Psychopaths, the Crowd, Society & Politics

Psychopath and the Crowd

What role does the crowd play in helping the psychopath get away with their destructive behaviour? By the crowd we mean the bulk of people who make up at least half the population who are not psychopaths but also generally apathetic and passive and not independent minded. They are the indifferent masses.

The “crowd”, “herd” or “masses” actually play a vital role in allowing psychopaths to get away with so much toxic behaviour.

By not standing up to the psychopath or being easily taken in by them, they effectively allow the psychopath to isolate and target someone else. Strong, moral, principled people who represent a threat to the psychopath are often undermined and isolated in this way.

It is a sad fact that most of the human race do not truly think for themselves in the deepest sense of the word. They are very easily influenced and manipulated and often do not spot, or choose to ignore, glaring red flags that psychopaths and other toxic characters give off in terms of their behaviours.

Psychopaths know full well this is the case and cynically take advantage of it time and time again. They quickly latch onto the fact that they can easily manipulate and take most people in by following a few simple cues and this makes isolating targets depressingly easy for them.

The Sociopath Empath Apath Triad

An excellent conceptual model for understanding this dynamic is the Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad or SEAT for short, developed in The Empathy Trap by Jane and Tim McGregor, available on our books section. For the purposes of this model and explanation the terms sociopath and psychopath can be considered equivalent since both personality types engage in this behaviour.

This model details how the sociopath or psychopath enlists the help of “the crowd” in the form of an Apath to target a high quality individual or Empath and isolate or undermine them in a work or personal setting.

In this model the apath represents the crowd or the bulk of people (estimated to be around 60% of people in The Empathy Trap) who are not psychopathic but are not particularly strong, moral or principled in the way the empath is. They are basically good people on a deep level but also passive and tend to “go along to get along”, not wanting to kick up a fuss or rock the boat.

The empath by contrast is a high quality, empathic, strong individual who tends to see the sociopath or psychopath exactly for what they are and is not generally afraid to call them out on their manipulative and inappropriate behaviour.

The sociopath however will take advantage of the passivity of the apath to shift blame or negative attention for something they have done onto the empath. This usually begins with the empath feeling the need to take a stand and confront the sociopath on something unacceptable they have said or done.

The sociopath uses a combination of lies, deceit, trickery, misinformation, and superficial charm and flattery to “take in” the apath who is also caught up in the situation and flip things on their head so it is the empath who is the one blamed or seen to be causing trouble.

Unfortunately the apath all too often goes along with this an easily manipulated by the sociopath. The empath is then left furious about how a situation where they have done the right thing in calling out the psychopath has somehow been turned around on him so they are suddenly seen as the one at fault. The sociopath often walks away from the situation scot free.

It goes without saying that this whole dynamic could not play out without the active or passive collusion of “the crowd” represented by the apath. So to directly address the title of this article, the crowd plays a crucial role in the psychopath or sociopath getting away with as much as they do. Edmund Burke’s now famous quote sums this situation up perfectly.

Burke's Quote Evil Thrives

Image Credit – Everlasting Quotes, Flickr

Frustration With The Crowd For The Empath

Watching this whole process play out is very frustrating and annoying for the high quality, intelligent, empathic person and it tests their patience and faith in humanity. Time and again they will see exactly how easily manipulated and taken in the vast majority of people are by the psychopath or sociopath and how little integrity they seem to have in standing up to or even spotting the psychopath’s poisonous behaviour.

The psychopath will continually be allowed to blame shift, project and scheme against others in work settings especially, and no one except the empath themself seems to speak out or even notice it.

There is a shrugged shoulders kind of apathy on the part of the crowd where the empath will point out grossly unacceptable or unprofessional behaviour the psychopath does and the response he gets back from apaths is effectively an active or implicit “So?”.

The empath is usually completely correct in their observation of what the psychopath is up to and this apathy on the part of the crowd is immensely annoying to the empathic individual, who has a strong sense of right and wrong and is more in touch with the voice of reason inside himself which can spot obvious red flags in terms of behaviour the psychopath is engaging in.

Unfortunately there is nothing the empath can do about this as they can’t force the crowd to change and have more integrity. That is something the crowd has to do itself.

It is therefore about swallowing a bitter kind of “red pill” on this regard for the empath and accepting reality for the way it is. The psychopath can manipulate most people quite easily and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Empath Against the Crowd

The high quality, empathic individual will find themselves fighting not just against the psychopath but the apathy of other onlookers who the are easily led and manipulated.

From the Micro to the Macro (Society)

This dynamic is important to understanding not just the minutiae of daily politics in the workplace and the home but also broader collectivist mass movements in society in general. The micro is the everyday level and the macro is the broader societal level, and psychopaths manipulate the crowd in both contexts.

On the micro level, it involves the aforementioned scenario of a psychopath using the indifference of the apath or crowd to isolate and undermine an empathic target. See this article on the sociopath-empath-apath triad for more expansion on what we already mentioned above.

However on a macro or societal level, the same process is constantly being played out as politicians manipulate their citizens. It explains how hateful, psychopathic leaders such as Hitler came to power and generated toxic mass movements where the general population stood by while millions of innocent people were slaughtered.

Once again it is the apathy or indifference and lack of intuitive or critical thinking on the part of the masses that is crucial to this process. It could not happen without this since the psychopath would be seen for who they are and very quickly rejected.

Anyone with eyes to see who now watches the videos of Hitler’s speeches will find themselves asking how millions of people ever thought this man was suitable to lead a country. There is a maniacal, poisonous, hateful aggression and vitriol to his speech and body language, as well as a total lack of warmth, humility and “down the earthness” to his personality that anyone with an ounce of intuition can spot.

Yet millions of Germans were taken in by his hateful message amd voted him into power. When he was persecuting minorities, they stood idly by because it wasn’t making their life any harder. It was easier to keep quiet and go along to get along. We all know what followed from this though as the persecution and suppression widened.

This same manipulation of the masses by politicians continues to this day. Nowadays of course the PR is more skilled and the hateful vitriol and openly psychotic body language has been toned down and politicians are now well trained in presenting a respectable image of a public servant who is introducing all these policies “for you own good”.

Of course the same pattern of relentless lies, half truths, misinformation and denial and projection of blame continually infects how politicians interact with their citizens. An increasing number of people are disengaging from the process for this reason but many still fall for the same old lies and think it will be different this time. The psychopathic manipulation has just moved up to the macro (political & societal) levels instead.

The late comedian George Carlin also brilliantly described the role that the apathetic and easily influenced masses play in the direction (or lack of direction) in politics in this quote, taken from an NPR radio interview he did in 2004. When asked why he didn’t vote, he responded:

I see there’s an ownership class in this country. There’s no real choice….Everything is owned by the ownership class, they do what they want, they get what they want and Americans deserve what they get because they’re not really engaged intellectually at all, they’re easily swayed and manipulated.

Psychopathic Manipulation – Examples in Daily Life & Politics

To illustrate how psychopathic manipulation tactics permeate the macro as well as the micro levels of society, we have embedded a comparison table below showing common manipulative tactics psychopaths use on individual targets and matching them up with a macro or societal level equivalent of how a similar dynamic is played out on the entire population.

The list is not exhaustive and there are different corrollaries or equivalents one could come up with for each example. It is just attempting to show that psychopaths manipulate at every level of society and for every instance of this happening the people’s personal lives, there is a roughly similar thing happening on the broader societal & political level.

Micro and Macro Level Manipulation Examples

Psychopathic Manipulation - Micro ExampleMacro Level Equivalent
Sweet Talking, superficial charm and "love bombing""If you elect me I'll give you XYZ"
Idealize phase"This is a new era, I'm going to make this country great again" blah blah blah
Psychopaths often paint their ex partners as "crazy" to distract from themselves"All this corruption that happened under the last party is going to stop. I'm going to clean up XYZ" blah blah. The corruption continues as normal.
Lies and deceptionNeeds no explanation - politicians are constantly lying and deceiving voters
Denial, Projection and blame shiftingPoliticians will never admit they have made a mistake. They will always deny a policy has been a failure and shift blame onto the opposition or find some other excuse or rationalization
Gas-lighting - inversion of reality - claiming things were done or said when they weren't or vice versaPoliticians will deny their involvement in scandals, corruption or contradictions in what they said despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Triangulation - playing the crowd off against an individual through the SEAT dynamic or some other form of manipulation.Discrediting of anyone who expresses a view outside a very narrow mainstream consensus. Use labels such as "far right" or "extremist" to discredit anyone with a different view to the status quo, regardless of whether they actually fit those labels.
Identity erosion - a gradual chipping away at a target's psychological boundaries through gas-lighting, mind games and undermining them in groups.The Totalitarian Tiptoe - a gradual chipping away at citizen's civil liberties and privacy with ever more draconian surveillance laws under the excuse of terrorism. Ever increasing taxation also chips away at freedoms and wealth.
A psychopath convinces a victim who has pushed them away to give them another chance.Voters fall for the "this time it will be different" trick and vote for another psychopathic leader to replace the last one.


For detailing Micro level manipulation and how psychopaths exploit the apathy of the crowd to single out and undermine high quality empathic individuals, then The Empathy Trap, is an excellent resource, going into more detail about the sociopath-empath-apath-triad we briefly described and giving some good examples of how sociopaths and psychopaths manipulate and scheme against others.

See our Resources section for links to more books and videos on the subject.


I like to draw on my personal experience and research to write and raise awareness about pathological personalities in the modern world

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