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  1. #1
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Default The 1831 Execution of James Jeffers/Charles Gibbs

    Not too long ago, I'd finished reading a book by a Joseph Gibbs (no relation to the executed) called "Dead Men Tell No Tales". In it, he described the life and ultimate execution of a man who'd gone in and out of a life of violence and piracy.

    By the end of it, I had some serious points of confusion, mostly as pertained to how to best elucidate the mental picture of the executed man. I like to process and mull over these things into the very tiniest base elements to draw as much detail from a narrative as possible.

    My confusion lay within the boundaries of sociopathy/psychopathy.

    As compared to the monster in "The Devil in the White City" (a very good book), where there was absolutely no question as to the murderer's state of mind, the pirate James Jeffers was all over the place.

    • bouts of remorse
    • lack of stupidty/ignorance
    • lack of childhood abuse
    • a sparing of lives at points in his career
    • ability to make friends and to be affected by "popular" opinion
    • ability to live "straight" at points in his life

    This is the same man who was, for all intents and purposes, a mutiny machine who could - and did - kill without hesitation. He used an alias to protect his family back home to spare them the ignominy of his behavior, and continued that ruse even at his own execution for the same reason.

    Here's my confusion: can a man, a killer such as he was, have any true sense of conscience or remorse? Is he truly a sociopath? Judges at the time found him very polite and personable, but knew better than to pardon him his offences because they knew he'd just go off and get in trouble again.

    A sociopath wouldn't protect his family with an alias, nor would he bother to spare lives that would just as easily be eradicated (though he *did* frequently practice the complete extinction of crews to prevent word getting out).

    How can a man with any shred of conscience live as he did? How can one live with such a split?
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  2. #2
    Epiphany
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    Hitler had a contradictory personality as well. In a book about his pathological state, he was quoted as saying that it was impolite and rude to not slow down when pedestrians, specifically peasants, were standing on the side of the road getting splashed by puddles. Was he a sociopath or a severely damaged idealist with a warped sense of values? I'm leaning toward the latter, which may be more frightening than if he were a sociopath without a conscience at all. His love for his mother would indicate a deep emotional capacity. My psychology instructor said that her son, who is a diagnosed psychopath, is incapable of love in any capacity. She said if his own daughter was killed in a car crash, she doesn't think he would feel an ounce of sorrow; not because he wouldn't want to, but because he can't. Everything he does is for self-centered purposes. He can only feign empathy and caring for others.

    I think most people, who aren't psychopaths, struggle with a dual nature on some level: the desire to serve one's own needs versus taking other's into consideration.

  3. #3
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    I think people can be surprised how man can juggle themselves like this provided the right culture and need. Look at criminal families/organizations. Intense loyalty to family, but killing "those other guys" can be almost matter of fact/businesslike.

    I also think it has become too easy to simply say a killer is defective, insane, psychopathic. Psychology: a savior from shame.



  4. #4
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Interesting.
    I kinda view sociopaths as wild animals. They are wired to protect their family, but are willing to kill without remorse when they think it is worth it. Being a sociopath is supposed to be an evolutionary advantage, not a defect. Child abuse could leave them really messed up though.
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    A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
    A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
    A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '


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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    Here's my confusion: can a man, a killer such as he was, have any true sense of conscience or remorse? Is he truly a sociopath? Judges at the time found him very polite and personable, but knew better than to pardon him his offences because they knew he'd just go off and get in trouble again.

    A sociopath wouldn't protect his family with an alias, nor would he bother to spare lives that would just as easily be eradicated (though he *did* frequently practice the complete extinction of crews to prevent word getting out).

    How can a man with any shred of conscience live as he did? How can one live with such a split?
    One word: compartmentalization --in all its grotesque beauty.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  6. #6
    Epiphany
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    Being a sociopath is supposed to be an evolutionary advantage, not a defect.
    How does one come to this conclusion? That's what is wrong with the world. Empathy is too often regarded as a weakness instead of a strength. Which is more likely to cause humanity to self-destruct? Empathy or selfishness?

  7. #7
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    Killing doesn't make someone a sociopath, or even necessarily a bad person. Nor does piracy, really. (imo)

    Now, I don't know anything about this guy, so he may have had other bad tendencies that I can't speak to.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  8. #8
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moniker View Post
    How does one come to this conclusion?
    Having a conscience means having moral limits. Sometimes these limits are pragmatic, sometimes not. Sociopaths get to choose.
    Which is more likely to cause humanity to self-destruct? Empathy or selfishness?
    Selfishness. But, roughly speaking, since it's not black/white, when 97% are empathic and 3% are selfish, being selfish can be the most pragmatic choice.

    I'm not an expert...but this is what I concluded. The Selfish Gene is an interesting book in this aspect, but I haven't read it all.
    -----------------

    A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
    A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
    A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '


    -----------------

  9. #9
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    How does one choose one's moral limits? I mean beyond, "I won't litter because it's dirty and gross", or "I won't hit children because that makes me a bully picking on someone smaller and weaker than myself".

    How does one choose "I will break the law and kill THIS time for my own purposes, but perhaps not next time"? This is different from killing in war or killing someone who's invaded your home, I think, because it implies duress and a temporary survival scenario.
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  10. #10
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer, had a wife and two kids who grew to adulthood without ever suspecting a thing. He compartmentalized extremely well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    How does one choose one's moral limits? I mean beyond, "I won't litter because it's dirty and gross", or "I won't hit children because that makes me a bully picking on someone smaller and weaker than myself".

    How does one choose "I will break the law and kill THIS time for my own purposes, but perhaps not next time"? This is different from killing in war or killing someone who's invaded your home, I think, because it implies duress and a temporary survival scenario.
    That's what moral systems are all about, babeh. Utilitarianism and Kantian morality would both have a guide for these things, but they'd be different. I imagine most people don't have such a conscious idea of what their moral code is, but it still works to that effect.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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