The rampant and ubiquitous destruction of global habitat by Homo sapiens upon which human survival depends cannot be described as anything other than insanity. While many species may from time to time act in ways that are incompatible with their own best interests, the human organism is unique in that he possesses the intellectual capacity to be fully aware of the repercussions of his actions and indulges in self-destructive behaviors anyway.
We sit idly by while industry belches smog into our atmosphere and shit into our oceans. We slather our food crops with poison and then eat them. And we would seemingly rather drive big cars than have a decent, climate-controlled planet to live on. What is wrong with us? The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) provides clues to the incredulous acts of humankind.
The DSM defines sociopathy (also known as antisocial personality disorder) as “…a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others… (1).” Sociopaths also display compulsive lying, aggressiveness, lack of regard for social norms, irresponsibility and a propensity to con or manipulate others. A sociopath’s life is characterized by a perpetual pursuit of his own gratification without regard or remorse for those he injures in the process.
Many astute philosophers of economics and environmental science have noted that the publicly-traded corporation is by its very nature, sociopathic. The corporation is legally mandated to relentlessly pursue profit and to “externalize” costs and responsibilities wherever possible. Wherever major environmental calamity can be found, corporate sociopathy can usually be traced to the cause. The ruined Gulf of Mexico, countless topless mountains, ruined watersheds and rural communities across Southern Appalachia, dammed, sterilized rivers and the scars of clear cuts where old growth forests once stood are the legacy of corporate sociopaths.
Corporations are not the only sociopaths responsible for the demise of Earth. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that sociopaths in flesh and blood form comprise about 1% of the population (2), and some sources place the figure as high as 3.6% (3).” Many sociopaths end up in prison. As many as 80% of males and 65% of females in prison suffer from the disorder. Other sociopaths make their way into the workforce and find careers perfectly suited to their personality disorders on Wall Street, for example or as CEOs of corporations. As the global economy tumbled down and record numbers of Americans found themselves homeless and in poverty, the Wall Street sociopaths gleefully counted the bonuses and profits they racked up at everyone else’s expense.
Sadly for Earth and the rest of us, corporate and human sociopaths have insinuated themselves into high places in the world. The sociopaths of Wall Street are the puppeteers of the global economy and our governments are their puppets. With the recent Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, sociopathic corporations are now deciding who the puppets in Washington will be. While regular, sane people are going about their daily lives not caring about global domination or having it all for themselves, loving their neighbors and working hard to provide for their families, sociopaths, driven by insatiable pathological needs for more and more gratification are ruining the planet.
One of the hallmark characteristics of a successful sociopath is his disarming ability to con and deceive. While robs his victims blind, he simultaneously convinces them his actions are for their own good, and they stupidly believe him.
Haters are also detrimental to society and the environment. Unlike sociopaths, haters feel genuine emotions (rage), but their potent anger is entirely misdirected. The subject engaged in projection will accuse external people or things of the very feelings and motivations he himself harbors. We hate what we fear about ourselves. As noted in the previous posts “Understanding Hate – Parts I and II,” misogynists and homophobes are frequently self-hating men who harbor secret feminine or homosexual identities. Hating the Earth or environmental causes are usually an extension of this kind of misogynist projection.
For normal people without subconscious psychological issues, it seems hard to imagine someone could hate the environment with a passion. What’s to hate? We are in fact part of nature, and objectifying and resenting the natural environment is a singularly self-destructive behavior, but these people do exist.
I once had the distinct privilege of doing some field work on an entirely uninhabited island in the Caribbean that is home to the largest population of a Critically Endangered iguana species. This particular species only survives on a few islands in the world and is severely threatened by developmental pressures, particularly for tourism purposes. The island was also home to a number of other threatened species including some lizards, birds and plants. Part of my job was to try to persuade the “owners” of the island to work with the natural environment, rather than simply bulldozing it, for the mutual benefit of the organisms (who really own the island) and the humans who sought to cohabitate there.
Of course the above ideal treaty between man and beast would require some sacrifice on the part of the humans, as the other organisms always sacrifice anyway. It was at this time I encountered my first real eco-hater. The gentleman, who shall remain nameless, was positively incensed that he should have to curtail any of his profiteering in the interest of an iguana. He retorted (I paraphrase), “It’s our land, those are our iguanas, and if it’s going to be a problem, I will just kill every one of them. Then we won’t have to deal with this bullshit anymore.”
It was only after the gentleman was convinced that there might be some profitability in being able to market a venue that provided habitat for a broad range of threatened species, including the unique iguana, that he reluctantly agreed to any concessions. He hated the iguanas for their weakness, for their need to be cared for and would have gladly participated in the extinction of the species to prove he was a manly man.
The modern, capitalist global culture is based on values that our own medical institutions would recognize as pathological. We have an economic model that is based on the pursuit of selfishness and personal aggrandizement. Our scientific method dismisses feelings, intuition and sentimentality as irrelevant. The prevalent culture glorifies domination and disdains relatedness and inter-dependence. When did we come to accept these pathologies not only as normal but as desirable paradigms?
Passionately driven by psychoses, the sociopaths and haters exert a disproportionate force on the world because normal people are too busy living their lives to either pay attention or are conned by the smooth talk of the skilled sociopaths. Over time and with little resistance, the pathologies have gradually insinuated into our culture and have now become the culture. Just because sociopathy and hating are the institutional norm in the world today doesn’t mean they aren’t still crazy.
It’s crazy to destroy the Earth when our very existence depends upon a healthy environment, and it’s crazy to let institutions and individuals with psychiatric disorders run the world. It’s time to end the craziness.
1- Definition from the World Wide Web at http://www.behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/antisocialpd.htm
2- From the National Institute of Mental Health on the World Wide Web at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml
3- Statistics on the World Wide Web at http://www.healthtree.com/articles/personality-disorders/antisocial/