At the end of a short course I taught at a prison, I did the usual debriefing.
“What was good about this course? How could it be improved?”
One inmate surprised me by saying that the best thing about the course was that the members of the small class had become friends. “I don’t understand,” I said. “What is to stop you from becoming friends otherwise?”
“Are you kidding?” he asked, “We don’t make friends here. There are CRIMINALS in this place!” The other inmates agreed. There were criminals in that place. Furthermore, they said that at least ten percent of them were so bad they should NEVER GET OUT, they had criminal minds.
You and I, who do not have “criminal minds,” find this hard to grasp. Perhaps we think criminals are abused, underprivileged, victims of society-and perhaps that is true of many of them. But at the same time we must accept that a minority of the population simply have criminal minds-and they are not all in prison.
Psychopaths, sociopaths, aka those with antisocial personality disorder, are not insane; i.e. they apparently function effectively in every day life. They may have a high IQ, they get jobs, buy homes and often move up the professional ladder looking like American success stories. They simply have no conscience, none at all, no emotional response to doing even the most blatantly evil things. Scientists tell us that they make up 4% of the population, which in the United States, means 1,200,000 citizens moving among us with criminal minds.
We who do have a conscience cannot imagine this condition, which is why they so easily fool us. It’s like the line from the movie, The Usual Suspects:
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
This goes to a much deeper question: What is a human being? If we are in the 96% of human beings who are not sociopaths, we probably think human beings are pretty decent, that with a good environment and a little love, they will behave decently. And we are probably correct for 96% of humanity.
So we are blind to the “sane” “successful” 1,200,000 sociopaths, who need us to not recognize them. They cannot operate if we recognize them. While studying organized crime around the world, I remembered what the inmates told me years ago-a certain percentage of humans on this planet have criminal minds. Organized sociopaths look like the rest of us, there is no mark of Cain on their forehead. They come in all sizes, ethnicities and cultures.
The Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triads, the Russian thieves-in-law, the Jewish “Kosher Nostra,” have many things in common. Besides parasitizing the rest of their society, besides brutality, lies and powerlust-they all move, as quickly as possible into legitimate businesses: real estate, shipping, corporate investments, and politics.
They scan the horizon constantly for resources to exploit, “How can I steal this? How can I attain and then expand my dominance?” The criminal mind is constantly engaged, not in sports, food and family life, but in exploitation and accumulation.
We will get nowhere if we refuse to admit that these people exist. Having admitted that they exist, what can we do to protect ourselves? One investigator, I think, hit the nail on the head:
“Their strength is in their secrecy. Their weakness is in the fact that the CANNOT STOP.” They cannot take their millions or billions and simply retire. They never have enough. Therefore, at any time we choose to take a good look at them, they will be engaged in criminal activity of some kind; these days often complex financial crime on a global scale.
We need the laws to nail them and we need the investigators to expose them. That’s why they scream about “de-regulation” i.e. freedom from regulations.
But they have been taken down before, they are not supernatural. They can only do their work in the dark, once their secrecy is breached, they are done for.
For those unfortunate enough to have a personal relationship with one of these: