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Friday, January 6, 2017

Reality distortion fields, the Stockholm Syndrome, and sociopathy

It was often said of the sociopath Steve Jobs that there was a "reality distortion field" around him, and that people would just accept his twisted version of events as fact.

People often feel obliged to accept a sociopath's version of events because they know, or at least instinctively sense, that if they don't agree with it, they'll suffer the sociopath's wrath. So they end up taking, or at least paying lip service to, the sociopath's side in an argument, mostly out of fear.

Jobs imposed his own narcissistic reality on all those around him through his ferocious temper, and his power to fire anybody who displeased him. So people tiptoed around him and found themselves acquiescing to his distorted version of the world, which happened to revolve around him. If you didn't go along with his program, the price you paid was to be the recipient of his uninhibited viciousness.

And so, eventually, some Apple employees undoubtedly ended up agreeing, at least partially, with Jobs' views on things, a thought process engendered somewhat by fear. They essentially bought into that viewpoint out of a sense of self-preservation.

"Reality distortion fields" can be better understood when viewed through the prism of Stockholm syndrome. From Wikipedia:

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that causes hostages to develop sympathetic sentiments towards their captors, often sharing their opinions and acquiring romantic feelings for them as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.

The syndrome was first named in 1973 after four hostages who had been taken hostage in a bank robbery in Sweden later refused to testify against their captors.

The fact that such kidnappers are likely sociopaths just means they're all the more manipulative.

What the Apple employees who dealt with Jobs had was a modified version of Stockholm Syndrome. Their lives may not have been at stake, but their professional lives were. And you can't underestimate the importance -- financially, socially, even maritally -- of hanging on to one's job.

Anyway, a "reality distortion field" is just another name for Stockholm syndrome. If you hear of either phenomenon, there's likely to be a sociopath lurking.


Rifleman said...

Sociopath super-alert, but he's already dead:

Simon Mol

John Craig said...

Rifleman --
Absolutely no question about that guy, thanks.

I'd read that Steve Sailer article earlier; Mol is the perfect symbol of all that's wrong with Western society today.

Rifleman said...

You are doing a good job focusing on various narcissists, Asperger's types and sociopaths but what about the other side of the equation - the enablers, the go alongs?

Steve Jobs had to have people around him submissively putting up with him.

And Simon Mol was not a rapist, as far as we know. These women consented and submitted to his obvious manipulations.

These types, whatever to call them, need to be studied and pointed out for what they are.

I guess you see it as well with all the White liberal/media supporters of groups like black lives matter or the submissively pro muslim types in Europe who are otherwise extreme left wing people who would never tolerate the blatant anti feminist, anti-gay, anti-religious tolerance of these muslims if these people were White Christians.

You could call these enablers sociopaths but they are still quite different personality types.

John Craig said...

Rifleman --
Yes, no question that none of this insanity would happen if not for the enablers, many of whom seem to have a modified version of Stockholm Syndrome. To tell the truth, I'm not even sure what the psychological term is for that type. When I do take about them, I do so in political, not psychological terms. Basically, they're just weak-minded and dumb and hypocritical. I don't think those are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

And you're right, they're definitely not sociopaths. In some ways they're the opposite, they're like the gullible flock who listen to the sociopathic con artist preacher and believe what he tells them and give their money to his church, i.e., him. Except in this case the role of the religious shaman is played by the dishonest, hypocritical media.

Anonymous said...

In defense of the psychopath, though, running a reality distortion field is A LOT OF WORK...And it gives the dupes some things that they want, or, the dupes would not come around.

Think of it in terms of false prophets...The literature is full of followers who saw that the guru was a fraud, ran off, and yet later returned...There was some sweetness in the cult that they couldn't find anywhere else in this hard cruel world... This could be thought of as "the bright side of" a reality distortion field...Even a relatively low-functioning and shallow cult still by luck will work out beautifully for some percentage of its members...

Or anyway, that's my take, just this minute, hee hee


John Craig said...


"There was some sweetness in the cult that they couldn't find anywhere else in this hard cruel world." Well put. And it is true, cults fill a void in people's lives, otherwise they couldn't exist.

Nonetheless, that doesn't change the fact that cult leaders themselves are almost always sociopaths, personally devoid of any redeeming qualities.

And yes, creating a reality distortion field IS a lot of work. But all the effort is ultimately in the service of advancing the sociopath's self-image and blaming others for his own faults, so it's hardly a "defense" of his character. Likewise, sex could be said to involve "a lot of work," but having lots of sex with lots of different partners is hardly testament to noble character (even if it's what most men desire).

Steven said...

Do sociopaths make good actors because they are uninhibited or bad actors because they lack emotion?

John Craig said...

Steven --
Generally they make good actors because they're uninhibited. They may not feel the positive emotions, but they counterfeit them very well.

PassingBy said...

The correct term for 'reality distortion field' is the 'trauma bond', in which a powerful person randomly dishes out reward and punishment. It can also be called 'gaslighting', in which individuals come to distrust their own interpretation of reality due to the mind-games played by the P / N (psychopath or narcissist).

The enablers are commonly called 'Flying Monkeys'. Those who applaud a psychopath are called 'The Fan Club'.

Your President, btw, is probably either a malignant narcissist / psychoapthic narcissist or a narcissistic psychopath. All the terms used above can be seen in action around hi.

PassingBy said...

Oops, NOT your president, just looked at url of your blog. :-)
I'm probably confusing you with someone else, not sure who at the moment.


John Craig said...

PassingBy --
Those are great descriptions. I'm familiar with "gaslighting," but had never heard "Flying Monkeys" before. Yes, the mindless little monkeys who surrounded the Wicked Witch and did her bidding are a perfect metaphor for enablers. I like "The Fan Club" too.

Not sure if you're referring to Obama or Trump. (Trump isn't officially President until tomorrow.) I see Obama as a sociopath, as Ive written about before here; he's hidden his past, pretends to be what he is not, and his tactics are all about Alinsky-ism, which is nothing but sociopathy in political form. I see Trump as an extreme narcissist, as is shown by the fact that he seems completely unable to take criticism or mockery without lashing back, and his constant boasting. I have yet to be convinced that Trump is a sociopath, despite his penchant for hyperbole. I could be wrong about him, though.

John Craig said...

PassingBy --
Okay, I figured you were referring to the President of the USA, not a particular organization.......