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View Poll Results: Would you choose to be a psychopath? l

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  1. #111
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I have the impression from what I've read about psychopathy that the category itself is a bit of a mess. The checklist of behaviors reminds me a lot of chronic pain diagnosis of what is most often called "fibromyalgia" these days. The same symptoms of pain and fatigue can result from a hormonal imbalance, auto-immune issues, sleep disorders, vascular problems, low grade infections, suppressed emotional trauma, etc. the root causes that exhibit the same symptoms can be completely unrelated.

    If you look at any other neuro-atypical issue, these are not connected to sadism. On the one hand it seems like it's being diagnosed based on external symptoms which could have diverse root causes, but on the other hand there is this specific issue of amygdala damage that is being suggested to have neutral outcomes for non rage based psychopaths. Is the definition looking at a single root cause that can exhibit in a variety of ways, or is it looking at similar external manifestations without examining root causes?

    I don't know of any other neuro-atypical issue connected to a particular form of sadism. Aspbergers and other high functioning autisms have hyper focus, some extreme personal hypersensitivity to emotional and sensory data, can at times lack empathy, and yet there is no particular connection to being cruel per say, although there are likely people with Aspbergers who are. Do you see the inherent confusion I am seeing in this topic?

    I find this lack of clarity makes this issues a mess to parse apart and discuss. If there is more clarity available, I'd be especially interested to see it. It would change how one would best approach this topic.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
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    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
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    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  2. #112
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    I have the impression from what I've read about psychopathy that the category itself is a bit of a mess.
    How does that really differ from other psychiatric disorders though?
    Depression similarly has multiple causes/manifestations/treatments, yet still has a recognisable clinical picture.
    The clinical picture here involves absence of empathy. I don't think sadism is necessarily a defining feature, and when it appears, it's more a function of a quest for dominance than anything else, I'd venture. The quest for dominance / vying for status is something common to all social animals to varying degrees. Because of the specific way in which the psychopath's brain is disordered, they reveal what happens when the "brakes" of empathy are removed. Which is fascinating. It leads us to understand how morality is rooted in empathy.
    I have read* that the difference between lack of empathy in autism and psychopathy is this: empathy has two components - cognitive (" theory of mind") and affective. In autists it is the former that does not function effectively; in psychopaths / sociopaths it is the latter. What do you think?

    *in "Zero Degrees of Empathy" by Baron-Cohen amongst other places.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  3. #113
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    How does that really differ from other psychiatric disorders though?
    Depression similarly has multiple causes/manifestations/treatments, yet still has a recognisable clinical picture.
    The clinical picture here involves absence of empathy. I don't think sadism is necessarily a defining feature, and when it appears, it's more a function of a quest for dominance than anything else, I'd venture. The quest for dominance / vying for status is something common to all social animals to varying degrees. Because of the specific way in which the psychopath's brain is disordered, they reveal what happens when the "brakes" of empathy are removed. Which is fascinating. It leads us to understand how morality is rooted in empathy.
    I have read* that the difference between lack of empathy in autism and psychopathy is this: empathy has two components - cognitive (" theory of mind") and affective. In autists it is the former that does not function effectively; in psychopaths / sociopaths it is the latter. What do you think?

    *in "Zero Degrees of Empathy" by Baron-Cohen amongst other places.
    I am still planning to come back and continue this discussion. I think you have an interesting idea here that is likely exactly right. I'll have to read and think a bit more to contribute anything further. It makes so much sense what you said about the two different components of empathy.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  4. #114
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    Edit. Talking of confessions of a wannabe psychopath...brings to mind this article.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/artic...ions-sociopath

    Nice role-model, Cori.
    I have read this article before. It illustrates well the premise of the OP, that there may be some advantages to psychopathy, or at least to traits usually associated with that condition. How she handles the escalator situation is perfect.

    I will be interested in the additional analysis you and Fia come up with. I, too, do not see sadism as an inherent quality of psychopaths. I had the impression that aspergers/autism was associated with lack of affective empathy rather than cognitive, and that a true psychopath (assuming that can be defined) lacks either.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #115
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I have read this article before. It illustrates well the premise of the OP, that there may be some advantages to psychopathy, or at least to traits usually associated with that condition. How she handles the escalator situation is perfect.
    You think?
    The woman is utterly delusional. She states that she is "generally free from irrational emotions" right after describing a "megalomaniacal fantasy" in which she strangles a jobsworth. The extent of her murderous rage is utterly irrational. In fact, she is ensnared by irrational emotions - all the more so because of her lack of self-insight. Lack of self-awareness/self-knowledge is a side effect of empathy deficit. We come to understand ourselves by coming to understand others, not the other way around. So she is not just interpersonally impaired, but intrapersonally impaired. Stalking the guy through the mall only to impotently decide to do nothing at all is kinda lame. In what way is that perfect, to you? What did she actually accomplish?

    As for how successful she is, yes, sociopaths can do well, especially in Law (it's easier to float to the top in certain professions if you untether yourself from any kind of moral constraints - you're still only on top of a pile of shit), but they are consummate liars. We can't take anything this woman says on faith. And from the situations she cites as "successes", she presents quite a pathetic figure, in my view. They are broken people, more pitiable than enviable.

    I will be interested in the additional analysis you and Fia come up with. I, too, do not see sadism as an inherent quality of psychopaths.
    There are two dimensions to psychopathy, as measured by the PPI: fearless-dominance and impulsive-antisociality. It is the latter dimension that is linked to sadism/cruelty and criminality. Psychopaths who manage to stay out of the criminal justice system are likely lower on this dimension.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819310/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti...8/#!po=83.3333

    I had the impression that aspergers/autism was associated with lack of affective empathy rather than cognitive, and that a true psychopath (assuming that can be defined) lacks either.
    http://www.sltinfo.com/autism-and-theory-of-mind.html
    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    Cognitive_versus_affective_empathy
    Rogers' research, following the distinction between cognitive empathy and affective empathy, suggests that people with Asperger syndrome have less ability to ascertain others' feelings (in terms of theory of mind), but demonstrate equal empathy when they are aware of others' states of mind (in terms of affect).[14]
    Regarding the subdivision of emotional empathy into personal distress and empathic concern, individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) self-report lower levels of empathic concern, and they show less or absent comforting responses toward someone who is suffering. However, individuals with ASD also report equal or higher levels of personal distress compared to controls. The combination of reduced empathic concern and increased personal distress may lead to the overall reduction of empathy in ASD.[21] Social psychology research found that when a person is overwhelmed by his or her own feelings when observing a person who needs help, he or she is unlikely to engage in comforting or helping others.[21]
    "As regards the failure of empathic response, it would appear that at least some people with autism are oversensitive to the feelings of others rather than immune to them, but cannot handle the painful feed-back that this initiates in the body, and have therefore learnt to suppress this facility."[60]
    Autists (paradoxically, given the derivation of the word) also have a defective sense of self. They are unable to properly distinguish between self and other. This probably exacerbates the problem, because to be able to offer assistance (empathic response) one must be able to effectively suppress one's own distress.

    Psychopaths have no problem with theory of mind - which is what makes them such successful manipulators. If they did not have this cognitive aspect of empathy, they would not be able to charm and ingratiate. They are the definition of Machiavellian. Where they have a deficit is in pairing that cognition with what we regard as appropriate affect - concern for the other person or even themselves. They are therefore able to be both fearless and merciless. Even if they understand that they will be punished for something, a feature of the condition is that they are unable to learn to fear punishment - that other "brake" on reckless behaviour. This actually constitutes a learning disability. Evolution gave us emotion for a reason. It's useful. As already mentioned, the amygdala controls fear response and tends to be damaged in the sociopath (along with other brain regions collectively termed "the empathy circuit"). A feature of autism is excessive fearfulness and anxiety, (for example, around change of routine/novelty) which also indicates a role for the amygdala, but again implies over-sensitivity rather than under-sensitivity .
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  6. #116
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    According to any psychological assessments I've taken that can account for this sort of thing, I'm essentially an anti-psychopath (and an INTP for the record).

    I feel like being such a person can be fairly painful. You get depressed by sensing that other people are unhappy. You feel sometimes cripplingly anxious about the consequences of any decision you make. You deny yourself a lot of things for a lot of reasons. And to top it all off, it apparently makes you a lot less attractive.

    But I wouldn't change this particular aspect of myself, really. I'd change a lot, but not this. I think the very nature of being such a person would compel one to not want to stop being such a person and become a psychopath, as I and I would think anyone like me would immediately notice that A) it would be far more detrimental to the greater number of people, and B) it would mean leaving a lot more of one's life to risks and random chances. That sounds like exactly what I don't want.

    So is something very suspect about anyone that appears to act on their conscience but then goes on long tirades about the credit they're owed. You have to wonder if they ever really acted on their conscience. And I guess what I'm saying is that anyone like me who says "I wish I were a psychopath" immediately appears to me to possibly be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    Pulling out a little further, these questions are always kind of silly. In a way they are a bit like the questions that ask if you would have rather been another MB or Enneagram type. I think the questions are odd because the type itself effects the things you want. I find it confusing when people say "I want to want something else." And if you were something else, would you know it? Wouldn't you just be used to that and pine over something else you don't have in this different form?
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  7. #117
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I will be interested in the additional analysis you and Fia come up with. I, too, do not see sadism as an inherent quality of psychopaths.
    Sadism is associated only high IQ psychopathy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    This actually constitutes a learning disability.
    That is a dubious premise because cognitive deficiencies are deemed learning disabilities when they prevent the individual from cultivating the intellectual competencies necessary for a fulfilling life. The inability to learn fearful behavioral traits can harm the psychopath in scenarios where a risk-averse rather than a jeopardous plan of action is viable. Prior to the rise of civilization, it is evident that fearful behavioral predispositions were profusely rewarded. It was impossible for one to survive without exercising a great deal of caution to avoid predators, highly infectious diseases and find shelter from the harsh conditions of the environment. Today, risk-averse activities are much less rewarding and Kevin Dutton characterizes many non-psychopaths as "pathologically risk-averse". Could it be that since our circumstances have changed, it is now the ordinary people rather than the psychopaths who have a learning disability? Maybe we are the ones who should be concerned that we cannot learn fearless behavioral dispositions that could clearly benefit us in many walks of life?
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  8. #118
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    The Berserkers, CEOs and Wolves

    To go berserk means to change form. Yes, berserkers wore wolf skins into battle, and became like a fearless wolf, and fought in a nearly uncontrollable trance like fury.

    And in ancient tribes, who were constantly at war with one another, psychopathic qualities may well have been selected for.

    And indeed psychopathic qualities may well be selected for in CEOs ( Chief Executive Officers) of highly competitive and ruthless companies, quite like warring ancient tribes.

    Yes, homo homini lupus (man is a wolf unto man).

  9. #119
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Sadism is associated only high IQ psychopathy.
    That's not true at all.

    That is a dubious premise because cognitive deficiencies are deemed learning disabilities when they prevent the individual from cultivating the intellectual competencies necessary for a fulfilling life.
    I don't see how anyone can describe a psychopath's life as fulfilling. The condition entails blunted affect which necessarily entails a blunted feeling of fulfilment, even if their relationship issues did not.
    The inability to learn fearful behavioral traits can harm the psychopath in scenarios where a risk-averse rather than a jeopardous plan of action is viable. Prior to the rise of civilization, it is evident that fearful behavioral predispositions were profusely rewarded. It was impossible for one to survive without exercising a great deal of caution to avoid predators, highly infectious diseases and find shelter from the harsh conditions of the environment. Today, risk-averse activities are much less rewarding and Kevin Dutton characterizes many non-psychopaths as "pathologically risk-averse". Could it be that since our circumstances have changed, it is now the ordinary people rather than the psychopaths who have a learning disability? Maybe we are the ones who should be concerned that we cannot learn fearless behavioral dispositions that could clearly benefit us in many walks of life?
    I think being "pathologically risk-averse" and pathologically risk-seeking are both undesirable states.

    You forget that psychopaths could not thrive in a world full of psychopaths. They are predators - they need prey. They only get to the top by exploiting the vulnerabilities of others. In a world of invulnerable people, we would just annihilate each other. Certainly civilisation as we know it(which is founded on cooperative values, tolerance and fair play) would collapse. We have only achieved mastery of the planet because we are essentially an empathic species committed to the welfare of the group above the individual.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  10. #120
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    That's not true at all.
    I think you may have misunderstood me, I am not saying that all sadists are high IQ psychopaths. Rather, that high IQ psychopaths are more likely to be sadists than low IQ psychopaths, but there could be non-psychopathic sadists and quite a few sadistic psychopaths them may have a low IQ.

    Kevin Dutton documented various studied showing that high IQ psychopaths are more empathetic than their low IQ counterparts and they are able to use their empathy to derive gratification from the suffering of their victims. That's tantamount to Sadism, is it not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    I don't see how anyone can describe a psychopath's life as fulfilling.
    Psychopaths certainly miss out on the joys of intimate emotional connections with others, but are their lives truly less fulfilling than that of most normal people? I voted "no" on my own poll because I found my niche and have satisfying relationships, but who am I to say that most people can achieve a fulfilling life the way I did? Divorce rates are through the roof, close friendships are becoming increasingly less common, professional milieus are rife with conflicts or underlying tensions between staff members, familial ties are weakening and lifelong friendships tend to disappear as we rely more on technology and increase the geographical distance between ourselves and our childhood friends. As we are becoming increasingly more work-focused as a society, we invariably neglect our relationships as by nature, we become more adversarial, self-centered and egotistical. If the main advantage that we have over the psychopaths is that we are able to enjoy deep interpersonal relationships and that is being jeopardized now, what do we have to show for? What is it that an average person has that a psychopath should envy? On the other hand, the psychopath has plenty for the average person to envy including freedom from anxiety, in many cases status, wealth and ability to take on new adventures that are often richly rewarding.



    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    The condition entails blunted affect which necessarily entails a blunted feeling of fulfillment, even if their relationship issues did not.
    A sizable portion of our population lives in a state of constant dread, shame, anxiety and deep uncertainty. Part of this is caused by the excessively rigid norms of conventional or religious morality, the precarious nature of the economy and the instability of interpersonal relationships. Psychopaths are much more immune to all of these feelings and generally handle uncertainty better. What good is it to not have blunted feelings when most of the feelings that normal people tend to experience are predominantly negative. These overwhelming sentiments drive a considerable percentage of Koreans and Japanese to suicide and many Americans are beginning to feel the strain of excessive pressure at work, overwhelming responsibilities to their families and other conditions that make their lives seemingly intolerable. What about the psychopaths? They either cope with these uncertainties better or they are at the helm of government agencies and transnational corporations that make life difficult for many ordinary citizens.



    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    I think being "pathologically risk-averse" and pathologically risk-seeking are both undesirable states.
    That is true, but pathological conditions are always defined within the context of a society where the alleged patient resides. In our society, pathological risk-aversion is more serious of a deficiency than pathological risk-seeking. The psychopaths are currently better adapted to our society, whether or not that may change in the future is another topic.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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