Friday, November 28, 2014

The establishment, the child abuse scandal, and psychopathy: the elephant in the room

The number of cases of  historical (and recent) child abuse involving "establishment" figures is growing by the week. Recently, it has been uncovered (and admitted by police sources) that there was indeed a high-placed "paedophile ring" involving Westminster around thirty years ago, which was covered-up by those in positions of authority.
This ring has also been implicated in the death of at least two teenage boys; one case was the disappearance and murder of a former magistrate's son in 1979, the other the son of the driver of the former Australian commissioner in 1981.

There is a strong argument for linking the psychology of people who abuse children to that of psychopathy: for someone to carry such acts of abuse, by definition, requires a complete lack of empathy for the victims; worse, the fact that the victims are vulnerable (children) adds stronger psychological evidence that the perpetrators bear many of the hallmarks consistent with psychopathy. From the case of Ian Watkins last year, to the infamous Jimmy Savile, there is a convincing argument that this form of abuse should be put on the same level of psychological severity as other psychopaths; the fact that they choose to abuse children is simply their chosen method of displaying their psychopathy, for whatever reason.

There are many ways that psychopaths may indulge their psychological disorder on society, and can vary wildly from case to case - what unites them is the common trait of a lack of empathy for their chosen victims.

The case of Myles Bradbury

Myles Bradbury was until recently an acclaimed, and universally-respected (and loved) doctor at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge, one of the best in the country. He was also a serial child abuser.

Looking at the anecdotal evidence of the case, there is a convincing argument that Bradbury's personality corresponds to large degree to that of a psychopath. He was charming and persuasive with the parents of his victims, and trusted implicitly by all those he was involved with; he was involved in good work with the scouts and church groups, so manufacturing a persona as a moral pillar of the community.
The same has been said of many psychopaths: that they are masters in the art of performance, hiding their true, amoral, selves behind a mask of respectability. Bradbury was a "God-like figure", who appeared to revel in his status, and clearly used his status as a cover for his appalling and callous acts. This included abusing boys when even his parents were in the same room.

As people after the event always ask: how did they get away with it? The answer lies in the charm of the psychopath, and their adaptive personality. In short, they have no real "humanity" in the moral sense of the word, but have the personality of a predator on society, that is able to use adaptive skills to get what they want from the human environment.

The other question - the elephant in the room - is why does it appear there are so many of them in the establishment?

A finishing school for psychopaths?

In general, psychopaths, as amoral predators, seek to reach the top of society. And many of them succeed in getting there, through a combination of amoral ruthlessness and cunning charm. The modern social environment of today's Capitalist society also resembles the ideal, dog-eat-dog environment that a psychopath would be ideally-suited for: where Ayn Rand's ideas have been put into practice, they appear to create a society that almost seems like an inadvertent attempt at socially-engineering sociopathy on a mass scale. Modern free-market Capitalism, based on the tenets of Ayn Rand's ideology, encourages a society almost at economic war with itself; a mass of amoral individuals who see the cost of everything and the value of nothing. In short, modern-day Capitalism grinds down natural human empathy.

But going back to the question posed earlier, what is it about the UK establishment? Is there something fundamentally wrong somewhere that has created a disproportionate number of psychopathic child abusers?

As has been shown, psychopathy (and sociopathy) are a by-product of a person's human environment. While it is not fully understood (and biological factors are also important), psychopathy usually occurs due to the environment early in a person's life creating a lack of empathy in the individual in question. One glaring distinction that marks out "the establishment" from the rest of British society is in the area of education.

"Public school" is a long tradition for the establishment, and has been a rite of passage for generations; in some families, for centuries. Boarding school is how many of Britain's elite choose to education their children: many of the current Conservative government, including David Cameron himself, are products of that system. And we can see the results of that system for ourselves today.

While it is not my place to judge parenting, boarding school has been extolled by the elite as the ideal method to educate children of the elite so they are ready to step into positions of authority when the time comes. Boarding school is the way to "build character" in children and adolescents; away from their parents and surrounded by their peers and an authoritarian adult regime.

But the reality often seems to be different: by definition, boarding schools are atypical social environments, that create atypical behaviour: less about emotionally "building character" than psychologically "purging empathy" from the child growing into adulthood. In other words, it is in many ways a dysfunctional social environment that breeds the conditions for forming sociopaths.

There are number of cases of these types of school being populated with teachers who are child abusers, far more than found in the schools system at large; similarly, the many "rites of passage" that occur in boarding school are little more than psychological terror and forms of sexual abuse. These have the effect of not creating constructive and outstanding members of society, but can create the very opposite: either traumatised adults, or adults that have little empathy for society at large and little concept of social value: in other words, ready-made psychopaths.

It is for this reason that Britain's "establishment" seems to be disproportionately-afflicted by the child abuse scandal: these perpetrators were not born as monsters, but often may have been turned into them by a system that was meant to create the very opposite. But there are so many intertwined with propping up its tottering moral code, that no-one in authority has the courage to change it. it is for this reason why it is corrupt.

It exists simply for the sake of amoral self-perpetuation.

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