So was Howard Roark. And, very probably, Ayn Rand was a psychopath too. But they were all so called ‘high functioning’ psychopaths. In other words, they have a psychopath’s psychological make up, but they have used the traits constructively.
For reasons that I don’t quite understand, twentieth century was the century of psychopaths. May be industrialization happened too fast that we didn’t have time to learn to live with strangers. Or the World Wars (another product of rapid industrialization) promoted leaders with psychopathic tendencies. Or may be we were tired of living in a close nit society for too long that we were wallowing in our new found individuality.
Whatever may be the case, twentieth century idolized the lone wolves. Towards the end of the Twentieth Century, we recognized our true social nature. And we are just beginning to understand how important it is for our physical and psychological well being that we are emotionally connected to other people.
Few posts ago, we saw the SCARF model proposed by David Rock, which identified five central human drives (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness). Couple of earlier posts addressed Status and Fairness. This post is about Relatedness.
We are beginning to see research coming out from all over the world, showing that the quality of life and the longevity are tightly correlated with the quality and (to an extent) the quantity of meaningful relationships we have. Meaningful relationships will include people with who we can have a real conversation or do something with full immersion, people who care for our wellness dearly and people we care for deeply. People can have such relationships with pets or even plants.
Our default state of response to strangers is suspicion and fear. Strangers are treated as enemies unless proven otherwise. For our threat antennae come down, we need to know that the strangers mean no harm. Hence, for a person who lives among people he or she doesn’t know well enough, the whole world is made up of enemies. Everywhere they go, they are treated with hostility and the fear that others are always out to get them.
Add loneliness to this constant state of fear, it is no surprise that lone wolves are a bitter and unhappy lot.
Fortunately, a little while ago, longevity scientists have begun to notice a strange anomaly with the people who lived in well nit societies. It appeared that they lived much longer and happier, and with far less lifestyle diseases, than the normal people. Even tending to live plants seemed to have some positive effect on people!
And then, the internet and the social networks came along and the fabric of society changed once and for all.
Today, we are much more connected in every sense possible than we ever where in the past. The trend will only continue. Because the world is so very networked, we have more number of people to relate to than ever before. Because we share more online, our relations are typically deeper than they were in the yesteryears. Similar thinking people are now able to discover each other from different corners of the world.
Good practices discovered in one part of the world spreads to the other parts very swiftly. More importantly, xenophobia is on the decline. And meaningless or outdated taboos are falling down one after another. Because the world is so well connected, there is a free flow of scientific and productive ideas and even the lay people are beginning to discover their creative and thinking skills. And the world is going to become richer, and happier, by many folds over.
Because we have discovered the necessity and joy of relatedness, the world today is much happier and richer than it ever was. Because we are so well connected, there is never likely to be a Third World War. When it comes to networking, we have barely begun to scratch the surface. What we have seen as the benefits of networking is nothing compared with what is waiting to happen.
Given how beneficial networking ‘among the masses’, isn’t it strange that lone wolves like John Galt and Howard Roark wanted to create an utopia that was made by, and made for, a handful of intellectually gifted people who had near zero social skills! To understand this anomaly, we should take a quick look at the typical personality features of high functioning psychopaths (taken from the book “Wisdom of the Psychopaths“; a more elaborate character set is here):
- Mental Toughness
Galt, Roark, Dagny Taggart or any other protagonist created by Ayn Rand almost always had all the 7 features given above. The epitome, I think, is the way she explains child rearing as an objective profession (or sorts) that one opts in! Anyone who is oblivious to the magic of rearing having and raising a child, in my mind, must be a psychopath.