And disturbingly, the prevalence of sociopathy in the United States seems to be increasing. The 1991 Epidemiologic Catchment Area study, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, reported that in the fifteen years preceding the study, the prevalence of antisocial personality disorder had nearly doubled among the young in America, It would be difficult, closing in on impossible, to explain such a dramatically rapid shift in terms of genetics or neurobiology.
Male sociopaths do better with women. This is indisputable. If sociopathy is increasing in America, then we must look to the foundational market of human interpersonal relations — the sexual market — to discover the source of this increasing sociopathy. Quite simply, if more women are more often rewarding sociopaths with their sex, then the supply of sociopathy will increase.
Under what conditions would women swoon for sociopaths? Very harsh conditions, for one. An emotionless Machiavellian is a useful mate to have when survival is constantly tested. Another social condition that probably redounds to the benefit of sociopaths is one in which women are incentivized, by a coddling state and by women’s own economic self-sufficiency, to favor the love of maximum tingle generating cads over comfy cozy betas.
Tellingly for the currently cratering US, diversity may play a crucial role in assisting the rise of the sociopaths.
In this opinion he is joined by theorists who propose that North American culture, which holds individualism as a central value, tends to foster the development of antisocial behavior, and also to disguise it. In other words, in America, the guiltless manipulation of other people “blends” with social expectations to a much greater degree than it would in China or other more group-centered societies.
I believe there is a shinier side of this coin, too, one that begs the question of why certain cultures seem to encourage prosocial behavior. So much against the odds, how is it that some societies have a positive impact on incipient sociopaths, who are born with an inability to process interpersonal emotions in the usual way? I would like to suggest that the overriding belief systems of certain cultures encourage born sociopaths to compensate cognitively for what they are missing emotionally. In contrast with our extreme emphasis on individualism and personal control, certain cultures, many in East Asia, dwell theologically on the interrelatedness of all living things.
Interestingly, this value is also the basis of conscience, which is an intervening sense of obligation rooted in a sense of connectedness. If an individual does not, or if neurologically he cannot, experience his connection to others in an emotional way, perhaps a culture that insists on connectedness as a matter of belief can instill a strictly cognitive understanding of interpersonal obligation.
An intellectual grasp of one’s duties to others is not the same attribute as the powerfully directive emotion we call conscience, but perhaps it is enough to extract prosocial behavior from at least some individuals who would have behaved only in antisocial ways had they been living in a society that emphasized individualism rather than interrelatedness. Though they lack an internal mechanism that tells them they are connected to others, the larger culture insists to them that they are so connected — as opposed to our culture, which informs them resoundingly that their ability to act guiltlessly on their own behalf is the ultimate advantage. This would explain why a Western family by itself cannot redeem a born sociopath. There are too many other voices in the larger society implying that his approach to the world is correct.
As Robert Putnam has discovered, ethnic and racial diversity reduces trust and social cohesion. Radically heterogeneous societies lose their aura of connectedness. Within this atomized, unraveled milieu, sociopaths thrive. They thrive not only because any communitarian brakes on their behavior are removed, but also because the culture begins to value and exalt the very special talents of the sociopath. This is an unavoidable transition when people feel unmoored from a larger social family, and adopt a pathologically individualist “look out for #1″ attitude to life in response to the vague but palpably ominous threat of rainbow fauxalitions.
To be a high level player, you have to be blessed with a touch of sociopathy. Without that trait for timely detachment, you will empathize too much with the particular needs and reproductive goals of women. That distracting emotional resonance will hinder your ability to hurt a woman’s feelings and, sadly you’ll discover, rare is the woman who joyfully surrenders her body to a man who is careful to spare her feelings.
So sociopathy has its privileges. But no nation of sociopaths ever put a man on the moon.