Sociopathy, now going by the politically correct label Antisocial Personality Disorder, is a condition affecting approximately 4 percent of the population. It’s no longer considered the exclusive domain of serial killers.
In fact most sociopaths are highly intelligent and successful, spurning overtly criminal activities in favor of those that reward their domineering traits with high salaries and prestige. Canadian psychologist Robert Hare insists “you’re four times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor’s office.”
You might also find them occupying the oval office, according to an American Psychology Association report, which found that numerous US presidents demonstrated fearless dominance, a trait of sociopathy.
Those who had the trait also enjoyed “better rated presidential performance, leadership, persuasiveness, crisis management, [and] Congressional relations.”
A Charming Personality
A brilliant white smile and glib tongue are a must for any budding politician. It doesn’t hurt if you’re good at manipulating other people into believing that anything you say is gospel.
Lacking a moral compass just makes it easier for a sociopath to be the right candidate to virtually any voter. He doesn’t mind lying, if it gets him what he wants. He isn’t plagued by angst over what’s best for his constituents. All he needs to do is convince them that he cares about them and will do exactly what they want.
He’s a Bible thumping, gun toting proponent of farm subsidies to the agriculturist, a tough on crime supporter of public schools to young parents, and a sophisticated advocate for lowering capital gains taxes to the business man.
He’s Always Right, Even When He’s Wrong
You’ll never hear a sociopath say “I’m sorry,” because in his own mind, he’s never wrong. He’ll give you a never ending stream of implausible – but amazingly convincing – explanations for any evidence you have against him.
Someone with a conscience might drop out of a political race if faced with a scandal, but the sociopath will get up every single day, look the public in the eye, and insist he is innocent. This gives him a tremendous advantage over a person who feels guilt and shame.
He’s a pathological liar who believes his own lies to such an extent he may be able to pass a lie detector test. In fact he’s so thorough and persistent at rewriting reality, pretty soon everyone else begins to doubt the truth.
Returning to Reality
Like any scoundrel, a sociopath can only dominate those who allow it. His enchanting version of reality may be powerful, but no one has to accept it. Even members of his entourage, initially enchanted by his charisma and devoted to his vision, often awaken to discover they’re as disposable as a tissue to him.
Fortunately, facts don’t change no matter how hard a sociopath works to distort them. By prioritizing information over illusion and adhering to the version of reality supported by the data, the other 96% of us stand a chance at hanging on to control of the world.
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