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?