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22 September 2015


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William R. Cumming

A brilliant post filled with many great insights IMO! Thank you Richard.

I note that few of the candidates talk of service to the people.


Richard Sale
Thanks once again for peering into
the human psyche and trying to make
sense of it. Know quite a few people
that you describe in the first paragraphs.
Luckily, I know not a politician first hand.
BTW I watched a 1954 black and white
movie starring Frank Sinatra and Sterling
Hayden called "Suddenly." A drama about
the attempted assassination of the president
in a rural California town of the same name.
The screen play was written by one Richard Sale.
A relation possibly?

A. Pols

A High School chum wrote a book about a German woman before and during WW2 who got sucked into the vortex of Nazism by her craving for external validation. She is portrayed as someone torn between what she knows is right and what powerful people around her TELL her is right. "Ilse's Fate". The Author's father spent a few months in Dachau in 1938...

Ex-PFC Chuck

The link to the Walrus post about the U.S. "Trained" moderates doesn't work.

Richard Sale

My father wrote it. His best.


ex-PFC Chuck

Thank you for this post, Richard. Your writing on the whys and hows that propel some people go around the bend to the dark side, and the various shades of dark they settle into there, are fascinating. The works of people doing MRI studies are shedding more light on these processes but old question of what drives these turns remains. It's the age-old nature vs. nurture question, although perhaps it should be reframed as genetics vs. epigenetics vs. life experience, the last category including not only nurture in the family of origin but formative experiences encountered elsewhere.
A person who has studied these issues in great depth is Lonnie Athens whom his biographer, Richard Rhodes, describes as a “maverick criminologist.” Like you Athens grew up in an abusive family although in his case there was both vicious physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his father. (IIRC in your case it was mainly the latter, and endured from your mother. My apologies if this is off base.) According to Rhodes, Athens said that he himself could easily have gone around the bend but for the intervention a small handful of people at critical points in his adolescence. Lonnie was the only one in the family who wasn't totally intimidated by the tyrannical patriarch, and he attributes that to the fact that if it came down to a battle to the death the old man knew Lonnie would not hesitate to kill him. If you haven't read “Why They Kill” I suspect you'll find it fascinating, since it's first and foremost an intellectual biography of Athens' work. I'd link to the brief Wikipedia entry on Athens however I found it misleadingly abbreviated when compared to Rhodes' description of his work. This is surprising considering “Why They Kill” is cited as a source.
The MRI findings, documented by Martha Stout and others, that the brain regions associated with empathy 4% of people do not “light up” when the person under test is presented with images that normally do elicit might be interpreted by some that its a genetic issue but I think that's premature. Life experience must be able to affect neuro-chemistry and perhaps the four step violentization process that Athens teased out of his interviews of dozens of remorseless, hardened criminals serving long prison sentences turns off those brain regions. It would be a challenge, to say the least, to design a study to ethically shed light on this.
“Why They Kill:” http://amzn.to/1KA0Kj3
“The Sociopath Next Door:” http://amzn.to/1W51Yv3

Green Zone Cafe

Psychopaths often have an edge over the rest of us.

As for women, don't look for too much sympathy there, unless you're their child.

Beautiful Bethany traded her looks for a relationship with Alpha Terry, whose exploits and strength entertained her. When Terry broke his arm, that was weakness. Women don't like weakness in men. It was a matter of survival for them out on the savannah.

The phenomenon is explained here: http://therationalmale.com/2013/11/13/empathy/

Richard Sale

I want to thank you for such an exceptional and well-reasoned post.

I am eager to read the articles you mentioned. I am eager to read of Mr. Athens.

I spent a month talking to murders at the Arizona State Prison.

The other day my wife asked me to define Evil. she said it was "malevolent darkness" which is very good. but I define it as a "void." the soul of murderers is a void in which nothing good takes place. they cannot sympathize. their nature lacks that gift. they can be smart, they can reason, but they cannot fully FEEL. that is what makes them so terrible and frightening.

I will post notes on those inteviews if Pat and the group would like them.

but again you write very, very well. You are logical and consise.

best regards,


Johnny Reims

Once heard a rabbi say that “honor thy mother and father” is the most difficult commandment of them all.

Perilous indeed for some, particularly if you want to tell the truth.

A crucifixion makes for a good metaphor, perhaps.

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