Then there was this disturbing note from someone. After quickly discussing H Scott Peck (People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil (1983)), the writer goes on to introduce Dr Martha Stout, and her book, The Sociopath Next Door (2005).
Stout uses the same instrument to identify sociopaths, or APDs. Her thesis is startling; 1 out of every 4 or 5 Americans is a sociopath or has strong sociopathic tendencies. There is an epidemic of socio or psychopathy in this country. We have the highest rate of this “disorder” of any country in the industrialized world. She finds, conversely, that the rate is extremely low, especially in cultures—like those in Asia—with strong community bonds and group or familial identity. She advances the notion that Americans’ extreme brand of individualism, which is intensified by an ideology that values individual autonomy above group conscience, favors a cultural pathology that produces more sociopaths than normal . She emphasizes, that not all of these people are necessarily physically dangerous, but they know how to hurt and take advantage of others. They are “takers”—to a man/woman. The narcissism and excess of American culture has led to a greater tendency to lack empathy for others. Individual rights have been enthroned to an extreme level over personal responsibility and Dr. Stout suggests that the high level of sociopahthy/psychopathy in the US may be one byproduct—the downside of the unrestrained blessings of liberty—a mixed blessing if you will.On the other hand, freedom is very precious.
All one need do is drive in rush hour to get a sense that maybe, just maybe, she is right—as may be Peck. Lack of empathy is everywhere—why do we produce so many narcissists who lack empathy? We may be dealing with symptoms, not the fundamental problem. How is your mental health?
Regards — Cliff