It occurred to me some time ago that ex-pat communities within Thailand exhibit a much higher prevalence of anti-social behaviour, Machiavellian and psychopathic traits than in their respective countries. Expat forums and facebook groups seem to be incredibly prevalent with dissocial responses, combative speech and general anti-social comments. Evidence through the study of psychopathy points that people who exhibit these signs online exist in a range of antisocial personality disorder (Brinke et Al, 2017).
Expat communities in Thailand are made up mostly of Europeans and Americans, with some from other countries (World Population Review, 2021). The term expat means ex-patriated, which means living in another country whilst not immigrating. Thailand has very strict conditions regarding immigration meaning that it is not possible to immigrate, so most people stay on long-term tourist visas, retirement visas, work visas or marriage visa.
A lot of people who wish to stay in Thailand long term must seek self-employment options or invest in a business. They usually must have accrued a large sum of money (often from their respective countries) before setting up their own business venture within the country.
Generally, expats in Thailand consume more alcohol than they would in their own country (Judd, 2019), often the amounts consumed far out stretch safe parameters and drinking often starts at early times. A lot of this is due to people in retirement having more time on their hands. Another factor is that Thailand is close to the equator and sunset is usually around 6pm. People will often go to a beach or bar to drink during the sunset hours from around 5-6:30pm.
Drinking alcohol does not equate to becoming antisocial (Moller & Dougherty). A person with no tendencies to become antisocial will not become more aggressive under the influence of alcohol. However, if a person has antisocial personality, it will accelerate their antisocial personality whereby, they will become more aggressive in conjunction with the amount of alcohol that they consume.
One must consider that to live in a foreign country the expat must either love and appreciate the culture of another country or that they detest their own country. Some expats lack social skills in their own country and are liberated from ambivalence to remain in their own country because they have no friends or family. Their lack of social skills may not be too apparent when mixing with Thai communities as their foreign culture is already at odds with Thai culture. Their socially dysfunctional behaviour does not create any more obstacles for them as it did back home.
There are many reports that expats living in Thailand are often lonely (Lucas, 2016). A lot of expats living in Thailand are single men. A lot of single men come to Thailand for sex and alcohol consumption. There are many rumbustious bars that cater for single men where alcohol is fairly cheap (in comparison to their home country) and there are escort ladies who are looking to service them for a price. Whilst the premise is highly exciting for many, these activities are not conducive to a generative social life.
There are many stories of men in their 50’s and 60’s who want to live the dream and move out to Thailand to hang out in bars and meet ladies. Unfortunately for many they are seduced by a lifestyle where they feel like a James Bond character who can hook up with many different ladies but it is entirely a falsehood. Most ladies who work in bars are highly career driven or party-hardy. They are looking for drinks to be paid for and money more than anything else. They see the men they flirt with and hook up with as mere fodder to be exploited or cattle to be milked.
Once people are bored with the bar scene they are often quite isolated unless they are out drinking with certain friends. Drinking buddies are notoriously fair-weather friends, if no other bond exists between friends other than drinking then it is likely that relationship is of a toxic nature and will not tolerate abstinence of alcohol or diminished drinking. This often creates a co-dependence of drinking together and does not allow more wholesome relationships to develop.
There are a significant number of expats who describe themselves are lonely, they do not have the same family systems around them and as explained above they may have only unhealthy relationships. If a person has limited social skills and spends excessive amounts of time in isolation it is likely to worsen their personality disorder (Hammond, 2020). In the case of antisocial personality disorder it will worsen these traits within a person and make them more prevalent.
Antisocial personality disorder generally feeds into isolation because abnormal behaviours exhibited or incredibly selfish behaviours are not always tolerated by communities and thus people with these traits will find themselves alone, or perhaps moving to another country?
Expats living in Thailand will generally have to be more self-reliant, unless they have a full work permit they will not be supported in any way. Healthcare, money, counselling, food, housing…etc will all have to be taken care of by the individual themselves. This may play into a more Machiavellian (self-serving) personality. The expat will not have the same community links or indeed value as they would back in their home country. So far it is not entirely proven that this leads into a more selfish behaviour, but it does mean that self-preservation becomes more prevalent on the hierarchy of needs. This can often lead to more conservative values, such as “charity begins at home”.
Expats are not entirely to blame for this modus operandum, expats can frequently find themselves being treated unfairly by authorities in Thailand. A well-known example of this is road accidents, whereby a local has caused the accident but the foreigner is entirely to blame. Unless the foreigner has recorded proof, they didn’t cause the accident they are usually blamed and often forced to provide additional compensation to the Thai person. Sometimes foreigners are wrongly targeted for arrest in certain scams that authorities are complicit with (google jetski scam).
Whilst there are no studies done on expat communities within Thailand on antisocial behaviour and personality being more prevalent to give conclusive proof. The fact that it is observable on all expat forums centered on expat life in Thailand is sufficient enough to conclude that there are a higher number of antisocial personalities in expat communities than in general populations of western countries.
Foreigners living Thailand face a unique set of stressors they may not experience in their own country. If they have issues in communication skills and aggression they are likely to get worse if they indulge in degenerative behaviours such as drinking, fighting and whoring.
The alternative to birds and boozing is to develop more wholesome activities such as cycling, gym, boxing, enduro-riding, yoga and even walking. However, a lot of these activities require a degree of physical fitness that not everyone has.
Foreigners who have a penchant for abusing people online and drinking in the daytime should aim to develop a more understanding personality. Studies show us that the more hostile and aggressive a person is that their personality is likely to worsen, their emotional state will become more unstable and they will become more isolated (Haelle, 2020).
A study was done on behaviour of Tourists and expats in Udon Thani, please find below:
Brinke. L.T., Porter. S., Korva. N., Fowler. K., Lilienfield. S.O., Patrick. C.J., (2017) An Examination of the Communication Styles Associated with Psychopathy and Their Influences on Observer Impressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour, 41:269-287 https://patrickcnslab.psy.fsu.edu/wiki/images/7/73/TenBrinkeETAL_JNonverbBeh_2017.pdf
Haelle. T., (2020) Complications and Life Consequences of Living With Antisocial Personality Disorder. Published in Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/antisocial-personality-disorder/life-consequences/
Hammond. C., (2020) How Loneliness Manifests in Personality Disorders. Scientific Advisory Board. Published in PsychCentral: https://psychcentral.com/pro/exhausted-woman/2020/06/how-loneliness-manifests-in-personality-disorders#1
Judd. A, (2019) Online Survey Shows That Pattaya Expats Drink More Than Anyone Else in Thailand. Pattaya News: https://thepattayanews.com/2019/01/30/online-survey-shows-that-pattaya-expats-drink-more-than-anyone-else-in-thailand/
Lucas. M, (2016) The Loneliest Life in the World : An Expat in Thailand. What’s On Sukhimvit : https://whatsonsukhumvit.com/the-loneliest-life-in-the-world-an-expat-in-thailand/
World Population Review : https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/thailand-population