How Psychopaths Get Their Power

Tickled - It’s not what you think

Originally posted October 10, 2017.

Psychopaths. I don’t believe they are born. They are made. Last week, a documentary I watched confirmed my belief.

The confirmation, interestingly enough, came in the form of a feather.

No, it wasn’t an actual feather. It was a picture of a feather on the television.  The feather was part of a poster for the documentary “Tickled”. Here’s what the HBO description read:

“A pop-culture journalist’s investigation into “competitive endurance tickling” leads him on a dark, twisted journey full of manipulation, deception and online intimidation.”

I thought the documentary was going to be funny and bizarre. Instead it was a sad exposé of a psychopath ruining thousands of young boys’ lives. I’m not going to give away the story. Read that here.

What I do want to recount, are the last 10 minutes of the documentary (spoilers below the pic).

The homoerotic tickle competition
Young athletes “compete” in this odd “tickle competition”. Turns out a lot of people find this kind of thing a turn-on.

The documentarians finally track down and confront the documentary’s elusive subject. He gives up nothing and denies everything. Later, they call his aunt, who recounts this guy’s life as a kid. She explains perhaps why he is doing what he’s doing:

[Paraphrasing] “I thought he stopped doing this….His mom really loved him and overprotected him. We never knew if he was gay…or asexual. He never had a girlfriend. He was always teased by bigger boys. He was relentlessly teased. One day the boys locked him in his locker. His mother asked his dad if his son turned out gay would he disown him. He said he’d be angry, but would come to accept him. But I don’t think he ever got the love he needed.”

It becomes clear by this point in the documentary that this guy is likely gay, ashamed of it, indulges addictively in “homo-erotic tickle porn” and is ashamed of that. He uses his fixation to lure young athletes – likely similar to the boys who tortured him in school – with toys, cars and many times cash, to tickle one another on camera.

When the boys no longer want to participate, as they all eventually do, he destroys their reputations and their families’ reputation by publishing the videos all over the internet raising suspicions that the boys are deviant, closeted homosexuals.

How does he fund all this? Through over $10 million in inheritance from his parents.

It’s the broadest case of blackmail, exploitation and bullying I have ever seen. Boys from all over the world had been caught in his scheme in “Tickle cells” all over the US. This real-world mega-operation, had staff, studios and recruiters he paid to do his bidding.

What happened to this guy?

Six months after the documentary aired, the man responsible for all this, David D’Amato, died “suddenly”  from a heart attack due to complications of obesity, diabetes and other poor health-related conditions.

This man was a true psychopath. He cared not at all for his victims feelings, used them as sexually gratifying play-things (against their knowledge or consent), then, when they tried to resist, he destroyed everything dear to them.

It seems clear David’s rise as an internet/video/homoerotic porn bully would not have happened had he (1) people around him who cared enough to teach him to accept himself, (2) an environment which allowed him to seek and receive help when he was being tortured in school, and (3) existed in a system where money couldn’t fuel his bitterness and hurt.

It was largely because of his huge war chest (his mother left him a trust which paid for all his expenses, plus $5 million and his father left him with over $5 million) that he was able to build a network, including teams of people, who would help him exact revenge on those who possibly looked like the young boys who bullied him in school.

In Copiosis, even if your parents are NBR rich, you’re not, if you haven’t yourself created Net Benefit for society. So when your parents die, their NBR wealth disappears. No more financial inheritances. You can inherit all the property they had, but it’s hard in a Copiosis society to use property to motivate behavior that generates negative net benefit.

Are psychopaths born or are they bred? I think it’s the latter. Even those who seem predisposed to that behavior at birth must be triggered by an environment conducive to the triggering.

I think this is why Copiosis offers so much promise for solving the psychopath problem: it creates an environment where such people can get the help they need.

Real psychopaths are uncommon. Put money in their hands though and their reach makes it seem as though they’re everywhere.

Here’s how psychopaths are made

Tickled - It’s not what you thinkPsychopaths. I don’t believe they are born. They are made. Last week, a documentary I watched confirmed my belief.

The confirmation, interestingly enough, came in the form of a feather, brought to me by my wife, Bridget.

No, it wasn’t an actual feather. It was a picture of a feather, on the television screen.  She came across this feather while looking for something to watch. The feather was part of a poster for the documentary “Tickled”. Here’s what the HBO description read:

“A pop-culture journalist’s investigation into “competitive endurance tickling” leads him on a dark, twisted journey full of manipulation, deception and online intimidation.”

We thought the documentary was going to be funny and bizarre. But it turned out to be a sad exposé of how a psychopath was ruining thousands of young boys’ reputations. I’m not going to give away the story. Read that here. What I do want to recount, are the last 10 minutes of the documentary (spoilers below the pic).

The homoerotic tickle competition
Young athletes “compete” in this odd “tickle competition”. Turns out a lot of people find this kind of things a turn-on.

The documentarians finally track down and confront the guy responsible for inspiring the documentary. He gives up nothing and denies everything. Later, they call his aunt, who recounts the this guy’s life as a kid and explains perhaps why he is doing what he’s doing:

[Paraphrasing] “I thought he stopped doing this….His mom really loved him and overprotected him. We never knew if he was gay…or asexual. He never had a girlfriend. He was always teased by bigger boys. He was relentlessly teased. One day the boys locked him in his locker. His mother asked his dad if his son turned out gay would he disown him. He said he’d be angry, but would come to accept him. But I don’t think he ever got the love he needed.”

It becomes clear by this point in the documentary that this guy is likely gay, ashamed of it, indulges addictively in “homo-erotic tickle porn” and is ashamed of that. He uses his  fixation to lure young athletes – likely similar to the boys who tortured him in school – with toys, cars and many times direct cash, to tickle one another on camera. When the boys no longer want to participate, as they all eventually don’t, he destroys their reputations and their families’ reputation by publishing the videos all over the internet raising suspicions that the boys are deviant, closeted homosexuals. How does he fund all this?  Through over $10 million in inheritance from his parents.

It’s the broadest case of blackmail, exploitation and bullying I have ever seen. Boys from all over the world had been caught in his scheme, participating in “tickle cells” located all over the US. It was a real-world mega-operation, with staff, studios and recruiters he paid to do his bidding.

Six months after the documentary aired, the man responsible for all this, David D’Amato, died “suddenly”  from a heart attack due to complications of obesity, diabetes and other poor health-related conditions.

This man was a true psychopath. He cared not at all for his victims feelings, used them as sexually gratifying play-things (against their knowledge or consent), then, when they tried to resist, he destroyed everything dear to them. The documentary is definitely worth a watch.

It seems clear from that David’s rise as an internet/video/homoerotic porn bully would not have happened had he (1) people around him who cared enough to teach him to accept himself, (2) an environment which allowed him to seek and receive help when he was being tortured in school, and (3) existed in a system where money couldn’t fuel his bitterness and hurt. It was largely because of his huge war chest (his mother left him a trust which paid for all his expenses, plus $5 million and his father left him with over $5 million) that he was able to build a network, including teams of people, who would help him exact revenge on those who possibly looked like the young boys who bullied him in school.

In Copiosis, even if your parents are NBR rich, you’re not, if you haven’t yourself created Net Benefit for society. So when your parents die, their NBR wealth disappears. No more financial inheritances. You can inherit all the property they had, but it’s hard in a Copiosis society to use property to motivate behavior that generates negative net benefit.

Are psychopaths born or are they bred? I think it’s the latter. Even those who seem predisposed to that behavior at birth must be triggered by an environment conducive to the triggering. I think this is why Copiosis offers so much promise for solving the psychopath problem: it creates an environment where such people can get the help they need.

 

What about sociopaths?

portraitEditors note: This post is in response to a question we received via Twitter

 

How do you keep sociopaths from gaming [Copiosis]?

 

In every society there are people who act in ways that are sociopathic. Some actually are sociopaths. Who knows why they are the way they are? In status-quo economies, we have to answer this question. Answering it can give us insight into how to prevent them from doing things that hurt people, cause systemic abuse or threaten entire civilizations if they get into seats of power. Nevertheless, we have seen the tremendous damage sociopaths inflict in status-quo economies, especially capitalism.

Let’s take a look at what a sociopath is and how his behavior might look in the real world. We’re presuming we’re using the word “sociopath” loosely. We’re not only talking about clinically diagnosed Sociopaths, but people (and corporations) what act in sociopathic ways. This blog has a decent description of the type of behaviors a loosely-defined sociopath might embody. Here’s an excerpt from it:

“[They have] no conscience, believe in nothing beyond their own selfish, greedy, and narcissistic self-interests. They are the ones who succeed in amassing great wealth and power because they use the rest of humanity as their disposable serfs…What sets them apart from many people is their high intelligence, a ruthless ability to use others for their own purposes, and a talent to fake sincerity and friendship. Sociopaths are often great leaders and control freaks. Most people are easily duped by these unconscionable charlatans of the highest magnitude. While sociopaths may only constitute at most 5% of the total population, they have perfected the art of wholly manipulating the other 95% of us….Sociopaths operate under the general assumption that there is nothing transcendent or eternal after this life on earth, and that winning by amassing as much power and wealth during their lifetimes is the only purpose to human existence. If they believe in a god beyond money, that god is also the supreme sociopath who will reward them in the afterlife commensurate with their achievements on earth. Overall, they long abandoned, or never made any connection between what they wanted to do or actually did, and any system of human ethics or religious morality. Sociopaths simply have no consciences and thus are free to do as they please. Other human beings are viewed as simple disposable commodities in their unquenchable thirst for money and power.

Ok. That’s a pretty clear loose definition. Thanks Marc Pascal!

It’s often said that extreme success in business often requires sociopathic tendencies. Unfortunately, status-quo economies as well as representative-party politics offer ample opportunities for sociopaths to rise to power then cause mayhem.

Can the same be said for post-scarcity Copiosis Economies? Let’s take a look.

Sociopathic individuals by themselves are mostly impotent. It is authority, power, money and their ability to ensnare and use others that enable these people to cause systemic harm. Generally speaking, people are highly susceptible to sociopaths as Marc describes above. The problem with status-quo economies is often sociopaths rise to powerful positions before they are recognized. By then, it’s too late: they have all the power they need in their ability to threaten people with all kinds of sanctions (including violence meted out of course by others paid in some way by the sociopath) that keep people in check doing the sociopath’s bidding.

Can a sociopath rise to a position of power in Copiosis? Let’s look at authority. People with authority in a Copiosis Economy are people who have demonstrated an ability for marshaling resources (generally land, labor and capital) to get things done in ways that generate income for everyone involved. Not only that, in getting things done, they must be mindful of the Net Benefit calculation. This means that the way they get things done (assuming they have “authority” as described above) produces maximum benefit and minimum negative consequences. “Negative consequences” includes how people are treated in pursuit of that which is done.

No one in a Copiosis Economy has the ability to force anyone else to do anything. Our sociopath may be successful initially getting people to do something, through his charisma. Inevitably though his true colors show. His agenda is revealed to be less than beneficial or serving only his personal needs. When that happens, what will keep people from ignoring his sociopathic dictates?

Can he use the threat of loss of income to force people to do things? Not really. The sociopath’s money cannot be transferred to other people. Even if he is the CEO of a business organization, the organization doesn’t control people’s income, the Payer Organization does. Corporations in Copiosis Economies all convert to loosely organized Cooperatives. There’s no such think as Corporate Personhood in Copiosis.  They can’t own money or any other assets (only human beings can) so the sociopath has no authority bestowed upon him by his position in the organization and the organization’s wealth. There’s no way the sociopath can change another person’s income. Trying to have an impact on another’s income would have an impact though….on the sociopath’s income, due to the negative Net Benefit of such an act.

Can the sociopath pay people to do his bidding? Nope. But the sociopath could “pay” people by transferring Luxury items to them. Consider this however: the Net Benefit calculation has an impact on all behavior, not just commercial acts. So people earning “Luxuries” by doing the sociopath’s bidding, may risk losing future income if such acts generate significant negative Net Benefit. Of course, the sociopath himself also risks the same losses in a magnified way as he would be the “mastermind” behind such a plot.

Can he threaten people with losing their jobs? He can, but people would laugh at him. In Copiosis Economies, being fired is no big deal. For one, organizations will find the labor pool highly competitive, meaning, it will be difficult getting people to work for them, let alone stay once they are brought on board, especially if the jobs are boring, repetitive or mundane.  With so many other options available to earn income, organizations will have to be much different than they are today to attract and retain people. People can easily start their own company, move to other companies, or do something on their own to earn income not at all related to “business”. Even if they can’t find work for a time, all their Necessities are covered – even education –  so there’s no “teeth” in the threat of being fired.

More likely, people approached by the sociopath would simply ignore him. If they understand how the economy works, people would have no interest in participating in the sociopath’s scheme.

Can a sociopath swindle money from others, cheat them, or in some way harm them financially? Money is non-transferrable, so none of those things are possible. People can’t get in debt, there is no interest, or “credit”. There’s no retirement nest egg, or stock market. Homes are owned outright: there are no mortgages and associated payment streams that can be traded as a commodity. For investment purposes, there are no such things as “commodities” in a Copiosis Economy. So people can’t be financially harmed through fraud.

Let’s say he was gifted in IT. He could successfully (at least once, maybe twice) hack the system thereby impacting one, or hundreds or millions of people via their money accounts. But what damage does that actually do? People don’t need money to pay bills, keep their house or car, or buy food or health care. He could disrupt the system managing Net Benefit, the national inventory of goods and services, or some other aspect of the mainframe system. That could cause limited, short-term systemic damage. But it wouldn’t last for long.

Then again, the Support Bureaucracy’s IT department, which operates in a transparent, open source protocol would easily spot and fix such breeches should they occur. More likely, the IT department would design ahead of time software that’s very good at protecting itself, including backups and redundancies. Today, the majority of major corporations rely on open source software to manage their back-ends. Those are the most stable and secure systems around, rarely if ever breeched. How much more so would a system managed in a completely transparent, open source way? What’s more, any problem created in a Copiosis Economy creates an opportunity for people to earn income by solving the problem and creating positive Net Benefit.

Should the sociopath succeed once, or even twice, it is an easy matter to forensically trace his deed back to him. The magnitude of negative Net Benefit associated with maliciously hacking into the “system” would generate severe financial consequences for the sociopath. What’s more, anyone who not only creates the solution to such a breech, but also makes future breeches of that type impossible, can earn very good income. If the breech is systemic in nature, the magnitude of income associated with fixing the problem is as huge as the magnitude impacting the sociopath for attempting to damage the system.

 

The sociopath could become a Payer as anyone can. But so what? Payers, by role definition have no power over people. Their job is to only pay people for the Net Benefit they produce. Individual payers have a threshold up to which they are able to pay. Beyond that threshold, more Payers must be involved in the calculation. Becoming a Payer is a dead end for a sociopath hell-bent on creating mayhem.

He could join the support bureaucracy. This could be a potential problem. However, that massive group of people will have structures and protocols that check and balance a single person’s power. There are no hierarchies in the support bureaucracy. Only people working within their skill area to generate data that informs Producers and Payers about the state of the economy. Should the sociopath demonstrate anti-social behavior, it is likely people in this organization would refuse to work with him, no matter how brilliant he is.

A sociopath could use physical force to create mayhem. He could wage violence and use violence to coerce people to do things they would rather not do. However, such acts wouldn’t go far. Most communities I’m aware of would not tolerate such behavior, especially if calling out such behavior, and rescuing people subjected to such acts earns the good-deed-doers income. It’s possible that he could form a band of thugs, maybe even a large band, and attempt to take over the system. However, the Net Benefit of preventing such a system from forming in the first place would be huge. Thus, a large number of people skilled at this would self-select in preventing such a group from gaining traction. Think of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, and other organizations dedicated to human rights. Today, those organizations rely on donations and perhaps winnings form court judgements. In Copiosis there’s no limit to what individuals working in these organizations can make doing work they feel passionately called to do. These organizations of people would be formidable opponents of an organized sociopathic group.

 

There’s also the community response to sociopathic behavior. Money can’t buy Necessities. Housing (utilities, including electricity & water), healthcare and food are all private property. My experience of human communities is they don’t tolerate such people even when there are no incentives to weed out such anti-social behavior! An identified sociopath would find it difficult to survive in communities that know him and his MO. He could move, but his Reputation Account goes with him. Sociopaths who can’t help but act on their tendencies would find few communities willing to accept him.

Given all this, what I envision happening with people who display such behavior can only happen in Copiosis. Remember, all problems present an opportunity for a person to earn income. That means the sociopath is a problem walking around waiting for a solution. It is possible – likely even – that someone (or some ones) in the mental health field who specializes in researching sociopathy will want to develop treatments for such afflicted people. Copiosis will unveil a large number of these kinds of people, once the tools such people use to express their behavior – power, authority, money, charismatic behavior – disappear. It is estimated that there are at least 12 million sociopaths in the US alone. Experts in the fields of psychology, medicine and other sciences would find a cornucopia of income-generating possibilities in the sociopathic community.

Sociopaths aren’t bad. They aren’t evil. However, like liberal regulation of alcohol to a drunk driver, status-quo economies enable sociopathic behavior to an extreme degree. Sociopaths need help. Copiosis will create the context for help to arrive. Who knows what’s possible when people can earn income helping even people society would rather do without?