Our notions of good and evil are as malleable and evolving as the society around us. Whereas once we used to burn opinionated women as witches, or assume seizures were a sure sign of demonic possessions — we now rely on scientific inquiry and skepticism to define the world around us. This has led to a wide array of psychological categories, groups and behaviors through which we self-identify: Introvert, type A, depressed, delusional, egotistical or sociopath!
There are still ongoing disputes in field of psychiatry, and the inner workings of the mind remain a great scientific mystery yet to be fully explored. However, when it comes to sociopathy, we seem to have a somewhat functioning definition: a lack of empathy, emotions, or ability to identify with others coupled with a superficial charm, persuasiveness, focus, and egomania.
It might surprise some to learn, however, that the vast majority of sociopaths aren't killers lurking in the shadows. Most of them are walking around among us, immersed in careers that nurture their psychological traits, and in some cases even reward them.
Here are the top ten jobs that attract sociopaths, according to author Kevin Dutton:
With the heartless greed and sadistic ambition displayed on Wall street since the 2008 financial collapse, it may come as no surprise that the first place on the list goes to the modern-age equivalent of a pharaoh. Capitalist positions of leadership offer power, autonomy, command, and status — a perfect battlefield for the ambitious and ruthless to compete. Where once pyramids littered the dessert in tribute to vain kings, we now have skyscrapers and corporate logos filling the clouds above.
Lawyers cloak themselves in the language of their field, making the laymen reliant on their expertise to survive in a courtroom. In the fog of legalese linguistics and glibly twisted logic, you better pray your lawyer is the most bloodthirsty of the two. There's a reason Shakespeare hated them so much, and why they continue to be the butt of so many jokes. Lawyers have a reputation for distorting the systems of equality, specifically for the purposes of ensuring their financial success. For every white knight district attorney looking to uphold the pillars of justice, you are sure to find a handful of bleak-hearted cynics and cutthroats.
If our collective society is a living organism, where better for the egomaniac to reside than on the radio or TV? To be the voice of the people, the face of their information and entertainment, and to influence our collective minds. Of course, once your self-worth becomes invariably tied to your ratings and popularity, you're in for an eventual downfall of depression and despair.
In a numbers game, there's no room for emotion. Who has the greatest mental prowess? Manipulative charm? Who can wield the finest array of half-truths to convince a customer and close a sale? For those who like to compete for status and feed an ego through the defeat of colleagues, there is no better place to be than sales.
The field of surgery offers more than the power of life and death. It's a clinical world of high-pressure stakes, where decisions must be made without emotion. What job nurtures a bigger power complex, than one where you can cut people open on a daily basis, tinker with their frail internal mechanics, and aggrandize your status as a giver or taker of life?
Much in the same way that media attracts the egomaniac, journalism (and writing in general) can draw those who wish to be revered from a distance. The ability to embed ideas and conversations in paper, and have them be absorbed en masse by readers, has only grown with the proliferation of the Internet. Now everyone with a phone, ipad, laptop or Google glasses can connect to an instantaneous world of information that stretches across the planet in seconds. The champions of that information are the self-appointed revealers of "truth" – constantly seeking to influence others through their articulation and mental prowess.
The power of life and death on your hip, a badge of authority on your chest, a uniform of distinction, and a really loud siren! Everyone’s familiar with the stereotype of a bad cop — those officers who readily abuse their power, resent the people they are meant to protect, and use cold-hearted superiority to justify their viciousness. It's an unfortunate reality that some of the biggest criminals lurk among those who've sworn to uphold the law.
What better way to fulfill your God complex than become one his messengers? If you embody and speak for the higher forces of the universe, people’s admiration and congregation around you will constantly stroke the darkest portions of your vanity — at least until they catch you abusing children. It's no wonder religions have veered away from monastic humility towards gaudy temples of lavish gold and marble.
There are few things we do on a daily basis that are more intimate than eating food. The sustenance we put in our body can heal us, warm us, increase our pleasure and decrease our stress. It can also poison us, infect us or outright kill us. The seduction and love of food is very powerful — and controlling it, corrupting it, or being worshipped for creating it can greatly appeal to the egomaniac.
Whether you're a minor-level bureaucrat suffocating the masses in red tape protocol, a hair-piece smiling robot claiming to embody the American dream, or a hypocrite ranting about moral platitudes while keeping your gay sex slave locked in your closet — there’s always plenty of room for sociopaths in the political arena.