First, go over these characteristics of sociopathy, also known as ASPD, and decide whether or not it describes many politicians:
10 signs for spotting a sociopath
#1) Sociopaths are charming. Sociopaths have high charisma and tend to attract a following just because people want to be around them. They have a "glow" about them that attracts people who typically seek guidance or direction. They often appear to be sexy or have a strong sexual attraction. Not all sexy people are sociopaths, obviously, but watch out for over-the-top sexual appetites and weird fetishes.
#2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. They tend to do bizarre, sometimes erratic things that most regular people wouldn't do. They are unbound by normal social contracts. Their behavior often seems irrational or extremely risky.
#3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought. They pursue any action that serves their own self interest even if it seriously harms others. This is why you will find many very "successful" sociopaths in high levels of government, in any nation.
#4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. They wildly exaggerate things to the point of absurdity, but when they describe it to you in a storytelling format, for some reason it sounds believable at the time.
#5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and "win" at all costs. They hate to lose any argument or fight and will viciously defend their web of lies, even to the point of logical absurdity.
#6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent, but they use their brainpower to deceive others rather than empower them. Their high IQs often makes them dangerous. This is why many of the best-known serial killers who successfully evaded law enforcement were sociopaths.
#7) Sociopaths are incapable of love and are entirely self-serving. They may feign love or compassion in order to get what they want, but they don't actually FEEL love in the way that you or I do.
#8) Sociopaths speak poetically. They are master wordsmiths, able to deliver a running "stream of consciousness" monologue that is both intriguing and hypnotic. They are expert storytellers and even poets. As a great example of this in action, watch this interview of Charles Manson on YouTube.
#9) Sociopaths never apologize. They are never wrong. They never feel guilt. They can never apologize. Even if shown proof that they were wrong, they will refuse to apologize and instead go on the attack.
#10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth merely because they say it!
ASPD Characteristics & Traits
The following list is a collection of some of the more commonly observed behaviors and traits of those who suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Note that these are not intended to be used for diagnosis. Click on the links on each trait for much more information about a particular trait or behavior and some ideas for coping with each.
Note that these traits are given as a guideline only and are not intended for diagnosis. People who suffer from ASPD are all unique and so each person will display a different subset of traits. Also, note that everyone displays "antisocial" behaviors from time to time. Therefore, if a person exhibits one or some of these traits, that does not necessarily qualify them for a diagnosis of ASPD. See the DSM Criteria on this page for diagnostic criteria.
Acting Out - Acting Out behavior refers to a subset of personality disorder traits that are more outwardly-destructive than self-destructive.
Anger - People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.
Baiting - A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.
Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing - This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.
Blaming - The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Bullying - Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.
Chaos Manufacture - Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.
Cheating - Sharing a romantic or intimate relationship with somebody when you are already committed to a monogamous relationship with someone else.
Chronic Broken Promises - Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people who suffer from personality disorders.
Cruelty to Animals - Acts of Cruelty to Animals have been statistically discovered to occur more often in people who suffer from personality disorders than in the general population.
Denial - Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Depression - People who suffer from personality disorders are often also diagnosed with symptoms of depression.
Domestic Theft - Consuming or taking control of a resource or asset belonging to (or shared with) a family member, partner or spouse without first obtaining their approval.
Emotional Abuse - Any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG).
False Accusations - Patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticism directed towards someone else.
Favoritism - Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers.
Fear of Abandonment - An irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.
Feelings of Emptiness - An acute, chronic sense that daily life has little worth or significance, leading to an impulsive appetite for strong physical sensations and dramatic relationship experiences.
Grooming - Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.
Harassment - Any sustained or chronic pattern of unwelcome behavior by one individual towards another.
Impulsiveness - The tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.
Intimidation - Any form of veiled, hidden, indirect or non-verbal threat.
Invalidation - The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.
Lack of Boundaries - A lack of boundaries is often at the root of long-term abusive relationships. Lack of boundaries means the absence of rules, limits and guidelines for acceptable behavior. Inconsistent or intermittent reinforcement of consequences for inappropriate behavior is common among both abusers and abuse victims.
Lack of Conscience - Individuals who suffer from Personality Disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.
Low Self-Esteem - A common name for a negatively-distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality.
Manipulation - The practice of steering an individual into a desired behavior for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.
Mood Swings - Unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which cannot be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.
Name-Calling - Use of profane, derogatory or dehumanizing terminology to describe another individual or group.
Narcissism - A set of behaviors characterized by a pattern of grandiosity, self-centered focus, need for admiration, self-serving attitude and a lack of empathy or consideration for others.
Neglect - A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.
Normalizing - Normalizing is a tactic used to desensitize an individual to abusive, coercive or inappropriate behaviors. In essence, normalizing is the manipulation of another human being to get them to agree to, or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms or their own basic code of behavior.
"Not My Fault" Syndrome - The practice of avoiding personal responsibility for one's own words and actions.
Objectification - The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.
Pathological Lying - Persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.
Physical Abuse - Any form of voluntary behavior by one individual which inflicts pain, disease or discomfort on another, or deprives them of necessary health, nutrition and comfort.
Proxy Recruitment - A way of controlling or abusing another person by manipulating other people into unwittingly backing “doing the dirty work”
Push-Pull - A chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.
Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression - Explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute. Rages threaten the security or safety of another individual and violate their personal boundaries.
Ranking and Comparing - Drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups.
Sabotage - The spontaneous disruption of calm or status quo in order to serve a personal interest, provoke a conflict or draw attention.
Scapegoating - Singling out one child, employee or member of a group of peers for unmerited negative treatment or blame.
Self-Loathing - An extreme hatred of one's own self, actions or one's ethnic or demographic background.
Sexual Objectification - Viewing another individual in terms of their sexual usefulness or attractiveness rather than pursuing or engaging in a quality interpersonal relationship with them.
Shaming - The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.
Splitting - The practice of regarding people and situations as either completely "good" or completely "bad".
Stalking - Any pervasive and unwelcome pattern of pursuing contact with another individual.
Targeted Humor, Mocking and Sarcasm - Any sustained pattern of joking, sarcasm or mockery which is designed to reduce another individual’s reputation in their own eyes or in the eyes of others.
Testing - Repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to a relationship.
Threats - Inappropriate, intentional warnings of destructive actions or consequences.
Triangulation - Gaining an advantage over perceived rivals by manipulating them into conflicts with each other.
Verbal Abuse - Any kind of repeated pattern of inappropriate, derogatory or threatening speech directed at one individual by another.
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) - The DSM Criteria
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a Cluster B (dramatic, emotional, or erratic) Personality Disorder:A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain steady work or honor financial obligations
Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
The manual lists the following additional necessary criteria:
The individual is at least 18 years of age.
There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
If you see that many of the characteristics coincide, you aren't alone in that assessment.
It is estimated that 4% of any population is sociopathic, and given that sociopaths are power-hungry, driven to exert their influence over others, the political field is hugely attractive to them, likely causing a strong clustering in that field, as well as others that provide arenas to express their power-lusts: the corporate world and police work for example.
Their inability to feel remorse, shame, guilt, or empathy is likely rooted in a physical difference in the structure of their brains, as recent studies using fMRI have revealed, particularly the amygdala and medial prefrontal orbital cortex.
To be clear, while research strongly points to a genetically-based physical brain difference in sociopathy/psychopathy, genetics and physicality alone don't dictate its emergence, it seems to need to be coupled with a harsh or unemotional upbringing to make it blossom into socially harmful behaviors.
Clearly there is a danger in allowing sociopaths a great deal of power in governance, especially since sociopathic behavior tends to be contagious. If you have ever worked for a sociopathic boss, you've seen this in action, as people who are relatively normal acquire sociopathic traits in order to either survive or get promoted. Pol Pot's Cambodia, Hitler's Germany, and Stalin's USSR are examples of infectious sociopathy taken to extremes.
So given that sociopaths are a danger to society in proportion to the amount of societal power they can control, doesn't it make sense to require those who seek the power to control society to pass an fMRI test first, combined with a further test like the Hare PCL, to prove that their brains are physically capable of processing emotions in a normal manner, and their minds are not dangerous to us all?
useful links not quoted: