Last Tuesday night, I woke up at about 2 AM unable to sleep. I turned on CNN and there was Rodney Alcala, a man who lived down the street from the house I grew up in, in Monterey Park, California. I was not surprised to see a story about him since I knew of his arrests and convictions for murder.
When Anderson Cooper said the police just released hundreds of photographs found in a Seattle storage locker belonging to Alcala, I sat up to take a closer look. Sure enough, at least 4 pictures of me at age 17 were among those found by police and released out of worry that they depict victims.
My initial reaction was one of embarrassment, and I eagerly awaited the hours to pass so I could telephone the police and ask them to please take those pictures down. I also worried that my mother would see them and feel frightened. I finally got through to the police late that afternoon. As I told the detective about my interactions with Alcala, I realized that this was one of those “teachable moments.” So when he asked me if his department could pass along my name to the press, I agreed.
I have given detailed information to a number of inquiring journalists. I am very disappointed with them so far. Isn’t it rather ironic that one of the people Rodney Alcala photographed and “spared” is now devoted to raising awareness of and preventing the disorder he has? Instead of sensationalizing a sociopath, shouldn’t the press (out of respect for the victims) be educating the public about sociopaths and sociopathy?
Members of the press, please use this moment to teach people about the sociopaths who live in the neighborhoods of America!
In subsequent weeks, I will share more details of my encounters and conversations with Alcala. He did leave a lasting impression on me for several reasons aside from his arrest and convictions for murder.
First and foremost, it was Alcala who told me about the organization Mensa. He was very proud of his own “genius” and wore jewelry with the Mensa logo. Initially, I thought I remembered a neck medallion on a silver chain but having looked at pictures of Mensa items, I can’t say for sure if there wasn’t also a ring. Knowing what I know now, I believe it is entirely possible that Alcala was never a member of Mensa and that his claims were an example of pathologic lying.
But, assuming that Alcala is a genius, how rare is he? How common are genius sociopaths? The numbers are actually staggering. There are 219 million adults living in America. Anywhere from 1-4 percent are sociopaths. That gives us an estimate of 2-8 million adult sociopaths in America. That also means that 1-4 of every one hundred people you meet or who live near you is a sociopath.
Since psychologists love to administer IQ tests, there has been quite a bit of research examining intelligence in sociopaths. In all, the results show that sociopaths do not score any differently on these tests than anyone else. If you look at a group of sociopaths, there are dull, average and very intelligent scoring people in the same frequency as the general population. Researchers have argued about this data because many clinicians believe the average sociopath is “of superior intelligence.” But I can explain why one might get that impression.
If it is true that a group of sociopaths scores the same as a group of non-sociopaths on an IQ test, then roughly 2-4 percent of sociopaths are geniuses, depending on how you define genius. That means there are between 40,000-320,000 genius sociopaths living in America. In other words, perhaps 1 of every 1,000 adults you meet is a genius sociopath!
Now also consider by the definition of average looks, there are between 20,000 and 160,000, average to good looking, genius sociopaths in America. That is not very rare. About 300,000 people die every year from heart attacks and we think that is a big number. Why aren’t we more concerned about the problem of sociopathy?
Everyone keeps asking me, “which of the pictures is you?” I am #s 123, 186, 194 and 197.