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Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade: Make Us Believe that Evil Comes from Others Part 1

Silvia Cattori

After reading the book Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes by Andrzej Łobaczewski, I wished to interview the author. However, given that he was sick, he was unable to respond to my questions except in the shortest way, a single paragraph. Fortunately, I was able to interview Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See, editors of the book who discussed the questions with him via telephone and were thus able to speak on his behalf.

I think everyone should read this book because it provides the keys necessary for understanding events that we often can't comprehend. The book describes the origins of "Evil", its true nature, and illustrates how it spreads throughout society.

Mr. Łobaczewski spent years observing those in power whose actions were the incarnation of evil, people described in psychological terms as anti-social, psychopaths, or sociopaths.

Silvia Cattori: Here is what a Swiss psychiatrist said to me about the book Political Ponerology:

I have never read anywhere else the things Łobaczewski speaks about. No other book has treated the subject in this way. It was immediately useful for me in my work. The things he affirms about perverse/pathological behaviour - in conflicts in business as well as in the political sphere where we see more and more conflicts and more and more people of this type - immediately helped me to better understand, for example, the functioning of these individuals who create conflicts in their work and who, wherever they go, pollute the atmosphere.

Why did he choose a title that is so hermetic, Political Ponerology, for a book that should interest not only psychologists and psychiatrists but everyone?

Laura: First of all, let me say that a very strong emotional bond exists between us and Dr. Łobaczewski and we have communicated with him regarding this interview. He is very elderly and his health has been very poor for the past year or so and he regrets that he is not able to respond personally; he made an attempt, but he is presently not even strong enough to write more than the briefest answers to written questions. Even then, after a few minutes of concentration, he is exhausted and his focus wanders. We very much want to protect his health and well-being, but we also wanted to satisfy the request for responses to important issues. Andrzej pointed out to me on the phone that he has full confidence in our understanding of the subject. He repeated that, as he said when he wrote to us, he was looking for someone who was going in the same direction, thinking the same way, that he could hand his work on to - more or less pass the torch, and of all the work had been passed to him by others. He spent years looking for someone and it was our work that met the criteria.

Having said that, let me try to answer your question: Why did Łobaczewski choose that title? The first thing is that the work was originally a series of documents, technical and academic, originating from various sources. As Łobaczewski explains in his introduction, very little of the work is original to him, he is just the compiler. Academics tend to choose titles for their papers that are phrased in academic terminology, and scientists consider it their prerogative to make up new terms to describe their discoveries, (such as physicists coming up with words like quarks, muons, leptons, and so on), so in that sense, the title is entirely understandable. The term, "ponerology" is an obscure theological term that means the study of evil. Andrzej knew this, and decided to reclaim and rehabilitate this word for scientific use since, as it happens, our science really doesn't have a word for the study of "evil," per se. We need one.

Henry: When Łobaczewski sent us the manuscript for his book, we were stunned. We had been preoccupied with the question of why, no matter how much good will there is in the world, there is so much war, suffering and injustice. It doesn't seem to matter what plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. And it has been that way for thousands of years, repeating over and over again.

We had also been researching the question of psychopathy for several years, and had published many articles on the subject on our web sites. We had also transcribed an electronic edition for research of the seminal work on psychopathy by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity, with the permission of the copyright holders because it had gone out of print. It is such an important and seminal text that we made it freely available for download. So we had a good grounding in the question and had some inkling that the question of psychopathy and the dire situation we are facing on the planet were related.

Laura: Let me add that the reason we had been researching psychopathy was, as mentioned above, because we had encountered the phenomenon first hand. We were engaged in working with groups of people and the phenomena that Ponerology addresses in terms of groups and how they are corrupted by pathological deviants insinuating themselves into a group under the guise of normality, was very familiar to us on a small social scale. We had observed it and dealt with it time and again, though in the early days, we were just flying by the seat of our pants. We knew that something strange was going on, we just did not have labels and categories for it. We found some of those labels and categories in texts about psychopathology, but it still did not address the social dynamic.

Henry: But Political Ponerology presents the subject in a radically different way from other texts about psychopathy, suggesting that the influence of psychopaths and other deviants isn't just one of many influences working on society, but, under the appropriate circumstances, can be the primary influence that shapes the way we live, what we think, and how we judge what is going on around us. When you understand the true nature of that influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless - they literally have no conscience.

When you come to understand that the reins of political and economic power are in the hands of people who have no conscience, who have no capacity for empathy, it opens up a completely new way of looking at what we call "evil". Evil is no longer only a moral issue; it can now be analyzed and understood scientifically.

Laura: With Łobaczewski, the word "Ponerology" has been reclaimed from its religious connotations where it never did society as a whole much good, and is the science of evil, of understanding its origins scientifically, and how it can infect individuals and societies like a disease.

When psychopaths are the policy makers in government and the CEOs of big business, the way they think and reason - their 'morality' - becomes the common culture and 'morality' of the population over which they preside. When this happens, the mind of the population is infected in the way a pathogen infects a physical body. The only way to protect ourselves against this pathological thinking is to inoculate ourselves against it, and that is done by learning as much as possible about the nature of psychopathy and its influence on us. Essentially, this particular 'disease' thrives in an environment where its very existence is denied, and this denial is planned and deliberate.

While the title of the book may seem hermetic, it must be understood in the context of the great difficulty Andrej had in getting his work published at all. The first two manuscripts were lost, as he describes in his preface. One was burned minutes before the arrival of the police in a raid on his home, and the second was sent to the Vatican via an intermediary, never to be seen again. The third version, the one published by Red Pill Press, was written while Andrzej was living in the US during the Reagan years. Zbigniew Brzeszinki had offered to help him find a publisher, but after several months, it became clear that he was at best doing nothing and at worst actively working to ensure it never got published. So the manuscript sat in a drawer for over twenty years. It was written for a professional audience and the title was chosen in that context. This is also the reason that the text itself is very dense, and the title accurately reflects that it was not written for the layperson. It was written for professionals and in an academic style reflecting his background.

We are currently working on a more popular version of his ideas.

SC: Łobaczewski has studied these people not from a political point of view, but from a psychological point of view. He has managed to understand how it happens that mad people, ideologues, and repressive powers, in spite of their inhumanity, can obtain the support of large populations. Does not everyone have a perverse/pathological basis, periods when they pass through a perverse/pathological life?

Henry: First of all, it needs to be said that "mad people" don't need the support of large populations, only a powerful minority that can both "drive" the population and control it. Look at the polls in the United States. Bush has been hovering around 30% popularity for years - and that is the population as a whole. But because he is backed by a very powerful minority, the people who own the media, the arms industry and their military supporters, the oil companies, among others, popular discontent doesn't matter. And as long as Bush's politics don't overtly affect the ordinary American negatively, they don't care enough to do anything about it.

Laura: In the U.S. - and elsewhere in the world - even the most oppressed and unfairly treated people are easily controlled by fear, by threats to their affordable materialism: entertainment, sports, gambling, so on. Even the failure of schools, medical care, social safety nets, do not drive people to really question what is going on. It is, as Aldous Huxley wrote, a scientific dictatorship: bread and circuses. In short, most Americans are aware of their oppression, and express this in polls, but those in power have successfully drugged them with a plethora of distractions - fear and pleasure - sufficient to keep them under control.

Henry: There is the carrot and the stick. As long as people can continue living in the illusion, they will do so. When the illusion starts to crack, then the stick comes in.

Laura: People are afraid of making waves for fear of losing what they have, of losing their peace, of having to exert effort to resist. After all, it does take all their time to keep the illusion going, they must slave daily to keep the SUV from being repossessed, and they want to have time for the football game on Saturday.

Henry: They also figure that Bush only has a couple of years left anyway. The system will take care of itself. Łobaczewski's book shows us why this is an extremely naïve way of thinking. The system that is in place is a pathological system that is at odds in a very profound way with the being or nature of most people. People of conscience are being ruled by people with no conscience. This fact is the primary injustice and is the basis for the other ills of society.

Laura: For many years this system has been covert because there were still people in high positions with conscience, but over time, they have all been replaced or disposed of in one way or another, and now the pathology of the system is out in the open, but nobody cares. If you look back over the history of the past fifty years or so, you will find that nearly every public figure who has died tragically was one who had conscience, concern for people, and influence enough to make waves against the pathological types.

Henry: The second part of your question is very important, because it is this idea that we are all somehow perverse or pathological in some ways, that we all have a shadow side as Jung put it, that serves as a major prop to the pathocratic system and makes it possible for psychopaths to hide in the general population. We have been convinced that we are all just animals and that each of us is capable of becoming a Hitler or a Bush or a Mengele, given the right circumstances. We buy into this because we have all done things in our lives for which we are ashamed, for which we feel a sense of remorse. We know those thoughts that come to us in moments of heated emotion, thoughts we wouldn't want anyone else to know or to hear. We sense that we do have this shadow side, a part of ourselves of which we aren't proud. Because we feel this sense of shame and remorse about this aspect of ourselves, we project onto others that they have the same capacity. This projection is where we make the fatal mistake.

There are two issues this raises. First, there is a world of difference between someone who, in the heat of an argument with a significant other, for example, loses control and physically or psychologically abuses that person, and someone who coldly, with calculation and forethought, carries out the same thing. The acts are wrong in both cases. I am not trying to diminish the abuse done in a moment of emotion. But that same person, who loses control momentarily, would be unable to think through and coldly plan out the same act. Something inside of him or her would recoil. In the psychopath, that voice of conscience does not exist. Psychopaths are capable of plotting out the genocide of a people, such as the Palestinians; people of conscience are not. One person may be killed in a heated argument. Many thousands can die from cold calculation.

Laura: One way of understanding this is that studies show that psychopaths not only have higher rates of violent crime, they commit different types of violent crimes than non-psychopaths. One study showed that two thirds of the victims of psychopaths were male strangers while two thirds of the victims of non-psychopaths were female family members or acquaintances - crimes of passion. Normal people can commit acts of violence while in states of extreme emotional arousal, but psychopaths cold-bloodedly select their victims for revenge or retribution or to achieve some end. That is to say that psychopathic violence is instrumental, a means to an end, predatory.

Henry: Secondly, in a society dominated by pathological values, if one can call them that, the existence of a small group of conscienceless people promoting a culture of greed and selfishness creates an environment where the pathological becomes the norm. In a society, such as the United States today, where the president can lie with impunity on matters of life and death, a pathological environment is created where lying becomes acceptable. Violence is acceptable. Greed is acceptable. It is part and parcel of the ideology of the American Dream, that anyone can be a success no matter who you have to hurt to do it. And, it is in what they must do to actually succeed that the seeds of pathology are sown. In that environment, people of conscience who are weak and easily influenced take on the characteristics of the pathological in order to survive and succeed. They see that their leaders lie and cheat, and they figure that if they want to get ahead, then they can lie and cheat as well.

Laura: I call it "Official Culture." Linda Mealey of the Department of Psychology at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, proposes that a competitive society - capitalism, for example - is one where psychopathy is adaptive and likely to increase.

Psychopathy is an adaptive life strategy that is extremely successful in American society, and thus has increased in the population. What is more, as a consequence of a society that is adaptive for psychopathy, many individuals who are NOT genetic psychopaths have similarly adapted, becoming "effective" psychopaths, or "secondary sociopaths." In other words, in a world of psychopaths, those who are not genetic psychopaths, are induced to behave like psychopaths simply to survive. When the rules are set up to make a society "adaptive" to psychopathy, it makes psychopaths of everyone.

Henry: Were that pathological influence removed from society by putting psychopaths into quarantine, by educating people of conscience on the signs of pathology, of what to look for and how to deal with manipulation, by changing the systems created by psychopaths; if through such methods we were able to remove this ponerogenic influence, then the other pole, that of conscience, would be the more influential of the two, and people would gravitate towards altruism and truth rather than selfishness and lies.

If we were able to remove the pathological influence, we might find that our conceptions of "human nature" are wrong and are weighted wrongly because we accept those who are genetically without conscience as "human". Remove them and their acts from the data set, remove their influence from society as a whole, and the higher qualities of human nature capable of conscience might find room for expression in ways that we have never dreamed possible.

SC: How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people? Can you give us the portrait of a true psychopath? Which of their faculties have problems?

Laura: The simplest, clearest and truest portrait of the psychopath is given in the titles of three seminal works on the subject: Without Conscience by Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, and Snakes in Suits by Hare and Paul Babiak. A psychopath is exactly that: conscienceless. The most important thing to remember is that this is hidden from view behind a mask of normality that is often so convincing that even experts are deceived and, as a result, they become the Snakes in Suits that control our world. That's the short answer.

Henry: Popular culture sees psychopaths as characters such as Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs, that is, as serial killers. However, while a certain number of psychopaths are criminals and have had run-ins with the law and some are, in fact, serial killers, there are a great number of them that never fall afoul of the law. These are the smarter ones, and they are the ones that are the most dangerous because they have found ways of working the system to their advantage.

There are a number of traits that we find in psychopaths: An obvious trait is the complete lack of conscience. They lack any sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey. They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their 'problems' or their mistakes. Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate. They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not tell anyone about what they have done. So another trait - and a very important one - is their ability to control the flow of information.

They are also incapable of deep emotions. In fact, when Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an immediate emotional reaction.

Our whole emotional life is a mystery to them, while at the same time providing a tremendous tool for them to manipulate us. Think of those moments when we are strongly affected by our emotions and how our ability to think is impaired. Now imagine that you were able to feign such emotion, remaining cool and calculating, while the person you were exchanging with was really trapped in an emotional cauldron. You could use tears or shouting to get what you wanted, while your victim was driven to despair by the emotions they were living.

They also seem to have no real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires. Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for the rush of adrenaline.

Another trait of the psychopath is what Łobaczewski calls their "special psychological knowledge" of normal people. They have studied us. They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us. But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us. When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some sort of spell over us. It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter what they were doing.

Many of the books written in English on psychopathy talk about psychopaths as a group which share a common constellation of traits. The most widely used scale for measuring psychopathy was developed by Dr Hare. It is the PCL-R. It lists twenty traits that are found in the personality. If the trait is found sometimes, then it is given a 1; if the trait is prominent in the personality, then it is given a 2. The highest total then is 40. People who have more than 30 on the PCL-R scale are considered as psychopaths.

But what Łobaczewski has done is to go further and give a taxonomy of different types of psychopaths and other pathological types, and he shows how their deviations work together to form a pathological system. He has brought out some work from psychologists in Europe that were lost during the years of communism.

Laura: Diagnosis is a contentious issue ; there is a controversy that needs to be explained in order to understand the possibilities of detection. [1]

Łobaczewski discusses the fact that in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, the psychological sciences were co-opted to support totalitarian regimes and that this was done by psychopaths in power who then set about destroying any possibility of accurate information about the condition being widely propagated. He points out that any regime that is composed primarily of pathological deviants cannot allow the science of psychology to develop and flourish freely because the result would be that the regime itself would be diagnosed as pathological thus revealing "the man behind the curtain."

Based on first hand observations of the phenomenon in question, Łobaczewski states that the repression of knowledge is undertaken in the typical manner of the psychopath: covertly and behind a "Mask of Sanity." In order to be able to control the psychological sciences, one must know or be able to sense what is going on and which fragments of psychopathology are most dangerous. A pathological political regime locates those individuals in the field who are psychopaths, (usually very mediocre scientists), facilitates their academic studies and degrees and the obtaining of key positions with supervisory capacity over scientific and cultural organizations. They are then in position to knock down more talented persons, governed both by self-interest and that typical jealousy which characterizes a psychopath's attitude toward normal people. They are the ones monitoring scientific papers for their "proper ideology" and attempting to ensure that a good specialist will be denied the scientific literature he needs.

The fact is that, over the past 50 years, the concept of psychopathy has been narrowed sharply and now refers to a specific personality disorder though there have been attempts to do away with the classification entirely, switching to "Antisocial Personality Disorder" which can embrace a wide variety of behaviors without necessarily requiring the clinical diagnosis of psychopathy. Robert Hare insists that it is important to understand that psychopathy is not synonymous with criminality or violence; not all psychopaths engage in violence and criminal behavior. At the same time, not all violent persons or criminals are psychopaths.

According to Robert Hare et al, Cleckley, Łobaczewski, and many other experts in psychopathy, a diagnosis of psychopathy cannot be made on the basis of visible behavioral symptoms to the exclusion of interpersonal and affective symptoms because such a procedure essentially makes psychopaths of many people who are simply injured by life or society and allows the true psychopaths who have a well-constructed "mask of sanity" to escape detection. Based on a growing body of literature, many (or most) psychopaths grow up in stable, well-to-do families, and become white collar criminals who, because of money and position, never have their private destructive behaviors exposed to public view and repeatedly avoid contact with the justice system.

Now, getting down to diagnosis and/or detection specifically: There are a number of theories on the The Etiology of Psychopathy such as Psychopathy as an adaptive strategy, as a variant of normal personality, a brain dysfunction, an expression of attachment or pathology in early childhood, a learning disorder, and so on. There is very little empirical evidence to support the idea that the true psychopath is the result of an abused childhood, and much empirical evidence to support that it is genetic. The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of being able to detect even the most devious psychopath.

As Henry has mentioned, in a study of reaction times to various words, emotional, neutral, pseudo words, it was noted that the Event-Related brain Potentials (ERP) in lexical decision tasks among non-criminals indicate that responses to both positive and negative words are more accurate and faster than are those to neutral words. In the brains of these subjects, the central and parietal sites indicated early and late ERP components in respect of emotional words. The late components of the ERP were thought to indicate continued processing of the word.

In this same study, non-psychopathic criminals also demonstrated sensitivity to the emotion laden words. The psychopaths, however, failed to show any reaction time or ERP differences between neutral and emotional words. More than that, the morphology of their ERPs was strikingly different from that of non-psychopaths. The late component of the ERP that was long and large in non-psychopaths was small and brief in psychopaths. It is thought that this reflects the fact that psychopaths make lexical decisions and process information in a shallow way. This is supported by recent brain-imaging studies which show that psychopathic substance abusers have less cerebral activity during performance of a lexical decision task than non-psychopathic substance abusers.

Hare and others have also discovered that the ERP anomalies of psychopaths are not specific to affective language but also include abstract language. Another curious finding noted in two separate studies was an unusually large negative wave that swept over the frontal areas of the brain. A tentative interpretation of this is that it is a reflection of a profound cognitive and affective processing anomaly.

Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans. Psychopaths exhibit unusual inter-hemispheric distribution of processing resources, have difficulty in appreciating the subtle meanings and nuances of language such as proverbs, metaphors, and so forth, have poor olfactory discrimination, possibly because of orbito-frontal dysfunction, and may have what appears to be a sub-clinical form of thought disorder characterized by a lack of cohesion and coherence in speech. All of these cognitive and affective anomalies cannot be explained by any of the other models of psychopathy, and they can be detected with brain scans.

The latter issue: the thought disorder problem, is something that we have been working on, trying to find some general rules so that the average person can make personal assessments after applying some covert tests during discussions with anyone they may suspect has some reason to deceive or manipulate them.

But this is a loaded issue. As Łobaczewski points out, if a psychopath considers himself normal, which is of course significantly easier if he possesses authority, then he would consider a normal person different and therefore abnormal. A normal person's actions and reactions, his ideas and moral criteria, strike psychopaths as abnormal. A normal person strikes a psychopath as a naive, smart-alecky believer in barely comprehensible theories about love and honor and conscience; calling him "crazy" is not all that far away.That explains why pathological governments always have considered dissidents as "mentally abnormal".

The legal system is not set up to deal with this because, of course, the legal system is often a creation of pathological individuals, or at least administered by them. Well - thought out legislation should require scientific testing of individuals whose claims that someone else is psychologically abnormal are too insistent or too doubtfully founded.

On the other hand, any pathological social or ruling system in which psychiatry is used for political reasons presents additional problems. Any person rebelling against a governmental system, which strikes him as foreign and immoral, can easily be designated by the representatives of said government as "mentally abnormal", someone who has a "personality disorder" and who should submit to psychiatric treatment and there are plenty of ways for them to gain control of the testing system. A scientifically and morally degenerate psychiatrist can be found for this.

So, this is a thorny issue.

SC: What are some of the different types identified by Łobaczewski?

Henry: As with most researchers, he makes an initial distinction between inherited deviations and acquired deviations, that is, those who are born with the pathology and those who become pathological because of injuries to brain tissue or traumas when young. Injury to brain tissue can leave scars that then change the individual's ability to perceive and to feel. Those sections of the brain meant to handle those functions can't do it, so the data is rerouted to other areas that were meant for other tasks. He calls those whose characters evolve in distorted ways due to injuries or trauma characteropaths. He then lists several forms of characteropathies: the paranoid characteropath (he cites Lenin as an example); frontal characteropathy, a deviation due to injuries in the frontal areas of the cerebral cortex (Stalin is an example of this type), drug-induced characteropthy, caused by the use of drugs that damage the central nervous system. Then, there are pathogen (disease) induced characteropaths (he suggests that Franklin D. Roosevelt may have suffered from this disorder), as well as certain people with epilepsy (he cites Caesar and Napoleon).

The inherited disorders are: schizoidia or schizoidal psychopathy, essential psychopathy, asthenic psychopathy, anankastic, hysterical, and skirtoidal psychopathy, and those whom he labels 'jackals', that is, individuals who end up as hired guns or mercenary killers. Łobaczewski speculates that this type is a mix of the other types. To give an idea, I'll just touch on two types.

Schizoidal psychopathy is a deviation that produces people who are hypersensitive and distrustful and disregard the feelings of others. They are attracted to high-sounding ideas, but their impoverished psychological nature severely limits their perceptions and turns their so-called "good intentions" into influences for evil. Their idea of human nature ends up perverting their attempts. As Łobaczewski says the typical expression of their attitude to humanity is expressed in what he calls the "schizoidal declaration": "Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea". How many movements, from fascism to communism on to the neoconservatism we see today are based upon that idea! One could easily imagine this statement coming from Leo Strauss, for example.

Essential psychopaths are the type that is closest to the idea of psychopathy discussed by Cleckley, Hare, Babiak, and others. Łobaczewski makes the frightening remark that "They learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to them. They also become conscious of being different from the world of those other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance, like a para-specific variety."

Think about the ramifications of this statement: They are, to some extent, self-aware as a group even in childhood! Recognizing their fundamental difference from the rest of humanity, their allegiance would be to others of their kind, that is, to other psychopaths. Łobaczewski points out that, in any society in this world, psychopathic individuals often create an active network of common collusion, estranged from the community of normal people to some extent. They are aware of being different. Their world is forever divided into "us and them"; their world with its own laws and customs and that other "foreign world" of normal people that they consider to be full of presumptuous ideas and customs about truth and honor and decency in light of which they know they are condemned morally. Their own twisted sense of honor compels them to cheat and revile non-psychopaths and their values. In contradiction to the ideals of normal people, psychopaths feel breaking promises and agreements is normal behavior. Not only do they covet possessions and power and feel they have the right to them just because they exist and can take them, but they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others; what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor. They also learn very early how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of non-psychopaths, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of achieving their goals.

So now imagine how human beings who are totally in the dark about this can be deceived and manipulated by these individuals if they were in power in different countries, pretending to be loyal to the local populations while at the same time playing up obvious and easily discernable physical differences between groups (such as race, skin colour, religion, etc). Psychologically normal humans would be set against one another on the basis of unimportant differences while the deviants in power, with a fundamental difference from the rest of us, a lack of conscience, an inability to feel for another human being, reaped the benefits and pulled the strings.

I think that pretty accurately describes the situation we are confronted with today.

SC: Can you give us examples that will help us understand more generally the problem?

Henry: Łobaczewski's contribution is his analysis of the way the different types of psychopathic types work together to form a system where people who are clinically pathological have the positions of power and rule over people who are psychologically normal.

Early in the book, Łobaczewski describes his experiences in university where he first encountered the phenomenon. He went into the library to get some books on the question of psychopathy and found to his amazement that they had all been removed! This fact demonstrates a self-awareness of their difference amongst at least some of them, and in the case of Poland under communism, of those in a position of power highly enough placed to get books removed from the university library. Laura said reading that passage made the hair stand up on her neck! The implications of this fact are far-reaching in understanding our world, how it got that way, and what we need to do to change it.

But here are some examples of psychopathic behaviour as reported by other authors:

A mother plays a game of hide and seek with her 4 year old daughter. She is holding a large kitchen knife in her hand. She tells the daughter, I am going to count to one hundred, and if I find you, then I am going to cut off your thumbs. The girl, terrified, hides in her closet, and the mother, knowing that is likely where she will be, lets her stay there, terrified, frightened, traumatized, until the very end. When the mother opens the door, she bends down over her daughter and cuts the skin under one of her thumbs.

A family has two sons. One of them commits suicide using a hunting rifle. The next Christmas, the parents offer the very same gun to their other son as his Christmas gift. When asked about why, they respond, "It was a perfectly good gun."

How does such behaviour fit into a belief system that we all have some divine spark within us or that everyone has a conscience? Can you imagine doing such things to your own children?

Our moralizing doesn't give us any means of treating this sickness. It must be understood for what it is. These people cannot be 'healed'. Imagine that same individual in a position of power and you can explain scandals like Enron. Hare reports on psychopaths who go after the elderly. Say an elderly person has been conned out of his or her life savings - obviously by a psychopath. There are other psychopaths who will contact the victim, claiming to be a lawyer who, for a fee, can get the money back. The victim will then borrow money from a friend or relative and lose that to the shyster lawyer.

Laura: One of the main factors to consider in terms of how a society can be taken over by a group of pathological deviants is that the only limitation is that of the participation of susceptible individuals within that given society. Łobaczewski gives an average figure for the most active deviants of approximately 6% of a given population. Of course, this figure will vary from country to country depending on many variables. Western society has a broad selection of susceptible individuals.

The essential psychopath is at the center of the web. The other psychopathies and characteropathies described by Łobaczewski and others form the first tier of the Pathological Control System and it should be noted that they are far more numerous than the essential psychopaths. So, this group is about 6% of a given population. (1% essential psychopath and up to 5% other psychopathies and characteropathies.)

The next tier of such a system is composed of individuals who were born normal, but are either already warped by long-term exposure to psychopathic material via familial or social influences, or who, through psychic weakness have chosen to meet the demands of psychopathy for their own selfish ends. Numerically, according to Łobaczewski, this group is about 12% of a given population under normal conditions. It is difficult, as Łobaczewski points out, to draw a distinct boundary between these latter types and the genetic deviants without the input of genuine, non-psychopathic, science. At this point, the distinctions can only be descriptive.

So it is that approximately 18% of any given population is active in the creation and imposition of a Pathocracy (or the attempt to create and impose same). The 6% group constitute the Pathocratic nobility and the 12% group forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous.

Once set up, the elitist psychopathic system corrodes the entire social organism, wasting its skills and power. Once a Pathocracy has been established, it follows a certain course and has certain "attractive" powers. In a Pathocracy, the socioeconomic system arises from the social structure which is created by the system of political power, which is a product of the particular elitist world view of pathological deviants. Thus it is that a Pathocracy is more a macrosocial disease process created by human pathogens, and it can come to affect an entire nation to a degree that is equivalent to a cancer metastasizing. And just as the process of cancer in a body follows a characteristic pathodynamic process, so does the macrosocial disease of Pathocracy.

It is impossible to comprehend such a pathological phenomenon using the methods of "normal" people which do not take into account the deviant thought processes of human pathogens. Certainly it could be said that the entire world has been governed by a "covert pathocracy" (or cryptopathocracy) for a very long time. Many researchers suggest that there has always been a "secret government" that operates even though the "out in the open" government is not, technically, a Pathocracy. The suggestion is that psychopaths are technically ALWAYS in the background, even in the cycles of history that are NOT pathocracies (i.e. during "good times" in what Łobaczewski describes as the foundation for a hysteroidal cycle that opens the door to an overt Pathocracy).

If we use the term pathocracy for "secret government rule", then all of history becomes a "pathocracy" and the word loses its meaning, so it is important to note that the term "Pathocracy" is the specific phenomenon that comes as a result of the hedonism of good times, and that it is characterized by 100% of essential psychopaths assuming some type of leadership position, out in the open, as occurred in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia and Eastern Europe. And, I should add, is occurring now.

One cannot really designate the issues that confront us today as "political", using the ordinary names of political ideologies because, as noted above, pathological deviants operate behind a complete mask, by deception and other psychological tricks which they practice with great cunning. If we think or believe that any political group that has such and such a name is heterogeneous with regard to its true nature, we will not be able to identify the causes and properties of the disease. Any ideology will be used to cloak the pathological qualities from the minds of both experts and ordinary people. So, trying to refer to this or that as "left" or "right" or "center" or "socialist", "democratic," "communist," "democrat" or "republican," and so on, will never help us to understand the pathological self-reproduction and its expansionist external influences. As Łobaczewski says, Ignota nulla curatio morbi! No movement will ever succeed that does not factor psychopathy and ponerology into its considerations!

SC: The perverse are those who in the face of problems they have created say, "It is the fault of others. I have nothing to do with it."

Henry: Exactly. One example that comes to mind is of the psychopath cited by Hare who killed his parents and then pleaded for sympathy because he was an orphan!

Nothing is ever their fault. They are never responsible for anything.

Laura: I'd like to explain this phenomenon a bit more. The psychopath is an individual who divides the world into black and white, good and evil, and this division is very rigid. The psychopathic structure is organized around a very simple structure: "feels good, is good / feels bad, is bad." But, just because this structure is rigid, that doesn't mean it is rational or stable! Things are good or bad, but what is good or bad depends on the immediate circumstances, i.e. what the psychopath wants at the moment.

But this is not a "defense mechanism," it is just simply that, for the psychopath, the locus of reality is centered in what "feels good" with no reference to any other human being at all except as objects that can serve this need. You might almost say that the psychological structure of the psychopath is equivalent to a newborn infant, and it never develops, never grows up.

An infant has no internal self other than being at the center of a bundle of neurological inputs and outputs that seek pleasure and reject discomfort. Of course, with a grown up psychopath, there are highly developed neurological circuits that have developed in the process of learning what works to get his needs and demands met.

Under the influence of this internal structure, the psychopath is not able to appreciate the wants or needs of other human beings, the subtle shades of a situation or to tolerate ambiguity. The entire external reality is filtered through - made to conform to - this rigid and primitive internal structure.

When the psychopath is frustrated, what they seem to feel is that everything in the world "out there" is against them and they are, good, long-suffering and only seeking the ideal of love, peace, safety, beauty, warmth and comfort. That is, when a psychopath is confronted with something displeasing or threatening, that object (person, idea, group, whatever), is placed in the "all bad" category because, of course, if the psychopath does not like it, it cannot be good!

Now, here's the kicker: when the evidence mounts that some choice or act of the psychopath created a problem or made a situation worse, this, too, must be denied as part of the self and projected as coming from "out there."

That is, anything that is defined as "bad" is projected onto someone or something else because the internal structure of the psychopath will admit to no wrong, nothing bad, no errors. And keep in mind that this is not because they choose to do that, it is because they cannot do otherwise. That is the way they are made. They are like a cat that enjoys torturing a mouse before eating it. That's just what they do.

Psychopaths are masters of Projective Identification. That is, they project into others everything that is bad (remembering that "bad" changes according to what the psychopath wants), and seek in manipulative ways to induce in that other person what is being projected, and seek to control the other person who is perceived as manifesting those "bad" characteristics. In this way, the psychopath gains enjoyment and feels "in control."

Keep in mind that what the psychopath considers to be good has nothing to do with truth, honor, decency, consideration for others, or any other thing than what the psychopath wants at any given moment. In this way, any violation of the rights of others, any foul, evil deed, can be perpetrated by a psychopath and he will still sleep like a baby (literally) at night because he has done nothing wrong!

George Bush and the Neocons can destroy Iraq and call it "bringing democracy" and actually feel good about it. Israeli psychopaths can steal Palestine, murder Palestinians, and justify it with the Bible and feel good about it. Of course they know they are lying when they lie, but inside, they believe that true good is what makes them feel good and safe in this world. And they know that beings such as they are will be morally condemned and attacked by the majority of other human beings if they do not conceal their drive for what they want behind a mask of some high sounding justification.

SC: Is this to suggest that the modern pathocrats, operating in today's so-called 'information society' are no different than the supporters of Hitler? Except that they are more dangerous because they have more sophisticated tools and are able to use the various means of communication in a more conscious way?

Laura: That sums it up very well.

Henry: The pathocratic system, that is, a government staffed by psychological deviants, will produce similar effects whether it is hidden behind the mask of fascism, communism, or capitalism. The ideology itself is unimportant. It merely serves as a cover and a rallying point for a certain percentage of the population who are needed as a support base. This support group believe the slogans and are unable to see behind the mask. A certain percentage of them will interpret the ideological slogans with the eyes of conscience and believe that the aim is to improve our lot. Therefore we get slogans about the brotherhood of man, or of the exploited, empty phrases about justice and freedom, bringing democracy to Iraq, and so on, while the reality is one of powerlessness, division, and enslavement. As certain individuals who support the ideology come to see the gulf between the ideals and the actions of the leaders or Party, some will leave to be replaced by others.

In the world today where information is controlled by a small number of media outlets, and those media outlets have much in common with the pathological governments, greater numbers of people can be influenced and infected with pathological thinking. An example of this is the famous remark made by Madeleine Albright back in 1996 when she was asked about the 500,000 deaths in Iraq, mostly of children, due to the embargo. She responded that she thought 'It was worth it', that is, those deaths were the necessary price to pay to bring down Saddam. That is unquestionably pathological logic, and yet how many Americans would have heard that response and thought nothing of it? Anyone who, on hearing that statement, was not outraged has been infected with pathological thinking, they have been ponerized. Their thinking has become distorted by the pathological infection.

SC: Are the absence of conscience and insensitivity to suffering what distinguishes psychopaths from normal people?

Henry: That is probably the key point that people need to understand. For years artists, writers, philosophers, and others have attempted to understand how it is that our world is an endless stream of suffering. They have attempted to find moralistic explanations. Łobaczewski spends the first part of his book discussing the futility of this approach, suggesting instead a scientific approach based upon an understanding of evil as a societal disease, as the actions of pathological deviants within a society. Without the ability to empathize with others, these people cannot feel that suffering, any more than a cat feels the suffering of a mouse when it toys with it prior to killing it. Bush can order thousands of American troops into Iraq or Afghanistan where they will be killed or permanently maimed, and where they will kill thousands and destroy an entire country, can sanction the torturing of prisoners, can support the actions of Israel in the Occupied territories or Lebanon, and none of the suffering he is causing is real to him. There is no hardware in these people that can process these emotions. They are incapable at the physiological levels of doing so.

Laura: They don't have the hardware to run that program.

Henry: The only suffering the psychopath knows is when his food is taken away from him, and I am using food in a symbolic sense: that is, when he doesn't get what he wants. That is the depth of their emotional life. Anything else that we would read into them comes from our own imagination projecting back onto them our own internal reality.

And we do it all the time because it is very difficult to really grasp that there are people who do not have the rich inner lives that normal people have.

Laura: Actually, when we project our own inner structure onto the psychopath, we are behaving most psychopathically! We are then in a "black and white" world where the nuances of human existence are not being considered. The fact is, everyone is not created equal in terms of intelligence, talent, physical appearance, and so on. And just as everyone looks different, so are they different in their psychological make-up even if there are certain things that are shared as a species. Łobaczewski points out that it is a universal law of nature that the higher a given species' psychological organization, the greater the psychological differences among individual units. Man is the most highly organized species; hence, these variations between individuals are the greatest. Both qualitatively and quantitatively, psychological differences occur in all structures of the pattern of human personality.

Experience teaches us that psychological differences among people are often the cause of problems. We can overcome these problems only if we accept psychological differences as a law of nature and appreciate their creative value. These differences are a great gift to humanity, enabling human societies to develop their complex structures and to be highly creative at both the individual and collective level. Thanks to psychological variety, the creative potential of any society is many times higher than it could possibly be if our species were psychologically more homogeneous.

The normal human personality is in constant flux, learning, growing, changing. A lifelong evolutionary process is the normal state of affairs. Some political and religious systems attempt to induce excessive stability and homogeneity in our personalities, but this is unhealthy for the individual and society from a psychological point of view.

A society that is properly educated, psychologically, will know about and understand differences, and will also know about the main thing that normal humans have in common: the ability to develop a mature conscience. In this way, differences can be celebrated and the creative potential fully optimized.

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