Purpose, Sociopaths, Integrity and Ethics – Chapter Fifteen

Purpose, Sociopaths, Integrity and Ethics – Chapter Fifteen


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Understand yourself and understand others.


Philosophers have pondered over the meaning of life for thousands of years – the purpose of it all. Am I here to claim to know the meaning of life? Well, not exactly. It’s more about the meaning of our needs – the purpose behind our needs. If our needs drive our behaviour, there must be an evolutionary purpose in the development of them. William Glasser, a psychiatrist and developer of reality therapy and choice theory, came up with the theory of these basic needs, and the habits of communication. When we look at them they make sense and are simple to understand. If we understand the purpose of our needs we can see the purpose behind the evolution of them.

Let’s now look at these needs again – the needs for love and connection, empowerment, freedom, fun and survival. We can see that our needs are more complex than the needs of other animals. This could be the reason why we are at the top of the food chain. The complexity of our needs could have been the catalyst for our leap to a higher level of consciousness – a conscious choice as opposed to just basic animal instincts to survive. With conscious choice comes responsibility. Some don’t like the sound of that, but responsibility is just the ability to respond – the ability to make a choice.

Survival is the basis of all needs – every living thing has this basic need. Many mammals developed the need for love and belonging. They suckled their young and many of them banded together in groups for protection. This gave mammals an increased level of survival. Then the need for power came in. We can see this in the animal world, with stags banging heads together, and silver-backed gorillas banging their chests (not much different to the way some people behave today). The strong and powerful also dominated the mating game and had a better chance of surviving and creating more offspring and strengthening the gene pool. Human beings then developed into a different species to anything else.

We could now choose how to think. Of course the strong were still dominating and so freedom entered as a need – the freedom from the power of others – to be free from their domination in order to survive. For the more advanced consciously, I suggest the need for power was being tempered by a need for empowerment. This is more about recognition and having an influence over one’s life than power over others. A high need for power over others conflicts with the needs for love, connection and belonging. It frustrates this need. The need for fun – to experience new things, to learn new things – also developed from basic play. The more we learned; the more love, connection, empowerment and freedom we could get and the better were our chances of survival and the survival of the human race.

Human beings began to spread across the world in conquest of others, or freedom from others. Some were still driven by the base need for power – others shifting to empowerment. These set up groups that were more co-operative and democratic. Let’s face it – that’s what being human is all about. These needs have developed to bring human beings together in co-operation and contribution for the benefit and continued propagation and survival of the species.

It’s a bit like a cell in the body. The cell’s co-operation and contribution to the whole perpetuates life in the body. If it takes more than it gives, it becomes cancerous and threatens the life of the body. The purpose of our needs is simple and based in the need for survival – co-operation and contribution to the whole. If we look at our purpose, it is co-operation and contribution first to family and friends, then to the broader community, and then to the whole of society. The purpose of business is to provide a positive service to society and in doing so, be paid for this service. The basic purpose of government is to make sure all people have food, shelter and freedom from harm – to provide systems of health care and education, and to protect the environment for future generations. The problems we see in society today all around the world come from the failure of governments, businesses and individuals to recognise our true purpose. It often takes something like a devastating tsunami to wake people up to the need to help those less fortunate – to begin to feel love and compassion for our fellow man – to change our focus from what I can get, to what I can give. The ego is all about getting.

We have a responsibility to meet our needs and, in doing so, we meet the needs of others. If we are living for a purpose of co-operation and contribution, we can’t help but meet our needs. So what stops us living with this purpose and meeting our needs? Thinking we can’t be happy because we lack something, and this creates a want for more – more money, more possessions, more approval, more control, more security.

What is integrity of a system? There is a box of tissues on my desk. The system has integrity if it holds the tissues in place and allows me access to the tissues, one at a time. It serves the purpose for which it was designed. What if the bottom dropped out of the box? The system would lack integrity. It would not serve the purpose for which it was designed. So integrity and purpose go hand in hand.


There are many psychological disorders that we can come across in society, but there is one in particular that I would like to cover with regard to integrity. Why single out this one? Because we often think people with this disorder are normal and exhibit normal behaviour. I refer to the sociopath. Sociopaths can blend into society, and I have had to work with quite a few over the years. They often leave a trail of destruction behind them and much pain and suffering for others. They feel no remorse, guilt or empathy – they lack integrity. The sociopath has a purely egoist point of view – it is all about them. A sociopath will usually be a bully, but a bully might not be a sociopath. I focus on sociopaths because I see them as extreme form of ego – giving the appearance of control but they are usually out of control. Why? It’s because of their high want for control.


Let’s take a look at the profile of a sociopath so that we can recognise them when we come into contact with them:

  • Glibness and superficial charm.
  • Manipulative and conning.
    Sociopaths never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviours as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
  • Grandiose sense of self.
    Feels entitled to certain things as their right.
  • Pathological lying.
    Sociopaths have no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. They can create, and get caught up in a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of remorse, shame or guilt.
    Sociopaths have a deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed. They do not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
  • Shallow emotions.
    When sociopaths show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than genuine and serves an ulterior motive. They are outraged by insignificant matters, yet remain unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
  • Inability to love.
  • Need for stimulation.
    Sociopaths are living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal.
  • Callousness/lack of empathy.
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor behavioural controls/impulsive nature.
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries and no concern for their impact on others.
  • Irresponsibility/unreliability.
    Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Do not accept blame themselves, but blame others – even for acts they themselves obviously committed.

Other Related Traits:

Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them. Do not perceive that anything is wrong with them. Authoritarian. Secretive. Paranoid. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seek out situations where their tyrannical behaviour will be tolerated, condoned, or admired. Conventional appearance. Goal of enslavement of their victims. Exercise despotic control over every aspect of a victim’s life. Have an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore need their victim’s affirmation (respect, gratitude and love). Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim. Incapable of real human attachment to another. Unable to feel remorse or guilt. Extreme narcissism and grandiosity.

Have you seen these traits in people you have come in contact with? Many sociopaths reach high levels in business and politics. Sociopaths are not interested in co-operation and contribution. It is all about the base need for power and control. They have very little need for love and belonging. It is all about satisfying wants at any cost. The need for power has its roots in the want for control, approval and security. It is good to look at the sociopath. They are all around us creating great destruction. Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi are examples. Many politicians are more subtle in their quest for power but still show sociopathic tendencies. Sociopaths seem to be stuck in an evolutionary time warp and lack integrity – the needs of a silver-backed gorilla with the intellect and ego of a human. The sociopath is the domain of the ultimate ego mind.