Is Sociopathy an Advantage or Disadvantage in Survival?
Have you ever met someone face-to-face that seemed relatively normal at first, but after a short time they began to reveal odd and disturbing character traits? They showed an inability to laugh at their own mistakes and only laughed at other people’s expense? They had an obsessive need to tear down the legitimate accomplishments of others to elevate themselves? They were robotic and overly predictable in their daily routines? They lacked remorse for any actions that harmed other people? They tended to exploit the people around them for entertainment or personal gain? They often bragged about how far they were willing to break moral boundaries to get what they wanted, as if this makes them superior to others with a conscience?
Well, you might have been dealing with a sociopath, or narcissistic sociopath.
It’s not uncommon to run into strange characters such as this in your daily life. They act a bit like aliens, or impostors trying to mimic human behavior but not doing a great job of it. They use various tricks often reserved for grifters and con-men in order to blend in with normal society. They’ll make grand promises of future gains and a better tomorrow to entice people to orbit them. They’ll make villains out of numerous neighbors around them to frighten the rest into joining their self-interested projects. And they are indulgent with their past, exaggerating or fabricating their own accomplishments, having no evidence to show to support their own claims and relying merely on image rather than proof to generate attention.
These creatures are like a cancer, or like parasites. They’ll feed off of anyone they can find that does not recognize them for what they are. When too many people start to figure out the con and expose them, they move on, to another town, another state, even another country to find a fresh pool of victims.
They tend to gravitate to certain professions and vocations. They like any environment where they can accumulate power and influence, or places where they can siphon people’s money or enthusiasm without being noticed. This includes politics, religious institutions, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement, or social causes and activist groups. Unfortunately, this includes causes like the liberty movement.
Around one out of every 10 people will have latent characteristics of sociopaths; meaning, they will sometimes take actions that match with sociopathic behavior, but they are otherwise normal in their day to day life. As long as the rule of law is in place, they will not act in a destructive manner. But, when your society begins to break down due to economic or political conditions, you will have a problem with them.
Around 1% to 5% percent of people are what some call “high level” or full-blown narcissistic sociopaths. These are the people that exhibit most or all of the characteristics, including a complete lack of empathy and a willingness to harm others for personal gain. The worst of the worst are those sociopaths that actually enjoy hurting others, even if there is nothing material to be gained. These are the sociopaths that become grand scale thieves and embezzlers, murderers, rapists and pedophiles.
Avoiding these monsters is of the utmost importance if you want to lead a happy life. This means kicking them out of your circle of friends, ending romantic relationships, quitting a job in which they are in a position of authority, or even ignoring a family member if they have such traits. But what about in a survival situation? Do these people have an advantage? Or, is there an advantage to emulating their behavior?
In my travels in the liberty movement I have run into quite a few high-level narcissistic sociopaths, many of whom are simply watching and waiting for a crisis event to unfold. They are attracted to the survival world for a number of reasons; some of them want to become like land barons or feudal lords ruling over others that toil away on their homesteads in the hopes of finding a safe place during a collapse. Some of them have delusions of grandeur in which they are lone wolves prowling the countryside taking whatever they please from weaker people and families. Some of them are just excited for the end of rule of law, because they are tired of hiding their own true natures and they think it will be an opportunity to act on their darker impulses.
One attitude very common with sociopaths is that they desperately want others to join them in their sociopathy. They want to convince others that to act without empathy and to ignore conscience is an absolute necessity for survival. They see themselves as the top of the food chain, and anyone with a conscience as prey. They want others to adopt the same viewpoint because deep down they know they are not really human, they are something rather “demonic.” They want to prove that everyone else is “just as bad as they are” given the right circumstances.
I have seen sociopathic encouragement within survival circles, and I have even seen it in the work of some survival writers. The solution is always the same with them — the only way to survive is to ignore moral boundaries and act like a monster. “The bad guys will be ruthless, and so must you be,” they often argue.
Much of popular media is saturated with this narrative as well. The hero almost always acts without conscience, he is barely a step above the villains. He has no foresight, he is reactionary, destructive, dangerous to others and has no thoughts of collateral damage. The only thing that sets him apart in these stories is that his goal is “more just” than the goal of the villains. Otherwise, their methods are basically the same. And we are meant to cheer for these characters. We are meant to adopt their ideology.
Generally, when sociopathic behavior is encouraged in the survival community it is predicated on a specific set of events and conditions, and these conditions are taken as inevitable instead of a matter of choice. For example, sociopathic survivalists will argue against the idea of building community BEFOREa collapse occurs, even though pre-built community would help greatly in mutual security, production of necessities, as well as mutual trust. Sociopaths will claim that most of your friends and neighbors are suspect, they are all a potential threat, and you should isolate yourself with as few people as possible to mitigate that threat.
Then, they argue that because you are more isolated you must be more ruthless and act without conscience in order to survive. You must be more like them. See how that works? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Isolation in survival is pure stupidity and in the vast majority of cases will end in failure and death. While there are people out there who claim to have survived disasters using the lone wolf method or something similar, I find these to be poor examples of survival, rather than stories of triumph.
First and foremost, if someone was forced to use the lone wolf method of survival and act in monstrous ways to thrive, then it means they did not have the insight to see the disaster coming in the first place and prepare accordingly. They didn’t leave ground zero before the crisis, they stayed because they had no observational skills. They had no community because they never saw the danger ahead, or they didn’t see the advantage. Even then, they could have been organizers and tried to rebuild after the fact, but instead they stayed isolated and predatory because they felt it was easier.
This is not a person I’m going to take survival advice from.
Sociopaths don’t create, they destroy. And so, their solutions will always involve destruction. This makes them an undesirable presence in any environment. Beyond this, it is actually the sociopaths that tend to be singled out for removal from communities during crisis events. They are seen as a potential time bomb and are not wanted in most cases. To emulate a sociopath is to reduce your chances of survival, not increase them.
I’ll relate to you a true example of this…
Years ago, after I first came to Montana, I was introduced to an older survival couple seeking help. They appeared pleasant enough at first, and they had done much to prepare, including setting up a homestead with a small number of livestock. They asked for my help in finding a handful of people who would be interested in organizing a preparedness community based around their farm.
I was happy to help because connecting groups together locally is what I constantly promote in my own solutions-based essays. Sadly, with this particular group there was a major problem
After connecting the couple with a half-dozen preppers, they seemed to go radio silent on the project. They kept stalling when I asked to attend one of their meetings. The people I had recommended were rather tight lipped but visibly unhappy about the arrangement. Finally, I was able to sit in on a group meeting and was astonished to find the farm owners treating the attendees like serfs.
They composed long lists of gear and goods that the group was supposed to purchase and leave on the property, essentially as payment to the couple for the “privilege” of staying there if and when a crisis took place. These goods did not belong to the individuals that purchased them, they belonged to “the group,” which meant they belonged to the couple. The gear list became more and more expensive and outrageous over time.
The male farm owner was often overheard discussing how “lucky” the group would be just to stay on his land, and that they had better work until their hands bled, otherwise they would be kicked out, which would be a death sentence. Keep in mind, the groups were made up of highly competent people with valuable skill sets, each of them with a solid work ethic, but still they were being treated as an ungrateful and lazy labor pool and a disaster had not even happened yet.
The couple were also overheard (by me) discussing what would be necessary in a survival environment, and what lines they would be willing to cross. This included taking the children of “enemies” hostage and possibly killing them.
So, you might be saying to yourself “Well isn’t this an example of how community building can be a bad thing…?” But I haven’t finished yet…
The homestead couple was clearly narcissistic and sociopathic. They had delusions of grandeur in which they believed that eventually the entire town would revolve around their little homemade fiefdom. They somehow thought that their farm made them extraordinarily valuable, and that this meant everyone else would have to work for them. Their knowledge base was passable, but they were hardly self-sufficient and lacked basic security know-how. Without the aid and skill sets of many others, they were doomed. Their farm would be taken, and they would probably be killed in a crisis event.
They had no clue what a true community was, let alone how to adapt to one. Each individual within the community is supposed to bring something to the table to advance the cause of surviving and thriving. Without the individuals and their skills, the group is nothing. Without the security and production ability of the group, the individual’s survival chances are slim.
Needless to say, the group quickly disbanded. The sociopathic homestead couple was shunned, and few were willing to associate with them let alone work with them. They are universally hated in the small town they reside; mention their names to random people there and most times they will roll their eyes and shake their heads. The couple had burned every bridge they had come across, as sociopaths usually do. Now, they have moved to a different homestead deeper in the mountains and are extremely isolated. But I can tell you that in the event of a collapse it is unlikely their presence will be tolerated, even way out there.
To be sure, there are times when violence is necessary, even preferable, in the face of evil people. I would never discount the need to respond to violence with violence. I’ve spent most of my 37 years of life training for the eventuality, and there have been times where I had to hurt someone else because it was the only way to stop them from doing something worse.
However, survival in itself isNOTan imperative. It is not the only goal. People who seek to survive without principles are not worthy of survival. They are not going to come out the other side of a disaster and build something better. Again, sociopaths do not know how to create, they only know how to destroy. There are those that think there are no moral lines when it comes to survival, and they believe in a scorched earth philosophy. They will try to get you to go along with this way of thinking, not because they care about what happens to you, but because they want to prove that you or anyone could be as evil as them given the right amount of pressure. The ability to step on the bodies of others (figuratively or literally) for short term gain does not offset the longer term consequences this behavior often reaps.
Empathy and conscience are survival advantages because they allow people to work together. Sociopathy in the end is not an advantage, but a detriment.
The idea that our actions will not come back to haunt us as long as we are living through a collapse is fantasy. Sociopaths will get their due karma, and it will likely be communities of people with conscience that will visit that karma upon them. Take this into serious account when considering a survival strategy. Remember, sociopaths tend to fail in life unless they can keep their proclivities hidden. It will not be any different during crisis. To be openly sociopathic would be a death sentence for many. Why adopt such a stupid tactic for survival?
By Brandon Smith