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The massive costs of sociopaths to society

Man Behind BarsMy local newspaper is the Press of Atlantic City. It’s a small-town newspaper covering the Atlantic City, New Jersey area. It’s not the New York Daily News, the Daily Mail or another British tabloid. Yet as I read the paper one day last week, I was shocked to see one story after another that seemed to illustrate sociopathic behavior.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. In my opinion, when adults freely commit crime, aggression, fraud, exploitation, violence, bullying, retaliation or pathological lying, they likely have sociopathic traits.

There is research to back this up, which I’ll get to soon. But first, here’s the news for July 9, 2014. (Although I saw all of the stories — local, regional and national — in the Press of Atlantic City, in some cases I looked for better versions on other websites to post here on Lovefraud.)

Women may have swindled 45 elderly clients

Barbara Lieberman, an attorney from Northfield, New Jersey, who specialized in elder law, and Jan Van Holt, who ran an in-home senior service, were arrested in March and charged with stealing more than $2.4 million from victims who were in their 80s and 90s. All but one are now dead, and most had no family. Now, at least 10 more victims have been identified, and there may be an additional 25 victims.

Elder-fraud case may yield more victims, AG says on PressofAtlanticCity.com

Woman’s home was site of serial killings

Catrina McGhaw rents a house in Ferguson, Missouri, that was once the home of Maury Troy Travis. Travis committed suicide in jail in 2002 after being charged with killing two St. Louis area women. Police suspected him in as many as 20 murders.

McGhaw learned that she was living in the home of a suspected serial killer when she saw her house on television, in an A&E documentary. Some victims had been tied to a pole in her basement.

McGhaw called her landlady, who turned out to be the killer’s mother, begging to get out of the lease. The landlady refused. However, the St. Louis Housing Authority said McGhaw can break her lease.

Woman renting suspected serial killer’s home to move out early on CBSNews.com

Scandal at the Veteran’s Administration

A federal investigative agency is examining 67 complaints of retaliation filed by whistleblowers who reported wrongdoing at Veterans Affairs hospitals and facilities.

A report charged that the medical inspector’s office, which was supposed to investigate complaints, instead downplayed them. The medical inspector hotline was suspended, with complaints referred to the VA’s Office of Inspector General.

Federal agency examines retaliation claims by VA employees who filed whistleblower complaints, on TimesFreePress.com

Woman didn’t want kids, so she killed them

Megan Huntsman, 39, of Pleasant Grove, Utah, strangled or suffocated six infants between 1996 and 2006. She said she was heavily addicted to meth and did not want the responsibility of caring for her babies.

Huntsman packed the tiny bodies in separate boxes in her garage. Investigators found a seventh baby that appeared to be stillborn.

Huntsman is in jail, charged with six counts of murder. Bail was set at $6 million.

Mom accused of killing babies while on drugs on PressofAtlanticCity.com

Matthew Sandusky reveals abuse by his father

Oprah Winrey will interview Matt Sandusky, one of six adopted children of Jerry and Dottie Sandusky, on July 17 at 9 p.m., on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

OWN announced that in the interview, Matt Sandusky describes grooming, methodical control and manipulation by his father, and says he was sexually abused starting at age 10.

Oprah interviews Sandusky son about sexual abuse, on PhillyMag.com

New Jersey man scams investors

Peter Lareau of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, admitted that he fraudulently obtained $500,000 in an investment scheme. He claimed to be funding educational television programming for teenagers and promised favorable returns to investors.

Instead, he used the money for personal expenses including groceries, tuition payments for his child, rent and club memberships.

Man pleads guilty in fraudulent investment scheme on APP.com

Pithy observations by a news columnist 

This wasn’t a news story, but a column by Richard Cohen. In it, he imagines that Michael Corleone of The Godfather announces to his henchmen that the mob family is going to incorporate. They would be listed on the stock exchange “with the other criminals.”

Why? Because when corporations commit crimes, they pay a fine, but no one ever goes to jail.

On Wall Street, the Corleone family fits right in on WashingtonPost.com

The cost of crime

How much does crime cost U.S. society? A researcher by the name of David A. Anderson came up with a figure of $2.3 trillion per year in 2009 dollars.

In this figure, Anderson included direct costs such as lost property, and indirect costs such as police, courts, prosecutors, public defenders, jurors and prisons. Anderson noted that $2.3 trillion per year was the same amount of money that the U.S. spent on all life insurance policies, all mortgage debt, and all health expenditures.

And who is committing this crime?

Researchers Kent A. Kiehl, Ph.D., and Morris B. Hoffman, figured out how much U.S. crime can be attributed to psychopaths. In a paper called The Criminal Psychopath: History, Neuroscience, Treatment and Economics, they point out that between 15% and 25% of males in North American prisons are psychopaths.

Then, assuming an average figure of 20% to do the math, Kiehl and Hoffman calculated that “psychopaths alone are responsible for approximately $460 billion per year in criminal social costs.”

How does this compare with other annual societal costs? Take a look:

  • $460 billion — crime committed by psychopaths
  • $329 billion — alcohol and substance abuse
  • $200 billion — obesity
  • $172 billion — smoking
  • $76 billion — schizophrenia

Low estimate

This figure of $460 billion per year doesn’t even begin to cover the real costs that disordered personalities exact on our society. Here are reasons why the estimate is low:

1. Kiehl and Morris estimate that 1% of the population are psychopaths, as defined by the Psychopathy Checklist Revised. The American Psychiatric Association, however, estimates that 4% of the population meets the definition of antisocial personality disorder, which is somewhat broader. Plenty of antisocials are also committing crimes. (For more on the differences in terminology, read Psychopath/Sociopath on Lovefraud.)

2. Kiehl and Morris did not include women.

3. The estimate does not include civil lawsuits. Sociopaths love to file lawsuits. And if we take sociopaths to court, they do everything the can to run up legal fees, and then do not follow any court orders.

4. The estimate does not include difficult-to-quantify damage suffered by the victims of sociopaths, such as emotional suffering, compromised health, lost jobs and ruined careers.

5. The estimate does not address the costs of having children with a sociopath, such as child custody battles and psychological treatment.

6. The estimate does not address the costs of corporate psychopaths. These are the people who play games with major companies until they collapse, like Enron. One researcher attributed the global financial collapse that began in 2008 to psychopaths in the financial industry.

Root of all evil

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that sociopaths are the root of all evil in our society, when evil is defined as profound immorality.

Sociopaths are the people who are committing the crimes. They are causing almost all suffering that is not the result of a natural disaster. They may even be the cause of much illness in the world, because of the emotional distress they inflict on their victims.

Yet despite the massive cost that sociopaths inflict on society, most people don’t know they exist.

This is why learning about sociopaths is so important. Just knowing that they’re out there, and must be avoided, could be the first step in creating a far better world.

 



13 Comments on "The massive costs of sociopaths to society"

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  1. AnotherOne says:

    Wow – $460 billion in damage – and that isn’t all? People need to know about these predators.



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  2. Imara says:

    Wow!!! well written and cited!!
    Donna the aftermath of a scratch with the disordered has huge ripple effects too!!! Secondary victims might include elderly parents or siblings of the primary victim…. Add all those up and we truly begin to only scratch the surface!!!! So many victims suffer from PTSD we know!!! But vicarious PTSD suffered by people who support the victim in his or her healing is also part of the victimization!!! SO much damage caused and so very written of the impact to the larger society!! I’ll email forward to as many MSW students as possible!!!
    Thank You again



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  3. Jan7 says:

    it seems that there are far more people without a conscience on this planet then experts believe…I have read from 1% to 4% of the population are sociopaths/psychopaths…but I think that number is much much higher maybe 20%…every time I watch the news, read the paper and hear stories that clearly involve a psychopath/sociopath or come to support sites and hear victims stories I can not believe that the stats are 1% as there are far to many evil people in these stories being told.

    Just a note John Walsh has a new show called “The Hunt with John Walsh” on CNN sundays at 9pm…it’s not as good as American Most Wanted but Mr Walsh is the same strong and determined man who wants killers locked up…he did say the words several times “Psychopath with narcissiism” on the show last night describing a killer on the run which is a great thing. I have posted on his facebook page “John Walsh (official)” & “The Hunt with John Walsh” asking him to please educate his viewers on the traits of a psychopath/sociopath/narcissist, how to spot them, how manipulative they are etc etc as most of our society has no clue how to spot one and I also listed sites/books like Lovefraud for him to maybe interview in the future to truly stop people from ever becoming victims…maybe if everyone went to his facebook pages and posted the same request he would do a show interviewing Donna and other authors. Just a thought.



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  4. Jan7 – I agree that the official estimates are low. Psychopathy researchers spend a lot of time differentiating a “psychopath” from someone with “antisocial personality disorder.” From the point of view of the victim, the distinction is meaningless.

    That’s why I use the term “sociopath.” I am using it as an umbrella term to describe anyone who lives their lives by exploiting others. These people can be clinically diagnosed as psychopaths, antisocial, narcissist or borderline. There is a lot of overlap between these disorders anyway, so it’s hard to tell one from the other.

    If you add up the official estimates for these disorders, it goes like this:

    Psychopaths and antisocial – 1% to 4% of population
    Narcissists – up to 6% of population
    Borderline – 2 % of population

    So add the official estimates together, you get 12% of the population who are exploiters. And these are the ones who would be clinically diagnosed – not those who have some of the traits but not enough to be diagnosed.

    I think 12% is much closer to the real number. That’s 37 million people in the U.S.



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    • Jan7 says:

      Thanks Donna…I have see your stats before but still wonder if those are on the low side. sad thing is I was so good at avoiding people that made my anxiety level go up the min I met them….with my ex h…the same thing I had no interest in dating him, marrying him, staying with him and my first thought meeting him was he was a tornado second he was crazy (boy was my gut right) but I was not prepared like everyone else here to get sucked quickly into his pity me stories, manipulation, pathological lying, gas lighting abuse etc… 300 million good people in the USA and we all had to get tangled up with one of the 37 million evil people 🙁



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  5. AnnettePK says:

    Even more cost to the world when one considers war, and other political manifestation of psycho/sociopathy.



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  6. Kay says:

    I agree that more than 4% of population is sociopath or narcissist. Since being targeted by one I have a hard time trusting anyone. The cost that my sociopath cost me is more than just financial…
    I have lost so much… My faith in humanity. My self worth, etc… I am stronger than I use to be. But my guard is up. In fact my sociopath is still costing me money… It is so sad that these people destroy the way they do.



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    • I’m glad you wrote this, Kay. The costs to my life can’t be quantified .. self worth, loss of hope and faith in people, and on and on. I am stronger, too, but but at what cost to my health did I arrive at this place?

      Family Law should be added to the cost list as well. How many people have to file for bankruptcy, or lose their homes and retirement and savings due to the antics of divorce attorneys and the ways that the spaths manipulate that system? How many parents and children do they hurt through the guises of Family Law? The list just goes on and on.



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      • arbirdie says:

        I have not been over here for a bit, Arkansas legal aid really did bad for me on my divorce. I am like Kay its all my money stuff, its like now I have nothing sleeping on my sons sofa another son gave me a lil beater to get around down in lonoke county has had a warrent out for my husband x husband for a year they know where he is but dont care to serve the warrent. He swindled me, beat me kidnapped me and raped me I am trying to be like I was before he prayed on me but its so hard my dignity is so shattered and the lonoke procusters office says they care but they use words like he used on me idk but now i had to apply for food stamps at 58 I have nothing and hes made me more disabled.



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  7. BeckyR says:

    I so agree with your assessment, Donna. I wonder if the differentiations on the spectrum have more to do with pharmaceutical treatment capabilities. The most difficult observation which affected me in the financial arena is the lack of awareness on the part of the judicial system, as well as those professionals in the psychology realm. So many of these people have no link to the emotional and spiritual assault posed by predators of the kind that don’t make the news. Because these beings are such chameleons, they acquire groups of energy/money/confidant/social standing supply and the loyalty in protecting them is quite astounding.

    My personal feeling is that the numbers are increasing and the devastation continues to ripple outward. Thank you for your articles and site.



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    • flicka says:

      I agree that sociopathis numbers are much greater than the “experts” think and are proliferating exponentially…mostly due to the legal system’s ignorance resulting in the sociopaths belief that they are the “winners” and superior in the human race. This adds to the victim’s fear of possible future sociopaths, and the potential of future relationships becomes grossly diminished. So devastating are the effects of this illness!



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  8. HGBeverly says:

    Donna,

    What a powerful article. 37 million people in the U.S.! Staggering.

    Makes me more thankful than ever for my core group of loving, supportive people.

    Thank you for sharing,

    H.G. Beverly



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  9. Jan7 says:

    The extreme…..The cost of a dictator skimming the pot from the hard working citizens:

    Vadamar Putin was an ex KGB officer (govt job) and now his salary is $187,000 per year and yet he is worth over $70 BILLION dollars…makes you wonder how he acquired such a vast wealth for working for the govt his whole career!!



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