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

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  1. #11
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    You seem to emphasize the positive, but also see the negatives as a choice. Do you desire to see psychopathy as purely advantageous? That is the part I do not think is proven in your position..
    The negative side of psychopathy is that they don't experience the joys of deep interpersonal relationships with other people, that's about all I can think of.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Perhaps their superior ability to identify their own emotions is because the framework is simpler?
    A damaged amygdala only stops them from habitually focusing on their emotions, but it does not stop them from experiencing them. They have a visceral understanding of the emotive states that normal people go through, otherwise they'd have no way of identifying their victims as expediently and accurately. If their framework was simpler, they'd have no way of understanding what sorts of emotional appeals are necessary to manipulate the people with the complex framework.



    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    I can't answer that, but I'm not going to assume that we would be in a worse scenario. There would likely have been fewer dictators who initiated wars and genocide. If the world had powerful individuals with empathy, with a sense of self that extended beyond the individual, then there could well be more highly developed arts and philosophy. Perhaps we would be traveling space by now, educated the world, and have eradicated hunger? Perhaps cancer and other diseases would be cured. Perhaps learning and knowledge would be brought to levels unimagined through research. Money and resources would have been focused on strengthening the whole of humanity and not just the power of individual dictators. The cost of our recent U.S. wars could have eradicated world hunger, but we had a likely sociopath in office.
    We would have probably had fewer decisive conflicts that culminated in genocide or totalitarianism, but we would have been stuck in the Hobbesian state of nature for much longer. Psychopathic leaders excel at creating order that their successors can enhance by rendering it more humane.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    What is the reason that the gene for mental retardation, M.S., and other issues has endured to this day? Existence of a malfunction does not necessarily prove it is superior state of being.
    Cognitively impaired people tend to be very agreeable and they have their place in society, their state of being is not superior to that of normal people, but it has its applications. The same holds true for psychopathy.


    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    From a distanced perspective it is irrational and destructive.
    There is no reason to value one individual over another, even if we happen to be viewing reality from the vantage point of one individual.
    Sometimes their self-interests serves the public good, after all Adam Smith was onto something when he coined his "invisible hand" term. There is a gap between people's altruistic intentions and the consequences of their action as there is between their self-serving intentions and the consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Once again, if their amgydala and limbic system is damaged or non-existent, they are not functioning with all data. They are functioning without the data provided through that system..
    So what? Do you envy the Obsessive compulsive person who can detect more germs on an immaculately clean table because he or she has access to more "data" than you?

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    If they don't experience fear, if they cannot experience empathy, then they are metaphorically lacking peripheral vision.

    They have all of these experiences, that's why they are able to detect such complex feelings in others.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Their brain is not fully functional from the standpoint of looking at the hardware of it. Yes, a person can interpret advantages for this state, and I agree that contextually there can be advantages. I do not agree that it is a universally advantages state of existence. Technically it is a damaged, or incomplete, piece of hardware with which they are functioning.
    Nonetheless, we would probably still be in the Dark Ages without them. It is difficult to establish a sense of order without getting your hands dirty and very few non-psychopaths are willing to do that at enormous psychological costs to themselves.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  2. #12
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    @SolitaryWalker, I guess it comes down to debating over a myriad of assumptions. To actually get at a topic like this, each assumption would have to be examined. It could be interesting, but that would be a very exhaustive debate. I'll hit on a few points here.

    I'm mostly curious about your assumptions of the experience of the psychopath. You are presenting a number of comments regarding the nature of their experience. Is this from articles you have read, or some personal connection. I thought that the opening statement said they did not experience fear or other emotions the same way as others, but after that you are saying they do experience everything, but have the ability to dismiss it. I debate that because of the damaged amygdala, they cannot experience it fully. These are just two experientially based assumptions bumping heads. Do either of us know the actual answer? Is there a research article that says they do experience everything? Do you know someone who has been diagnosed as psychopath and they say that they experience everything, including a feelingful empathy? Of course I could be wrong in assuming that they don't because I'm not a psychopath. I'm just assuming that something must be different in their experience if their actual brain hardware is different. Can you clarify where you are coming from with your set of assumptions? As far as what the world would be like, that is such deep conjecture that I'm fine with just leaving it with the statements made and don't see a reason to actually debate it unless it was for a game or something.

    There are also conditions like Aspbergers that create hyper-focus in the brain and can create an absence of empathy in some contexts (primarily when they are hyper-focused on something else). There is also a lack of social connection possible with that "issue", but from what I understand it is different from psychopathy and actually much more like what I see you describing in this thread. I've read about it and know several people with it and they have moments of hyperfocus on their inner world and what and whom they care about, so it is just a different way of organizing the complete human experience.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
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  3. #13
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    @SolitaryWalker, I guess it comes down to debating over a myriad of assumptions. To actually get at a topic like this, each assumption would have to be examined. It could be interesting, but that would be a very exhaustive debate. I'll hit on a few points here.

    I'm mostly curious about your assumptions of the experience of the psychopath. You are presenting a number of comments regarding the nature of their experience. Is this from articles you have read, or some personal connection. I thought that the opening statement said they did not experience fear or other emotions the same way as others, but after that you are saying they do experience everything, but have the ability to dismiss it. I debate that because of the damaged amygdala, they cannot experience it fully. These are just two experientially based assumptions bumping heads. Do either of us know the actual answer? Is there a research article that says they do experience everything? Do you know someone who has been diagnosed as psychopath and they say that they experience everything, including a feelingful empathy? Of course I could be wrong in assuming that they don't because I'm not a psychopath. I'm just assuming that something must be different in their experience if their actual brain hardware is different. Can you clarify where you are coming from with your set of assumptions? As far as what the world would be like, that is such deep conjecture that I'm fine with just leaving it with the statements made and don't see a reason to actually debate it unless it was for a game or something.

    There are also conditions like Aspbergers that create hyper-focus in the brain and can create an absence of empathy in some contexts (primarily when they are hyper-focused on something else). There is also a lack of social connection possible with that "issue", but from what I understand it is different from psychopathy and actually much more like what I see you describing in this thread. I've read about it and know several people with it and they have moments of hyperfocus on their inner world and what and whom they care about, so it is just a different way of organizing the complete human experience.
    Nothing I stated was based on my personal experiences, it all came from the Wisdom of the Psychopath book that documented ample empirical research articles in support of all of the claims I've made. Nothing I said was a conjecture, there have been studies done showing that when forced to focus on emotions, psychopaths outperformed normal people at identifying their own feelings and that of others. They've also outperformed the non-psychopaths at feigning appropriate emotive affects. The overarching theme of these studies is that psychopaths experience an equal range of feelings to what we all experience, but with a much lesser intensity. That strikes me as rather plausible, I don't see why a damaged amygdala should stop a psychopath from experiencing all feelings, but it certainly makes sense that it would blunt the intensity of the feelings. I said the psychopaths are fearless, but that's in comparison to others, it doesn't mean they have no fear, they just much less fearful than the non-psychopaths.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  4. #14

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    No, I wouldn't have the surgery. I think it would be a great trait to be able to turn on strongly when you needed it. A fighters instinct.

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    .
    I will not go point for point with this since I am likely to disappear for a month or so after this post (I have not made the decision explicitly, but it is a likely scenario). Perhaps I don't have the proper psychological definition of psycopath fixed in my mind. Perhaps I am using a different definition of lacking conscience than what Kevin Dutton does. This is the first I've heard of the book, and I don't know what is being described.

    My main point if the lack of desire avoid doing harm to others is not a desirable trait, no matter what advantages they may seem to confer. The desire to do harm is the essence of being evil.

    If people see this desire in others, they tend to see this desire as evil. Perhaps the technical definition of psycopath does not include the desire to do harm. Perhaps the technical definition does not even include a lack of desire to avoid doing harm to others. If "lack of conscience" is equated with the lack of feeling emotional connection to others, then I think the book is quite misleading and provacative mainly due to the use of words in ways that people do not normally associate them with.

    Not being "nice", and even doing things that are wrong under extreme and/or complex circumstances does not, to me, demonstrate a lack of conscience. There are may ways people end up harming others despite having a general desire not to do harm to people. One common way being labeling those having harm done to them as enemies or sub-human in some way. This is still evil. But not due the absence of conscience, but due to means that people have of circumventing the conscience that they do have.

    Saints and monks perhaps achieve a calm, but they do not do so through the disconnection of their emotions. I would put saints and monks near the neutral level of emotional sensitivity. Where they can feel emotions without being overwhelmed by them.

    So perhaps the words (semantics) themselves are a source of a confusion. Then it would be nice to know how Dutton uses the notion of conscience or lack thereof in his book, and how you are doing so now.

    I maintain that lacking the desire to avoid harming others is not a good thing. The desire to harm others is a bad thing. Hopefully, by using plain words, we can avoid any confusion due to semantics.

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  6. #16
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    However, it has recently been discovered that most psychopaths do not fit that description. Psychopathy is defined as a general lack of conscience, fearlessness, ruthlessness, superficial charm, tough-mindedness and the capacity to focus with great intensity. The brain of a psychopath differs from that of an ordinary person because it has a severely damaged amygdala that prevents him or her from focusing on emotions as intensely as ordinary people are able to. We have been evolutionarily conditioned to focus on emotions in order to limit our aggressive urges and instincts that compel us to seek out new adventures, as such limitations were needed for our survival. These limitations diminished our confidence in our own abilities and led humans to become more dependent on their relationships with the community and other individuals, however, the psychopathic gene withstood the test of time because communities needed fearless and ruthless individuals to make difficult decisions, keep enemies at bay and maintain a sense of order in an iron-fisted manner.

    Psychopaths are generally characterized by a lack of conscience, fearlessness, ruthless dominance over others, superficial charm, irresponsibility and impulsive behavioral tendencies. Only a small fraction of psychopaths end up behind bars, but they are the ones who fail to conceal their capricious and a radically egoistical nature.
    I find some of the qualities of psychopaths admirable and potentially useful, while others are ultimately counterproductive and even self-destructive. Tough mindedness, capacity to focus intensely, even some degree of fearlessness and ruthlessness are all quite useful, as is the underlying ability to distance oneself from emotions. Irresponsibility and impulsive behavior are generally counterproductive (and actually would seem to be driven by one's emotions). Superficial charm and a drive to dominate others can go either way, depending on circumstances. I would not be willing to accept the second group of qualities to obtain (more of) the first, especially since, as Fia pointed out, I can already develop the first group separately.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    It isn't the same sort of information, and I thought I addressed that fact. I'm well aware that a person can intellectually understand a lot about another person without a more experiential knowledge. A more experiential connection to another's worldview contains countless amounts of nuanced information that cannot be transmitted via language. Intellectual empathy is the ability to maintain accurate associations without a true knowledge of the nature of those associations. Hearing crying and relating it to sadness for the non-empathetic person is like hearing a bell and relating it to sadness. It is not complete knowledge. A damaged amygdala suggests to me that there is a lack of personal knowledge about certain aspects of experience that would absolutely constrain actual empathy.
    Do you consider intellectual empathy to be inadequate? What extra information is gained through what you call an experiential connection? More to the point, what does this information allow you to do that you cannot do on the basis of intellectual empathy? Whether you associate crying or a bell or something else with sadness seems immaterial. As long as you know X = sadness, you understand that a person is experiencing a negative situation, and it would be appropriate to see if they need any help.

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    If people see this desire in others, they tend to see this desire as evil. Perhaps the technical definition of psycopath does not include the desire to do harm. Perhaps the technical definition does not even include a lack of desire to avoid doing harm to others. If "lack of conscience" is equated with the lack of feeling emotional connection to others, then I think the book is quite misleading and provacative mainly due to the use of words in ways that people do not normally associate them with.
    I had the impression that psychopaths don't desire to do harm, they just don't care if others are harmed as they try to get what they want.
    Last edited by Coriolis; 07-17-2013 at 04:47 PM. Reason: typo
    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...

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    There are also conditions like Aspbergers that create hyper-focus in the brain and can create an absence of empathy in some contexts (primarily when they are hyper-focused on something else). There is also a lack of social connection possible with that "issue", but from what I understand it is different from psychopathy and actually much more like what I see you describing in this thread. I've read about it and know several people with it and they have moments of hyperfocus on their inner world and what and whom they care about, so it is just a different way of organizing the complete human experience.
    Hyperfocus is an intense form of mental concentration or visualization that focuses consciousness on a narrow subject, separate from objective reality and onto subjective mental planes, daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind.

  8. #18
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    I don't equate Stoicism to Psycopathy, but.....

    Stoicism is something to be attained, not mutilated.

    Besides, there are other ways to achieve something similar without mutilating yourself.

    I would choose to be a Stoic, but not a Psychopath

  9. #19
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Nothing I stated was based on my personal experiences, it all came from the Wisdom of the Psychopath book that documented ample empirical research articles in support of all of the claims I've made. Nothing I said was a conjecture, there have been studies done showing that when forced to focus on emotions, psychopaths outperformed normal people at identifying their own feelings and that of others. They've also outperformed the non-psychopaths at feigning appropriate emotive affects. The overarching theme of these studies is that psychopaths experience an equal range of feelings to what we all experience, but with a much lesser intensity. That strikes me as rather plausible, I don't see why a damaged amygdala should stop a psychopath from experiencing all feelings, but it certainly makes sense that it would blunt the intensity of the feelings. I said the psychopaths are fearless, but that's in comparison to others, it doesn't mean they have no fear, they just much less fearful than the non-psychopaths.
    Is Kevin Dutton saying, though, that psychopathy exists on a continuum and that in "smaller doses" those traits have advantages? That is different than having a non-functioning amygdala. Some damage to the amygdala actually increases rage and anxiety, so I would need to see more about the research that places so many with similar personality traits into the same category.

    It isn't news to me that there are high-functioning psychopaths who live out their lives in professional work environments. What isn't clear is the nature of their motivation and how that is assumed beneficial. I can see fragmented versions of benefit like with a heart surgeon I knew of that was skilled in surgery, but so cruel in his communication that every nurse that worked for him ended up physically ill. If he hadn't been admitted to medical school, then someone else would have and they would have been performing those same surgeries, only not making the nurses ill. While there are some positives and some negatives, it is a net gain, but is it greater than if a non-psychopath did the same endeavor? I really don't think a person has to be a psychopath to be excellent at helping during a crisis. There are millions of examples of people who are successful at performing those tasks. The more power a psychopath has, the more damage they can do to the world if for their own benefit. It would definitely explain why corporations and governments are causing so much abuse to humanity and the environment.

    Those are the traits that our society has come to value, and so he pushed the exactly correct button to make a name for himself. It can make people feel strong to think of being like a psychopath, but there are other ways to be strong, and it has to do with expanding the sense of self beyond the individual.

    I do see that the author of that book is a psychologist at Oxford which is a strong credential, but I'm also a bit hesitant with sensationalized hype and this book is presented in that manner. I've been looking for peer reviews on it and for some reason cannot find these. Ramachandran's review doesn't really say a lot, ""Dutton tackles an elusive, important and much neglected aspect of the mind, our personality. He presents some highly original insights and does so in a provocative and humorous style." Many of his quotes for what other psychologists are saying on his page seem to say there is something interesting in what he is saying, but it doesn't sound like the same level of embracing the ideas that you are demonstrating. Perhaps the book itself is not presenting psychopathy as an idealized form of being? The OP here reads like you are presenting it idealized. The only drawback you see is the lack of forming social bonds? But perhaps the psychopath doesn't care, in which case why would that be any greater drawback than the lack of empathy? or the dimmed emotional responses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Do you consider intellectual empathy to be inadequate? What extra information is gained through what you call an experiential connection? More to the point, what does this information allow you to do that you cannot do on the basis of intellectual empathy? Whether you associate crying or a bell or something else with sadness seems immaterial. As long as you know X = sadness, you understand that a person is experiencing a negative situation, and it would be appropriate to see if they need any help.
    It depends on the context. I think that there is information that only exists in the nuance of experience. To continue the metaphor of relating the bell to sadness instead of crying to sadness, the information lacking includes the effect that sadness has on the breath, why is the change in breathing related to mental sorrow? Why do movement slow? Why do different muscles fire in the face? I suspect it would be possible to identify millions of such associations between the act of crying and how sadness is experienced. The emotionally empathetic person operates from both the conscious and unconscious mind when responding in an intuitive manner. Factual associations, abstract connections that are intended to map to reality are by nature lower resolution. In some contexts this is plenty to suffice like when viewing a stock facial expression intended to convey a particular emotion. There are also a lot of basic, low resolution aspects to human behavior that even incredibly stupid, but conniving people can figure out and use to their advantage. Where this approach can be especially lacking is in providing new insight in to complex and layered emotions. It is lacking in its ability to understand a deeper level of consciousness. People go through life semi-conscious and relying on routine. Those routines are extremely low resolution, so it doesn't take much insight to hone in on them and use them to one's advantage. Fear does keep people in line, and so the lessening of that in psychopaths does allow them to examine new approaches. Edit: But this does not require that much depth of understanding of human emotion or behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I had the impression that psychopaths don't desire to do harm, they just don't care if others are harmed as they try to get what they want.
    It does bring up the question of what does motivate a psychopath? Is it reason? Selfishness? Money?
    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)

  10. #20
    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    I'm amazed some people voted for being a psychopath. Hmmm... maybe not amazed, just...well... saddened that people exist who care so little about their loved ones that they would rather not care at all. Hmmm, i wonder if narcissists are wannabe socio/psychopaths. Or maybe the world has treated you so badly and you have no loved ones. I'm thinking along the lines of columbine (Ironically though, they did care).
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

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