There are three major failures in society that (secretly) enable sociopaths to engage in, and get away with, their atrocious behavior:
- We don’t know that sociopaths exist.
- We don’t understand psychological manipulation.
- We aren’t taught to use the one tool that can protect us.
Approximately 39 million people in the United States may have exploitative personality disorders — antisocial, narcissistic or borderline. These are the people I refer to as “sociopaths.” Most of us don’t know they exist.
In 2011, the scientific journal Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience published an article that examined previous studies of the prevalence of personality disorders in the United States and around the world. The authors examined five American and four international studies, dating back to 1989, and the studies consistently showed that about 10% of the general population has personality disorders.
Cultural myths that blind us to danger
All our lives, we hear cultural messages in church, school and the media, like the following:
“We’re all created equal.”
“We all just want to be loved.”
“Everybody has good inside.”
Unfortunately, these statements are not true for everybody. They are only true for the majority of the population who are capable of normal love and empathy. The statements are not true for the approximately 16% who have antisocial, narcissistic, or borderline personality disorders.
No one tells us that there are exceptions to these feel-good maxims. No one tells us that human predators live among us, and that we need to protect ourselves from them.
In fact, we hear messages that put us in even more danger, like:
“Everyone deserves a second chance.”
“Give him/her the benefit of the doubt.”
“We all have issues/problems/flaws.”
The bottom line: We don’t know that we likely are around personality-disordered people who want to take advantage of us. And when we do experience or witness bad behavior, we’re told to explain it away.
Human beings are social animals, and our survival as a species was assured over the millennia because we developed the ability to trust each other. Trust is built into our DNA.
When sociopaths target us for manipulation, the first step is taking advantage of our trust. They use love bombing, deception and the pity play to reel us in.
The big picture of our cultural messages:
- We are surrounded by millions of predators, but no one tells us about them.
- We are encouraged to trust everyone, including the predators.
- We are discouraged from listening to our intuition, which protects us from predators.
Image courtesy Spiderpic.com