A general principle of psychology is that while we humans recognize that there are different cultures, different religions, and that people enjoy doing different things we generally believe that, overall, others see the world pretty much as we do. This often leaves people confused when they look at the way political entities such as governments and large financial institutions act and wonder why their operations are so different than one would assume they should be. Perhaps the problem is not that those in charge are so bewildering, maybe the public should consider that many people of influence do not think as one might generally expect. Maybe they are psychopaths – and psychopaths are not like the average Joe on the street, nor are they as depicted in prime-time police dramas. They are far more charismatic, intelligent and cunning. In fact, you have probably voted for a few of them for office.
In my new book, “Freedom from Conscience – Deliverance from Evil” the heroine, Melanie Lindberg, is a young, articulate psychologist who has entered the world of politics. She hides a past that involved being a vigilante serial killer, only targeting evil people, but still violently taking the law in her own hands. How fitting that a person with many characteristics of psychopathy would find her new environment filled with people far more like her than she would have thought. And while this is a fictional psychological thriller perhaps it can shed light on characteristics that enable psychopaths to thrive in politics. I will list five of the traits we generally associate with psychopaths and examine how they can be an advantage to those seeking powerful positions. ( Review: http://finest.se/jasmincroft/ )
So what characteristics of a psychopath are actually assets in the political world? Let’s take a look:
1) Glib and superficial charm. This comes naturally to a psychopath. If she wants she can seduce you with her words and sell you a bag of salt if you are dying of thirst. She knows what to say to make you feel special and the center of the world. That is the #1 skill for a person desiring to rise in politics.
2) Grandiose self-worth. A psychopath knows he is special even as a child. While his friends dream of being a fireman or astronaut he fantasizes about being the president, or possessing super powers that would enable him to vanquish his enemies. He feels he has a destiny and that nothing should interfere with that. Of course the way we look upon ourselves has a huge impact on what directions we take in life, plus where else can you be the center of attention so often and have people feed your narcissistic needs?
3) Need for stimulation. He quickly gets bored with activities that most people find satisfying. He needs that adrenaline rush. The political world is a perfect place to find those thrills…as long as he can keep from getting into trouble, or is able to conceal it. Ironic that we expect our political leaders to be moral role models but the nature of the game rarely appeals to that sort of individual.
4) Cunning and manipulative. Well, naturally if you are involved in politics most of the people around you share your desire to climb the proverbial ladder. Like in “The Hunger Games” you have to be able to form alliances to survive, but then be willing to betray those around you to wind up the winner. In many cases there can be only one, right? And on top of this you have to be able to gain financial backing from powerful individuals, play the game with the media and also pretend to be just one of the regular folk when selling yourself to the masses. A difficult task to be sure, but a psychopath thrives off such an arena.
5) Lack of remorse or guilt. People expect politicians to promise them the world, to share their hopes and dreams, to really care for them. Such is not humanly possible to deliver on. So naturally a psychopath who feels little empathy anyway will not have trouble creating a bigger-than-life image of herself to the voters, all along knowing she can never deliver on what she claims. She will sleep well at night after a campaign rally…and even better once she is elected. Being a psychopath means never having to mean it when you say, “I’m sorry” when confronted over breaking a campaign promise, or having had to destroy whoever got in your way; after all, you won! The ends justify the means after all.
To be fair we really want to believe what politicians tell us. Yet just as the front of a women’s magazine uses computer digitization to alter the model’s picture into an unreal image of perfection we expect our favorite politicians to be as perfect in real life, while the ones we don’t like are the embodiment of Satan himself. Such a climate guarantees that politicians representing every party will be likely to rate high in psychopathic personality traits as winning is, after all, what really counts.
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