Sociopaths do extreme damage and destruction all around us every day and hardly anyone ever realizes it. Big things like terrorist attacks or mass murders stand out, but what about destroying group morale, smear campaigns, and sabotaging others? Most people are completely clueless about how a sociopath works, and though they think they are against sociopaths, they don’t know when they are really a sociopath’s pawn. And the few people who do “get” it are usually ignored or mocked as being paranoid or crazy. Society notices the obvious crimes, but the daily work of higher functioning sociopaths is dangerous as well. It leads to stress, PTSD, depression and other problems that destroy our lives.
People hear the word “sociopath” and think of a crazy serial killer who looks obviously evil. They don’t think of a pastor, a school principal, a doctor or a friendly politician. It’s this lack of information and ability to recognize a sociopath that allows sociopaths to destroy social groups and drag down society at a basic level.
Sociopaths are estimated to be about 4% of the population, but they tend to be more common in organizations such as clubs or churches specifically because groups give them a good hunting ground to get attention and to find victims.
Because sociopaths are often charismatic, outgoing and fun on the surface, they can easily fit in in a group, dig in, and begin to spread their evil in very subtle ways. They use their flying monkeys as proxy abusers to attack their targets, and they can mount smear campaigns to destroy people…but because they use others to do it, no one really notices where the spirit of cruelty begins. But, the bullying and cruelty begins to spread until it’s considered normal and begins eating the group.
I have long been a member of a club that has turned from fun to a group that engages in cruelty and bullying for fun…and is proud of it. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a group destroyed by a sick person or a few of them. Sociopaths may only be 4% of general society, but it only takes a few evil people to destroy the rest. If one charming sociopath pushes bullying behavior and makes it “cool,” the darkness grows until even typically nice people join in. Very Lord of the Flies! We like to think most people are good and mean well, but under the influence of sociopathy and peer pressure, nearly anyone will become a bully. Just consider the Milgram experiments. People do what they are told, and people like to fit in. It’s only natural, but unfortunately, our human desires to fit in make us easy lemmings for predators. It’s like that old saying that one bad apple destroys the whole bunch. It’s true. One bad attitude can spread until everyone is in a grumpy mood. And one sociopath can do the same. Considering they are 4% of society, there are millions of these slimey boogers hurting people and poisoning society at all times.
Where are the good people while sociopaths are spreading their toxin? Well, some of them are joining in to be “cool,” but most are doing nothing. To speak out against bad behavior in a group where it’s become acceptable is to make yourself a target for mockery and bullying. Not many of us want to sacrifice our own peace of mind! It takes a lot of strength to speak up and bear the resulting attacks.
Just think of the little things sociopaths do to make society a less pleasant place–making workplaces less productive by spreading bad morale, making clubs hostile by encouraging bullying behavior, making families dysfunctional, making school a place that bullied kids will dread, making churches that are toxic and full of gossip…the list goes on. These little toxins might not be big news stories, but they show us the way nasty people can destroy our world in very simple ways.