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

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  1. #81
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Kevin Dutton verified that most of these individuals were psychopaths by subjecting them to a battery of tests, including Hare's Psychopath checklist. Psychologists have studied many of these well-respected professionals and see compelling evidence to conclude that these individuals displayed various psychopathic traits.
    I can't say anything for certain about that since I haven't seen the research. Is it possible to see the research online without buying the book? Does he use any existing research, or did he do it all for the book?

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    This takes us right back to our old discussion where you've claimed that psychopaths feel some fear, so they're not fearless. You keep on thinking of this problem in terms of rigid dichotomies, I.E psychopathic or non-psychopathic, fearless or fearful. You've got to stop doing that, there is a continuum between all of these disparate traits. It's not that you either are a psychopath or you're not, it's that some people display more psychopathic traits than others. Obviously even the "pure" psychopaths, if there were any, would still display some fear, but much less than those who are less psychopathic. Again, however, even the most hardened of psychopaths display some fear, but they ignore it much more easily than the less psychopathic people.
    On this point you are misunderstanding my position because I do not think in dichotomies, but on continuums. I get that there is more grey area than anything else, but the issue of debilitating fear does not seem resolved. If attachment disorders are often accompanied by hyper-sensitivies to self, it seems like that could easily hamper the ability to think objectively and perform tasks that require a great deal from the individual. We are not talking about a dimmed level of sensitivity, but potentially greater emotional baggage than some non-psychopaths. Can you see that this question is not based on dichotomy?

    For example, take a psychopathic heart surgeon who has a high level of technical skill (based on intelligence, eye/hand coordination, etc). This person is easily offended, so when the nurse looks at him wrong, he flies off the handle being verbally abusive, throwing stuff, etc. during the surgery. Perhaps there are cases where this has a negative effect on the procedure. Being psychopathic this individual successfully shifts the blame to members of his team who end up fired. The record of the surgeon remains clean. Would this be an example of being successful as a surgeon? There is a great deal of grey area, or perhaps complex intertwining of black-and-white. My position is that the basic framework of the psychopath has both potential strengths and weaknesses to perform high pressure, high control, high power tasks. I don't think it is simply an advantage, which is what I am interpreting you have been saying. My position is distinctly not based on dichotomies.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    In the sociopath next door, Martha Stout argued that hypochondria is common among people who have a very weak or no conscience because such people are intensely self-centered, so they naturally sense many of the threats coming their way, real or imaginary. http://www.amazon.com/The-Sociopath-...path+next+door Hitler was a known hypochondriac too who nourished an obsession of "dying from cancer", it is no surprise that Saddam shared this trait. It is obvious that he could cope with his fears or silence them enough to take many great risks to get in power, but the fact that he was a hypochondriac makes him more similar to most psychopaths and not dissimilar.

    Remember, the hallmark of a psychopath is not a complete absence of fear, but the ability to blunt those emotions or easily disregard them when necessary.

    Regarding George W. Bush, he had enough psychopathic traits to make the top 10 on this site, but it is likely that he was less psychopathic than many of his predecessors and other notorious world-leaders.

    http://kevindutton.co.uk/psychopathy-presidents.html

    Again, there is no contradiction between the psychopath's ostensible fearlessness and hyper-sensitivity towards self. His or her brain is naturally wired for radically selfish behavior because he is detached from the visceral emotion of fear, but when he chooses to, he can be very sensitive to his own emotions. Because psychopaths are intensely self-centered, they often choose to focus on their own emotions rather than that of others, but they are able to disregard them with greater ease than normal people.
    That does help to explain certain aspects, although it could also explain their need to dominate others in a cruel manner - it can be a way to reassure self of control on a subconscious level. Is that question explored in his book? Why do psychopaths have the capacity to be sadists? Not caring about others emotions doesn't seem to explain it because to actively be a sadist you do have to care about others emotions - you care about seeing their pain. Not caring has more to do with apathy than active cruelty. I realize that the book is trying to explain that there are non-sadist psychopaths, but many of the examples given with various presidents, CEOs, etc. are people who have actively caused harm. Edit: Also, I thought that psychopaths have problems with impulse control? Are they capable of both extremes? Hypercontrol of self by turning off fears and sensitivities, but also impulse control problems? /edit

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I don't understand the premise of your argument, why does a psychopath need to experience genuine fear before he can claim to be fearless? This argument is biased in favor of a normal person who can easily get overwhelmed by fear. Your argument seems to fall apart when we apply it to situations in other contexts. Let's pretend for a second that I am a genius (of course, I am not) and I've never struggled with any intellectual pursuit. If that was the case, would you really say that I cannot claim to be undaunted by intellectual challenges because I've never had difficulties in my studies? That seems rather implausible. What about a gifted athlete who claims that he excels at his sport, would you tell him that he can't make this claim because he has never struggled in it?

    Essentially, it can be said that you have certain virtues or strengths of character if you display the core competencies associated with these strengths. The end-result is what matters at the end of the day, how you got there is simply another topic altogether. If a psychopath excels at overcoming most challenges where normal people freeze in fear, he clearly achieves the core competencies associated with the virtue of fearlessness, does he not?
    Actually this is a helpful set of examples to articulate what I'm saying about fear. Fearlessness and courage are two different things. Having worked with gifted students, there can be an issue that when everything comes easily to an individual, the moment they encounter something difficult, they can become quickly overwhelmed, frustrated, and even shut-down because they don't have internal systems in place to deal with intellectual struggle. Sometimes really physically powerful guys can also shut-down when they encounter something they cannot dominate physically. That absolute skill makes the individual an athlete, an intellectual, fearless, etc. but once the individual is placed in a dynamic outside their strength, they can lose a grip because they don't have internal systems in place to deal with a scenario in which they aren't strong. In this way fearlessness is completely different from courage.

    Another issue I wonder about specially regarding this idea that "psychopaths do better than non-psychopaths in certain professions", and you have asked why is it difficult to think that psychopaths would do better in professions that have the pursuit of status and money. My question about "doing better in a profession" has to do with style vs. substance. I'm not necessarily arguing that psychopaths cannot be incredibly successful as CEOs, politicians, lawyers, etc., but my question is if this success is being measured in terms of status and money, or in terms of skill at accomplishing what the job is intended to accomplish. Does the politician successfully represent the people and promote policies in their interest? Does the doctor successfully "do no harm"? Does the CEO, well, hyper-capitolism is based on psychopathic values, so yeah, there they probably do their job better than anyone - make money for the shareholders at any cost to humanity and the environment.
    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
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    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  2. #82
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    I can't say anything for certain about that since I haven't seen the research. Is it possible to see the research online without buying the book? Does he use any existing research, or did he do it all for the book?
    I am sure you can find some of the articles he cited on Google Scholar, but I've just been too lazy to dig through his reference list. The only problem is, you may only be able to access the excerpts and may need a university database to read the full-text.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    On this point you are misunderstanding my position because I do not think in dichotomies, but on continuums. I get that there is more grey area than anything else, but the issue of debilitating fear does not seem resolved.
    Saddam and Hitler were not debilitated by their fears, they faced them head-on by staging executions and ruthlessly expanding their power.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    If attachment disorders are often accompanied by hyper-sensitivies to self, it seems like that could easily hamper the ability to think objectively and perform tasks that require a great deal from the individual. We are not talking about a dimmed level of sensitivity, but potentially greater emotional baggage than some non-psychopaths.
    That seems like a possibility, but psychopaths generally retain their ability to think objectively as they easily detach from their emotions including fear.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    This person is easily offended, so when the nurse looks at him wrong, he flies off the handle being verbally abusive, throwing stuff, etc. during the surgery.
    Based on Kevin Dutton's findings on psychopaths, I'd say he is pulling that stunt on purpose. It is true that these people display a great deal of angry hostility, but they are also very calculating, so they tend to exasperate on people for strategic purposes, usually to maximize their dominance over others. Chances are, he was confident that he could have that outburst and still complete the surgery successfully.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Perhaps there are cases where this has a negative effect on the procedure.
    In principle yes, but psychopaths tend to suppress emotions that they think might prevent them from achieving their goals.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Being psychopathic this individual successfully shifts the blame to members of his team who end up fired. The record of the surgeon remains clean. Would this be an example of being successful as a surgeon?
    Certainly, but you don't become successful just by shifting blame, many psychopathic CEOs, lawyers and surgeons are also highly skilled at their craft.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    There is a great deal of grey area, or perhaps complex intertwining of black-and-white. My position is that the basic framework of the psychopath has both potential strengths and weaknesses to perform high pressure, high control, high power tasks.
    I can see that, but would you not agree that expressing emotions of hostility in a very controlled, purposeful fashion is less of a hindrance to productivity at work than the normal expression of emotions that is less controlled?


    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    I don't think it is simply an advantage, which is what I am interpreting you have been saying. My position is distinctly not based on dichotomies.
    I see that, albeit you haven't given much of an argument as to why it may not be an advantage. It is a well-documented fact that psychopaths are known to express "angry hostility", yet evidence suggests this makes them better at what they do, not worse. That is, it helps them dominate others and prevent other people from focusing on the task at hand. I'd imagine that surgeon presumed that the nurses weren't doing what they were supposed to or somehow hindered his performance, it is possible that he lashed out at them to maximize his personal dominance over the nurses and ensure that he could focus on the task at hand. Let's face it, surgery is a matter of life and death and the operating room is not a democratic institution, he is the commander and chief in the room and they must obey him if the patient has any chance of surviving.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    That does help to explain certain aspects, although it could also explain their need to dominate others in a cruel manner - it can be a way to reassure self of control on a subconscious level. Is that question explored in his book?
    Yes, it is, "dominance over others" is a distinctly psychopathic traits and psychopaths must dominate others in order to achieve their intensely self-interested goals such as maximizing power, status or appeasing their own grandiose ego.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Why do psychopaths have the capacity to be sadists?
    Evidence shows that the high-IQ psychopaths are sadistic because they are even more empathetic than ordinary people, they're more attuned with their own emotions and that of others. However, unlike ordinary people they are intensely selfish and obsessed with appeasing their grandiose ego, that leads them to develop sadistic tendencies.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Not caring about others emotions doesn't seem to explain it because to actively be a sadist you do have to care about others emotions
    They do care about the emotions of others only in so far as they appease the psychopath's own emotions, such as the desire for dominance over others for example. That's why high-IQ psychopaths enjoy ordering mass-murders, public executions or if less successful, become serial rapists and murderers.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    you care about seeing their pain. Not caring has more to do with apathy than active cruelty. I realize that the book is trying to explain that there are non-sadist psychopaths, but many of the examples given with various presidents, CEOs, etc. are people who have actively caused harm. Edit: Also, I thought that psychopaths have problems with impulse control? Are they capable of both extremes? Hypercontrol of self by turning off fears and sensitivities, but also impulse control problems? /edit
    High-IQ psychopaths tend to be sadistic and their low IQ counterparts more apathetic.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Actually this is a helpful set of examples to articulate what I'm saying about fear. Fearlessness and courage are two different things. Having worked with gifted students, there can be an issue that when everything comes easily to an individual, the moment they encounter something difficult, they can become quickly overwhelmed, frustrated, and even shut-down because they don't have internal systems in place to deal with intellectual struggle. Sometimes really physically powerful guys can also shut-down when they encounter something they cannot dominate physically. That absolute skill makes the individual an athlete, an intellectual, fearless, etc. but once the individual is placed in a dynamic outside their strength, they can lose a grip because they don't have internal systems in place to deal with a scenario in which they aren't strong. In this way fearlessness is completely different from courage.
    Good answer, maybe that explains why I am so easily frustrated with intellectual challenges in tasks that I am not naturally gifted at or in many other walks of life where I have little talent. And yes, it is not unusual to see similar frustration in athletes who are enormously gifted at one activity and then encounter an activity where they are less talented.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Another issue I wonder about specially regarding this idea that "psychopaths do better than non-psychopaths in certain professions", and you have asked why is it difficult to think that psychopaths would do better in professions that have the pursuit of status and money. My question about "doing better in a profession" has to do with style vs. substance. I'm not necessarily arguing that psychopaths cannot be incredibly successful as CEOs, politicians, lawyers, etc., but my question is if this success is being measured in terms of status and money, or in terms of skill at accomplishing what the job is intended to accomplish.
    I would say it is both, psychopathic lawyers tend to win a lot of cases for their clients and psychopathic CEOs are frequently rated as charismatic and competent leaders.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    Does the politician successfully represent the people and promote policies in their interest? Does the doctor successfully "do no harm"? Does the CEO, well, hyper-capitolism is based on psychopathic values, so yeah, there they probably do their job better than anyone - make money for the shareholders at any cost to humanity and the environment.
    Politicians and CEOs are intensely self-serving professional occupations, as a general rule, the "successful" politicians passes himself off as "messiah", "genuine Christian" and the service-person of the public good while serving his own interests instead. In a nutshell, that's what makes him successful.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  3. #83
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    The Neurotic and the Psychopath

    Normally we suppress bad emotions because they are socially unacceptable. And so the suppression of bad emotion becomes unconscious.

    And when we unconsciously suppress bad emotion, we tend to unconsciously suppress good emotions too.

    This is a trap. And this is a trap we can't escape from in normal society. However if we step aside from normal society into therapy, we can safely experience our bad emotions and so we can come to experience our good emotions too.

    However therapy will work for the normal neurotic but won't work for the abnormal psychopath.

  4. #84
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    Normally we suppress bad emotions because they are socially unacceptable. And so the suppression of bad emotion becomes unconscious.

    And when we unconsciously suppress bad emotion, we tend to unconsciously suppress good emotions too.
    Really? I thought people suppressed bad emotions because they were unpleasant. Some of us also suppress them because they are serving no purpose and just get in the way. Yes, that works on good emotions, too, for the same reasons. I think of it more as reflexive than unconscious. In other words, it is deliberate, but has become second nature through practice.
    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. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Really? I thought people suppressed bad emotions because they were unpleasant. Some of us also suppress them because they are serving no purpose and just get in the way. Yes, that works on good emotions, too, for the same reasons. I think of it more as reflexive than unconscious. In other words, it is deliberate, but has become second nature through practice.
    Of course the striking question is: why do we suppress good emotions?

    And we only have to read the posts on Central to see that good emotions are suppressed.

    So we suppress good emotions because, for most of us, emotions come all of a piece, or we might say that, like freedom, emotions are indivisible. Certainly the suppression of one set of emotions makes it difficult to express another set of emotions, particularly as it is done largely unconsciously.

    In other words, we need to learn to love all our emotions. But this is not possible in society but is possible in therapy.

  6. #86
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    Of course the striking question is: why do we suppress good emotions?
    As I wrote, as with bad ones, we suppress them because they are getting in the way and not being useful/helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    In other words, we need to learn to love all our emotions. But this is not possible in society but is possible in therapy.
    No, we simply need to use them when they can help us, and keep them out of the way the rest of the time. I'm not sure therapy helps with this, but practice certainly does.
    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. #87
    Ginkgo
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    The way I see it, complexity doesn't necessarily lead to efficiency. When you influence a psychological schema with emotional stimulus, the psyche practically has to relearn a number of things in order to get back on track. Experiencing a slew of emotions strips one of control that would otherwise provide a strict, reliable sense of responsibility. Consequential reasoning would become more lucid and you could, at the very least, understand that you are getting shit done to a greater degree if you were a psychopath.

    I think @Lark made a statement about how modern society effectively discourages guilt. Why experience guilt longer than necessary, especially when guilt is basically a response to punishment that both psychopaths and neurotypicals experience?

  8. #88
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    The Fear of Freedom

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    As I wrote, as with bad ones, we suppress them because they are getting in the way and not being useful/helpful.

    No, we simply need to use them when they can help us, and keep them out of the way the rest of the time. I'm not sure therapy helps with this, but practice certainly does.
    Emotions are ends not means.

    Just as you are an end and not a mean.

    Your value doesn't like in being useful or helpful, your value lies as an end in yourself.

    But I can understand why you would think that way because society is concerned about what we do rather than how we be.

    So we let our emotions be.

    Because our emotions want to be free.

    But many of us suffer from the fear of freedom which may be addressed in therapy.

  9. #89
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    Emotions are ends not means.

    Just as you are an end and not a mean.

    Your value doesn't like in being useful or helpful, your value lies as an end in yourself.

    But I can understand why you would think that way because society is concerned about what we do rather than how we be.
    I think that way because it is how I think. Many people have quite the opposite perspective. For me, emotions are ends. I myself am neither an end nor a means. I seek the first, and use the second. My value lies in what I can accomplish.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ginkgo View Post
    The way I see it, complexity doesn't necessarily lead to efficiency. When you influence a psychological schema with emotional stimulus, the psyche practically has to relearn a number of things in order to get back on track. Experiencing a slew of emotions strips one of control that would otherwise provide a strict, reliable sense of responsibility. Consequential reasoning would become more lucid and you could, at the very least, understand that you are getting shit done to a greater degree if you were a psychopath.

    I think @Lark made a statement about how modern society effectively discourages guilt. Why experience guilt longer than necessary, especially when guilt is basically a response to punishment that both psychopaths and neurotypicals experience?
    Yes. Guilt is an emotion. I prefer to think in terms of responsibility. Guilt is useless unless it prompts one to take responsibility for one's (presumably negative) actions and make whatever amends possible. If it is possible to recognize and accept one's responsibilities this way without the feelings of guilt, then a psychopath should be able to do so, and the rest of us can as well. Don't waste energy on the emotion. Get to work addressing the actual situation.
    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...

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I think that way because it is how I think. Many people have quite the opposite perspective. For me, emotions are ends. I myself am neither an end nor a means. I seek the first, and use the second. My value lies in what I can accomplish.
    You have been responding to my posts in the same tone for quite a while now. I am starting to think it is an ego response. In other words, you are arguing for the sake of arguing. You seem to think we are having an ego contest.

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