One would be right to wonder why on earth anyone would support the malicious agenda of a Sociopath, but people do it all the time. Whether consciously or otherwise, the Sociopath charm exerts a natural coercing power to manipulate people. Over time a group may gradually fall to this scheme, becoming a fertile field for an otherwise repulsive agenda. But the Sociopath knows to avoid bad press, they cloak their intentions with clever spin with a generous dose of righteous rhetoric.
Naturally, churches are prime arenas for their Power and Control quest. Christians are supposed to be nice and forgiving of all people. Living out their idealized system of progressive love and acceptance, sociopaths have a pure heyday of easy steps toward control.
A typical General Board (I admit that I am generalizing at this point, but for the sake of discussion) will not want to believe anyone has a persistent goal of causing trouble and harm. They simply do not want to expand their volunteer role serving on the Board to such an energy draining which confrontation demands from them. Finding the quick and easiest way possible will drive their natural preferences. “Can’t we all just get along” is their hope and plan, and who can blame that route. And it works great until a Sociopath forces their way into the system.
“The majority of normal people (quite apart from the 10 per cent or so who are inferior) are ridiculously unconscious and naïve and are open to any passing suggestion…The more people live together in heaps, the stupider and more suggestible the individual becomes.”
— C. G. Jung, “The Individuated Life”
“The Nature of the Symbolic Life”
The Symbolic Life, p. 605
The most usual reaction people will take will try to avoid too much confrontation and conflict and so they resort to “Appeasement.” Erroneously they believe that if we just give them this one point and let them serve on the Board maybe that will calm them down. For a normal person this might work, but for a Sociopath their thought process triggers an adrenaline enriched response of “now we’re getting somewhere.” They will not be satisfied. The well-intentioned Board has just added fuel to the tank of a dangerous predator.
Whereas the Sociopath is driven by Power and Control (the ol’ P & C), the collaborators are driven by fear. They see how others are slandered and abused. They are frightened at the thought of falling into such a similar fate. They will go along with the routines, even defending them by comments such as, “Now, now that’s just the way she is” or “Forgive and forget.” In such blithering ignorance they enable predators to continue to torment and destroy good people.
Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. — Bertrand Russell
A deep loving friendship does not really exist. Despite the appearances, do not be fooled by these alliances. Certainly the sociopath is incapable of loving relationships and the collaborators, despite appearances, would prefer distance to such a mean spirited person. They are stuck in this situation by their own fears or even guilt that they should be nice to them anyway.
In one sense they are a victim just like others suffering in the Sociopaths real agenda. However, they will still defend their actions. They will not break away until they know it is absolutely safe to do so. Only when a sociopath is “completely” defeated and gone, totally voided of all perceived power will a cowardly collaborate finally emerge as a separate entity outside the ominous shadow of oppression.
“But then I sigh, and with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil.
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stolen forth of holy writ,
And seem I a saint, when most I play the Devil.”
.. –William Shakespeare, King Richard III
The Stanford Prison Experiment
In his book, “The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil,” Philip Zimbardo documents the Stanford Prison Experiment, in which subjects participated in the roles of prison guards and prisoners. Ordinary young men given roles as guards mysteriously developed sadistic behavior toward those in the role of prisoners. Even the prisoners began to debase themselves with groveling acquiescence and rebellion. The experiment was to last for two weeks, but intervention was necessary after only five days when the situation escalated out of control. The participants were losing themselves in their roles.
Zimbrano ably observes how humans are capable of degrading themselves into bad behavior when the circumstances move them to do so. It persuasively shows the implications of the standard social-psychological emphasis on environmental factors as opposed to dispositional factors. The experiment perhaps shed too much light on real life outrageous human behavior, such as the prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and even reasons why former Nazi’s at the Nuremberg trials post World War 2, vehemently asserted they were only following orders to justify their incredible evil with the holocaust.
One of the role playing guards is quoted as follows: “I realized … that I was as much a prisoner as [the other subjects who served as prisoners] were … They had more of a choice in their actions. I don’t think we did. We were both crushed by the situation of oppressiveness, but we guards had the illusion of freedom. I did not see that at the time, or else I would have quit. We all went in as slaves to the money. The prisoners soon became slaves to us; we were still slaves to the money. I realized later that we were all slaves to something in the environment. Thinking of it as “just an experiment” meant no harm could be done with reality. That was the illusion of freedom.’”
That people becoming willing pawns of Sociopaths is not that outrageous. People have been coerced into far worse behavior. Sometimes they are quite aware of their bad behavior, but usually they cover it up even from themselves. It’s just another day and although situations are difficult and sometimes even cruel, there are always ways to justify and rationalize whatever behavior one is pressed to pursue.
The epitome in such coercive denial is demonstrated in a much too casual reference to extreme evil,
“We know that man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.”
— George Steiner
Jane Eyre assessing her sister, Georgiana
Instead of living for, in, and with yourself, as a reasonable being ought, you seek only to fasten your feebleness on some other person’s strength: if no one can be found willing to burden her or himself with such a fat, weak, puffy, useless thing, you cry out that you are ill-treated, neglected, miserable. Then, too, existence for you must be a scene of continual change and excitement, or else the world is a dungeon: you must be admired, you must be courted, you must be flattered — you must have music, dancing, and society — or you languish, you die away.
Jane Eyre, chapter 21