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In his book,
, Robert Hare argues that we live in a camouflage society, in which some psychopathic traits- egocentricity, lack of concern for others, superficiality, style over substance, being "cool," manipulativeness, and so forth- increasingly are tolerated and even valued. Cold-blooded and remorseless psychopaths who blend into all aspects of society have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of business, politics, law enforcement, government, academia and other social structures and have devastating impacts on people around them.
This webinar course discusses many facets of the psychopathic personality and explores how we might live better in a world where people with this condition seem to be gaining prominence.
Topics each week
Week 1: What is a Psychopath?
The word psychopath, of course, is quite loaded. All kinds of psychological traits and behavioral theories hitchhike on this human condition. We will discuss them. Here are a few quick terms to help orient webinar attendees:
Asocial Person: self-involved to the exclusion of others.
Narcissistic Person: self-involved yet needs to be seen and admired by others.
Antisocial Person: harmful to the welfare of others.
Sociopath: aggressively anti-social.
Psychopath (Malignant Narcissist): the most dangerous predators on earth-lacking in empathy and incapable of imagining the common good.
We will discuss causes and conditions that may support the growth of psychopathy and explore various ways to identify people who have this condition in order to gain greater understanding of it.
Week 2: Psychopath Nation
Symptoms of psychopathology can be found throughout societies, particularly during periods of accelerated transition and socioeconomic strain. At certain junctures in history, entire nations have been grabbed by the psychopathy of a single charismatic leader. Psychopathic tyrants stay in power because most others are deterred from speaking the truth. Psychopathic epidemics can flare up in that silence. It is important for us to have a greater understanding than the social sciences have thus far provided about the power of psychopathy to move nations. Some psychopathic nations gained infamy for their aggression on other states, others for the treatment of people inside their borders. In most places, people knew what was happening but could or would not try to stop their nation's tyranny.
Mohandas K. Gandhi considered these 7 traits to be most perilous to human society:
- Wealth without Work
- Pleasure without Conscience
- Science without Humanity
- Knowledge without Character
- Religion without Sacrifice
- Commerce without Morality
- Politics without Principle
His commentary depicts some of the essential conditions for a psychopathic nation to flourish and lays foundations for this week's webinar.
Week 3 (1st half): Homopsychopathus: A Variant Species?
Are psychopaths a variant species? Do people who are incapable of developing a moral conscious conscience represent a specific strain or somewhat different variety of human being? It is possibly so. Their behavioral characteristics, brain functioning, information, sensory and emotional processing, "feeding" habits, and moral playbooks are different from the rest of us. They inhabit human society as naturally as sharks dwell in the sea. And they are just as dangerous. From the dawn of recorded history we have images of monsters, which seem to embody psychopathy. We will explore contemporary mythologies to add insight to our ongoing attempt to understand this problem through our collective imagination.
Week 3 (2nd half): Psycho Killers, Qu'est que c'est? Vampires, Mobsters, Blood-thirsty Aliens and Other Celebrities
In the second part of Week 3, in light of Part 1, we will discuss the prevalence of psychopathic characters in film and other media and explore our cultural fascination with them.
Week 4 (1st half): Dangerous Liaisons: Sexual Predators and Their Prey
People whose lives are turned inside out by a psychopathic lover, mate or intimate acquaintance are often shocked when they realize the full extent of the damage done to them. Someone whom they felt to be trustworthy and witnessed their most intimate selves, betrayed them. Victims of psychopaths are not simply naïve. The best clinically trained professionals are often taken in. We will discuss how to clearly recognize a psychopathic lover and what to do when you find yourself in relationship with one.
Week 4 (2nd half): Caution: Psychopaths at Work
Just as psychopathic personalities are more highly concentrated in the criminal underworld, they also occur more frequently in certain professions. Psychopathy affects people in all races and cultures and across the spectrum of economic and social status. Soulless, predatory people blend into all aspects of society often with devastating impacts on the institutions and the people around them. Some arenas attract psychopaths to places and positions where prey is more abundant. In certain professions, such as litigation, the stock market, corrections, combat sports, politics or warfare, psychopaths can be more highly rewarded. We will discuss strategies for dealing with psychopaths in the work place.
Week 5: Psychopathic Healers And Saviors
Something that has surprised me in recent years is how many of my clients and graduate students report having been violated by others who held a position of intimate trust in their lives. These perpetrators were often professionals as such as clergy, therapists, financial consultants or other personal advisors. As with a child molested by an adult caretaker, when a person held in high regard betrays someone, it can leave a particularly severe wound in their psyche. In Freud's era, the prevalence of incest was kept in the closet. In a similar manner, abuse by priests and others who society holds to higher moral standards have often been suppressed by powerful organizations allied against victims' best interests. Psychopathic healers are charismatic individuals who charm us only to exploit us.
We will discuss cults and other spiritual and religious institutions to learn how to better identify psychopathic saviors and what to do when they are unmasked.
Week 6: Radical Altruism: Care of the Soul of the World
This final webinar will examine a range of positive, pro-social, anti-psychopathy trends in our culture. It will focus on hope and underscore the opposite end of the psychopathic spectrum. This could be called something like: extreme altruism, radical philanthropy or conscious compassion. Many people today are resisting despair and fear through creating powerful and inventive initiatives to counter the influence of others who are destroying the natural environment, unraveling the social fabric, undercutting the national economy and eroding our political trust. This talk will examine the philosophy of leaders who are making contributions toward others feeling more empowered to improve the conditions of their individual, familial and community lives.
About the speaker:
Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is author of
The Midas Complex: How Money Drives Us Crazy and What We Can Do About It;
Knights Without Armor and
Angry Young Men; coauthor of
What Women and Men Really Want (1995), and contributor to many anthologies. Aaron is a licensed clinical psychologist in California. He spends most of his time on Salt Spring Island, B.C.
April 17 - Free webinar
Length each class: 60 min
6pm PST /
Location: online webinar (incl. a recording of the live event)
Cost: no risk policy. Money back one week after the first live event. $150 and
only $125 before April 22nd