Dumb Sociopaths

Contrary to a prevailing myth, sociopaths are really no smarter than the average individual”¦probably dumber. Sure, a good one can dupe you, but as I’ve written elswhere, this is no great shakes, as most of us can dupe each other if that’s our goal.

That’s because we enter relationships risking trust and faith in each other, which makes the exploitation of our trust and faith really easy. It takes no genius or particularly smart, crafty person to exploit this trust and faith. It’s as easy to do as it’s wrong.

And so, most sociopaths aren’t really that clever, or ingeniously bright. Most make messes not only of others’ lives, but their own too. Many end up in jail, and those who don’t are often finding trouble in other areas, exercising poor judgement all over the map, squandering friendships, family, and all sorts of meaningful opportunities.

By most standards of a successful life, sociopaths live lives of abject failure, accomplishing little more, at the end of the day, than having produced plenty of havoc and pain. None of this indicates that, as a group, sociopaths are smart.

Sometimes the media sensationalizes the sociopath as the dark, brilliantly predatory monster, especially in classic cases of psychopaths like Ted Bundy. But Ted Bundy wasn’t so smart. In the end, he was nothing but a vicious, sadistic murderer who managed to lure young, naïve girls sufficiently into his proximity to then viciously murder them.

How much of an accomplishment was this? To be able to lure naïve girls near enough to his car to then kidnap and kill them? Otherwise, OJ Simpson style, Bundy was ambushing dormitories at night and butchering innocent, sleeping college kids. Not exactly a genius, or courageous guy, at work here. Just a perverse, murderously violent, cowardly man.

Sure, Bundy was reputedly charming and articulate (video of him bears this out). But this didn’t make him “smart.” He was, clearly, adept at “masking” himself. But again, effective maskers aren’t smart; they’re just good maskers. And nonsociopaths routinely are good maskers.

Good masking, good self-disguising is a type of social skill, and not the purview of sociopaths exclusively. Also, many sociopaths are terrible maskers, just as many nonsociopaths are.

My point is that the “mask” is not an indication of “smartness.” It’s merely the case that some sociopaths, and some nonsociopaths, can mask aspects of themselves and their agendas effectively; but bear in mind, just as many do this very poorly.

In the end, sociopaths, as a group, have a poor track record of living effective lives. Rather, they live disruptive, unsatisfying lives”¦fraught with pathological attitudes and empathic deficits that bring misery to others and, correspondingly, much trouble and, at best, empty satisfaction, to themselves.

Sociopaths simply are not successful people. They may (or may not) skate along under the radar for some stretch of time, but this is not a “game” that smart people play, and that smart people get off on.

Only dumb people play this game. Only really dumb people live this way. Only really really dumb people derive satisfaction, for however long they can swing it, from pulling the wool over others’ eyes.

It’s just no great shakes to do this, and it doesn’t make you smart.

(This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is for convenience’s sake only and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors and attitudes discussed.)


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I haven’t been able to figure out why a 10 year old boy was in the locker room? This is a college. Does anyone know the story?



I haven’t figured that one out, either. But, I probably won’t research it because I don’t want to be terrorized with the facts.


I haven’t researched it much either. I tried a bit, but didn’t find anything so I gave it up. It doesn’t make sense to me. The only thing I can think of is they were doing some kind of summer camp or something? I don’t know…

Ox Drover

Sandusky had a “foundation” to help boys who were without much family, so he had an UNLIMITED SUPPLY OF YOUNG BOYS at his disposal and since he was the chief fund raiser for this foundation, of course he could take boys to his home, or to various places and no one raised an eyebrow.

He apparently picked out several to take various places.

I posted a link from the NY times last night but it has disappeared, don’t know if Donna took it down for some reason or what happened, but it was about the carp going on with the big shot coach Paterno there, he will probably lose his job because though he reported it to administration, NOTHING WAS DONE, and he should have reported it to the cops….yep, it was the “good old boy” situation.

Of course when one of the “good old boys” is caught with his private parts in a bear trap, they throw him to the wolves to protect the organization, but he will probably get his contract bought out. One of our state colleges had a president who was a gambling addict and finagled to get a $300,000 bonus from the board to pay off his gambling debts and it back fired and he ended up getting federally prosecuted and convicted. Nothing happened to the board of directors that okayed it. LOL Then the NEXT guy who was president of that same college too$700,000 “bribe” for letting a contract out to the catering service to provide meals to the dorm students….but HIS CONTRACT GOT BOUGHT OUT when he was let go…to the tune of nearly half a million bucks. Good old boys at work!

Paterno may lose his job but he won’t go “hungry” when he leaves there, what you wanna bet! They will pay him off to keep his mouth shut about all the other things that he knows about but didn’t report.

I’ve been laughing my arse off about Cain denying he knew anything about the pay offs for keeping the women who had accused him of sexual harassment quiet. LOL I would have had some respect for him if he had just ponied up and said, “Yea, I knew about it, but we just paid them off to shut up and not cause trouble.” But he had to try to bluff his way through it with lies and denial. He isn’t any worse than Bill Clinton, he just got caught BEFORE he got to be president. LOL “I did NOT have sex with that woman!” LOL ROTFLMAO

Ox Drover
Ox Drover

YOu know in many cases of child abuse by various “heroes” there was knowledge of their abuse, but for various reasons people either “didn’t believe” it was possible, or if they SAW it and KNEW, they were “shushed” in order to keep their jobs.

In the case of Charles “Jackie” Walls III who abused 1500 kids over a 20 year period in the Boy Scouts, he was “outed” and kicked out of the Scouts several years BEFORE he was actually arrested. Talk about cover up! AND he had “Guts” too to actually go to a national scout Jamboree in Colorado UNDER A FAKE NAME and have his photo taken after he had been kicked out of scouting…..and his father, a judge, an honest man, I knew him well, helped to SQUASH the criminal charges because did not believe his son capable of such a thing…but then Jackie was responsible for one of his victims murdering his parents and sister to cover up the kid having told on Jackie…and when the kid was caught for the murder (as most 15 year olds who kill their families are) the WHOLE truth came out and Jackie was arrested….but so was the kid and the last I knew he was still LIFE for the murder of his family. Jackie has “life without parole” but IF SOMETHING HAD BEEN DONE YEARS EARLIER, 3 people would still be alive and a boy would not be serving prison time for their murder.

I know that Jackie’s father did not believe his son capable of such a thing, I didn’t want to believe my son was capable of what he did either, but the fact is that him helping his son was partly responsible for the death of 3 people. Even though his intentions were good, we must remember that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I know that there are probably those that don’t want to “ruin someone’s life” with an accusation of sexual criminal conduct against them, but the fact is CRIME IS CRIME and if we know about crime we are morally bound to REPORT IT and FOLLOW UP on it…especially CHILD ABUSE. People DIE when it is not reported.



Thanks for the explanation about the “Foundation.” That explains why the boys were so young.

I am not surprised at all that Paterno is retiring and not being fired. He probably wishes he would have retired a long time ago.

Ox Drover

That was an interesting article about him in the NY times….yea, I bet he wishes he’d done a lot of things differently in the past.

I think Constantine’s comment about Sandusky doing his abusing almost IN PUBLIC, added to the thrill of doing it and there being a RISK of getting caught. Kind of like Bill Clinton doing it with his wife outside the door of the room he was in. That extra little THRILL.

Ox Drover

Here’s another article “Paterno might have done what was legally required, ‘but somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child,’ state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a press conference Monday.

He added: ‘I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.”

Read more:

Anytime there is KNOWLEDGE of someone’s abusing a child in any way, and people do nothing, they are as guilty as the perp at least morally if not legally.

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