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Inside the Psyche of the 1% -- Many Actually Believe Their Ideology of Greed Makes for a Better World

If the 1% are to develop the same level of understanding of others that the 99% has, they will need to walk in their shoes.
 
 
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Do the rich and super-rich tend to be psychopaths, devoid of guilt or shame? Are the 1% lacking in compassion? Does their endless accumulation of possessions actually bring them little to no happiness? To each of these, the answer is “yes”—but a very qualified “yes” with lots of subtleties. Even more important is what these issues suggest for building a society which does not ravage the last remnants of wilderness and rush headlong into a climate change tipping point.

Strange concepts of psychopathy

The word “psychopath” often elicits an image of a deranged murderer. Despite Alfred Hitchcock’s chair-gripping “Psycho,” stabbing victims in the shower is not a typical activity of psychopaths. They are more often con artists who end up in jail after cheating their victims. Classic definitions of psychopathy include features such as superficial charm, anti-social behavior, unreliability, lack of remorse or shame, above-average intelligence, absence of nervousness, and untruthfulness and insincerity. [1] 

Most of those in the mental health industry sternly observe that a strict set of consistent rewards and consequences is the only treatment that works with psychopaths. But they admit that even this treatment might not work too well. Progressives may dismiss observations by psychologists because the field tends to explore a behavioral pattern as it exists in a certain Western culture at a given point in history and then imagine that it characterizes all people at all times. Psychology has a long tradition of bending to current race, gender and sexual orientation biases. Its class bias is reflected by the dominant portrayal of psychopathy.

Consider what William H. Reid, MD, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio writes about psychopaths:

I have no wish to dehumanize people when I say that those who purposely endanger others in our streets, parks, and schools, even our homes, are qualitatively different from the rest of us. I care less and less about why they’re not the same as the rest of us; the enemy is at our door…There is no (reasonable) ethic which requires that we treat him as other adults; indeed, to do so is foolish. [2]

Reid cautions his readers: “We must stop identifying with the chronic criminal, and stop allowing him to manipulate our misplaced guilt about treating him as he is: qualitatively  different from the rest of us. [3]

The author insists that good people must have the stamina to do what is necessary to protect themselves from the psychopathic criminal:

…life is full of situations in which we need to do something distasteful…Most of us agree that we need to slaughter animals from time to time. We do it as humanely as possible, but we get it done…We also agree that some public health needs are important enough to require the suspension of some rights of people who have not been convicted of any crime…” [4]

Reid chides those who recoil at the thought of suspending rights: “While we have been interminably discussing this weighty issue, the psychopaths, who don’t trouble themselves with contemplations, have been gaining ground.” [5]

Where did these insights appear? Not in a transcript of a Rush Limbaugh interview. Not in an Ayn Rand novel. Not from someone fondly reminiscing of Ronald Reagan.

These words are excerpted from an essay in the scholarly volume  Psychopathy: Anti-Social, Criminal and Violent Behavior.  The text is predominantly a collection of reports and syntheses under academic headings of “Typologies,” “Etiology,” “Comorbidity” and “Treatment.” The portions quoted illustrate that intense hostility directed towards victims of the criminal justice system is within the acceptable continuum of published academic thought on psychopathy.

 
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