Col. Russell Williams – a possible psychopath?
Col. Russell Williams arrest for being a possible serial killer/rapist has riled things up quite a bit. No one is saying that having one sociopath in charge of a military base means that all military personnel are suspect or should be treated with contempt. This is a fantasy created by the media to stir up right-wing sentiment in this country as one part of a long-term agenda to undermine Canadian progressive sentiment. This is similar to that other right-wing myth perpetuated in the US, that Vietnam War protesters spat on soldiers. (1)
Be that as it may, there are a number of important aspects to this case that are not mentioned:
It is a well known fact that psychopaths, due to their desire to dominate and harm other people are attracted to hierarchical, authoritarian organizations like the military, police, prison guards, corporate bureaucracies and reform school staff. Indeed, depending upon their level of aggression and intelligence, they will try to worm their way into any organization that allows them to have some unchecked power over other people. Once again, I must point out that the majority of people in these organizations are not pathological. These latter are a minority, but they do much damage.
Their damage is made worse by two factors. One is that the intelligent sociopath is a master in imitating normal healthy people and charming them into thinking he is something special. Their associates always say "Why he was like one of us. He seemed so normal." The other factor is tribalism. All organizations protect their own, and this is even more so in an authoritarian organization. Members will go into denial mode when faced with suspicious activity and whistle-blowers will be persecuted.
The central aspect of sociopathic behaviour is lack of empathy. Thus, the pathological will be attracted to organizations in which empathy is regarded of little importance. Corporations exist to make a profit, and to hell with the employees, the environment and the community if they get in the way of that goal. If you are in the military you are forced to go out and kill people you don't know and who have never done anything to you. Part of being a police officer is brutalizing demonstrators if you are told to do so. This organizational pathology is compounded by propaganda that dehumanizes "the other" in the eyes of those who work for those organizations. Thus the enemies are "gooks" or "sand monkeys" , the workers are "little people who don't matter", the demonstrators are "commies" – not, note well, other human beings little different from me.
Thus the normal police person, executive, soldier etc., is forced into a schizophrenic situation – being decent, but from time to time having to act like a monster. But the sociopath revels in these displays of domination, degradation and cruelty, and is attracted to these organizations for that reason.
Williams is proof that all hierarchical organizations ought to have better screening processes. But the real way to help eliminate the problem of sociopaths in power would be to eliminate the sociopathic aspects of these organizations to begin with.
1. It never happened, and war resistors would have been insane to do so, since soldiers were a major part of the resistance to the war. Where stories emerge – like the recent "throwing marbles at horses" fantasy (see my story 23/11/09) – running so contrary to the means and goals of protest movements, you can be assured: 1. they are media fabrications 2. the work of government agent-provocateurs. 3. actions of a lunatic unconnected with the organizers.