Narcissist, Psychopath, Sociopath, Pathocracy, and more
List of key terms discussed on the site, such as: Narcissist, Dark Triad, Pathocracy, etc. You’ll hear these terms a lot here and may not be clear on what they mean.
Sociopath – Dark Triad
I use this term to refer to anyone with one or more of the Dark Triad traits: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy. See also: Evil. Professionals in the field may be more precise, but for our purposes, we usually don’t need to know the difference. The exception is the Narcissistic Psychopath, or Malignant Narcissist. All three types of sociopath share some common characteristics, they are expressed differently. Common traits of sociopaths:
- All are capable only of caring about themselves. Some are good at pretending they care, but they literally cannot as they lack the parts of the mind necessary. This is critical, because it means they cannot care about things like ‘the future,’ or other people’s children, or democracy.
- All are thieves of one kind or another – all steal from us. The psychopaths who kill or rape others for fun are stealing lives or innocence, and taking great pleasure in it. Sociopathic CEOs pillage companies while running them into the ground, often walking away with a ‘golden parachute.’ Garden variety sociopaths you may have the misfortune of encountering at work or in personal life steal joy and happiness, steal your ideas as their own, get promotions they don’t deserve, get people fired who didn’t deserve it, and enjoy messing with people generally.
- All are fundamentally arrogant. They believe that they are superior to all others. In one sense they are: they are superior individuals but a society of sociopaths would tear itself apart in no time. All see humans as prey.
- They lie shamelessly, because to them, winning and domination are the most important things in life, and how they are achieved is irrelevant. They see people who play by the rules as weak fools.
- They often appear brilliant but are generally not. Sociopaths get ahead because they read humans better than we know ourselves, are highly manipulative and assertive, freely take risks, even reckless ones, and are supremely confident. The rest of us see this self-assurance and assume it must stem from great competence, but sociopaths are hollow.
We all have a tiny core of narcissism – without it, we wouldn’t last long as we’d have zero self-worth and would see no value in our own life. This core was discovered by Sigmund Freud and he considered it one of his greatest, and it has been validated clinically over the years. However, narcissists are pretty much nothing but narcissism.
Someone whose main personality trait is narcissism. This is far deeper than it sounds, because it is immutable. Narcissists are not people who have more narcissism than most of us, they are people defined by their narcissism – there is little else to them. They are more than simply vain or arrogant, they are permanently insufferable and dangerous. Companies have been known to choose narcissists as CEO (Elon Musk is one) because they have unshakable faith in their grand vision that they push everyone relentlessly toward. Eventually, the downsides to a narcissist become unbearable and if lucky, the company can rid itself of him before he destroys the company.
Evil schemers with zero moral code that a human would recognize. They plot and manipulate with no care for others, only the achievement of their own goals. They use, abuse, and discard people as useful. “Moscow” Mitch McConnell is likely one. He cares not about US democracy, only his own position. They are named after Niccolò Machiavelli, who essentially wrote one of the first books on corporate or political leadership. The methods he advised were highly manipulative and immoral from the human point of view.
Psychopaths are bold – some would say reckless – uninhibited, and mean. They tend to ooze confidence, are socially assertive, and are highly manipulative, leading them to get their way readily even as they leave a trail of destroyed lives in their wake. A common misconception is that psychopaths are murderous lunatics, but in fact only a few are – the rest live and work among us, and make our life and life in general miserable.
Also known as a Malignant Narcissist, this particular type of sociopath deserves its own explanation because it is so incredibly dangerous. Experts believe that all, or almost all modern dictators are (or were) malignant narcissists. They are malignant like cancer, but for an entire society. Examples of malignant narcissists: Putin, Trump, Hitler, Modi, Bolsonaro, Pol Pot.
A pathocracy forms when sociopaths take control of a country. The entire country becomes deeply pathological, meaning evil reigns supreme. Competence becomes irrelevant as cronies and sycophants occupy all positions of authority and act capriciously. Many government systems collapse as those in power neglect them or actively destroy them. A good example is the justice system, an early casualty when sociopaths take power. Honest, law-abiding judges are replaced with those loyal to the sociopath-in-charge, and laws becomes whims. This type of country is soul-destroying for decent humans, and is probably why so many Soviet men became raging alcoholics and died very young – hope and decency were destroyed and insanity and cruelty ruled. The United States is very close to becoming a pathocracy.
The whole idea of good versus evil has fallen out of favour, but it’s time to revive it. There are people who are evil. Period. Not all of us are God’s children, or have the potential to be good. Some people have no good in them, they are simply evil and we have a right and responsibility to protect ourselves from them. Sociopaths are evil because their brains are non-human – they lack the parts of the mind that give us empathy and as a result have no conscience, cannot love anyone, and are supremely self-centred.