Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Printable Version
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Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - NonEntity - 02-19-2012 12:16 PM
I'm going to attempt to lay out a idea that has been slowly forming in my mind over the last several months. I probably will do a poor job of it, but one must start somewhere.
First, some structure. Some things I believe from which I am building this thesis. (I'm not claiming these are "truths," just that they are what I currently believe to be true and which form the basis for my thinking below. As always, subject to new data.)
If you're familiar with the study of economics, basically it is the study of human action, and the incentives that drive such action. Remember that word: incentives.
Psychopaths are defined by their lack of empathic ability and the manifestations that flow from this lack.
"The rest of us," to some degree or another, are inherently endowed with "mirroring" capabilities which either allow, or force, us to "experience" what happens to others as though it is happening to ourselves.
Therefore when "the rest of us" see someone hurt, it affects us personally. We hurt.
When a psychopath sees someone hurt... there is no connection. There is no comprehension of the hurt. It is as though the other person is NOT hurt, effectively. It's really hard for "us" to wrap our minds around this point, but it is crucial. "Can't you see how much pain that caused him?" Well, actually - NO, the psychopath can't.
Picture a man breaking a rock with a sledge hammer. Do you feel any concern for the rock? Aside from some feeling of personal loss if the rock were particularly pretty or otherwise valued, no. It's just a rock. Now picture this same man breaking another man's arm with this same sledge hammer. Okay? Do you see the difference? If you are one of "the rest of us" you would probably be so traumatized seeing the man's arm smashed to bits with a sledge hammer you might throw up. To the psychopath there IS NO difference. The man's arm might as well be the rock. It is NOT HIM, therefore it is totally irrelevant to him.
Narcissism is claimed to be a part of the same "spectrum" of diseases/otherly-ablednesses or however you want to call these things. I think it is probably a term reflective of a subset of the entire psychopathic pattern. The psychopath is a narcissist plus other things, too. This is important to keep in mind. It means that he (gender used by convention) is solely concerned with his world, and his world only.
In this manner the psychopath can rationalize a law as necessary where another might see it as an intrusion. Look at it this way, if the psychopath views a law as something which will keep other people out of his way, then it is beneficial to him... AND, since he will totally ignore this law in regards to his own plans, it's a one-way street: the law can only be good, with no possible downside. The rules of other people don't apply to the narcissist/psychopath. Not in their minds they don't, other than something to be sure not to get caught by. But they have no conscience, so it is not as if the law may help this person understand how to be a better person, which some people in "normal" society may consider part of the value of a system of laws.
So if we examine the process of attempting to structure a society for our benefit, the normal "empathically endowed" person will see, for instance, that the right of free speech is important even though it may mean that we are forced to endure some things we'd prefer not to, such as profanity, hate speech and so on. To "us" it is important to consider others when we try to find a rule set by which to live and to govern. In other words, each law has benefits and costs. These must be weighed against each other. But to the psychopath there are no costs. Laws can only be of benefit as they control others while being totally meaningless to the psychopath.
Take Jeffrey Dahmer. I don't know if there are laws against cannibalism or not. There really don't need to be any, for we all know that this is not acceptable behavior and so we don't partake. And for the psychopath, for Jeffrey Dahmer, the law is irrelevant. He did what he was going to do regardless of what others might say (in the form of laws) as a psychopath ONLY considers his own desires in planning his actions.
So in a world in which there are psychopaths and "normal" people, laws benefit the psychopaths. Moral suasion is sufficient to keep a society functioning relatively smoothly for the "normal" people, and completely irrelevant for the psychopath. But the "normal" people often see a problem and think they can solve, or diminish, it with a law. Because they, the normal people, CARE what others think, they believe that this law will give others pause to consider their actions and hence moderate behaviors. But it is not the law, it is the moral suasion which is the cause of the moderation of a person's behavior.
To the psychopath a law is just another part of the puzzle to be solved in order to show off his ability to prove how smart he is to himself. It is not a reminder that maybe this is not morally acceptable behavior. "Morally" is not a concept with any meaning whatsoever to the psychopath.
So we can see that laws actually empower the psychopath, they make him more effective than his numbers in society would otherwise dictate in that they tend to complicate the lives of normal people while being invisible to the psychopath. Laws ENABLE the psychopath.
---------Okay, I've got it down on paper, sorta. It needs refinement, but this is a very rough outline of the ideas which have been coalescing in my head recently. I hope some of you may find something of interest or value herein.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - eye2i2hear - 02-19-2012 01:30 PM
I like it.
One offered 'caveat': the term psychopath (and it's twin sociopath) works essentially from the perspective of a scale, more than a "is vs is not", black or white. As I understand it, the present attempt at establishing sociopathic tendencies from predominance runs on a scale of 0-34. A parallel might be to consider the words for the primary colors 'blue' (less psychopathic) and 'red' (more psychopathic).
There's a significant area of "grey" --'er, in this case, 'purple'.
This specific chart is easily misleading, still, proportionately. As far as I understand it, the most 'red' among us are at max 10-12% of the population, with the 'redist' being perhaps 1-3% --but with the further caveat, that the specialists/experts often aren't sure about such (partially because it's not yet a perfected theory, much less an established science; perhaps mostly, simply because it's so new as a field?).
Thus, careful 'lay' folks, with your 'red' stickers aka labels. Scarlet Letter A's anyone?! (in this case, P's)
Also, I'm not sure (?) Jeffery Dahmer is the optimal example either (tho granted, he's oft given as a poster boy). From what I understand, he experienced emotions (even empathy) somewhat 'typical', and rather than being predominately psychopathic is arguably more insane/delusional: from what i understand, he ate only those he'd grown fond of, but who eventually sought to leave (reject) him; in his twisted rationality, eating them made it impossible for them to ever be apart from him (leave him alone --again). [see Christians eating the Body Of Christ so he'll be "in them... that they are never alone/he is in them always... and the hope of Glory", anyone?]
I may be wrong though? You might wanna check it further?
FWIW, I'd find Ted Bundy the better poster boy if we're going for the bloody extreme.
Regardless, the "I'm GONNA LITERALLY EAT YOU!" Dahmer's amongst us aren't generally the practical danger to societies. Rather, it is the otherwise 'normal' sociopaths/psychopaths, leading groups (in costumes) into acts of violence and Wars, scaled large and small. [which is not intended to belittle in anyway, the untold emotional and/or physical abuses of those ensnared in personal relationships with such]
Again, I like & appreciate the draft.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - NonEntity - 02-19-2012 02:20 PM
Your thoughts, suggestions and comments are appreciated.
It needs MUCH work, but I had to start somewhere.
P.S. This picture supports some of my thinking...
Let me explain it as I see it. You will notice that the "drive-around-tracks" are on BOTH sides of the gate mechanism. This implies that people naturally remain true to the idea of staying on "their own side" of a roadway. Thus exhibiting the natural tendency of people to respect rules which they see as generally beneficial while at the same time ignoring a rule (the gate mechanism) which clearly is designed to force people to conform to some other person's arbitrary view of the world.
If the "drive-around-tracks" were on one side of the gate only this would be a more clear expression of complete disregard for ANY rules. But that is not what we see here.
Or at least that is one interpretation of the data.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Grey beard - 02-19-2012 03:05 PM
@ Nonentity. I agree with your assessment ( ok? ) that laws/ structure enable the psychopath, and are really of no benefit to the empathetic. Without the structure that govt appears to provide, psychopaths are relegated to more direct imposition of their will, they must commit their own crimes.
I had come to the same conclusion just over a year ago, and had opportunity to use the knowledge in a practical manner. There are psychopaths in my family by marriage ( one of the lesser types that eye2i2hear mentions), and so I have a specimen ( if you will ) handy to learn from. I've made the following observations ( judgements ):
1. They benefit from a structure that disguises their nature.
2. They are generally perceived as the great guy, and they work hard at cultivating the image.
3. They do whatever it takes ( within their individual parameters ) to get what they want.
4. If one on one, they will try to work your mind ( direct )
5. If before witnesses, they work the minds of the witnesses/ observers ( indirect ).
6. They are masters of a social situation through theater.
7. They use that mastery to appear the reasonable one in a conflict, even though they cultivate the conflict.
8. They are easily defeated/ exposed with one simple trick.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - eye2i2hear - 02-19-2012 03:13 PM
in Psychopathy, Wikipedia authors Wrote:The Hare Psychopathy Checklist is a standard ratings tool most often used in forensic settings to assess psychopathy. A study by Hare and colleagues suggested that one to two percent of the US population score high enough on a screening version of the scale to be considered potential psychopaths.
I'm not sure of the significance, but it sure seems to me that it is in that it's: a.) "suggested 1-2 %", and b.) "to be considered potential"
Wikipedia authors Wrote:Psychopathy vs. sociopathy
(again, noting the inclusion of the words "may", "may be", "believes" and "claims")
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Grey beard - 02-19-2012 03:21 PM
I didn't get my experience from a book.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - boyntonstu - 02-19-2012 03:31 PM
(02-19-2012 02:20 PM)NonEntity Wrote: Your thoughts, suggestions and comments are appreciated.
The picture may have several possibilities:
A gated community keeps unauthorized people from coming in and usually allows all to leave.
1> A person leaving, sees a person entering and goes around to the right to avoid the other.
2> A person entering goes around to the left in order to break 2 rules.
3> A person entering goes to the right to avoid authentication and/or to avoid waiting for the gate to lift. A person leaving goes to the right to avoid waiting for the gate.
4> The gate was/is broken.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Dionysus - 02-19-2012 03:34 PM
For me, a psychopath is someone who’s nearly completely evil, and doing it on purpose. According to conventional wisdom, most people are basically decent, have good intentions, and assume that others have good intentions. They falsely believe that when evil happens, it’s only because good people didn’t work hard enough. That's not true. Psychoapths are intentionally evil, they know exactly what they’re doing, and they rely on other people mistakenly assuming they also have good intentions. Psychopaths possess very high emotional intelligence and live by manipulating and controlling others. Some of them possess middling logical intelligence as well, making them even more dangerous. In the present, most politicians, CEOs and leaders are psychopaths. Most people think that leaders are honest, intelligent and emotionally strong. If that were true, then psychopaths would be identified and kept out of leadership positions. In reality, all of the leaders are psychopaths or people that psychopaths can easily control. Then, the honest and intelligent people are kept out of leadership positions, as the psychopaths protect their turf. I have high psychopath awareness, but it works against me. The psychopaths can immediately tell that I’m a serious threat, and "eliminate" me. Most people aren’t aware of psychopaths and how they operate, so I get no help and am left to fend for myself when the psychopathic f*ckers backstab me. It sucks.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - NonEntity - 02-19-2012 03:50 PM
(02-19-2012 03:34 PM)Dionysus Wrote: For me, a psychopath is someone who’s nearly completely evil, and doing it on purpose.
Not trying to sound as arrogant as this will probably come off, but I think you simply do not grasp what psychopathy is, Dionysus. Let me see if I can convey my reason for saying this. In your statement above you say they are "doing it [being evil] on purpose." But don't you see that this presumes that they KNOW what evil is? If you (one) have no empathic ability, evil is a meaningless term. e.g. If I am blind, "red" is a word with no referent. Do you follow me here? It is not that they are purposefully doing evil, it is, rather, that they are completely and totally - and to the exclusion of anything else (which would include a specific desire to be evil) - focused on their own immediate gratification, (ego being one part of that gratification. They have HUGE egos.)
"Red" is a meaningless word in reference to a black and white photograph. ("Oh, look at the red plate on the table." What???)
"Evil" is a meaningless word in reference to a psychopath.
"Evil" only has meaning when one has care and concern for the feelings and success of other people.
What? Is this the cliff-hanger so we'll come back next week?
and, 2) whatever that trick may be is completely irrelevant unless you have some means of grasping that a person IS a psychopath. As Dr. Hare's research (and that of others) has shown, this is not an easy task, especially in light of what Eye2 appears to be attempting to point out, which is that it is a sliding scale, just like body weight. It's not like we're all either Calista Flockharts or obese "Biggest Loser" candidates.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Grey beard - 02-19-2012 04:12 PM
(02-19-2012 03:50 PM)NonEntity Wrote:(02-19-2012 03:34 PM)Dionysus Wrote: For me, a psychopath is someone who’s nearly completely evil, and doing it on purpose.
Let the psychopath decide the matter ( in front of witnesses ).
Yes it is that easy.
(02-19-2012 04:12 PM)Grey beard Wrote:(02-19-2012 03:50 PM)NonEntity Wrote:(02-19-2012 03:34 PM)Dionysus Wrote: For me, a psychopath is someone who’s nearly completely evil, and doing it on purpose.
The reason is:
If the person is a psychopath, he will most likely want to argue over the matter, and make you seem unreasonable to the audience in the process: he needs/ wants conflict. If he is not a psychopath he will fair.
I have done this several times, and admit it is counter intuitive, but it has always worked. It even made one start screaming at me because I wouldn't argue. It ruined his game plan, his go to play.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - eye2i2hear - 02-19-2012 04:24 PM
A couple of other aspects for consideration:
I get a bit of a tinge when I hear "us" and "them" ("the psychopaths"). I think it's partially from concern regarding a propensity, likely from fear, to quickly "judge" or label (see "witch trials" following "witch" hunts; see also one is "either atheist or theist" divisions?), but also because with this issue the evidence I'm seeing says it's variable or sliding per a scale. If reflection leads you to the same concern (IF you're empathetic!?! j/k), perhaps you can rephrase your wording to better or optimally reflect that aspect?
Perhaps from the sociopathic (environmental) perspective, i wonder too how easily it is to mistake --specifically in the lay, aka our/most's sense-- "lacking of empathy" with several psychological realities. I'm no where close to knowing nomenclature, so I can only seek to clarify by phrasing and examples. One aspect is that of "out of sight, out of mind". This is the "Tebowing" bit, where money and focus are on a football player kneeling in prayer about "winning" a sporting event (granted, also a profe$$ion/vocation) contrasted with money and prayer for "Uicux" the refugee child (and the hundreds of thousands like her) scouring a landfill in hopes of not starving today. Would it be easy to say the fans have no empathy for the starving child? In other words, how much exposure to helplessness ("what can one person do?") is needed to get one to a "practical" place, and how would that differ, to the lay observer, as lacking empathy to the extent of psychopathy? Ditto to some degree and parallel with "collateral damage" and "damage control" and "tax protesters" and "aliens", etc? How many clinically non-psychopaths get over 'normal' empathy from daily exposure to the reality (see PETA vs meat processors/eaters/hunters)? And of course, eventually, or somewhere down the daily grind/exposure and "I'm just one person, what can one person do?" i.e. practical reality, we get to the typical Government employee ("processing" "citizens" "for the greater good" (aka "me"))? If sociopathy is a legit theory, how might lifetime indoctrination, exposure to dogma (i.e. "you can't fight City Hall" and "it's your paytriotic duty") contribute to temporary "psychopathy" --as very importantly, how might it affect the lay person's assessing ("diagnosing") individuals as such?
Granted, you've used the word 'psychopath' consistently rather than 'sociopath', and this concern would fit more with the latter. But I still wonder if this reality shouldn't be included in any theory regarding this?
Hopefully my objective is clear: prevention of "witch" hunts and "Scarlet Letters" redux --while looking to inform of a crucial issue (that "probably 1-2%").
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Grey beard - 02-19-2012 04:34 PM
(02-19-2012 04:24 PM)eye2i2hear Wrote: NonE,
I will say " them " following anytime the subject ( the them ) has been established, rather than type out " psychopath " everytime I reference " them " after establishing " they " are the subject in discussion. Must communication be more complicated than it already is?
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Dionysus - 02-19-2012 04:57 PM
(02-19-2012 03:50 PM)NonEntity Wrote: Not trying to sound as arrogant as this will probably come off, but I think you simply do not grasp what psychopathy is, Dionysus. Let me see if I can convey my reason for saying this. In your statement above you say they are "doing it [being evil] on purpose." But don't you see that this presumes that they KNOW what evil is? If you (one) have no empathic ability, evil is a meaningless term.
Well, I think like most things, that's a tendency, not an absolute. There's no good reason why a psychopath can't have empathy and still behave in a psychopathic fashion. Maybe he gets a cheap thrill (if not a monetary reward) out of acting in opposition to what his conscience tells him. Maybe he's empathetic in some ways but not so much in others. Maybe he's been trained/brainwashed to channel/sublimate his feelings of empathy into something else. For example, Hillary Clinton is by many accounts a loving wife and mother, but it's patently obvious that she's also a certifiable major loon of a murderous psychopath. But I would agree with you, of course, that a lack of empathy characterizes the vast majority of psychopaths.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - Grey beard - 02-19-2012 05:08 PM
I understand that some may want to distinguish sociopath from psychopath from narcissistfrom fuzzy bunny. There are even those that are employed to determine the shades of each. I am not one of those that make such distinctions.
There are people that differentiate between black bear and grizzly. They do that at a safe distance. Up close and personal, the differences matter less. Either one will make short work of you, and the tool to sort them out must work on either or.
What I have done concerning " them " ( sociopaths, psychopaths and fuzzy bunnies ) is practical in nature. No witch hunt is needed. It is only done in defense, and is not really counter offensive in nature. It doesn't matter if you make a misjudgement about " them " being normal or psychopath.
RE: Comparing Apples and Psychopaths - NonEntity - 02-19-2012 06:51 PM
(02-19-2012 04:12 PM)Grey beard Wrote: Let the psychopath decide the matter ( in front of witnesses ).
* I'm thinking of many of Marc's experiences before judges.
I like it. At least, I think I do. I would like to know more, to perhaps see a demonstration or a "play acting" version of how this might be applied. I'm also thinking, and your opinion on whether or not this would be true is requested, that your "test" might also help one to determine whether or not another person is a psychopath.
I don't know if you have the inclination, but I think you could possible do some simple YouTube videos of this concept and perhaps add some value to the world thereby. I would certainly want to watch.
Thanks for the explanation.
(02-19-2012 04:24 PM)eye2i2hear Wrote: NonE,
Dude, you have a tendency to equivocate certain valid discussions to the level of absolute meaningless incoherence. Next you're going to tell me that it is not possible to make any differentiations regarding a person's weight, since there is an infinite variety of possible weights between 86 pounds and 900 pounds per person. TRUE! But it can be said with certainty that the 900 pound person is not skinny. OKAY??????? Jesus! The 478.63 pound person is not skinny either.
I am not pointing at a specific person and claiming that I know for certain HE is a psychopath. (Well, I do in fact KNOW a couple - without question, but that is not the subject of discussion.) What I AM discussing here is the nature of the psychology of the intersections between psychopathy and morality and social well being and societal health.