Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

Are Men Sociopaths?

I just found out that an acquaintance—a college student— was roofied at a bar several months back. She was not raped but she did pass out, cutting up her face in the process, and awoke in a hospital.

It got me thinking. At what point does a guy begin to consider it “ok” to drug a woman and rape her? Is it simply that roofying a woman is really only one step away from getting her so drunk that she can’t resist or protest (or give consent, for that matter, which makes it rape)? In other words, is it just a logical extension of behavior some men find acceptable?

Talking this over with a friend, she chalked it up to “rape culture.” In myriad ways, according to this argument, men are given the message that raping a woman is ok (or, more commonly, that acts that are in fact rape are not really rape).

While I agree that these messages are out there, and that when educating men about rape you can spend a lot of time addressing such messages and images and encouraging men to reflect on them, I did not agree that men are given the message, “It is ok to drug women and rape them.” In fact this is (I would hope) seen as not only criminal but severely f*cked up (though it is the central theme of many Quagmire jokes).

Personally, I view drugging people in any form, but especially in order to incapacitate and rape them, sociopathic. Mentioning this, my friend replied, “Well, men are sociopaths.”

Again, while I can’t completely disagree with this statement—men are, after all, capable of an extreme suppression/compartmentalization of their feelings and the commission of acts ranging from the callously heartless to the horrendously monstrous—it still begs the question, “Why are some men more sociopathic than others?”

In the end, I’m asking these questions because I want to know what it would take to stop men from doing this to women. If otherwise normal guys are somehow getting the message that it is ok to drug and rape women, then I suppose you might be able to correct this through education about sexual behavior and the myths surrounding rape.

If, on the other hand, it’s a question of sociopathy, then it would seem only early diagnosis and intervention would address the problem. Making that happen, or even what it would look like, seems very challenging.

The fact that there are men who right now are planning on drugging and raping women, or, frankly, raping them at all, is disturbing.

The idea that these men have somehow been acculturated to believe that this behavior is, if not normal, at least reasonable, is depressing.

The possibility that this is ingrained in masculine culture, that it is not a radical aberration but rather occupies a place on a continuum of male behavior that seamlessly links the teenager pressuring his girlfriend into having sex to the “sociopath” putting Rohypnol in a stranger’s drink, fills me, due to its undeniable plausibility, with a sense of hopelessness.

Integrative Behaviors

I told my wife the other night that she was more “integrated” than I was as a person. She asked what I meant, so I explained.

Every one of us has different aspects to our personality: who we are at home; who we are with friends; who we are at work; who we are when we’re sick; who we are when we’re sad; who we are when we’re  having sex; who are we when a cop pulls us over; who we are when we’re grumpy; etc.

For most people, these various aspects are not that far apart from each other. Who one is when melancholy isn’t that different from who one is when excited, etc. I’m not saying that these states don’t feel different, just that who we are when we are in these states remains more or less constant. If we think of the self as a hand, the fingers are never far from each other.

For others, myself included, however, there can be a real divergence amongst our selves. This divergence expresses itself most clearly when we regret what we do in certain states—the thing we say or do in anger; self-destructive coping behaviors when depressed, and so on. The fingers, in this case, seem to belong to different hands.

I once described enlightenment as “being the same person to everyone we meet.” Such enlightenment is the fruit of integration. We attain this integration through integrative behaviors, behaviors in which we are one with what we’re doing as when we are engaged in physical exercise, meditating, immersed in a meaningful task, or reflecting on ourselves and speaking honestly.

We undermine this integration when we engage in dis-integrative behaviors—when we dissemble, when we cultivate secrets and scheme, when we indulge and hide our addictions.

For some, achieving the integration of which I speak seems effortless, a simple and organic aspect of their nature. For others, it requires hard-won self-awareness and ongoing effort. However easy or difficult it may be, I firmly believe that it is one important goal of human being.