Are Psychopaths Human or Inhuman … The Definition of Humanity

I’ve been struggling with the concept of “humanity” as of late.  What makes a person human?  Are there requirements beyond merely having been born from a mother’s womb?  What of those that society decries as “inhuman” due to their cruelty and amorality?  In other words, is “humanity” an automatically held trait or is it one that is earned via deed or innate neurological structure?

I struggle with this question due to my psychopathy and other “inhuman” traits.  I have no conscience as far as I can tell.  I have fantasies that cannot ethically be acted upon.  I am cruel when I want to be and my “sins” are many.   At which point do I become labeled inhuman by the larger mass?  Are they correct in that there are certain expectations of what constitutes humanity?  Furthermore, are some people doomed from birth to be inhuman?

I brought such concerns up to my therapist recently.  She seemed surprised that this question would even enter my mind.  Why would a psychopath care if they are human or not?  Shouldn’t their concerns be much more selfish in nature?  However – as I told her – the psychopath, especially the intelligent one, need not be oblivious to societal pressures.  We are taught at a very early age, in our schools and churches as well as from the voices of our family members, that goodness is a requirement of humanity.  We are taught that certain desires and actions – essentially what we term “evil” – cause people to fall from the ranks of the greatest species the world has ever known.  Who would argue that the Dahmers and Gacys of the world are inhuman?  Who would challenge the inhumanity of the bloodthirsty CEO or the masses that seek blood in response to the sins of others?  I would.

The fact of the matter is that the definition of humanity is very simple.  Any member of our species is human.  The womb does not care whether the child produced will be neurologically wired toward morality, amorality, or immorality.  The child will be born regardless of the parental care that he will receive in his formative years.  Our genetics and experiences will differ, but we are all still human by membership.  This should temper the spirits of the antisocial and prove troublesome to the neurotypical.  By troublesome, I mean that the neurotypical is the one who is forced to reconcile the state of those around him with her own view of humanity.

I wrote many months ago that there are reflections of the psychopath or otherwise antisocial in all neurotypicals, even though there are no reflections in the neurotypical in us.  If the neurotypical wishes to provide a blanket definition labeling some as human and some as inhuman, they must be willing to apply the same definition to themselves.  The bloodlust and bias that lives in every human being must be examined according to such societal pressure.  It is only fair, after all.  The alternative is to hold a view of humanity that leads to a most slippery slope.

If deed and innate goodness define humanity, then there must be inhuman individuals.  And, if this is the case, what is to stop the mob from putting us down like rabid dogs?  Since humanity is regarded as of higher worth than other animals, this consequence seems too easy to enact.  No, we must all be equally human and equally “flawed”.  Rather than looking through the lens of biased morality, others must turn their gaze inward.  I am human. Dahmer was human.  All of my antisocial sisters and brothers are human.  We merely reside in some far corner of the infinitely complex hyperplane that defines us all.

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  1. MA32 says

    If they wanna call people inhuman because of callous acts (due to lack od empatY) or cruelty, they would have to discard more than psychopathy or even cluster b disorders to do that. Recently I was diagnosed with a disorder on the bipolar spectrum called cyclothymia. Since then I researched even more about bipolar disorder. And yes, we lack empathy, there’s a statistical connection between sadism and bipolar disorder, and that explains a lot about me. The lack of empathy isn’t only present while manic or hypomanic. While we are hypomanic/ manic or experiencing symptoms of hypomania we can do a lot of immoral things (things I’ve done myself). Even someone who is severely depressed lacks empathy (although in this case it’s state dependent) and can act in a callous way because she doesn’t want anyone near her or is irritated, and the lack of empathy doesn’t help – on the contrary if anything. So yeah, even the more “cuddly” disorders would have to go on that “inhuman” category. But no, we are human, just like everybody else. We are born Homo sapiens just like everybody else.

    • MA32 says

      *Correction: «If they wanna call people inhuman because of callous acts (due to a lack of empathy) or cruelty (…)

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