Sunday, May 11, 2014

Are Psychopaths Suited For The Army?

Claire -a Reader who doesn't mind having her name mentioned in this Article - has asked me to say something about My Thoughts about Psychopaths and The Army. Would The Army be an Answer to Society's Problem with Psychopaths? How would Psychopaths do in The Army? Are we, the Psychopaths, even Suited For an Army Career?

Claire writes:
Hello there,
I'm a non psychopath and I was wondering if the army, special forces would be a good career path and a practical one for a psychopath? Would a psychopath have less of an issue with things like post traumatic stress disorders? If that's the case, would they also make good aid workers? ... Just came across Kevin dutton and the researcher with a psychopathic brain. Do they answer my question?

I believe Kevin Dutton and James Fallon (the 'researcher with a psychopathic brain') do give the fundamentals of an answer to your question. Kevin Dutton is definitely one of the most positive voices out there when it comes to psychopathy, and he's right about psychopaths in many ways being perfect for some types of army careers. The reasons will be obvious to people who already know something about what drives a psychopath, but let me mention a few things:

  • Psychopaths don't have the normal person's moral and emotional problems with killing another member of their own species, another human being.
  • Psychopaths crave excitement, a lot of us need to live fast and dangerously, and there are few careers that come with the degree of excitement and danger as does The Army (<-- check out the link).
  • As result of the alienation that most psychopaths experience via their upbringing and their experiences in early adulthood often means that we end up living lives that lack purpose, direction and consistency(1*).

(1*) - My troubles with keeping this blog consistently is a symptom of this. The fact that I am being coerced to some extent by the threat of going back to prison if I don't keep writing new content (and I don't believe that the psychopathy research team really needs my texts - maybe at first, but not anymore). They're using their power to force me because they believe in a strict consequential approach to psychopaths because (they believe) we "can't understand normal reasoning and must be threatened and the threats must be swiftly followed up with unpleasant consequences when we do not comply. - Obviously this approach only works to the very least of any possible potential, and I'm not the only one to chose opposition whenever possible (ref. the months when I very recently was back staying at the facility - a prison, in fact - because I refused to write).


The answer to your question about whether Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would be/is an issue for psychopaths as a result of having served in the army or special forces, is: No, it is not and would not be an issue. And this is one of the reasons why (some) psychopaths would do very well with a career in the army's special forces. We (psychopaths) tend to be able to observe, participate, or conduct the most violently horrendous activities and go straight home afterwards and sleep through the night like a baby.

Death and violence just doesn't affect us the same way that it does normal people, indeed to many if not most psychopaths having access to or being involved in brutal violence would make life - a life many of us find colorless and dull - very interesting, fascinating, even exciting - these, the very elements that psychopaths so often have great difficulty functioning without, and which further is often what makes the basis for taking to committing various atrocities that some psychopaths resort to - where to a normal person it is at best something to get through and leave behind as fast as possible (IF possible).

I have met psychopaths who served in the French Legion, and I don't doubt that there are quite a few psychopaths who has built a career within the army as it is. The problem occurs when a psychopath has become maladjusted and don't fit in well with society.

So there are some 'but's...

As I describe elsewhere, not all psychopaths are capable of living a lifestyle dominated by strict routine, and there are quite a few psychopaths who have great issues with authorities of any type (due to very bad experiences during upbringing and the results thereof which often includes a lot of illegal activities and ergo more bad experiences with authorities abusing their position of power etc).

But the main reason that most professionals put forth for why psychopaths should not be given opportunities to make a career in the army is that there have been some reports over time about individuals - who were found to be psychopaths - taking chances that put their own and others' lives at risk, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Of course, my argument - and likely Dutton's as well - is that these cases were psychopaths who had not been recognized to be psychopaths prior to their entry into the army along with the fact that the army has no programs designed especially for psychopaths. Yet armies and authorities all over the earth (f.x. the CIA, and possibly the FBI) have had great use of specially trained psychopathic individuals for decades; indeed, psychopaths have been used for certain particularly violent and life threatening types of combat - especially such where only one agent is chosen for a mission which is then designed so as to have the greatest possibility for this particular person to complete successfully - from the 'dawn' of civilization throughout the history of mankind.

So my answer, when asked if I think it would be a good idea to train known psychopaths to undertake special types of military missions as a living career, is Yes, absolutely. But...

...But at this point in time society in general lacks knowledge, and the military so not least. Even in the police force knowledge about psychopathy is largely absent, or very limited at best - which seems unbelievable giving the seriousness and necessity of awareness and education especially among those who works the most close up with combating criminal violence in society.

But it doesn't stop there: With the exception of the individual politician here and there who happens to be a psychopath themselves and who have somehow got the idea of checking it out there's also no real knowledge about psychopathy to speak of in political and governmental circles. And for the politicians who are themselves psychopaths you can guess what their likelihood of talking about their findings are. The word 'psychopath' hardly appear in the vocabulary of politics, and this is sad because these are the very people who might have the greatest possibility of understanding what those of us out here are saying and trying to get across.

In short: We need political support to start programs that operate with approaching the concept of psychopathy in a positive proactive manner, and those in power who do know enough to possibly support such a proposition aren't likely to do so any time soon, whereas the rest - those who aren't educated about psychopathy from the perspective that Dutton and I are advocating - will find the very idea abhorrent if not outright ridiculous, and that means it won't be given the legal backup that is necessary for such a program to take off. Furthermore, when we're talking about the army it's not a matter for the individual state to decide, decisions will have to made from the top.

I hope in the future that some effort will be made to change that because it could be the perfect answer to many psychopathic individuals. I need only think of myself. It is very likely that had I been given an opportunity, meaning had I been recognized for what I am early on - not in the sense that I was different in a 'wrong' way and therefore bad, but that I had a certain potential - I might never have killed people in the way that I have, indeed I might not even have grown up to become so widely antisocial as I was. The way I was treated during childhood and youth led to me thinking of the army as another rigid way for society to make people conform and I never considered joining. I'm not sure I would've been cut out for the army as such, but I might have done very well in the special forces giving I had been trained for solitary and/or leading positions as an agent who worked with dangerous missions out in the field. I can't say for certain if an understanding of my condition might have changed that, but especially in my early years I craved aknowledgment as well as excitement so I consider it a great possibility that it would have.

I have to say that I think it is doubtful whether such a program could succeed at this point in time, exactly because of the lack of knowledge and lack of understanding of the psychopath condition, but with the recent changes that have begun to unfold in field of psychopathy research - perhaps not the kind I am part of, but maybe even that will be put to good use down the road - I'm thinking of what I have seen among researchers such as Dutton and Fallon along with the more and more psychopathic individuals who are being given room and attention in the media - I have better hopes for the future than I had less than a year ago.


Anonymous said...

I like this article very much - but I wish to add a few things Zhawq.

I am a psychopath, and in the very near future, if I don't end up in jail after my trial against some serious false accusations, I intend to join the army.

I also have a psychopath friend who is high up in in military intelligence as a Senior military policeman/forensic investigator.

The army knows all about psychopathy, they even take a more balanced view than the psychology field, agreeing there is an antisocial spectrum, and they note the difference between sociopaths and a particular kind of psychopath that equates to a "super" soldier.

My friend tells me, the army says the rate of antisocial personalities runs at 1/30 in normal society, but 1/10 in the military. They go to great lengths to accurately identify this. The super soldier I mentioned, is greatly prized and it is estimated that although they make up only 1-2% of the armed forces, they account for about half of all enemy casualties on the battlefield.

This super soldier is a sort of sociopath/psychopath, they are the hardcore born sociopath like myself, which is really much more psychopathic than sociopathic in most terms. They are genetic in origin, are born with much of the hardcore psychopathic features from birth, but also naturally undergo emotional change as well, those parts that are typical at birth, natural progress into the hardcore psychopathic territory.

I hate authority, but I'm sure focusing on my goals, I'm not going to get emotional and put off by staff sergeants yelling at me and strict routine and conformity. My father was half psychopathic and fought in Vietnam, and although he didn't get P.T.S.D. like most of his comrades, it did effect him greatly. He was by all accounts, an asset though,keeping calm and maintaining morale of his unit and helping to keep everyone's shit together.

As for your program, you would have thought they would be aware that strict authoritarian consequences doesn't meld so well with psychopaths, they would be better using rewards to get their desired outcomes.

IN relation to politics and the police, both are becoming much more aware, as is the public. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have all been publicly named by other politicians and the media as being psychopaths.

My experience with the police also shows me many of them are quite aware of us, hold us in dim confines and our eyes tend to give us away, as well as reacting quit different from most when deprived of liberty and things to keep us interested. I also note many sociopaths in the police force.

Times are changing, may depend a lot on where you live though. Many musicians and actors are at the fore of this, as well as people like you and me. Have to give this Kevin Dutton guy a go too.

Thank you, keep em coming mate..

Anonymous said...

I read this because when I was in Afghanistan there was a guy who's definitely a psychopath. The things he'd say, and there was two times where he almost caused us all to get killed because he blew our cover by taking a shot at the enemy before the sign was given.

He was never reported and from what I heard he's still in the army.

The army do what they can to weed out psychopaths. Especially for sergeants and above. It knows they exist but don't talk about it to outsiders.

The French Legion could be the exception though if you want to join and tell them that "btw, I'm a psychopath, hope it don't matter", then you'll prolly not get in.

I'm joining the French Legion later this year.

Anonymous said...

Hello Zhawq,

thank you for your article. I don't believe in army. Why should someone waste his life for others?

And I can understand you, that you don't like to keep the blog alive, when all the time somesone's looking over your shoulder who can send you back to prison. So you must have the feeling to please them in a way.

I was in a relationship with a (I don't like to label people) man who showed up some strange traits, let s say it like that. A lot of manipulation and lying, but charming as well. It was a bit like meeting an alien. He is a doctor and works in a hospital. I liked his kind of perception. Never met someone like that before. Opened up a new world.

After the (neverending, because he loved to have tabs on me) relationship I was left with many questionmarks in my head. What was this?

Then I did some research and found in the internet victim sites and sites like sociopathworld and I must admit, your blog explained it the best. I like your attitude, how you explain it. So that now I am (maybe) able to understand this really intense meeting with him.
Thank you for that.

You are doing a great job. Maybe you just write, what you like to write, also just short notes, thoughts, whatever suits you in a regulary basis. I am pretty sure, you will enjoy it and you will find great insights. Or you just answer questions from your readers. Just a thought.

take care and sorry for my english

Anonymous said...

the army knows psychopaths exist and they have the PCL-R and other tests made for the special use of the army to spot psychopaths who seek to join.
Yes, the French Legion is the only officially known army to take in psychopathic people and they know about psychopaths as well as any army faction.

Like you write, the problem is that the army {or armies} don't know psychopaths exist but that they don't have the in depth understanding.
It's that understanding that would make it possible to make custom made training programs and missions, that they lack.

I went to the websites you have made links for and some of them give me some hope. I have always thought it's wrong to malify minorities.
First it was the Christians, then the Christians did the same to the pagans and everybody else who don't believe in Jesus, and then it was the homosexual, then the high functioning autists, and now it's the psychopaths.

You're doing the right thing, Zhawq, and you are proof that not all psychopaths are all bad. I don't know how much you abuse people in private, but you do a lot of good to a lot of others including myself.

Anonymous said...

Oh I should have said: The French Army is the only army who takes in psychopaths willingly.
Just thought I would add that. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

^wrong, most world militaries are full of psychopaths, they try and figure out who are the assets and duds. They don't advertise this though.
If you can't stick to the team plan or your a danger to yourself and others, then that makes you unsuitable. Psychopaths and others who fall on the antisocial spectrum are over represented statistically in the armed forces.

Many serial killers have had a military background, though a large proportion of them where dismissed or deserted.

Anonymous said...

Zhawq, could you write an article on pets. Personally, I find that people usually have a really strange and off putting, they seem retarded to me,literally, level of attachment and sentiment towards these possessions.

The lady talking to her dog in a baby voice as she walks it in public seems so desperately lonely and deranged. The dog owners that let their yappy little mutts bark incessantly, even when they have special guests over who they go to great trouble and expense to cater for and keep up appearances, then they let their dogs yap so profusely and loudly they can barely have a conversation. They even do this in the face of guests who obviously don't appreciate

I can understand people liking their pets, they wouldn't have them if they didn't, but I find that people act in with a bizarre level of endearment, they feed their dogs organic heart smart mince, their cats salmon and caviar, wont feed them anything containing preservatives, pamper them to within an inch of their life, while not seeking or expecting this level of food or lifestyle for themselves.

Even their children don't get treated like this. It seems as if their pets are half human baby half royalty. Makes me want to hurt their beloved spoiled possession.?????????


JackMS said...

Perhaps this comment is too late... Anyways, I have been reading your website for some time now. I find some of this interesting. On this specific topic, I would have to say yes, the military is great for psychopaths. While authority can be an issue at times, it is not an issue as long as the individual is able to fulfill their wants and needs. I have been in the military and been to Ft. Bragg where SWTG is. I know them and the area. I would not doubt it if 75% of SF were psychopaths. They have their own screening tests by psychologists before allowing one to join their ranks. Anyways, keep up the work. I look forward to reading more of your writings.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that I was in the Marine Corps intelligence field and the only issue I faced was that I was not promoted and not given the proper authority to lead the marines under me. I was eventually honorably discharged with an "adjustment disorder". Had I been able to advance in rank I feel my team would have excelled.

Troy Griffin said...

Zhawq, you are at it again. you have got to know the truth about those inkblot tests. they reveal nothing but the test subjects level of interest in what he is being shown. the more creative the answer, almost regardless of it's crazy factor, the more hungry the subject is for stimulation. nothing more or less. ive read your posts, you are no psychopath. highly intelligent, well read and somewhat self deceived but a psycho no. nor am I for that matter. I am just a little lazy and under accomplished for my age. I take comfort in knowing that I still have prospects though. Even if I didn't being alive leaves me with no excuse for self pity. Care to respond?

Troy Griffin said...

Zhawq, one last comment. Jesus Christ stood an unfair, bias trial. Falsely accused of all kinds of things. He was punched, spit on, whipped too a pulp and made to carry a heavy cross knowing he would soon be hanging from it. Not once is it recorded that he complained or retaliated. Is that psychopathic behavior? Cool, calm and collected when losing your shit makes perfect sense? I call that peace of mind beyond human understanding. It's what I long to attain permanently one day, instead of the rare moments of it I have known. One example recently. I learned that my wife was sleeping with a man I considered to be trustworthy enough to sit and talk freely with very often. Even at my own kitchen table. This was all happening under my nose. When I found out, I was angry in an unexplainable way. But somehow, I was able to walk away quietly with a little smirk on my face. By not acting like I wanted too, I somehow found a happy place. What would you say to all of this?

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote that the military has psychopathic "super soldiers" who make up only 1-2% of the armed forces but are responsible for half of all enemy casualties. Wow. Psychopaths have an active imagination, that's for sure. When I was in the military, the only thing psychopaths did exceptionally well was get in bar fights, kill dogs, and steal. Though, I admit, some of them did really well until they did stupid things (like bar fights). As for special forces - they are specifically vetted to be people who are team players with excellent self-restraint. Not too many psychopaths would meet these criteria.

Anonymous said...

Very important to me. My brother took a psychological test entering the army for the Korean war. The army told him he was a psychopath. He Was 18 at the time. Over looking my life now I realize how he has ruined my sister, my brother and my life.
What I hope to know is when the army tells you that you are a psychopath do they explain how this affects their relationships. Would they explain as a psychopath this is how you would treat people, or how to live as a psychopath knowing you can use people. thanks

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article especially the part were psychopaths can't or don't get ptsd.

Although a lot of non psychopathic people who are in the army and go through combat don't get ptsd either.

Interestingly though people who do develop ptsd due to combat tend to become like psychopaths. Aka sociopathy I think?

Anonymous said...

"My friend tells me, the army says the rate of antisocial personalities runs at 1/30 in normal society, but 1/10 in the military. They go to great lengths to accurately identify this. The super soldier I mentioned, is greatly prized and it is estimated that although they make up only 1-2% of the armed forces, they account for about half of all enemy casualties on the battlefield."

You are cooking this up, tell this bull-dust to civilians. I've served in the military and the special forces... selfish people, sociopaths and psychopaths were shunned, for the obvious reason that their lying, cowardly and unpredictable behavior was bad for unit cohesion and morale. These 'super-soldiers' that you speak of account for half of all casualties? Really? Military units work in teams, any psychopath who is not looking out for their team-mates was considered a massive liability and when identified, would be booted out of any elite formation.

Psychopaths DO NOT hold a monopoly on being cool under pressure. The best soldier who keeps cool is on who has been through combat, and is now desensitized. Since such soldiers have the experience to back up their credentials, they are far superior to a psychopath, who would have the 'coolness' and confidence without the ability or experience. The reason why a psychopath would keep cool under pressure is due to a dysfunctional amygdala, not due to any real ability.

Another thing noted about psychopaths in the military is their propensity to desert and commit war-crimes, especially taking trophies from dead bodies...