I asked several of my trusted acquaintances the following question: ‘How does one know whether they possess a conscience’? The reaction I got was mostly that of a deer in someone’s headlights. Does not everyone possess a conscience?
When we are little, we are taught all people possess good and that conscience is a process that we should obey at all times. You can think of earlier cartoons, such as Tom and Jerry, where conscience is portrayed as a battle between two beings: angel and devil. For the psychopath, there is no angel nor demon, there is only the psychopath herself and the tangibles she wants. This is key to understanding and dismissing a popular misconception of psychopaths. It is not that conscience is one-sided for the psychopath, often believed to be composed solely of the ‘devil’ in the aforementioned cartoon illustration, it is that conscience literally does not exist or exists in such a diminished capacity as to not register. Most psychopaths do not do ‘bad’ things simply for the sake of being bad. They do those things because it was considered appropriate for getting the item that they wanted. Likewise, and a point that many do not wish to acknowledge, a psychopath may do ‘good’. Once again, the good act is not done for the sake of goodness, but because the act was determined to be the easiest or most acceptable route to getting the wanted result. [Read more…]