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Does the study of psychopathy give us insights into why so many mass murderers become world leaders?

PSYCHOPATHS—RUTHLESS SOCIAL PREDATORS who manipulate and plow their way through life—leave a trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations and empty wallets. They selfishly take what they want and do as they please, completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others. Psychopaths are found in every segment of society. There is a good chance that eventually you will have a painful or humiliating encounter with one of these human monsters. Unfortunately, they are particularly prevalent among top politicians and the establishment elite. Their importance in history is an emerging field of study.

by John de Nugent
Associate Editor
The Barnes Review
January/February 2007

John de Nugent

What is a psychopath? Are psychopaths usually in prison—or are the vast majority of them moving among us, or lording it over us in society? Are they one in a million or 40,000 in a million? And what about “mattoids”—those dynamic and “gifted” psychopaths who rarely end up in prisons? Who are the most prominent and successful mattoids of today —and yesterday?
Alarming yet enlightening research in the last 15 years has concluded that full or partial psychopathy may be shockingly widespread— one American in 25, and far more in leadership positions. The key traits of the psychopath: he (usually a male) is radically self-centered, slick, lying, manipulative, ruthless, sadistic, focused and, sometimes, insanely fearless.

“Alarming yet enlightening
research in the last 15 years
has concluded that full or
partial psychopathy may be
shockingly widespread—one
American in 25, and far more in leadership positions.”

Here is a list of identifiers for psychopathy, compiled from several authorities. If an individual has at least any four of the below in a very pronounced form, there are grounds for concern. Many people have a touch of several of these traits, but few have a majority of them in full measure. They are:
1) Glib and superficial charm;
2) Grandiose sense of self-worth; narcissism; seeing the self as the center of the universe; feeling “no one else is human, only I”;
3) Focused self-advancement without losing any energy on others except as stepping-stones;
4) No moral taboos or inhibitions as to methods, aiding career success until caught;
5) Need for constant stimulation, action, and new ways to avoid boredom;
6) Lying as an art form to fine-tune and a source of pride;
7) Targeting and manipulation of the gullible;
8) Enticing people they do not love to naively love them;
9) Skill at faking emotions, including love, sincerity and regret;
10) Doing good work and good deeds solely to advance oneself;
11) Ruthlessness and “stopping at nothing”;
12) Enjoyment of the power to coldly end close relationships;
13) “Getting” others back as a peak experience;
14) Desire for vengeance when spurned;
15) Pleasure in firing or ruining people. In the U.S., where highly profitable firms routinely cut good employees to boost stock values, there are professional terminators who roam the country cutting staff and personally firing them;
16) Abuse and literal torture of living creatures;
17) Humiliating others physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically or sexually;
18) Denigrating one’s own child or mate;
19) Callousness; lack of empathy and compassion;
20) Shallow or no feelings for others, even mates, children and friends;
21) No ability to feel remorse or undergo inner repentance;
22) Regret solely at being caught, embarrassed or punished;
23) Incomprehension of the angry reactions of those they hurt;
24) Underestimation of their own anger;
25) No sense of responsibility for one’s actions;
26) Parasitical world view: living by scams and not hard work;
27) Contempt for those who “play by the rules”;
28) Criminal talent, energy and innovativeness;
29) Warlike courage far above the norm;
30) Playing on the sympathy of others. To this one might add—in the purely subjective, non-scientific eye of many beholders—a curious dead look in the eyes of a psychopath, and that is the chilling part. Others speak of looking into such eyes and “having a feeling that nothing is there.”
It is instructive to check this subjective hypothesis by looking at famous persons, in still photos but especially on moving film or television. Is there a warm life form expressing itself through the eyes, or is there a flat, soulless gaze, not unlike that of a large insect or reptile?

Although the story of Don Juan conjures up for many images of the classic “Latin lover” (abov), he was in fact a brutal psychopath, although a fictitious character, given life by Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molino in his play The Seducer of Seville.

The painting Stone Guest (above), by Russian artist Ilya Repin (1844-1930), is based on the Spanish legend about Don Juan. Don Juan, a heartless and immoral man of noble origin, killed in a duel the commander of Seville. A stone statue was erected on the commander’s tomb. Don Juan met Donna Anna, the widow of the commander, at the base of the tomb and seduced her. The statue moved its head in anger. Taunting the statue, Don Juan invited it to a banquet. The invitation was accepted; the stone commander came and crushed Don Juan. The popularity and longevity of the Don Juan legend is a testament to the allure many average people feel for cunning and brutal psychopaths.

Despite staggering differences between the cultures and peoples spread across the globe, most citizens of the world describe their own caste of politicians with identical words of anger, contempt and alienation. Further, the overwhelming majority see their politicians as incorrigible. But why? What part of society produced this “breed apart”?
This anomaly was most striking in the context of the culture and values of Japan. In personal matters, the Japanese are among the most reliable, honest and rule-observing nations on Earth, still influenced by samurai concepts of honor. Yet the way Japanese describe the behavior of their political “leaders,” does not sound Japanese at all. After hours of hearing this same lament from various parts of our planet, it would seem that politicians, in particular, came from another and very twisted world.
The universally praised 2006 film The Last King of Scotland relates the story of the fictional Nicholas Garrigan, a young Scottish doctor who came to Uganda to serve its people, yet is sucked into the lifestyle of the very real charismatic psychopath Idi Amin, who ruled and ruined Uganda from 1971 to 1979. The young Scot has his own in-depth encounter with a charming, megalomanic authority authority figure. There is only one difference between Idi Amin and evil American, Japanese or Indian politicians. Idi Amin was not hindered by any checks and balances whatsoever and so could live out to the fullest his nature’s true fantasies.
Amnesty International estimates the Ugandan president killed 500,000 fellow citizens, feeding some to crocodiles. He gave himself the title: “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.” Called Idi Amin “Dada,” his nickname arose while in the British colonial army in Kenya. Every time he was caught with a woman in his puptent, he would overcome the scowl of his English officers with his considerable charm, claiming the female was only his “dada”—Swahili for sister.

Why did the Founding Fathers create checks and balances in the U.S. Constitution, since they demonstrably slow the government and add years or decades to reforms, even the most pressing? Was it the Constitution framers’ belief that all men are evil or rather than there was a psychopathically ambitious minority among them thirsting for power? Did they perceive bad traits existing in all men but true evil lurking in some?
Where do such apparently born liars, egomaniacs, terrorists and manipulators come from?
The question expands, and it seems as if we suddenly gain a new prescription for our glasses. How many bosses, politicians, CEOs of multinational corporations, advertising manipulators, and other powerful figures such as military, police, and, in our private lives, the ex-husbands, wives, boyfriends or sons-in-law “from hell,” are not “morally confused” but instead inwardly directed and born to be slick, ruthless, incorrigible, diseased psychopaths?
Yes, and even how many psychologists, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists are afflicted with the very disease they claim to study?
How much do psychopaths influence society and affect life for the vast majority of good, decent people? How much do they affect the moral values of what we watch on TV or in cinema?
Many people are asking themselves this and similar questions, especially since the American election year 2000. When one enters the words “George W. Bush” and “psychopath” into a search engine on the Internet such as Google, it produces 511,000 citations—just in English—linking the two concepts, most of them written or spoken in dead earnest by concerned citizens.

But foreigners speak of the two in the same breath as well: 19,700 references in the German language, 30,800 in French and 52,500 in Spanish. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who in 2006 openly called Bush el diablo from the podium at the UN, must be getting some serious attention.
Normal humans oscillate, and must, between attending to their personal needs, desires and dreams and helping others. Usually the two instincts work hand in hand.
Humans are all in a sense bipolar, hence complicated. They are both individualistic—hence, creative, innovating and at times selfish—and altruistic, other-oriented, often ready literally to die to save their children and, if convinced or prodded, to perish for the survival of their nation or its freedoms. A significant minority, the history-makers among inert humankind, even choose to live and suffer for a noble cause—one that may lead to their personal imprisonment or death.
Psychopaths, however, solely look out for No. 1, and cannot do otherwise. They see society as a collection of walking humanthings that are potential tools, victims, and often both, born for their cruel enjoyment. Cult leaders are a classic example of gifted users. One, Sun Myung Moon of the “Unification Church,” owns The Washington Times daily newspaper, which every Republican in the capital of the United States reads daily. They read a dangerous cult’s newspaper, spending as much time with it as they do really talking with their spouse, children or constituents.
A new vision of society is emerging from the research and firm conclusions of some of the world’s most distinguished and reputable neurologists, psychologists and psychiatrists. These are men and women of stellar scientific backgrounds that mass-produce Nobel prizes in science and medicine.
These unpleasing but truthful messengers are stating or corroborating one clear, simple finding:
Our culture has been taken over by literal psychopaths, and all who are not psychopaths are nevertheless living under their thumb, affected by them, perhaps influenced by their persistent lies, and suffering miseries through them that mankind would otherwise never experience. This is the message of the experts.
Whether we fight psychopaths or not, we are still on a psychological and moral urban battlefield, suffering wounds, deprivation, misery, despair and sometimes premature death in their world.
And that is just the good part. The bad part is the possibility of World War III, with millions of people turned into hate-zombies with devastating weapons of mass destruction at the command of rejoicing psychopaths.

In the United States, three different terms are used to categorize the radically selfish individual or “human monster”:
1) Persons with “antisocial personality disorder” (APD),
2) “Sociopaths” and, the scariest word of all,
3) “Psychopaths,” of whom serial killers are a special subtype. APD is, as many in criminology agree, a somewhat “lazy” catchall phrase for general criminal attitudes and behavior. This is the term usually put in prisoner files.
The word “sociopath” is being used in several similar but truly confusing ways. For some experts, sociopath (from the Latin word for “soci”-ety and “pathy,” the Greek word related to disease) means the ruthless manipulators, whereas psychopaths are the violent beaters and killers. It is obvious that some infamous people in history have been both.
A few of these modern examples include, according to various experts: Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, the Shah of Iran, Pol Pot, Ariel Sharon, Robert Mugabe and David Rockefeller. Other experts use the word “sociopath” to mean those who are mis-raised to be vicious, whereas “psychopath” means those born vicious.
More and more, however, as is usual in science, one simple term wins out. “Psychopath” has been gaining currency since 1941 among the world’s most experienced clinicians to describe all incorrigible human monsters—however they got that way and whatever methods they use.
In any case, they prove to be, for decent society, an irresistible force and an immovable, incurable object. They are the fountainhead of human suffering that is human-caused, and aside from sickness, aging, death and natural disasters.
Religions have called such persons evil. Yet religions usually teach that almost anyone can be saved. The science of psychopathology says “no.” Not all can be “saved.” Their brains won’t permit it; they do not want it. But if you want to save them, they may find a way to exploit your compassion.
While one may speak of evil and evildoers, this is the category of a diseased force of nature—human parasites.
Most Americans assume that psychopaths are rare—serial killers and other felons. The stunning new revelation of the last 15 years is that as many as one in 25 Americans may be psychopathic. Probably, in view of their notorious traits—according to Martha Stout, Ph.D., a former 25-year veteran of Harvard Medical School and now a practicing psychotherapist—a much higher percentage of psychopaths haunt occupations that take advantage of the traits of the true psychopath listed earlier in this article.
Serial killers such as Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy, and leaders such as Stalin and Pol Pot, are among history’s most famous psychopaths. The original, true Spanish tale from the 1600s of Don Juan reveals not the famous “lady’s man” but a murderous, raping, diabolically ingenious psychopath who also betrays his friends and sinks into hell. In the end the statue of a former adversary comes to life to punish him for his crimes.

“The original Spanish tale
from the 1600s of Don Juan
reveals, not the ‘lady’s man,’
but a murderous, raping,
diabolically ingenious
psychopath who betrays
friends and sinks into hell.”

The Samson of the Jewish Old Testament, known to generations of Christian Sunday schoolchildren as a “Bible hero,” may have had psychopathic traits. The Talmud tells of his lies to his parents, his cruelty to animals, his torching of Philistine fields, his frequent brawls, and Samson’s unremitting bragging after killing “a thousand men.” It bears noting here that the Philistines are the ancestors of today’s Palestinians.
Actually, a psychopath is more capable of personally killing a thousand men than anyone else. The true berserkers (whence the phrase “to go berserk”) were Vikings who possibly were psychopathic. They guarded the Norwegian king and fought battles as unleashed “Dober-men.” Heedless of danger, their pre-battle preparation included working themselves into a bloodlust—berserker rage—by banging their helmets (with heads inside) with their own weapons, biting their shields, and howling. Once in a frenzy they would plow through both foe and friend, arms, legs and heads tumbling away like grass clippings. In battle they were said to be immune to pain (or even immune to weapons and fire). Even allies gave the berserkers wide berth. Fearing that their own homesteads and families might be targeted by the unchained “bear-shirts,” friendly Norsemen kept loved ones hidden away.

Not just individuals but entire castes and groups in society may manifest these characteristics. Psychopathy can be inherited, often through the mother. It can appear spontaneously as a birth defect. It can also be produced by brain diseases or injuries. These multiple factors can be seen as explaining the relatively high percentage of psychopaths that researchers now perceive in the population.
It has been speculated that the number of psychopaths overall has been increasing since the Age of Bronze, roughly 1000 B.C. in Europe, which was the beginning of a traumatic new era for the European peoples: the age of metal weapons, of warlords owning slaves forced to mine for copper and tin, and of professional soldiers. That was an innovation: men who killed other men for power, and not high-protein animals for food. Hunting by itself is an inborn male instinct that, in literally bringing home the bacon and the meat, brought essential proteins for the growth of larger brains, hence civilization.
Wars, for millennia, have always tended to kill off the decent and the volunteers and often spared the true instigators and also the defective. Warlords and kings have long been polygamous, sometimes having enormous numbers of offspring. It is reliably said that Genghis Khan raped 10,000 women. Genetic studies indicate that 10% of all continental North Asians are descended from him. One of Genghis’s memorable lines was: “Happiness is to kill the foe, ride his horses, watch his wife and daughters weep, and seize them to your bosom.”
In materialistic societies, ruthless businessmen, such as investment mogul Donald Trump, find the media fawning on them and gold-digging, beautiful and fecund women flocking to them.
How many a tycoon, after letting his first wife help him through medical or business school or the start of a career, dumps her at 45 for a younger “trophy wife” whom he can show off to his fellow magnates, and with her then spread his genes even further? Hollywood is said to be full of beauties with beasts.
One of the most important benefits of understanding the new finding of the prevalence of psychopaths in society is this: whereas so-called conspiracy theories tend to appear to decent people as “off-the-wall,” now no more. The main objection to a conspiracy theory, especially one that posits the involvement of many evil people, is this: “I cannot imagine anyone doing such a thing. And it could never be a secret.” Wrong: psychopaths are numerous and they do know how to keep a secret and kill to maintain it.
Perhaps the struggle against the psychopaths marauding among us will be the ultimate battle for the human race.

Sidebar article:

PSYCHOPATHS IN MODERN HISTORY (left to right): Franklin Delano Roosevelt: forced America into WWII and handed Stalin half of Europe; Josef Stalin: murdered 21 million Christian Russians; Winston Churchill: ordered the firebombing of WWII civilian centers; Mao Tse Tung: murdered 50 million Chinese; Idi Amin: murdered 500,000 Ugandans including feeding some to crocodiles; Pol Pot: murdered 3 million Cambodians—an estimated half of the population.

Grasping the
Nature of the Beast

Over 100 years ago, psychiatrists, psychologists, and criminologists were discussing what they called— groping for a scientific description—“moral imbeciles” or “the morally insane.” For thousands of years, religions have recognized the concept of “evil,” and of evildoers whom God and man must punish. Governments have recognized evil and evildoers in the citizenry, and either punished or promoted them. Now esteemed scientists in the mental health field have weighed in on the subject of people who are truly evil.1
The breakthrough has sped up in the last 15 years from well-meaning attempts at compassion and understanding to this grim recognition of personified evil.
The most recent bombshell in this direction was the bestselling The Sociopath Next Door (2005) from Martha Stout, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who for 25 years was a faculty member of Harvard Medical School.
Stout uses the term “sociopath” to emphasize that almost all psychopaths are out in society. She has been widely reported on and interviewed for website and print publications.
Another powerful figure in the psychopaths-in-society movement is Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., a consultant for the FBI, the creator of the recognized “Hare Psychopathic Checklist” (the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy), and author of the 1999 book for laypersons Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.
One powerful weapon in the struggle to warn the public against psychopaths, in jail and out, has been the work of Adrian Raine, Ph.D., an Oxford graduate in psychology, a former prison psychologist in England, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Southern California and author of the 1993 classic, The Psychopathology of Crime: Criminal Behavior As a Clinical Disorder. More than any written text before or since, his vivid colored brain scans comparing psychopaths with normal people make a powerful case that psychopaths are utterly unlike the other 96% of society. These brain scans show that when psychopaths are shown horrifying images that turn others sick to their stomachs, the pleasure centers of psychopaths are highly activated.
In the 1980s a distinguished Polish psychologist with first-hand experience under Stalinism, and a long-time resident of the United States, Andrew M. Lobaczewski Ph.D., wrote his revolutionary Political Ponerology: A Science on The Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes (from the Greek poneros, evil, and logia study).2 He asserts that much of politics, bureaucracy, political philosophy—and thus the whole history of mankind—has been shaped by persons who today would be considered clinically diagnosible psychopaths.
Among his unique observations, Dr. Lobaczewski describes how, after the brutal Stalinization of his native Poland from 1948- 52, virtually every psychopath in his country “within two years” had emerged from the dregs of society, recognized himself as among friends in the new system, and become a bureaucrat or other servant of the Stalinist regime.
In effect, they all crawled out from under their rock. He emphasizes that this Stalino-psychopathic regime was as inept and “out of touch” as it was cruel, showing that many psychopaths are not brilliant and great mis-leaders of men, but often despised and shunned “scum.” What makes them similar is their desire to dominate, humiliate, prevaricate and cause suffering.3
The great foundational work for the modern professional study of psychopaths was the still-famous 1941 bestseller, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, M.D. (1903-84). He graduated in 1924 from the University of Georgia with highest honors, and then from Oxford. With his subsequent M.D. from the University of Georgia Medical School (now “Medical College of Georgia”) he became a professor of psychiatry and neurology there and then chief of psychiatry/ neurology at University Hospital in Augusta in 1937. In 1956 Cleckley co-authored The Three Faces of Eve, the book that led to the famous 1957 film of the same name starring Joanne Woodward, illustrating Multiple Personality Disorder. A Fellow of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Cleckley was acting psychiatrist in the trial of the psychopathic serial killer Ted Bundy of Florida.
These five researchers, Cleckley, Lobaczewski, Raine, Hare and Stout, have forever lifted psychopathology out of the realm of speculation or what some cynically call “psychobabble” into the realm of science—the science of evil.

1A psychiatrist at Canada’s only “super max” prison, in Ontario province, who observes and meets with the 100 vilest criminals in Canada (outside of Parliament) was asked: “Have you ever looked into an inmate’s eyes and seen evil, just pure evil?” He replied: “Yes, I would say I have—in layman’s language—seen pure evil.” Source: Philip R., Wheeler, founder, Learn for Living Foundation, Alexandria, Virginia.
2A general edition for the public of this academic work, suitable for the educated layperson, was published in 2006 by Red Pill Press under the aegis of Laura Knight-Jadczyk, of and other websites, an American thinker who edited and introduced the English version.
3A combat-decorated World War II and Korea hero, Michael Mata Jr., who once guarded generals Eisenhower and Patton in postwar Berlin, told this writer of the sadistic and Big Brotherish attitude in parts of the bureaucracy toward U.S. veterans. When Matas complained about a new resident of his Soldier’s Home, a sexual pervert who kept making unwanted advances on him, he was brought up before a staff hearing to be told that he was on “one year’s probation” for being “disruptive.” He learned through a Veterans Administration document that the VA had created—in its own star chamber procedure and unbeknownst to the individual veteran (hence without possibility of appeal)—a bureaucratic, secret code number in each veteran’s file. This file indicated the bureaucracy’s secret internal classifications, or defamations: shirker, troublemaker, insane etc. In Mr. Mata’s case, “refused a promotion.” For years, when he would apply for a job with an employer, he was asked: Were you a U.S. veteran? After saying yes, he would suddenly get rejected, and believes it was due to this secret code.

URL for this web page:

JOHN de NUGENT, a Rhode Island native, served both as a machinegunner and multilingual interrogator in the U.S. Marines. He is fluent in French and German. He has been a European-American rights activist for many years. He now lives in northern Virginia.

Flag carried by the 3rd Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Cowpens, S. Carolina, 1781

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