Patterico's Pontifications

12/26/2012

How Sociopaths Become Monsters

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:26 pm

Stacy McCain has a very insightful post. Excerpt:

This is how damaged people become monsters: They externalize their inner feelings of worthlessness as hatred of demonized scapegoats, whom they construct in their own minds as symbols of wrong, so that doing evil to the scapegoat is (in their twisted thinking) an act of righteousness. In the perverted mind of the obsessive sociopath, hatred of the scapegoat is thereby endowed with a heroic quality.

The peculiar “heroic hatred” directed at Andrew Breitbart by these monsters is not merely the product of politics, but rather an obverse reflection of their own damaged egos: Breitbart was famous and successful; they are obscure failures; his fame and success must therefore be re-imagined by them as unjust and symbolically evil.

Precisely so. I have seen this exact pattern play itself out, again and again.

33 Responses to “How Sociopaths Become Monsters”

  1. It’s actually very, very rare for someone to do something they believe is for evil. Usually, somehow, they’ve made themselves believe that they are serving some noble purpose.

    Like Richard Dawkin’s attacks on religion – completely irrational and hateful but he justifies it by claiming that he’s opposing something hateful and irrational.

    scrubone (b15b10)

  2. I don’t think it’s as rare as you’d think, scrubone.

    Ghost (2d8874)

  3. Good thing we rarely see the tolerant left use eliminationist rhetoric, even metaphorically, against those with whom they have disagreements.

    /sarc

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  4. Ask George Soros.

    mg (31009b)

  5. I’ve heard scrubone’s claim that it’s “very, very rare for someone to do something they believe is for evil” many times, and I think it has some merit. At any rate, it is a mental exercise that (good) writers and other storytellers use when working-out the motivations for their villains.

    I think it’s because the writers are generally morally-grounded people who are trying to imagine their character’s perspective, a perspective that could allow them to feel justified in their misdeeds.

    It’s not that difficult, actually. Every person, even good people, feel justified in their misdeeds and will go to elaborate lengths to create stories where their cheating, lying, stealing, or use of the Oxford comma are required by necessity.

    Of course, what makes someone appear good is the relative unimportance of their sins (on the human scale), or their skill at constructing these stories.

    Pious Agnostic (20c167)

  6. OR seems very determined to live in a world where no one cares for anything decent.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  7. The Oxford comma is the noblest and most rational punctuation mark.

    Leviticus (17b7a5)

  8. Top ruiner of Panda jokes, though.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  9. Patrick, this reminds me of what Eric Hoffer said about people who join mass movements:

    “Common hatred unites the most heterogeneous elements. To share a common hatred, with an enemy even, is to infect him with a feeling of kinship, and thus sap his powers of resistance.”

    Hoffer said that the strongest unifying agent is hatred. That’s what radical mass movements use to organize mobs.

    peter (dfde9b)

  10. This same pattern is being created in society as the dems and leftists develope a sense of entitlement and foster animosity against the achievers of society. So, it will not be just “damaged” people who will be a problem.

    The achievers will be attacked not only by government for the “takers” but, by the “takers” directly. When the “takers” don’t feel they are getting enough through the government they will believe they have the right to take themselves.

    The approach this administration takes by demonizing successful people will lead to anarchy. obama will achieve his goal of “fundamentally changing the country.”

    Jim (ba6a58)

  11. The peculiar “heroic hatred” directed at Andrew Breitbart by these monsters is not merely the product of politics

    But in his case I’d guess most of those who dislike him are fueled by political/ideological biases. That type of reaction exists on both sides of the political divide. However, what irks me most about typical liberals is they’re so deluded that they believe leftist sentiment emanates from a wonderful, compassionate, generous, tolerant part of the human soul, in themselves and other like-minded people.

    Truly laughable and absurd when studies of human nature reveal that liberalism, ironically enough — and made even worse with the increasingly secular nature of modern America and Western culture — apparently manifests from just the opposite of positive human traits. Hence, the well-known phrase of “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    Mark (94cc2f)

  12. I disagree, Mark, in this one way: I don’t think Stacy’s quoted monsters believe they come from a compassionate, generous, tolerant view, but one of bitterness and contempt for the pretentions of the whole human race and its failure to elevate them to a place they believe they’ve been wrongfully denied.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  13. A good read from Britain via Ace. Sociopaths and the liberals who want to– and try to— love them. (With predictible results). IOW you’re probably both right, Mark and SarahW.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/26/my-inner-anarchist-lost-out-bourgeois

    elissa (c14897)

  14. Look into the souls of some monsters…

    People wishing George HW Bush would die

    Chuck Bartowski (988f6b)

  15. “Monsters” operate outside the bounds of society.
    That we find so few of them says a lot about the strides we, as a civilization, have made from our more primitive, brutish, past.
    Though, we must be reminded, that the “monster” can never be completely vanquished, requiring our constant vigilance.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  16. There are monsters in every town… every city… under every child’s bed… steer clear of the moors…

    Colonel Haiku (7d1efc)

  17. and rauhauser is truly abby normal.

    Colonel Haiku (7d1efc)

  18. Chuck @9:40am, the rabid Left never got over the public’s display of affection for Ronald Reagan.

    When Reagan died they had to bite their tongues and bide their time because revealing their true feelings would have exposed a deep and malignant hatred for a man most Americans loved and admired. Open over-the-top expressions of unhinged animosity for Reagan would have prominently demonstrated just how out-of-step the core Left is with the national zeitgeist.

    Now, since it’s only a Bush on his deathbed, the Left’s shock troops are gearing up for a big time blood festival of scurrilous vituperation of the sort they haven’t enjoyed since the heady days of their sick assaults on Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome child.

    ropelight (ccdf30)

  19. There are monsters in every town… every city… under every child’s bed… steer clear of the moors…

    Comment by Colonel Haiku (7d1efc)

    You are right, and this is something I naively did not realize.

    Sarah’s comment #12 is right on the money, too. One thing I’ve gained from this mess is that I now have a better tuned radar about who to trust. Those who spend their time finding ways to blame others for their problems shouldn’t be relied upon or trusted in life. They will lash out selfishly because they thing the world revolves around them. It’s a basic character issue, and not a subtle one.

    Anyway, I am so tired of these people.

    Dustin (73fead)

  20. I wish someone would inject the “happy face” bomber into the gun control dictations. Remember the scene from Magnum Force where Dirty Harry’s partner is killed by a mailbox bomb? We had a nut spouting leftwing rhetoric leaving bombs in our mailboxes in the Dubuque area. Several people were hurt, but not killed. The left said he was a right winger acting out, but the rhetoric came directly from Daily Kos and the DNC.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  21. Stacy is so very right – there are people who will hate you for what is best about you, not what is the worst. In fact, both Ayn Rand an Jesus told us this would happen.

    bridget (38c26a)

  22. The left said he was a right winger acting out, but the rhetoric came directly from Daily Kos and the DNC.

    That’s always the case. The same thing happened with Mussolini and Hitler.

    Steve57 (b64cdf)

  23. And John Stack in Austin, and Bedell in Arlington, (that one went straight down the memory hole) and Dr. Amy bishop,

    narciso (3fec35)

  24. Boston Herald: A family source said Amy Bishop”was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting.”

    Because of her love for her fellow beings.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  25. And she had shot her brother, so many years ago,

    narciso (3fec35)

  26. They externalize their inner feelings of worthlessness as hatred of demonized scapegoats, whom they construct in their own minds as symbols of wrong, so that doing evil to the scapegoat is (in their twisted thinking) an act of righteousness. In the perverted mind of the obsessive sociopath, hatred of the scapegoat is thereby endowed with a heroic quality.

    Gee, sounds like a lot of liberals I could mention.

    Dirty Old Man (c53f09)

  27. Except for legal issues (where intent is an issue), I don’t care what people’s intent or motivations are. What matters is whether their acts are destructive or dangerous. The incessant internet attacks and political SWATtings are both.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  28. 25. Who knows, he mighta turned out a Black Sheep conservative.

    Doubt if any of her colleagues were.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  29. If not for the DA who refused to file a case, and went on to bigger things, she wouldn’t have made it into academia,

    narciso (3fec35)

  30. 29. Wonder how retirement’s treating him? Prolly lapping Guiness in some Irish pub.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  31. They externalize their inner feelings of worthlessness

    And the fear that others might recognize that they are indeed inadequate or worthless, requires them to compensate by acting overconfident or tough.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  32. Stacy McCain is combining different things, and it’s wrong for all of them.

    I doubt any of the people most against Breitbart believe anything they’re saying. The motive of those people originating the libels is to be important – and thereby get things.

    There is also the motive to convince other people that what they are doing is justified.

    And then Breitbart’s activities could have impacted Neal R. and company, even if he didn’t know it yet. A little bit of this is self-defense, (of something that’s not entitled to be defended.)

    Sammy Finkelman (64e777)

  33. 13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/26/my-inner-anarchist-lost-out-bourgeois

    He was an anarchist in the sense that he (and others) really opposed police.

    He and others were dealing with two people whom they were trying to treat as if they had good character, but they really didn’t. Because they needed a bit of goodwill, they would sometimes cave in and return something they had stolen, but they just didn’t respect the general principle of not stealing.

    The writer of this mentioned that the man he met again later was wearing a coat that looked just like the one he’d lost.

    He realized, at the end, it was not a coat that looked his old coat, it was the very same coat, and it had been stolen! Although he doesn’t say that. (I was kind of wondering how two coats, that didn’t have a particular well known brand name or something, could be so similar.)

    He stops there and doesn’t tell you what he did or said. Nothing?

    Sammy Finkelman (64e777)


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