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Ian Hughes Bio
Ian Hughes' primary career has been in science. He graduated with a PhD in atomic physics from Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and went on to work in some of the top research laboratories in Europe and the United States. These included JET, the world's largest nuclear fusion machine, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States. On returning to Ireland he established a Department of Creative Technologies to explore the overlap between art and technology, and co-founded a programme to bring together scientists and journalists to make science more accessible to the public. His current job, as advisor in science, technology and innovation policy, explores how research in science can result in economic and social benefits for society.
His curiosity, and conviction that knowledge can change the world, crosses the boundaries of the natural, social and political sciences. In mid-career he trained in psychoanalysis, where he learned about human development, and the absence of development which results in dangerous personality disorders.
In his forthcoming book Imperfect Design: How Our Psychology Threatens Our World, he brings together his experience in science, psychology and political science to demonstrate that a small proportion of people with dangerous personality disorders are responsible for most of the violence and greed that scars our world. His blog disorderedworld.com has just been shortlisted in the Top 10 Political Blogs in Ireland.
Can you give me the big picture on your approach to personality disorders and psychopaths in the world?
Tell me about the organization of your book.
First half-- how evil has taken over: Russian Bolshevik, China and Mao, Neocons, Religions.
Second half; Means of how normals have wrestled power back.
And how do you finish the book?
Why don't you include sociopaths? There are a lot of them, and they're referred to in DSM5 as Anti-Social Personality disorders.
You differentiate between the criminal, violent psychopaths who Robert Hare's assessment tends to look for, and the "successful psychopaths" who are less violent.
You talk about conscience as a handicap for normals. Can you talk about that.
conscience is what makes us human.
In what way is lack of conscience an advantage over normal people?
" half of China may well have to die.
Mao got a thrill out of killing people-- he ordered public executions to be witnessed by huge numbers of people.
What is the advantage? what are they able to do?
frightening people and exterminating resistance.
It is not only the behaviour of psychopaths that is beyond the comprehension of psychologically normal people -- their thinking is too.
Can you talk about how incomprehensible the betavior and thinking of psychopaths is to normals?
Joshua Oppenheimer documentary about killing in Indonesia.
ACT OF KILLING
You suggest that people have not been aware of these monsters until the last few hundred years. How could people not know about them?
Tell us about Narcissists and Paranoids.
- Most of history there was hierarchy
- Idea of equality is relatively recent..
- narcissist's primary aim in conversation is to defeat you and prove they are more intelligent or superior to you.
What you seem to be saying is that Narcissists and Paranoid personality disorder people are stuck.
It's almost like these people got stuck in a stage below mammal, since even mammals have mirror neurons and empathy.
It seems to me that it took civilization to enable these kinds of people to use their lack of conscience as an advantage.
Paranoid Personality disorder people see everyone as a threat.
Narcissists react to anyone who challenges them with active or passive aggression. Can you talk a bit more about how they respond when they are challenged.
How is that different from a normal person-- the energy they apply to maintaining their sense of superiority?
Narcissists exert a disproportionate influence on society because a number of characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder mean that they are more likely to reach positions of authority than those with normal psychology. Can you talk about that?
Can you explain how the paranoid person fits into the collection of evil people?
When we first made contact you told me that it was your experience with people in Ireland that led you to develop your interest in this. Can you talk about this?
You write, "the most reliable means of recognising someone with a personality disorder is through the detrimental effects they have on the ability of psychologically normal people to think. When faced with someone with a personality disorder, normal people experience confusion." Can you talk about that some more?
How do you counter someone with these personality disorders from defeating you?
it seems to me that the answer is to refuse to engage, and to call them on it.
We see this sometimes on comment boards-- and some people are paid to do it- they are trolls or sock puppets"
What are the first warning signs that a group is beginning to come under the influence of people with personality disorders or psychopathy. Can you talk about that?
You talk about how ideology plays a crucial role in helping the group seize control of society. Is that what you are talking about?
. A compelling ideology plays a powerful role when it resonates with both the mass of psychologically normal people and with the personality-disordered minority.
People with personality disorders invariably view the world of ordinary people as oppressive and incomprehensible. Their whole life experience is one of being different from the majority and of feeling wronged and misunderstood. By virtue of their different psychological nature they will inevitably have been hurt by normal society. Many may have been physically and emotionally harmed in childhood. An ideology which promises a radical righting of wrongs and the empowerment of the downtrodden will appeal to pathological individuals as a means to overcome the limits placed upon them by normal society.
Neoliberalism as ideology that attracts normals.
You talk about Schumpeter's approach to capitalism and how neoliberalism skewed the model of capitalism.
You wrote: "History shows that it was only by strengthening the power of governments -- acting within the safeguards of representative democracy, the rule of law and human rights protections -- that humanity has managed to partially overcome oppression by pathological elites.
To quote Harvard economist Josh Lerner, "virtually every hub of cutting-edge entrepreneurial activity in the world today had its origins in proactive government intervention.'
, neoliberalism provided psychopaths and people with narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders with the smokescreen they needed to rise to positions of power in global financial organisations, to loot those financial institutions with the support of governments, and ultimately to bankrupt the Western financial system."
You have a section in your book-- Democracy as Protection against Pathological Elites. Can you talk about that?
Can you talk about your ideas on India and Africa?
Psychopaths have the freest rein in Africa. Jeffrey G""
How about how this group of predators operates on the internet and in the new world Joseph Nye has described in his book, the Future of power, where he's described soft power, asymmetric power and power of non-nation entities?
In your chapter on religion, you start with a quote from the Sufi poet, Hafiz:
The Great Religions are the ships,
Poets the lifeboats,
Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.
talk about your chapter on religion
you have another chapter on Culture.
Can you talk about how the arab spring fits into your book?
Leadership for Humanity: Overcoming the Inhuman Minority among Us
I have been asking, when it comes to psychopaths and sociopaths and the personality disorders, what do we do prevent them from hurting others, how do we prevent them from doing damage?
You write: "The strongest protection is also the most logical -- to ensure that individuals with dangerous personality disorders do not achieve positions of power or influence at any level of society -- within communities, within organizations or within nations." I agree with you. How do we do that?
This is such a brilliant book, pulling together a big picture like no other books on this topic I've seen.
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