Originally published June 8 2012
How to spot a sociopath - 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) One of the more offensive duties of being an investigative journalist is taking out the trash -- exposing liars, fraudsters, con artists and scammers for the people they truly are. Each time we investigate a sociopath, we find that they always have a little cult group following of spellbound worshippers who consider that particular sociopath to be a "guru" or "prophet."
Sociopaths are masters at influence and deception. Very little of what they say actually checks out in terms of facts or reality, but they're extremely skillful at making the things they say sound believable, even if they're just making them up out of thin air. Here, I'm going to present quotes and videos of some legendary sociopaths who convinced everyday people to participate in mass suicides. And then I'm going to demonstrate how and why similar sociopaths are operating right now... today.
Why cover this subject? I've seen a lot of people get hoodwinked, scammed or even harmed by sociopaths, and it bewilders me that people are so easily sucked into their destructive influence. I want to share with Natural News readers the warning signs of sociopaths so that you can spot them, avoid them, and save yourself the trouble of being unduly influenced by them.
Much of this information is derived from the fascinating book, The Sociopath Next Door, which says that 4% of the population are sociopaths. The book is a fascinating read.
10 signs for spotting a sociopath#1) Sociopaths are charming. Sociopaths have high charisma and tend to attract a following just because people want to be around them. They have a "glow" about them that attracts people who typically seek guidance or direction. They often appear to be sexy or have a strong sexual attraction. Not all sexy people are sociopaths, obviously, but watch out for over-the-top sexual appetites and weird fetishes.
#2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. They tend to do bizarre, sometimes erratic things that most regular people wouldn't do. They are unbound by normal social contracts. Their behavior often seems irrational or extremely risky.
#3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought. They pursue any action that serves their own self interest even if it seriously harms others. This is why you will find many very "successful" sociopaths in high levels of government, in any nation.
#4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. They wildly exaggerate things to the point of absurdity, but when they describe it to you in a storytelling format, for some reason it sounds believable at the time.
#5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and "win" at all costs. They hate to lose any argument or fight and will viciously defend their web of lies, even to the point of logical absurdity.
#6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent, but they use their brainpower to deceive others rather than empower them. Their high IQs often makes them dangerous. This is why many of the best-known serial killers who successfully evaded law enforcement were sociopaths.
#7) Sociopaths are incapable of love and are entirely self-serving. They may feign love or compassion in order to get what they want, but they don't actually FEEL love in the way that you or I do.
#8) Sociopaths speak poetically. They are master wordsmiths, able to deliver a running "stream of consciousness" monologue that is both intriguing and hypnotic. They are expert storytellers and even poets. As a great example of this in action, watch this interview of Charles Manson on YouTube.
#9) Sociopaths never apologize. They are never wrong. They never feel guilt. They can never apologize. Even if shown proof that they were wrong, they will refuse to apologize and instead go on the attack.
#10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth merely because they say it! Charles Manson, the sociopathic murderer, is famous for saying, "I've never killed anyone! I don't need to kill anyone! I THINK it! I have it HERE! (Pointing to his temple.) I don't need to live in this physical realm..."
Watch Charles Manson saying this at the 3:05 mark of this YouTube video.
How to dispel illusion and get to the truthSociopaths are masters at weaving elaborate fictional explanations to justify their actions. When caught red-handed, they respond with anger and threats, then weave new fabrications to explain away whatever they were caught doing.
A sociopath caught red-handed with a suitcase full of cash he just stole, for example, might declare he had actually rescued the money from being stolen by someone else, and that he was attempting to find its rightful owner. He's the hero, see? And yet, in reality, he will simply pocket the money and keep it. If you question him about the money, he will attack you for questioning his honesty.
Sociopaths are masters are presenting themselves as heroes with high morals and philosophy, yet underneath it they are the true criminal minds in society who steal, undermine, deceive, and often incite emotional chaos among entire communities. They are masters at turning one group of people against another group while proclaiming themselves to be the one true savior. Wherever they go, they create strife, argument and hatred, yet they utterly fail to see their own role in creating it. They are delusional at so many levels that their brains defy logical reasoning.
You cannot reason with a sociopath. Attempting to do so only wastes your time and annoys the sociopath.
Tip for exposing sociopaths: Start fact-checking something they claimOne simple method for dispelling sociopathic delusion is to start fact checking their claims. Do any of their claims actually check out? If you start digging, you will usually find a pattern of frequent inconsistencies. Confront the suspected sociopath with an inconsistency and see what happens: Most sociopaths will become angry or aggressive when their integrity is questioned, whereas a sane person would simply be happy to help clear up any misinformation or misunderstanding.
Beware of fact-checking the sociopath by asking other people under his or her influence. A sociopath will usually have a small group of cult-like followers who not only believe their fictional tales, but who actually internalize those fictions to the point where they rewrite their own memories to be consistent with them. If a guru-style sociopath talks about his "levitation sessions" over and over again, some of his believers will sooner or later start to form false memories in which they imagine seeing him levitate off the floor. So if you ask those people, "Did you actually ever see this person levitate?" They will enthusiastically say, "Yes!" Because in their own minds, that illusion has become something indistinguishable from a vivid memory.
Much the same thing is true with sociopathic politicians. If a particularly charismatic politician claims he has "created millions of jobs" even though his economic policies have actually destroyed jobs and caused widespread unemployment, his cult-like followers will repeat his lie and publicly proclaim how many jobs that person has created.
That's why fact-checking a sociopath requires evidence from outside his circle of influence. Does anything he say actually check out in the real world, outside his sphere of direct control? If not, you've probably spotted a sociopath.
Sociopaths never answer facts; they always attack the messengerAnother very valuable red flag to recognize when trying to spot a sociopath is to see how they deal with attacks on their own integrity. If a sociopath is presented with a collection of facts, documents and evidence showing that he lied or deceived, he will refuse to address the evidence and, instead, attack the messenger!
If you really try to nail a sociopath down to answering a documented allegation, they will quickly turn on you, denounce you, and declare that you too are secretly plotting against them. Anyone who does not fall for the brainwashing of the sociopath is sooner or later kicked out of the circle and then wildly disparaged by the remaining members of the cult group.
Inventing bizarre talesOne of the easiest signs to spot is how sociopaths exaggerate things to an irrational absurdity. In the sociopath's world, every explanation is more intense and more heroic-sounding than the way it really went down. Where a normal person might say, "I vomited last night," a sociopath would say, "I vomited up a 27-foot tapeworm!"
And a truly psychotic sociopath might even add details such as, "And then the tapeworm climbed up the wall and jumped on me and tried to strangle me!"
You might laugh at such an explanation, but I know lots of similar examples that have been believed by irrational cult followers. In fact, this example was patterned off of a real live person who had attracted quite a cult following in a particularly odd, fringe corner of dietary fads. (He also teaches his cult followers to eat rotten, putrefied meat as a form of medicine.)
Every story the sociopath weaves, often on the spur of the moment, is impossible to either confirm or deny. No one can prove him wrong, since they weren't there, so he can spin whatever details into the story he wants. "After eating this, I had a three-hour ejaculation!" Or, "The Dalai Lama wanted to anoint me as a spiritual leader, but I declined, telling him that I only needed faith, not any official recognition."
How can anyone disprove such a claim? They can't. So the sociopaths relies on these un-provable, unsubstantiated claims to build up a false aura of authority, spirituality or knowledge. This creeps up on followers like a serpent, slithering into their brains and taking hold of their belief systems before they realize what has happened.
As a survivor of the Jim Jones "Jonestown" mass suicide says in a PBS documentary video (see link below), "Everything was plausible [at the time], except in retrospect the whole thing seems bizarre."
That's how sociopaths operate. As they're speaking, they capture your imagination and sound reasonable, even authoritative. But in the clear light of day, what they are actually saying is absurd... even dangerous.
But no matter what fictions are presented by the sociopath, they always present him in the light of a hero -- sometimes even a saint -- who sacrifices his life for the good of others. He often talks of "healing" or "detoxification" or being "cleansed." When he is exposed by truth-tellers, he merely accuses the truth-tellers of being secret undercover agents. When he is accused of sexual assault by one of his own followers (a common occurrence in these circles), he denounces her as an enemy or a spy.
The ultimate destination of a sociopath is to destroy himself and take as many willing victims with him as possible. This is the Jim Jones scenario: Drink the Kool-Aid laced with poison, and thereby prove your worth to your entire cult group.
A common theme of poison, sainthood, redemptionInterestingly, many sociopaths do indeed center their actions around a bizarre food or drink theme, often demanding their members eat or drink poisonous or highly offensive substances that no rational person would otherwise consume. The Heaven's Gate cult, for example, was led by a classic sociopath named Marshall Applewhite. He managed to convince 38 followers to kill themselves by eating applesauce laced with phenobarbital.
Watch the fascinating video of Applewhite here and ask yourself: Would you follow this man to your own grave? (Other people did!)
Notice how Applewhite speaks with authority, clarity and some level of charisma? Notice the intensity of his eyes? This is another common trait among sociopaths (including Manson, above). Remember, this man gained such influence over his followers that they voluntarily killed themselves in order to maintain his approval!
As Wikipedia explains:
On March 19�20, 1997, Marshall Applewhite taped himself speaking of mass suicide and asserted "it was the only way to evacuate this Earth." The Heaven's Gate group was against suicide but they believed they had no choice but to leave Earth as quickly as possible. After claiming that a space craft was trailing the comet Hale-Bopp, Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide so that their souls could board the supposed craft. Applewhite believed that after their deaths, a UFO would take their souls to another "level of existence above human," which Applewhite described as being both physical and spiritual. This and other UFO-related beliefs held by the group have led some observers to characterize the group as a type of UFO religion. In October 1996, the group purchased alien abduction insurance to cover up to 50 members at a cost of $10,000.
The cult rented a 9,200-sq.-ft. mansion, located at 18241 Colina Norte (later changed to Paseo Victoria), in a gated community of upscale homes in the San Diego-area community of Rancho Santa Fe, California from Sam Koutchesfahani, paying $7,000 per month in cash. The thirty-eight Heaven's Gate members, plus group leader Applewhite, were found dead in the home on March 26, 1997. In the heat of the California spring, many of the bodies had begun to decompose by the time they were discovered. The corpses underwent autopsies, where cyanide and arsenic were found. The bodies were later cremated.
The suicide was accomplished by ingestion of phenobarbital mixed with applesauce or pudding, washed down with vodka. Additionally, plastic bags were secured around their heads after ingesting the mix to induce asphyxiation. Authorities found the dead lying neatly in their own bunk beds, faces and torsos covered by a square, purple cloth. Each member carried a five-dollar bill and three quarters in their pockets. All 39 were dressed in identical black shirts and sweat pants, brand new black-and-white Nike Decades athletic shoes, and armband patches reading "Heaven's Gate Away Team" (one of many instances of the group's use of the Star Trek fictional universe's nomenclature). The adherents, between the ages of 26 and 72, are believed to have died in three groups over three successive days, with remaining participants cleaning up after each prior group's death.
This episode speaks directly to the mind-altering power of sociopaths. Their delusions can be so convincing that followers will even kill themselves in order to stay in alignment with the expectations of the group. I know of a fringe health sociopath operating right now who has killed several of his own followers, but of course he always blames them for their own deaths. It's never his fault, you see.
Sadly, even when one sociopath kills himself (and takes a few of his followers with him), there is always another sociopath waiting to take his place, seeking power, influence, and sometimes fame. It is common for sociopaths to strongly desire to be on television shows or to desperately seek out opportunities for short-term fame, often from engaging in bizarre acts or staging strange events. This is one of the ways in which they recruit followers to join their cult.
Jim Jones and drinking the Kool-AidThe most horrifying master of sociopathic delusion was, of course, Jim Jones who convinced 900+ people to kill themselves by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid.
And people loved him for it! They felt inspired, excited, healed and guided. Jim Jones was their savior, their prophet. They believed his every word, and they paid for their foolish belief with their lives.
Click here to watch this powerful PBD documentary video about Jonestown.
As Jim Jones proved, people can be easily swept up into an irrational belief in a guru or prophet who quite literally plans to murder them.
This is the other dominant factor we see in dangerous sociopaths: An odd obsession with dead things, rotting things, putrid things... things that would cause a normal, mentally balanced person to shrink away in horror. Jim Jones, for example, was fascinated with death and would reportedly murder small animals and then hold funerals for them.
Jones was a master at invoking spiritual concepts and presenting himself as spiritually evolved. This is another common theme among sociopaths, and you see it among Applewhite, Manson, Jones and even present-day sociopaths who are operating in America right now.
Historically, perhaps the best example of a delusional sociopath was none other than Adolf Hitler. He showed all the classic signs: A brilliant orator, a congenital liar, a complete lack of compassion for others, a dominant, aggressive personality, and the invoking of spirituality to justify his actions. The Nazi Swastika symbol, in fact, is a derivation of the Flower of Life symbol derived from sacred geometry. See video explanation here.
The modern sociopath: A threat to us allSociopaths aren't just a relic of history; I see their kind operating today, in 2012. A surprising number of people continue to fall for the delusional (but convincing) web of lies spun by wordsmithing sociopaths who may operate in almost any area of society: Science and physics, New Age circles, fringe health, self improvement and even "pop" spiritual development.
People from all walks of life allow themselves to be fooled by these sociopaths, buying into their false narratives, toxic products and destructive behavioral patterns, all driven into their heads through a complex web of social engineering, linguistics and emotional influence. Most people are completely unaware they have been mesmerized into these cult groups, just like the Jonestown people were completely unaware... or the Heaven's Gate crowd.
There are people today, right now, who are zealous members of fringe cults that advocate drinking toxic metals dissolved in sulfuric acid, eating rotten meat festering with deadly bacteria, playing with poisonous snakes or even dehydrating yourself in a sweat lodge to the point where you suffer hallucinations that are then interpreted as "spiritual guidance."
These cults are operating right here in America, and they are led by sociopaths who follow in the footsteps of monsters like Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite. Some of today's cult followers will pay for their misplaced faith with their lives. Others will eventually come to their senses and wonder how they could have been so completely blinded by a false prophet.
Seven rules for personal empowerment (without joining a cult)The most shocking realization to take home from all this is that people who live under the spell of a sociopath almost never realize it until after the spell has been broken. Just as the worshippers of Jim Jones believed his organization to be based in love, life and light, people today who worship sociopathic, charismatic leaders usually have no idea they have already surrendered their will to someone who does not have their best interests at heart.
This is why, here at Natural News, I have always taught people the following authentic principles of responsibility and power:
#1) Think for yourself. Be skeptical of everything. Most people, corporations, governments and institutions are lying to you. There is much good in the world, but there is far more selfishness and greed which is falsely presented as that which is good.
#2) Follow your inner truth, not some external guru. Any guru who demands your obedience is a false prophet. A real teacher is one who empowers you and sets you free to explore your life experience with complete freedom tempered by a code of morals and personal responsibility.
#3) Serve in the protection of life, with or without a church or spiritual group. You can protect life every day in your own garden. Resist the seduction of profit and power that comes from serving darkness (i.e. working for Big Pharma or pesticide companies). Seek to protect life, which is sacred and precious.
#4) Value all living things, including animals and plants. You are their shepherd. Protect the diversity of life and the integrity of the continuation of life. (For example, resist GMO and plant only non-hybrid seeds.)
#5) Live an authentic life. Practice what you teach. Walk your talk. Do not speak with one face and then secretly act out another. Spiritual strength comes from spiritual authenticity, and even if the world isn't aware of what you do when no one is looking, God and the universe most certainly are. Karma counts.
#6) Defend the innocent. Stand your ground against bullies. Resist tyranny. Promote freedom, liberty and justice. Help others when you can, and seek to empower others with the skills and knowledge they can use to support themselves rather than creating dependency.
#7) Tell the truth. It is powerful... perhaps the most powerful thing in the universe. The truth unfailingly outshines lies and deceptions. And even when the people around you may not see the truth, the greater universe does. By telling the truth, you empower yourself in all areas of your life, and you bring yourself closer to true spiritual understanding.
Learn more by NOT joining my cultMy name is Mike Adams, the editor of NaturalNews.com. I do not have a cult to offer you, but I do have a free email newsletter (see below) that you can subscribe to without joining a cult. As an explorer of the world around us, I investigate and write about psychology, health freedom, science, spirituality, history, economics and more. You probably won't agree with everything I write, and if you did, that would be a failure on my part to get you thinking, wouldn't it?
I'm an advocate of the Socratic method to finding knowledge: Ask intelligent questions and let the student find their own way... and their own wisdom.
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