A reader sent me this link about "compensated sociopaths," which includes excerpts from the book "The Emptied Soul," by Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig.
Individuals approaching the psychopathic extreme are not totally wanting in morality, but they do sense a weakness, an awareness that something is missing, which frightens them. They also suspect that their love is not all it could or should be. In order to adapt they begin to compensate for these deficiencies by becoming morally rigid.Some of this rings true to me, particularly the beginning. I am not sure about the conjecture regarding historical figures. I believe that mob mentality and the pressure to conform can be enough to convert an average, weak-willed citizen into a monster. I also think the degree of conformity amongst the masses in the regimes mentioned were too high to be filled entirely from the classes of "compensated psychopaths." Still, I can see how this might lead some to initiate moral crusades, whether as big as the Inquisition, or as small as Qur'an burning or throwing acid in someone's face.
Since compensated psychopaths cannot depend upon eros, their egos work out a moral system which is fool-proof in any and every situation. The result, as paradoxical as it may seem, is usually a well-developed morality with an emphasis upon the ego's role but woefully lacking in love.
Compensated psychopaths have played significant parts in society and in history. The more psychopathic compensated psychopaths are - in other words the more they have to compensate - the more sinister they are. All the Nazi functionaries who administered the concentration camps and supervised the destruction of thousands and thousands of human beings; all of Stalin's subordinates who, during the time of the Soviet purges, directed the arrests and deaths of innumerable individuals; all of Mao's minions who so efficiently effected the disappearance of large portions of the Chinese population -certainly all of these people were compensated psychopaths.
I am reminded of Adolf Eichmann (the German Nazi official who as head of the Gestapo's Jewish section was chiefly responsible as the organizer of the "Final Solution"), a man who was relatively conscientious and dependable. Not a devilish moster, he was rather a classic example of a compensated psychopath whose conscientiousness was greater than that of most individuals. He loyally and admirably carried out the "duty," of exterminating his fellow humans, but his very dedication to "duty," expressing his own alienation in this world, vented so heinously his hate towards all human beings who were not like him. The commandant of a concentration camp wrote in his diary at the close of the war: "It is very sad that I can no longer fill my daily quotas in the gas chambers. I have neither enough staff nor enough supplies. Every night I go to bed with a nagging conscience, because I have been unable to do my duty." We can see how conscientious this man was. A classic, compensated psychopath, he had a strong, rigid, "moral" system but not the slightest sense of eros. The morality which sought to replace the missing eros turned into a farce becoming a caricature.
Compensated psychopaths are probably the most reliable supporters of a dictatorial regime, the emphasis being upon "compensated." A dictator would not function surrounded only with "pure" psychopaths -his regime would achieve nothing, eventually collapsing in utter chaos. A dictator's subordinates have to be conscientious and obedient -in a word, compensated psychopaths.