Media messages that blind us to sociopaths

Last Friday, I was watching ABC World News Tonight. At the end of the program, ABC announced its “Person of the Week” Col. Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space.

Col. Hadfield is famous for his magnificent cover of the classic David Bowie song, Space Oddity, recorded while he was the commander of the International Space Station.

Although the video has 24 million YouTube views, I just saw it for the first time. Hadfield’s Space Oddity is absolutely breathtaking. It’s such a tribute to the capacity of the human race to reach beyond our grounded existence that it brought tears to my eyes.

The video was just one of many Hadfield made from space. He spent 15 months at the International Space Station, from December 2012 through March 2013. While in space, he was a prolific social media user, with a blog on Tumblr and a million Twitter followers.

Hadfield retired after the space station mission and wrote a book called An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. One reviewer wrote, “Hadfield’s story oozes the kind of stereotypical Canadian basic decency and humbleness that we Canucks just eat up.”

Hadfield just came out with another video called An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism.

Person of the Week

Col. Chris Hadfield seems like a man of honesty, integrity and empathy. I’m sure that’s why ABC selected him as the Person of the Week.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield shares his 2015 ‘Guide to Optimism,’ on ABCnews.go.com.

During his interview for the ABC story, Hadfield said:

“Everybody wants a better world for their kids, a little bit of grace, and a chance to lead a good life.”

“Life is all about trying to get myself ready for the things that might happen, so I can appreciate them more.”

“The onus is always on each of us. How am I going to change myself this year? Or what am I going to deliberately learn this year, so I can do a better job? That’s what actually changes the world.”

His words reflect optimism about the human condition. ABC’s treatment of his message is inspiring. Watching the segment, I felt warm and hopeful.

There are exceptions

This type of media story, however, should come with a disclaimer:

Although this message emphasizes the best of humanity, please be advised that there are exceptions. Some people, although they can appear to show love and concern, are primarily interested in exploitation.

Regardless of the warm and fuzzy media messages, millions of sociopaths live among us. These people don’t care about benefiting the human race. They only care about benefiting themselves.

So, contrary to the words of Col. Chris Hadfield,

Not everybody wants a better world for their kids, a little bit of grace, and a chance to lead a good life. Some people want to take everything they can get.

For sociopaths, life is not about trying to get ready for the things that might happen, so they can appreciate them more. Life is about amassing power and control.

From the perspective of a sociopath, your role is to provide the sociopath what he or she wants. Sociopaths see no reason to change themselves. But they will learn, so they can do a better job of exploiting you. If the world changes, their goal is to figure out how to take advantage of it to get even more of what they want.

People with personality disorders are fundamentally different from the rest of us. They have no ability to love. They are motivated only by power and control.

Unfortunately, the media do not talk about them

Scope of the problem

The number of disordered individuals living among us is massive.

Lovefraud uses the word “sociopath” to describe people who live their lives by exploiting others. Clinically, they would be diagnosed as having antisocial, narcissistic, or borderline personality disorder, or as psychopaths.

Experts estimate 1% to 4% of the population have antisocial personality disorder, 2% have borderline personality disorder, and as many as 6% have narcissistic personality disorder.

Add them up, and as many as 12% of the population are disordered. That’s 37 million people in the United States.

But there are no media messages warning us to watch out for these exceptions to the goodness of humanity. Instead, we’re told that we’re all basically the same, everyone has some good inside and we all just want to be loved.

So we are clueless about the human predators living among us. Until we find ourselves targeted and then it’s too late. We will most likely be damaged.


Comment on this article

22 Comments on "Media messages that blind us to sociopaths"

Notify of

…and what’s really interesting is a lot of them masquerade as these wonderful people. I now know to be wary of all the wonderful people out there. Who’d have thought being what seems like a good person- might be just another red flag…

The first vision that popped into my head as I read this was of a space station or Mars colony populated entirely by sociopaths. Would it thrive or implode? What would a sociopathic society look like a few generations down the road? Interesting, scary thoughts.

“How am I going to change myself this year? Or what am I going to deliberately learn this year, so I can do a better job? That’s what actually changes the world.” This to me is one of the most defining factor that you are NOT dealing with a sociopath. Normal people want to grow emotionally

“How am I going to change myself this year? Or what am I going to deliberately learn this year, so I can do a better job? That’s what actually changes the world.” This to me is one of the most defining factor that you are NOT dealing with a sociopath. Normal people want to grow emotionally & mentally and they want to make sure they are good to others & the planet. Like you stated a sociopath is so focused on what can I get out of this person to better my life.

I would often ponder why my ex never grew emotional/mentally during the marriage especially towards the end of my marriage before I escaped for good. My ex was always buying some big toy (with other peoples money), always focused on getting a large following to praise him and put him on a pedestal never thinking he needed to grown as a person (really he needed to grow up).

Someone who is trying to improve themselves in whole knows that they are not perfect and wants to improve all aspect of their life where as a sociopath thinks he is perfect and does not need to change.

I think our society has changed the last 10 years with their thinking some for the good but now the sociopath are protect by this new attitude of “giving everyone a second chance and people are different” mentality. The sociopaths are eating this up because now they can come out of their hiding and society keeps giving them chance after chance (for me I gave my ex h 10,000 chances & forgiveness). Not sure if the Oprah mentality has changed our society thinking. For me, I am back to listen to my gut and no second chances with someone new if my gut tells me not to.

I was thinking back to my childhood in the 70’s kids actually used the word “psycho” to describe a kid that did not fit in and had behavior issues….wonder what percentage was true in them describing the odd kid as a “psycho”. Now a days it’s not politically correct to say “I think that person is strange” or “something is wrong with that person” or possibly more accurate “he/she is a psychopath” so the word psychopath has slipped from everyday language…again the sociopaths are loving this political correctness but in the long run the good people are literally walking into the web of deception with giving these evil people the same common decency as a good person.

I wonder if society will give Cosby a second chance once his PR team kicks into high gear?

During the breakaway, I have noticed the sociopath in my life engage in some first-class two year old behavior – including stamping feet, flapping arms and whining “but, but…” which isn’t as comical as you would think to observe in a grown person. I have even listened to the sociopath go on about how amazing it is that they are always right and everyone else is wrong, how can the rest of the world be so wrong so often.

sorry this was posted twice some times the Edit function deletes the bulk of the text so I posted the full text again.

This is so on point and yes people should be advised. My ex husband which is a sociopath uses social media to GET MORE FOLLOWERS, DONATIONS FOR HIM, FOR PEOPLE TO GLORIFY HIM. I have in the past and seen his videos on youtube and his personal website and it is so sad because he puts a front. He does come off as such a nice person with so much knowledge of the bible but his main concern is to exploit people, gain followers and get money from them, I am sure he also craves the attention and the comments of how great he is. I know him personally the stories he tell are mostly lies, he is stingy and very not who he portrays on the web. He is a con artist. Those that interest him and he can exploit will receive his undivided attention and will be extra nice and fake to them. This is so on point! I wish people would be less trusting and more concerned of who this person is. If they only knew he was a creep who does not even care about his own mother

I can only speak about what I have seen with my own two eyes, the lies and tricks to get good people to donate all their money to him so he can travel use women and be admired. These poor people do not know what a con artist he is, he is a fake and a liar. I would want to post comments on his website and contact another minister about him but I just left it alone and decided to work on my recovery. In due time these people will realize hopefully not too late he is a con artist. I would compare them to cult like people but more subtle so that no one suspects a thing!

Some people are good, not perfect but at least mostly good. Some sociopathic preachers only use the web to exploit people and they look so innocent doing it. They do good tings only when the camera is rolling, once it is off, they are heartless and you would never known it. I HAVE SEEN IT!

dear Donna,

regarding people in the public eye that we do not really know at all:

I am worried because I see some pretty big screaming narcissistic red flags being flown by our current president, and I am seriously having a difficult time believing anything he says because I hear him only telling ‘part’ of a story, and as I am aware of the information he is conveniently leaving out of his pathetic manipulating speeches, I feel like America is in grave danger from a sociopathic leader. How do we go No Contact with a sociopathic leader? Is this world going to the dogs?

jenni marie,

The world will only get worst and full of sociopaths (not just America) so we must embrace ourselves and stop hoping for a ‘savior’.
You’re having a difficult time believing anything your president says ‘coz he’s programmed (or trained) to behave this way..and if there would be anyone to resist this ‘training’ which the cunning NWO enforces upon, he’d probably ‘be dealt with’…..
Most genuine natured presidents did not make it as presidents for too long..
The only thing we can do is make our own ‘safe cocoon’ and be very wise in trusting people around us. We tend to forget that people should earn our trust-not demand it. And surely, we must work on our self awareness and trusting our gifted female instict.

Jenni marie, I see the same thing. I find it interesting that the press has turned on him when he started having reporters arrested when they refused to expose their source on a story on issues the the WH was involved in and the press was reporting on. Things come out here and there about his wife and her temper but I am starting to believe that she is being pushed to her limit with not only her husband narcissistic behavior but I am guessing she might be surrounded with narcissist in DC and in the WH. If you look at pictures of them say on vacation he is never engaged with his wife but it you watch him with his daughters especially the older daughter he is always engaged…could it be the oldest is his “golden child”??

But he is better then the sociopath narcissist Clinton who can talk his way out of anything…how our country puts him on a pedestal still after what he did in the WH to a young naive intern and all the other woman he manipulated is beyond me. JFK same thing and Roosevelt cheated on his wife/treated her poorly and his wife wanted a divorce when he was President, Roosevelt refused so she had to live in the WH with him and his mistress! But now the history books site how great a man Roosevelt was…what a joke…all the brain washing we are subjected to as kids to set us up as adults to believe all the bs out of a Presidents mouth.

How do you go “no contact” with a leader? for me I do not engage in politics now that I have been educated as I think most if not all of our leaders (world wide) fall in the narcissism and sociopath spectrum. Look at Putin and the french president who dump his long term gf and kicked her out of French version of the WH. She had a breakdown and ended up in the hospital big RED flag for me that she was dealing with one along with his other horrible behavior that is constant to sociopathic behavior.

YES, I agree the world is going to the dogs!

Hafield didnt say anything new that wasnt said thousands years ago by the ancient Greek Pythagoras on his Golden Verses:
”40. Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids, after thy going to bed,

41. Till thou hast examined by thy reason all thy actions of the day.

42. Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?

43. If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it;

44. And if thou hast done any good, rejoice.”

It’s sad that people are so clueless about ancient philosophy which if followed we would have had a better world today…

Thinking back, I believe the religion I was raised in set me up to not only accept a spath, but to continue to work on the relationship to save it. Our pastor preached what an awful person he was until God sent his wife, whose love and devotion changed him and made him into the man of God he was. That always stuck with me. One, you didn’t give up, and two, you tried harder to be understanding and forgiving.
Books didn’t help because they were geared for someone who was in a relationship with another person who was honest and caring. I remember reading ‘People of the Lie’, and thinking that my husband couldn’t be that bad because he loved me. That is what kept me imprisoned for 33 years- the belief that he loved. It never occurred to me he felt nothing.
I see programs like the one above and cringe because I know any spath watching has a new line/philosophy to use to entice the unsuspecting. Even now, when I have to discuss settlement issues with my soon to be ex, I hear the ‘lines’ he says and know how meaningless they are. I can’t even respond because it’s so absurd. It really takes being out of contact with these people to be able to recognize that their words are meaningless. It’s like the fog is lifted and clarity is restored.
So, preachers, reverends, pastors, priests, please preach that there are in fact evil people out there. They are not redeemable and it is our right to protect ourselves from them. Please let everyone know that these people do not love, cannot love, and no amount of praying, faithfulness, commitment, or forgiveness will change that. When we see these people and recognize them for what they are, get the hell away from them.

Donna, I agree with your perspective that all this warm and fuzzy thinking can get us into trouble. When I looked back at my Spath Tale, I ignored my intuition. I read numerous positive psychology books that had messages such as: “believe it and it will happen,” “that things happen for a ‘reason,’ “that the universe will give to you if you put the thoughts and energy out there,” “power of intention,” and gratefulness …. Looking for signs, believing in destiny, being in the moment…. Yes, these can be powerful motivation tools for personal growth and happiness. I still believe in practicing these positive thinking strategies, but realize that they can be dangerous. These thoughts made me vulnerable to a social predator and I ignored those “negative” thoughts that he could be something bad. When I finally realized I had been scammed and had been with a career criminal, one of my happy friends tried to console me by saying, “Everything happens for a reason. He came into your life for a reason. Find the good in what happened. There are so many things that this relationship gave you.” I was so upset because this had just happened to me and this type of happy message was completely inappropriate at that time. A crime and relationship hoax had been perpetrated against me. I was conned out of money, my heart was broken, my personal safety was threatened, and my future financial security was threatened. I was in a state of fear. No, I was not grateful for any of it at that time. I didn’t need to forgive him at that time. I needed to be angry and understand what happened. I told my friend that type of positive thinking message helped me stay under his spell.

And I’m sure that you weren’t much grateful for it later either. Would that our well meaning folk suffering nonsensical platitudes would be reminded somewhere in their unformed/uninformed noggins of the Ecclesiastes “For every season…” Or they read some of the stunning insights in Cheryl Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” old advice column to speak true… Or they just shut up that noise but stayed present to your gutting … With the confidence in you that you’re not feeling at all through that butchering.

Don’t you love these Strayed observations about our lives?

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”


“The place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. it’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light.”


“The obliterated place is equal parts destruction and creation. The obliterated place is pitch black and bright light. It is water and parched earth. It is mud and it is manna. The real work of deep grief is making a home there.” (Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love by Dear Sugar”)

Having recently graduated with a degree in psychology I find we are living in a very narcissistic world. Moreover we have developed a society of, “its about me isn’t it?” People I find, listen to half of what the other person has to say because they are too consumed with themselves and what is important to them. For those reading this right now, admit how often when someone is telling you something about themselves you mentally wonder off and think about something other than what that person has to say.

I am going to be honest, I do it myself at times and I believe it is because I have lived a lot longer than many other, have heard more and seen more. I often find myself mentally finishing sentences and they are spot on. I am no psychic, it is just that words have been spoken so many times before and it is easy to know what is coming next, even if it is a different person or set of circumstances.

So the question is, how much are we willing to put up? Since the world has become such a narcissistic place I believe all we can do is, “say when.”

You bring up a very valid point, one that I am guilty of.

Not only have I tuned out another person, but I have interrupted others. Yes, it’s impolite and yes, I know better, but sometimes people drone on and on. They aren’t in a conversation or a discussion, something else is going on and I can only guess what it is.

Just serves as an example, there are rules and then there are the exceptions to the rules. I do try to get to my point, and I do prefer a conversation with others and not just a rant.

Send this to a friend