Sociopathy: "Not Me!"
Note: Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are citations from The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation in selections from his writings. (H. L. and R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.). © 1964, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Used by permission of Perseus Books Group.
"Not me!" is Adlerian shorthand for the attitude of the sociopathic or fundamentally exploitive, character-disordered individual who engages in "intentional injury of others for [his or her] own advantage" (p. 411). The criminal sees what life requires by way of cooperation, but acts as if the requirements are for others (whom the criminal disparages as "suckers") and not for him- or herself. Such a person rationalizes an exemption from the common sense by thinking (for example), "I am too smart," or "I am special." The sociopath acts as if to say, "Yes, you should do the right thing," but "Not me!" in response to the universal obligations of social living.
The criminal differs from other failures in one point: he retains a certain amount of activity, which he throws on the useless side of life. . . . Lack of social interest, already in the child, will assume a variety of colors depending on whether he takes an active or passive attitude toward life. Even in a passive way, he can expect everything from others; but if he shows more activity he will take from others for himself whatever he wants (p. 413).
Crime is a coward's imitation of heroism. . . All criminals are actually cowards. They are evading problems they do not feel strong enough to solve. . . .They like to believe that they are heroes; but this is their mistaken schema of apperception, a failure of common sense (p. 414).
Criminals have a form of logic which does not take into consideration the rights of the community. From this point of view it is quite all right simply to take something if they just want it, regardless of all the hardship and sorrow that they may inflict upon others.
History gives many examples of such criminals who have been leaders of nations (Adler, Alexandra, 1973, p. 46).
© Griffith, J., & Powers, R. L. (2007). The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (2nd ed.). Port Townsend, WA: Adlerian Psychology Associates (p. 96).
Definitions of concepts are used by permission of Jane Griffith. A comprehensive list of concepts and definitions can be found in The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 Terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by Jane Griffith and Robert L. Powers, available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Adler, Alexandra. (1973). Guiding human misfits: A practical application of Adlerian Psychology. Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprints. (Original work published 1939)