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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tony Robbins encourages clients to be more sociopathic

I explained last month how Tony Robbins is a sociopath.

What Robbins essentially exhorts his clients to do is to be more like him -- more like a sociopath. His philosophy has certainly worked for him. He HAS unleashed the giant within, he is incredibly successful (with a net worth reportedly over $500 million), and his philosophy does work -- in certain circumstances.

Robbins is right: once you think you can succeed, you are more likely to. This is partly why so many sociopaths are incredibly successful -- as politicians, as hedge fund managers, as Hollywood producers, and as titans of corporate America.

He has his clients walk across coals and do parachute jumps to prove to themselves that they can overcome their fears and can do more than they previously thought possible. (Sociopaths tend to be fearless and think they can do anything.)

Robbins has people jump up and down and yell out responses to his questions. (Sociopaths are uninhibitedly verbal in public.)

He encourages participants to yell out how much they believe in themselves and how they will succeed. (A sociopath's mind is often in an egotistical whirl.)

Robbins exhorts his seminar attendees to go out and take action and conquer the world. (A sociopath never doubts himself, and is always ready to do whatever is necessary for his advancement.)

And he essentially tells them not to be paralyzed by fear or discouragement, but to take action. (Sociopaths, as discussed in the previous post, don't seem to suffer from clinical, paralyzing depression.)

Telling non-sociopaths to be more like a sociopath actually isn't bad advice.

Robbins doesn't tell his clients to be more disloyal, dishonest, and destructive. Though when you think about it, those sociopathic qualities might help some of them succeed, too.


Shaun F said...

John - I agree that Tony does this but I can't say if it's beneficial. Unless you just use wealth as a metric, or possibly the ability to get buy in to create wealth.

There is an opportunity cost associated with this behavior and success.

I don't know what it is (sleepless nights, they have sleeping pills or alcohol), but to me - it's not worth it.

If a sociopath has no conscious (not that one would necessarily reveal what really goes on in their heads with regards to their personal madness) the collateral damage to others is a moot point.

Being a wealthy successful career man isn't as important as trying to have a certain amount of integrity - which I do believe one forfeits if one embraces these things too dogmatically.

I just find the veneer of these types so familiar (not saying they are all sociopaths) that I, ironically, have no confidence in them. They're all quite cookie cutter in their behavior, language and approach to life.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
I'd say it's beneficial to the people for whom this attitude helps them accomplish their professional goals. I agree that most people you meet in business seem to be cast in the same mold. Their motto could be, the blander, the better. But there are subtle variations in how people approach their jobs, and a positive attitude really can help.

In a sense Robbins concentrates on building up people's narcissism. That's what he focuses on, as opposed to the seamier side of sociopathy which I mentioned in the last paragraph. And yeah, better to go through life without having to resort to these types of tricks. But also better to go through it with a positive outlook.

(I say all this as one who tends to have a negative outlook.)

Shaun F said...

John - Yes! Bland with a positive outlook. And I agree, Tony allows everyone to tap in and cultivate their inner narcissist.

I know people with positive outlooks, but I'm not one of them - I'm a tad more similar to you. Maybe it's because I carry a burden of knowledge that I'm a bit more cynical and realistic than others.

I think what turned me off, the positive attitude thing was how I equate it to positive thinking. A doctor suggested to his patient who had cancer that perhaps she should replace her positive thinking with just plain thinking. That was revelatory. A different way of thinking that just wasn't sunshine and roses.

I appreciate the simplicity of just being grateful for what we are given. No positive or not so positive there.

Anonymous said...

if I wanted to get paid for giving advice, I would have to give advice that people liked to get

years ago I made a few years worth of experiments, acting in different ways with people (there would be a theme every day, all new strangers, circa 100 per day, ten minutes each)

one of the robust results was that PEOPLE PREFER TO RECEIVE SATANIC ADVICE...(not everybody, but like 10 to 1)...all you have to do is tell people:

- don't listen to them
- they just hate you because you are beautiful
- YOU DESERVE THAT EXPENSIVE HAIR COLOR because you are worth it
- (don't make me list all selfish and blame-others and weak and lazy "satanic advice" topics imaginable, YOU GET IT ALREADY )

AND THEY JUST EAT IT UP and give you extra money owing to their enjoyment of the interaction

SO while it would be possible to run a hard serious self-disciplined REAL GROWTH cult, it would be a niche market and not as profitable as (be-more-sociopathic) would be, in my experience.

but money isn't everything, hard cults are VERY WORTHY just the same...


John Craig said...

Shaun --
That was great advice from that doctor. More people need to hear that.

John Craig said...

I never thought of that sort of advice as "Satanic," but you're right, it is. When you encourage people to be more self-indulgent, you're actually playing the role of the Devil, putting temptation in front of them. ("You DESERVE that new dress.")

I actually never realized it before, but that's the role a lot of those women's magazines play. And also a lot of advertisements. Every time you see a headline like, ".....becaus you're worth it," or "you deserve....." that's the Devil talking.


Anonymous said...

Living simply is the way to go. I have a sign in my living room (a Christmas gift from many years ago) that say's, "Simple Pleasures Are Life's Greatest Treasures," this being the truth.

- Susan

B said...

Can you list your top five blogs that you follow?

John Craig said...

B --
If you're talking political blogs, I follow Steve Sailer on, Heartiste, Ambrose Kane, High Arka, Ex-Army, and UncaBob. I read Sailer every morning, the others fairly regularly but a little less religiously. And my wanderings will take me to other sites, mostly through links.

Shaun F said...

John - Sadly, UncaBob passed away suddenly in March.

I agree with FAKE BABA's observation about what people prefer to hear as being Satanic - based on the understanding of Satan being the great deceiver.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
Yikes, I'm sorry to hear that. He seemed like a decent guy. Plus a lot of common sense.

I just looked, his last entry is March 30th; I thought I'd been to his site more recently, but I guess not.

Anonymous said...

1. 'The Wisdom of Psychopaths' by Kevin Dutton might be a book for you if you haven't already read it. I've had a flick through and it seems like a worthwhile read. It describes advice given by sociopaths on how to ignore feelings of anxiety, guilt, etc as well as explain some of the neurological differences in sociopaths.

2. I've recently been thinking a lot about Machiavelli. 'The Prince' was written to advise the good guys, to help them achieve good things by using immoral means. The idea is that the bad guys will be using those methods anyway, and the good guy will never get anywhere in politics unless he stoops to the bad guy's level. For him, effective politics *is* morality: it's better for fundamentally good men to achieve great things by being ruthless (against their nature) than for them to be consistently good and achieve nothing. This leads me to the realisation that Machiavelli was thinking specifically of sociopaths, advising good men to take a leaf out of their book. This ought have been obvious all along (you're probably thinking "duh"), but I've only just had this epiphany.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I've heard of Dutton's book, though I haven't read it.

Yes, you've analyzed "The Prince" perfectly. Machiavelli is essentially doing exactly as you say, proposing that non-sociopaths use more wiles and manipulation and subterfuge to be more effective. And it's good advice.

When I was 28, in 1983, I wrote a manuscript, "The Machiavellian's Guide to Womanizing," which I finally got published in 1995. (And that was the least frustrating thing that ever happened to me in publishing.) And while I wrote it partly for humorous effect, it did contain some suggestions as to how to lie, or at least pretend, to one's advantage. I wrote it under the pseudonym "Nick Casanova," because I was still at Goldman Sachs at the time. It sold okay, but I subsequently couldn't get any more books published. Anyway, I did vanity publish three more books using that same pseudonym, all titled as "Machiavellian's Guides," and all suggesting subterfuge and manipulation to some degree.

Alter Ego said...

PLEASE KEEP WRITING ABOUT SOCIOPATHS! You're doing a great public service and I love the examples you cite.

On the topic of books, make 'The Sociopath Next Door' by Martha Stout required reading as well:

John Craig said...

Alter Ego --
Thank you very much.

I read Stout's book (wasn't crazy about it, to be honest). The best book I ever read on the subject was David Lykken's "The Antisocial Personalities." I read it a long, long time ago, though, so I'm not sure what I'd think of it now.

Alter Ego said...

Thanks for the tip on Lykken's book. I'll check it out when I have a chance.

This reviewer agrees with you on Stout:

John Craig said...

Alter Ego --
Thank you for that refresher. To tell the truth I read stout's book so long ago I didn't even remember what it was that left me feeling lukewarm about it, other than a general impression that I had learned nothing from it. But that review does ring true. And it IS true, having "composite characters" rather than real people does the opposite of "make it come alive."

Douglas Carkuff said...

My multimillionaire brother-in-law is definitely a psychopath, but not an ill-intentioned person. People tend to confuse being a psychopath (understandably) with self serving evil doers who enjoy exploiting others, but that is not necessarily true. You can tell that some fundamental aspect of humanity is missing from him. He attempts to mimic the human characteristics that he has learned people are supposed to have and I think he genuinely wishes he had them, so I admire his aspirations in that regard, but there is always going to be something missing from him.

He is well aware, I believe, that he doesn't experience actual empathy as we understand it. He does have feelings of unhappiness about things and has expressed his loneliness at times. His natural inclination, I'm sure, is to be self serving, but he is aware enough to know that unfettered self interest is unacceptable and counterproductive. He will verbally express his affection to my wife over the phone, but I am not sure what he actually feels. It is a learned response. He also happens to be a remarkably brilliant person technologically, in spite of being entirely self taught.

It is interesting to see how he functions. Inevitably, he is ultimately driven by the perceived utility of his relationships and situations and his generosity, which he sometimes displays, is a learned attribute rather than a felt one. I have never seen him be cruel, but I have seen him be oblivious or unconcerned about things that would concern most of us. For what this observations are worth.

John Craig said...

Douglas --
Your brother-in-law could be a psychopath, but from the way you're describing him, he could be autistic as well. Sociopaths DO mimic the human characteristics they know they are lacking, but I've seen people with Aspergers do this as well, they know they are a little on the robotic side, and some of them will make an effort to seem more normal. And from the way you've described his loneliness, and they way he's brilliant technologically, despite being self-taught, that sounds almost more as if it could be mild autism as well.

You say his instincts are to be selfish, but Aspies are that way too (actually, we're ALL that way). And the fact that you use the word "oblivious" makes me wonder, too: sociopaths usually have pretty good situational awareness, even if they are unconcerned as well. And the lacking empathy aspect of his personality could also be Aspergers; sociopaths lack sympathy (they *completely* lack it), but they do tend to have a good sense of what's going on in other people's minds (otherwise known as "empathy").

Also, it's the rare sociopath whom you will "never" see be cruel or be "ill-intentioned"; and, since this guy's your brother-in-law, I'll assume you've seen a fair amount of him. Is it possible he's an Aspie?

Anonymous said...

John: yes, I have been previously aware of your books (I think you told me about them a while ago). You wrote one about insults, if I remember correctly? I enjoy your blog so I'll be investing in copies of your books

Douglas: as John said, your brother sounds much more like an Aspie than a sociopath. IME, sociopaths don't tend to confess feelings like loneliness, they just go out to find people to socialise with. Sociopaths have a distinct superficial charm that your brother sounds as though he lacks. Aspies know that, to get on in life, they must show affection and generosity, but they often do this in a somewhat awkward way that seems like it's been learned. Aspies are frequently copying the behaviour of neurotypicals, but Aspie women are much more successful at making it seem natural than are Aspie men (a psychiatrist with a special interest in autism told me this). As for the never being cruel or ill-intentioned: the DSM-IV criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder (what today's psychiatrists used to call sociopathy/psychopathy) rules out your brother being a sociopath:

A) A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
- failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
- deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
- impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
- irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
- consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
- lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
B) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
C) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.

The longer, more modern, DSM-5 version is here:

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I wasn't trying to push the books just then, I just want to agree with you and say that, yes, advising non-sociopaths to act more like sociopaths can be good advice for them. I forgot to say that I had originally thought of titling the first book, "The Sociopath's Guide to Womanizing," but figured, back in the last 80's, that not enough people would understand what a sociopath was.

Anonymous said...

People don't still understand sociopathy today - nor Machiavelli. I see so many people who think sociopathy is simply about being selfish or evil, but aren't aware of the distinct social charm that sociopaths have (hence the number of Aspies and borderlines being misdiagnosed by laypeople as sociopaths). Few people seem to know that Machiavelli was trying to help good people. They seem to think his tips were to help any old person get ahead, but actually he only wrote 'The Prince' as he knew evil people wouldn't need his tips. So, either way, I doubt your choice in book title would've made that much difference to most people.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I'm not completely disagreeing with you, but I do think more people are familiar with the concept of sociopathy than were 25 or 30 years ago. But yes, sociopathy is still both under- and over-diagnosed in our society, and most people, unless they've personally known a sociopath over a fairly extended period of time, have no feel for what it entails. Hence all the people who still think Bill Clinton is a wonderful, touchy-feely old marshmellow; after all, he's the one who said, "I feel your pain." So, he must be nice, right?

Anonymous said...

saw this interview with pablo escobar's son. it was interesting to hear him talk about his father cheating at games and looking in the mirror for hours. his son thinks that he committed suicide by staying on the phone too long so it could be traced, but ultimately shot himself after he was being chased. not sure that really fits with his personality.


John Craig said...

B --
Just watched eight minutes of it, yes, interesting. The son seems honest. I've never been sure what to think about Escobar. Was he a sociopath? Given the incredibly high number of murders, it would seem naive not to just say yes, but that was sort of the world he lived in, and there are signs that he may not have been as well: he loved his son, and he seemed awfully human in some ways. I won't give him credit for his philanthropy, lots of sociopaths try to buy themselves a good reputation with that. And the cheating at games, even with his son and wife, sounds awfully funny. So, yeah, if you put a gun to my head (as Escobar himself would have done), I'll say, yes, he was a sociopath. But I can't say that with any certainty, as bad as he could be; I just didn't get those vibes from him. He just didn't seem phony enough.

Douglas Carkuff said...

Yes, thinking about it, you guys a probably right with respect to my brother-in-law.