By | August 2, 2012 7 Comments

An analysis of what society should do with psychopaths

How did early hunter-gatherer societies deal with psychopaths? And how should we deal with them now?

Joe Brewer, author of Cognitive Policy Works, takes a thoughtful look at the problems psychopaths present for society as a whole.

Read: How will the 99% deal with 70 million psychopaths? on

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Thank you for this link, Donna. I read the article, and it made some sense to me.

Since we no longer are hunter-gatherers and can set a spath on an ice floe or eject them out of the societal group, other approaches are required. Accountability, for one. Punitive consequences, for another.

I agree, 100%, that sociopathic behaviors are rewarded, today. Absolutely. “He who dies with the most stuff wins,” seems to be the motto for our worldwide cultures, now. What ever happened to true altruism? It exists, but only in small pockets, and even then a sociopath uses the guise of altruism to make them appear that they have “good will” to humanity, or whatever organization they support.

VERY good article, Donna. Thank you.


And so the debate continues. Among the many things my friends and I discuss at times is what a society can do with its expanding body of knowledge. In the last 5 – 10 years, we’ve made incredible advances with understanding the human brain and the way it works. And sometimes doesn’t work. I’ve also pointed out that if we continue with the advances that we’re making today, we may well look back 10 years from now and wonder how we could possibly have been so primitive back then?

Back when we were growing up through the 50’s and 60’s, I still remember my Father being so frustrated with our Mother’s mental issues over the years that he had actually allowed the doctors to administer a couple of electroshock treatments back in the 60’s before my siblings and I realized it and stopped them. And I suspect that he probably even considered a lobotomy as an option brought up by the experts of the day. By today’s diagnosis, our Mother would have clearly been diagnosed as severely Bipolar or BPD. For me to look back at this now that I’m in my early 60’s, I’m still glad that saner minds prevailed in spite of how severely ill she was. And that’s the power of hindsight.

If you read the piece and the comments that follow, the subject certainly struck a raw nerve for many. And it points out the wide range of opinions that everyone seems to have on the subject. I’ve had some heated debates with all too many people who seem to have interpreted this the way they wanted to read into it. Many who identify themselves with the 99% instantly wanted to hang the 1% because they’re all rich, evil people manipulating the rest of us. But it’s really not what I believe the author was trying to say. I would have to concur that – just like many other fields that tend to appeal to a disproportionately higher percentage of sociopaths than what many studies point out – money and power would naturally attract a very high number of these people. That’s a foregone conclusion. But to smear all wealthy people as sociopaths is both foolish and unjustified.

The writer presented it as an analysis of what society should do with psychopaths (as Donna also did in her introduction). And that leads me to pose some questions not so much for answers right now as to provoke some thought and discussion among those of us who have been affected by these people over the course of our lifetimes. I’m personally not sure if we really have any complete or final answers just yet and jumping to conclusions may well have some unintended consequences. That’s why I started this post on a personal note about my Mother and what looked like science back in the 60’s. I’m certainly happy that we didn’t go the full round of electroshock therapy or consider a lobotomy.

So here’s a question to think about: A very large number of pedophiles are hardwired to re-commit after they’ve been released from serving their time in prison. If we already know this, why would we continue to cite their civil rights and release them after their court-mandated prison terms and put them back into society at large? If we don’t keep them locked up, then what can we do with them?

Then this brings to mind a very thought-provoking science fiction movie (based on the book by Philip K. Dick) The Minority Report. Without giving away the entire story and ending, it’s about a time in the future when a trio of very accurate psychics – the PreCogs – predict murders before they happen, sending PreCrime Police Captain Tom Cruise out to capture and detain the perps BEFORE they commit the crime. It’s an interesting concept with a lot of twists and turns.

So… On to the topic of Sociopaths/Psychopaths. What if we eventually find a way to detect them among us? I’m sure most of you have heard the stories about the young boys who started by killing the neighbors’ cats and dogs before escalating to cold-blooded murder later as adults. So if we already know this will only escalate – just like pedophiles – should we just lock them up before they are likely to commit the crimes? And do we really have to power to do so?

And I’ve also read and heard in various studies that Sociopaths/Psychopaths are incurable. But what if they find a cure in 10 years? Or 20? Could there be anything productive where they could be actually be put to good use for society rather than being locked away or isolated from the rest of us? And who will really get to decide who gets removed from our society?


Since Sociopaths father so many children, and more and more are being born, society is screwed.


We should be so smart…….. as the Inuits were-push them off a cliff to stop the breeding of more of them into our society.


Thedoorisclosed, if we were still hunter-gatherers, I have no doubt that spaths would be dealt with, swiftly and harshly.

The unfortunate truth about sociopaths is that they are a part of the human condition, for whatever reason. Whether they are genetic or environmentally developed, they have been a part of humanity since the dawn of man.

I do wish that we had harsher consequences for what they do. Maybe, that will swing back around, at some point.

Brightest blessings

Jesus Christ,
this person (who wrote the article) has never met a spath. Or he is a spath and is trying to create cog/dis.

Cleckley wrote about someone like this. (page 235 or 252 depending on how you search) In the 1970’s some journalist wrote about the possibility that the “coming of the psychopath” had arrived. The journalist said that possibly, the spath was the New World Man. Cleckley was astounded and disgusted. I think (not sure, can’t remember) that the journalist was writing for Play Boy. It figures.

I could write a book to refute this article. That’s what it would take, but you know what? That book has been written, many times. First, Jesus wrote it. Then, Rene Girard explained it in his many books.

Jesus said, “be in this world, not of it.”

When the Jews spent 40 years in the desert, it was so that they would not see the promised land. They couldn’t, only their offspring could, because they were so indoctrinated by their lifestyles in Egypt, that they could never possibly create a NEW land. IT’S THE PROGRAMMING. Only a generation that had not lived in Egypt could create a new society.

So it is with us. Jesus said that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than it is for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle. That’s because of our programming. We have connected our souls to material wealth and the spaths control that. They are “of this world”.

I could go on and on and on regarding this subject, but the answer is the one we already know: DO NOT PARTICIPATE.

That’s it. It’s that simple and that impossible.

That is what Rene Girard is telling us: our social structure is built on a murder and a lie. Jesus said, that he came to tear down the temple. What they are both saying is that our thinking is wrong and that is what created spaths in the first place.

The author of this article touched on in it when he said:

The global economy we have today is built on a deep history of top-down hierarchies that promote domination and control. There have been plenty of feudal lords, warrior chieftains, and violent dictators throughout the last 6000 years of burgeoning civilization.

Domination and control through the use of SHAME to subvert individual power is the basis of our society. It’s why spaths exist, they are filled with shame — denied shame, narcissism. The entire model is wrong.

To over throw it, we need to reject it. But how do we reject money and power? It can’t happen in this generation. It has to happen in the desert.


Skylar, I think that you’ve touched on something very important, here, with regard to rejecting that which breeds (and, rewards) sociopathy.

Self-sufficiency has gone by the wayside. If you ask a child where hamburger comes from, they’ll answer with the name of a fast-food restaurant or a nearby chain grocery store. Where does bread come from? Same places. Why are we drinking an average of 1 litre of soda, every day (at least, in the U.S.)? Because it takes the place of what we “need” as opposed to the addictive chemicals contained in that plastic bottle.

Money simply buys things and pays for bills. Money can buy the illusion of youth in the forms of bleached teeth, liposuction, and a host of other expensive and, sometimes, quite invasive elective surgeries. Money can by vehicles. Money can buy “things.” And, of course, money can buy sex of any type imaginable (and, unimaginable).

Most people are terrified to toss these things out the window for self-sufficiency, especially in urban settings. And, there are so many simple things that people CAN do (caps are for emphasis, only) to begin separating themselves from The System.

And, no….I’m not talking about joining up with a religious cult and relocating to Central America. I’m not talking about becoming an extreme survivalist. I’m not talking about extremes, at all. I’m talking about simple, everyday things that we can do to separate ourselves from the necessity of copious amounts of money.

Also, active advocacy to cause change is in dire need. Most people don’t want to “get involved” because they’re afraid. They don’t want to risk their status or even friendships by taking a stand on change.

Why is it that there are more abandoned structures in the U.S. than there are homeless people? Why is it that health care, in this nation, is a privilege and not a basic human right? Why is it that one must either be vastly wealthy or poverty-stricken to meet their basic living requirements?

I know that my responses may seem “political,” and, in some measure, they are. But, the first step out of my destitution has to begin with my own feet.

Skylar, we are a society of shame and guilt – shame for not remaining sexy, youthful, and obscenely wealthy, and guilt for failing to attain those false attributes.

Good post, Skylar. Brightest blessings

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