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

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  • Yes

    6 18.75%
  • No

    26 81.25%
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  1. #21
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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.
    Psychopathy emerges only when a certain kind of damage to amygdala is done, it is possible to damage it in another manner and end up with a distinctly non-psychopathic personality.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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.
    It is assumed beneficial because most people covet the achievements that psychopaths easily attain such as wealth, status and power. Additionally, psychopathic leaders tend to be more efficient at authoritarian styles of leadership than the non-psychopaths.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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.
    Kevin Dutton studied several high-profile surgeons in Britain who were renowned for their ability to succeed in even the most hopeless of operations. In scenarios where their normal peers would be inclined to panic, the psychopathic surgeon remains composed and focused.


    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    If he hadn't been admitted to medical school, then someone else would have and they would have been performing those same surgeries,.
    Probably less effectively and saving fewer lives, the psychopathic surgeon is saving dozens of lives at the expense of the nurses' feelings, seems like a trade-off that serves the public good. I bet if these nurses were presented with a study showcasing their psychopathic supervisor's superior skill-level to his normal colleagues, they'd zealously campaign for him to keep his job, if that ever came into question.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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?
    Research clearly shows that psychopaths have a very large edge in professions that require composure under intense pressure, high-level of emotional detachment, deep mindfulness and unremitting focus on the task at hand.


    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    I really don't think a person has to be a psychopath to be excellent at helping during a crisis.
    Yeah, so what. I am sure non-psychopaths excel at surgery, but psychopaths tend to be more talented at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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.
    Another trade-off, Hitler rebuilt Germany and started a genocidal war, Constantine was likely a psychopath but he brought Christianity to its peak glory at the time and Stalin was highly instrumental at leading the Soviet Union to become a World Power. It is true that we'd have fewer crimes against humanity and crimes against the environment without psychopaths, but we'd also be probably stuck in the Dark Ages.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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.
    If only it was that simple, human nature is carnal, vile and radically egocentric. It takes an extremely egoistical person with a very low risk-aversion to take on the kind of responsibility that comes along with becoming a large business or a government leader. When faced with tough decisions, psychopaths rarely flinch, but normal people have to consider the human element of the situation and that often deters from doing what needs to be doing to help the civilization progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Perhaps the book itself is not presenting psychopathy as an idealized form of being?
    Where did I mention "idealized" or "superior"? You're reading into things that are just not there. Kevin Dutton claims that psychopaths have "too much of a good thing" and normal people would be well advised to learn from them without trying to be like them on a regular basis. Meaning, a normal person should learn to be ruthless and tough-minded in business or surgery, but learn to "turn it off" when such behavioral strategies are no longer relevant.




    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    The OP here reads like you are presenting it idealized.
    Nothing idealized about it, psychopaths have advantages over us in many walks of life and we need to see how many people on this forum appreciate that fact. I voted "no" on my own poll.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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?
    Psychopaths don't care about social bonds, but they're missing out on an experience that they cannot even imagine as they can't reap the joys of having deep interpersonal connection. Another drawback to being a psychopath is that they may fail to respond in situations where a risk-averse strategy is more appropriate than their usual modus operandi.



    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo 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.
    Martha Sout defines a lack of conscience as a lack of a moral obligation to other people based on an emotional attachment to them or humanity in general. Dutton does not define the term.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Sociopath-...path+next+door




    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    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.
    Most psychopaths do not desire to do harm unless it benefits them.
    "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/

  2. #22
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    @SolitaryWalker, could you give some references for some of the research done in that book that shows that psychopaths performs tasks with superior skill because of their dimmed emotional state in which they feel less fear. I can see how aspects of it are plausible, but there could be issues of motivation that aren't taken into account. It would be helpful to see how that is determined - who was studied in the research, how it was shown that it created superior surgeons, etc. I think surgeons get pretty acclimated to pressure, so I'm not sure what kinds of pressure are a detriment to their skill and so forth. Humans in general have some capacity to compartmentalize during tasks that require certain mental states under pressure. I'm curious to examine it further, but can you see why a person who hasn't read the book or seen any research would be resistant to readily accepting the premises?
    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)

  3. #23
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Rather than being a psychopath why not be being neurotypical and have very high impulse control, such as provided by training your mind with meditation? That way you can form emotional connections with people while maintaining control over unpleasant and overwhelming emotions.


    Buddhist monks have markedly strong ability to read the social cues of others, in the same way that psychopaths do. The monk works by reading emotional states and separating them from their own (very strong empathy skills) while psychopaths are able to do this because they are social predators and can tell who is readily victimized or not.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    @SolitaryWalker, could you give some references for some of the research done in that book that shows that psychopaths performs tasks with superior skill because of their dimmed emotional state in which they feel less fear. I can see how aspects of it are plausible, but there could be issues of motivation that aren't taken into account. It would be helpful to see how that is determined - who was studied in the research, how it was shown that it created superior surgeons, etc. I think surgeons get pretty acclimated to pressure, so I'm not sure what kinds of pressure are a detriment to their skill and so forth. Humans in general have some capacity to compartmentalize during tasks that require certain mental states under pressure. I'm curious to examine it further, but can you see why a person who hasn't read the book or seen any research would be resistant to readily accepting the premises?
    I think this has recently been popularized by:

    The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us about Success, by Kevin Dutton

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...om-psychopaths




    Personally I think it's a little overplayed to grab your attention, but that's something.

    Scientific American has a bunch of podcasts too, if you want to listen, including an interview with the actor from Dexter and the author of the above I believe.


    Mental toughness and fearlessness often go hand in hand. Of course, to many of us lesser mortals, fearlessness may seem quite foreign. But Leslie explains the rationale behind this state—and how he maintains it. “The thing about fear, or the way I understand fear, I suppose—because, to be honest, I don't think I've ever really felt it—is that most of the time it's completely unwarranted anyway. What is it they say? Ninety-nine percent of the things people worry about never happen. So what's the point?

    “I think the problem is that people spend so much time worrying about what might happen, what might go wrong, that they completely lose sight of the present. They completely overlook the fact that, actually, right now, everything's perfectly fine.

    “So the trick, whenever possible, I propose, is to stop your brain from running on ahead of you.”

    Leslie's pragmatic endorsement of the principles and practices of what might otherwise be described as mindfulness is typical of the psychopath. A psychopath's rapacious proclivity to live in the moment, to “give tomorrow the slip and take today on a joyride” (as Larry, rather whimsically, puts it), is well documented—and at times can be stupendously beneficial. In fact, anchoring your thoughts unswervingly in the present is a discipline that psychopathy and spiritual enlightenment have in common. Clinical psychologist Mark Williams of the University of Oxford, for example, incorporates this principle of centering in his mindfulness-based cognitive-behavior therapy program for sufferers of anxiety and depression.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  5. #25
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rail Tracer View Post
    I would choose to be a Stoic, but not a Psychopath
    You might be interested in this book and its author.
    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...

  6. #26
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    @SolitaryWalker, could you give some references for some of the research done in that book that shows that psychopaths performs tasks with superior skill because of their dimmed emotional state in which they feel less fear. I can see how aspects of it are plausible, but there could be issues of motivation that aren't taken into account. It would be helpful to see how that is determined - who was studied in the research, how it was shown that it created superior surgeons, etc. I think surgeons get pretty acclimated to pressure, so I'm not sure what kinds of pressure are a detriment to their skill and so forth. Humans in general have some capacity to compartmentalize during tasks that require certain mental states under pressure. I'm curious to examine it further, but can you see why a person who hasn't read the book or seen any research would be resistant to readily accepting the premises?
    Give me a few days, I'd have to dig through the reference pages of that book. But I'd highly recommend you read it from start to finish.
    "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/

  7. #27
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    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.
    I am still missing something here. Why do I care about the specific effects of sadness on someone's breathing or facial muscles? How do I use that information? I am assuming that the only reason I care if someone is sad or upset to begin with is to help them somehow, or at least adjust my interaction accordingly, and I don't need such a level of detail to do that. Moreover, I don't agree that the alternative to experiencing the full spectrum of emotional nuance you describe is to be rely semi-consciously on routine. We can observe and respond to (and initiate) change in many other ways, leading lives that are quite varied and creative.
    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...

  8. #28
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I am still missing something here. Why do I care about the specific effects of sadness on someone's breathing or facial muscles? How do I use that information? I am assuming that the only reason I care if someone is sad or upset to begin with is to help them somehow, or at least adjust my interaction accordingly, and I don't need such a level of detail to do that. Moreover, I don't agree that the alternative to experiencing the full spectrum of emotional nuance you describe is to be rely semi-consciously on routine. We can observe and respond to (and initiate) change in many other ways, leading lives that are quite varied and creative.
    Firstly, I should clarify that what I said about semi-conscious routine is just that the psychopath's ability to successfully manipulate does not prove that they have deep emotional insight. Much of human functioning is the routine, so it isn't hard to understand that. I don't think a person needs that much insight to successfully manipulate in many instances.

    There is a distinction between some level of intellectual awareness about another person and emotional empathy. That alone is a complex issue because there are people with Aspbergers and other related neuro-atypical ways of processing that are not empathetic in the way that shares tears, but has much deeper insight because of their ability to intensely focus. There is also an empathetic motivation that can come from these ways of processing. I suspect there are many, many different forms of empathy and complex insight into subjective systems, but I'm yet to be convinced that this is what psychopaths possess.

    I may be a bit too tired to process this tonight, but what I am dealing with irl is a good case in point. Our dog is dying and may not make it through the night. There isn't really a way to fix it, but he has been looking into our eyes for reassurance. There is a sincerity of perception that he possesses that I'm not convinced a psychopath could convey. Even though I feel worried about him, I am attempting to convey comfort and stability and love. He has picked up on concern in our eyes, but has also felt reassured because it is difficult to fool him with falseness. It is just the genuiness of compassion for him that is his comfort. How does this fit into a model of lacking empathy? Could someone without it be able to provide the support in this instance? Fwiw, my husband is extremely "T" personality-wise, but he has no shortage of empathy. He processes and expresses it differently from me, but it is completely genuine. He is brought to mind because this dog is pretty much his son, so I'm concerned for them both. It is a difficult process. For my own way of processing, the felt compassion is the source of strength. It provides clarity and the ability to provide whatever is needed. It isn't a setback or an extra burden. Each person is different, so this topic is multifaceted and not binary in the least.

    I hope that helps to clarify a few points, but my intention is never to create a binary assumption about any of this.
    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)

  9. #29
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    We achieve all of these virtues through years of dedication and deliberate practice, psychopaths are practically born with them.
    I've written to you twice now to engage your humour and your emotions, but I have received no reply.

    So have you achieved psychopathy, or had it thrust upon you, or were you born a psychopath, or none of the above?

  10. #30
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Firstly, I should clarify that what I said about semi-conscious routine is just that the psychopath's ability to successfully manipulate does not prove that they have deep emotional insight. Much of human functioning is the routine, so it isn't hard to understand that. I don't think a person needs that much insight to successfully manipulate in many instances.
    OK, I understand this better now. I was commenting in general about lack of or more likely limited empathy, not psychopaths specifically. Your explanation makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    There is a distinction between some level of intellectual awareness about another person and emotional empathy. That alone is a complex issue because there are people with Aspbergers and other related neuro-atypical ways of processing that are not empathetic in the way that shares tears, but has much deeper insight because of their ability to intensely focus. There is also an empathetic motivation that can come from these ways of processing. I suspect there are many, many different forms of empathy and complex insight into subjective systems, but I'm yet to be convinced that this is what psychopaths possess.
    As before, I was asking about limited empathy in general. The idea of psychopathy being on a continuum has been raised. This suggests there are some people who aren't clinically psychopathic, but aren't especially empathetic either. How far will this intellectual awareness get them in demonstrating (i.e. acting with) genuine concern and consideration of others?

    Also, do you see any correlation between empathy and T/F, or type in general? Or, do people who are not psychopaths all have comparable empathy, it is just demonstrated in different ways? Your husband sounds like a good (counter)example.

    (BTW, thanks for this discussion. I have many questions on this topic, and always appreciate when someone has the patience to answer some.)
    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...

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