small number who try to lead a revolution. Getting these “cattle” stirred up to do anything besides enrich their masters is what optimists would call “a heavy lift” and pessimists would call “impossible.”
Economics, governance, education, welfare, health, are now little more than facades of their original ideals filled with processes of entrapment, exploitation and frustration of potential that are working solely to empower and enrich the predators who control them.
Now through the focus of a number of researchers, these predators are coming to light and being described as “successful psychopaths” — they are composed of the majority of a 5% of humanity, who have successfully avoided being diagnosed clinically and have not been apprehended during criminal and immoral activities and then institutionalised.
The “ways” of the psychopath are simplistic and become easy to observe when we finally learn to see “the wood for the trees” and we learn that many of our critical social and economic “givens” are in fact evolutionary artefacts of the influences that psychopaths have had on our cultures and societies for millennia.
They have told us that, like domestic cattle, we need their fences (controls) and their oversight (surveillance) to protect us from the wolves (or terrorists) that would come and decimate us and our little ones and we have been told that the world is a terrible hostile place and that life is fraught with adversaries, a self–fulfilling prophecy when societies and cultures are governed by psychopaths. Their measures are in reality to make us defensive, terrorised and so easily influenced and ultimately such fear will intellectually infantilise us, divide us and then herd us like cattle for a more thorough and systematic control and exploitation.
The psychopath is operating cognitively at what Economics Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman called “System1” or fast thinking, this is a cognitive template that is in place in infancy, the processes of which are situated largely within the limbic system, memory based and emotionally controlled. This type of primitive “fast and dirty” thinking when amplified through trial and error experiences is ideal for operating in chaotic and conflict based environments such as on the battlefield or in video games.
Odd to rely on an economist to paint a psychological portrait of a class of people. But, since this article really is more an indictment on our economic system than anything else, it is appropriate. Psychopaths engage in what the economist, “Daniel Kahneman called ‘System1’ or fast thinking, this is a cognitive template that is in place in infancy, the processes of which are situated largely within the limbic system, memory based and emotionally controlled.” So infants are not the innocent and trusting creatures we thought them to be? They are powerful manipulators? Hard to believe Daniel Kahneman really made such a preposterous statement. If so, he really needs to stick to economics and leave the understanding of both infants and psychopaths to those more qualified.
Psychopathic thinking is “primitive ‘fast and dirty’ thinking when amplified through trial and error experiences is ideal for operating in chaotic and conflict based environments such as on the battlefield or in video games.” In other words, it is the thinking of people or animals living in a wild, survival-of-the-fittest situation. Interesting how the article compares most people to cattle, domesticated animals, and psychopaths to wild, undomesticated animals who thrive best in the jungle. Somehow, I don’t see wolves controlling cattle. It would be very clever of them, if they could but beyond the ability of any creature of the jungle.
“System2” thinking or slow thinking, on the other hand, is rational, considerate and logical, so being both analytical and constructive, it takes time. The cognitive processes of “System2” take place largely cortically, in the areas of higher brain function and when fully evolved, utilise those higher cognitive functions acquired only through seeking mutually beneficial relationships with others and the environment. This type of advanced slow and empathetic thinking is ideal for dealing with relationships, creativity and complexity.
“System1” or thinking “intuitively” (more like presumptuously) utilises formulae, recipes, scenarios and scripts for actions memorised and recalled in part from past experiences or mimicked from observing the “successful” actions of others in similar circumstances. As Kahneman points out, it is fraught with impulse, assumption and error. Its ONLY real advantages are for fast reflexive responses in conflict and competitive based survival environments where immediacy is the critical factor.
But somehow, these “cattle” are superior to the wolves in sheep’s clothing that control them. As opposed to psychopaths, their thinking, “‘System2’ thinking or slow thinking, on the other hand, is rational, considerate and logical, so being both analytical and constructive, it takes time. The cognitive processes of ‘System2’ take place largely cortically, in the areas of higher brain function and when fully evolved, utilise those higher cognitive functions acquired only through seeking mutually beneficial relationships with others and the environment.” These highly evolved souls have somehow ceded their power to wolves, or psychopaths. “They have told us that, like domestic cattle, we need their fences (controls) and their oversight (surveillance) to protect us from the wolves (or terrorists) that would come and decimate us and our little ones and we have been told that the world is a terrible hostile place and that life is fraught with adversaries, a self–fulfilling prophecy when societies and cultures are governed by psychopaths.” I quite agree that the way the ruling class rules through fear is contemptible. For this reason, I despise society with it’s sheep-like constituents. I don’t blame psychopaths for the average person’s cowardice. People need to take responsibility for themselves. Until they do, they deserve the inglorious title of “sheeple.”
Psychopaths are not just identified by their lack of empathy and conscience and their ruthless, manipulative, single-minded, narcissistic and opportunistic ways but also by their almost total lack of application of “System2” thinking. This means that they have a severe inability to deal with complexity, the welfare of others, or with any further effects of their actions beyond their immediate self-serving objective!
To understand how psychopaths have morphologically influenced the organs of society and culture we need to be aware of those ways and thinking processes outlined above. It’s not rocket science to come to the conclusion that if Psychopaths want to have the continual advantage and to prevail, they must turn every type of human dealing and interaction into a virtual conflict or competition. And so creating such adversarial systems is simple but such systems are extremely unintelligent, inefficient and run on flawed structures and processes, the true costs of which, unfortunately, are borne by the rest of us and the planet, and rarely by the psychopath.
All of us, at one time or another, probably often, have personally become victims of a psychopath. In the heat of a confrontation by one, it is almost reflexive to take up a “system1” defensive and competitive position and in doing so our empathy and sense of fairness seriously disadvantages us against the “battle” honed deviousness, ruthlessness and opportunism of the psychopath. It is even easier for the psychopath to sow, nurture and take advantage of division among family, friends, communities, committees, cultures and even countries.
The big, corrupting, ancient and perennial issue then becomes: “In a conflict or competition, wouldn’t you rather have a psychopath on your side than against you?” But the end of all such situations is of course not just possible short term “gains” but an inevitable destruction and an environment of on-going conflict, both within and without.
Competition/Conflict is the life’s blood of the psychopath and the ultimate psychological contagion that can only be eradicated through a clarity, understanding and then avoidance of the cyclical processes between psychopathy/sociopathy and competition as a human dynamic. Instead we must choose a different path through the conscious development of empathetic mutuality and the consequential maturation of the “System 2” thinking, creativity and complex thinking that gradually arises from such a choice.
Psychopaths and their constructs (ie corporations, political parties) need to be identified, avoided and isolated in such a manner that they have no further destructive influences over places of control, or critical decision-making. Competition spawns few winners and many losers, in an insidious hierarchy of exploitation. The organs of society, which have been perverted to reflect psychopathic ways and objectives should be rebuilt, eradicating competition and using our empathetically acquired higher intelligence, focussed on mutual benefit with true environmental synergy and creativity as its new core.
To understand the effect of the psychopath fully, we must be aware that the retarded infantile nature of his thinking and behaviour and his incapability of creative endeavour, keeps him in an infantile dependent state. He can only take, or be given what he needs and desires, so he focusses greatly on his infantile skills of manipulating others to meet his needs. He does this in a way that is amplified and sophisticated by many years of trial and error experience at “pushing people’s emotional buttons” using the emotional tactics of seduction, rejection and menace in all their variations.
So are psychopaths like wild animals or infants?
Unfortunately the psychopath’s attributes of control are uniquely successful in divisive competitive environments like politics and economics, where whole populations have been both intellectually and empathetically suppressed in their development through the cradle to the grave application of competition. For most of us, in order to compete, we have been coerced into attempting to apply seriously faulty “system1” thinking to every aspect of our lives, literally “in the heat of battle” and as a result have abandoned our fertile and complex cognitive potentials.
Education has now been perverted to where its major function is to prepare us for employment in very competitive environments under the direction of psychopaths or their processes and so, by default, pedagogy focusses on the simplistic and “quick and dirty” “system1” limbic memory based cognitive template and the competitive tactics of the psychopath. It is further based on the unspoken assumption that working life is about taking instruction from authorities in the form of recipes, formulae, scripts and scenarios, remembering them in detail and then following them accurately to get the result the instructor demanded.
The price we pay for an education based almost entirely on system1 thinking is that we have severely stunted our cognitive potentials to where most of us are unable to conceptualise or build our own matrixes of understanding about any subject and then going on to create integrated maps of reality. Instead we rely on supposed “authorities” like mainstream media, politicians and “accredited sources” to inform us about their values, their worldview and what they deem should be considered important in life. And these authorities are most often controlled by psychopaths.
I maintain that we cannot shed light on psychopathy by examining the pathology of society. Most people are not psychopaths and they sustain the status quo. I also can’t really blame the 1% to letting a bunch of suckers allow themselves to be milked as the cattle that they choose to be.