A news story making the rounds details the savage mutilation of a young Chinese boy who had his eyes gouged out with unspecified tools. The story is graphic. The story did evoke some emotion in me, but it was definitely not of empathy. The immediate response was that this happened to someone else and that it would be unfortunate if it were to happen to me. It was them, not me.
Try as I might, and I do try, I simply cannot empathize with the victim. There is some link that is just missing. I try to connect with the victim because I am still exploring myself. I want to know what I am capable of and what I am not. It has been a while since my diagnosis of psychopathy, but I am a questioning person that accepts little as unquestionable truth. As a result, I constantly try to test my limits within socially acceptable boundaries to see where the ‘true’ me lies. This story was another reminder that I am simple not able to give empathy. However, as I wrote in the previous paragraph, this did elicit some emotion.
The emotion I felt was both negative and positive. The negative emotion came from imagining that the action happened to me. What would my life be like if I could never see again? If only space resided where eyes did once before? I suspect I would be completely crippled. It would be difficult to play music, infinitely harder to write, and nearly impossible to be self-supportive. It would be a torturous existence. Even with all of those realizations though, I still could not feel for the victim. They are someone else that I will never see and never know and they mean nothing to me. It would be interesting to know what my response would be if it were someone I knew, but my past seems to indicate that it would mean little and that I would probably just abandon them for being draining.
However, there was also positive emotion. This happened to “them, not me”. By seeing their suffering, I can appreciate my lack of suffering. By seeing their life ruined, I am reminded that mine is still in full force. By seeing them enfeebled, I recall that I am still at large and able to move forward like a shark in a sea of fish. It was “them, it was not me”.
Depending on where you fall on the ASPD and/or sociopathic spectrum, your response to the story will probably vary wildly. You may be be in tears, feeling the immense pain that the young boy must feel. You may be laughing at the absurdity of the attack. Maybe you are like me. Maybe you feel the pain insofar that you worry what your own life would be like to be so debilitated. Maybe you feel empowered knowing that you hold an advantage over poor souls like him. I prefer to think that I am looking inside, realizing that this was an event that happened to someone else but using that event to learn more about myself. I am reminded yet again that I am unable to empathize with others severe plights but that I am also elevated in this world due to a combination of Fortune’s blessing and my own ability. Ultimately, it was them – not me -, so it does not matter.