Ayn Rand was the hypergamist to end all hypergamists. Like, if Tex Avery made a cartoon about the concept of hypergamy, the cartoon would be Rand’s life and writings.
This is why it’s so interesting to watch the development of her childish sexual fantasies, comprising both her fictional fantasy worlds and her loosely autobiographical fantasy world. She clearly had a thing for dark-triad traits (Machiavellian, psychopathic, narcissistic), but psychopathy seems to be the prevailing trait in all of her male characters.
A circumstantial collision of synaptic impulses motivated me along this train of thought. I realized that when John Galt “refused” to feel physical pain during his electrical torture in the final act of Atlas Shrugged, it was suspiciously similar to Robert Hare’s famous experiment:
In one experiment, he placed the prisoners in chairs and told them that in 30 seconds he was going to zap them with an intense electrical shock. Then Hare measured their heart rate to see if that information bothered them. Most of the prisoners were bothered, but a small subset weren’t.
“Most people show lots of emotional arousal, anticipatory fear, anxiety, while they’re waiting for the shock to occur,” Hare says. “Psychopaths, hardly any.”
Can a Test Really Tell Who’s a Psychopath?
(Yes, by the way. It’s the logical secular consequences that are bothering you, Mr. Journalist.)
Rand claims that Galt refused to feel unnecessary pain by thinking about it. He obviously feels the electricity at a physical level, but he forgets it as quickly as possible. This is very important.
Emotional arousal in response to the application of repeated shocks is one of the most objective measures of psychopathy available to us. Better than the PCL-R or any other test subject to the vagaries of human interpretation, anticipatory arousal shows a huge quantitative gap in the biological makeup of a psychopath’s mind. It detects a failure to think realistically about the future and a failure to retain the memory of emotional stimulus (some psychopaths kill to “see how it feels”, even if they have previously done so multiple times for the same reason).
The rest of the story ought to be obvious, and anyway this post is running a bit longer than I intended. Suffice it to say that Al Dunlap, Galt, and Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” have a few more things in common. You can probably figure out the rest on your own.
It’s really kind of a shame in the end, because Rand’s output and legacy suggest that she could have done the world a lot of good. Instead, she projected a hatred for what she was: a philosophical and financial parasite riding on the shoulders of better men.