The Mark of Cain

Most people in Western nations are familiar with the Abrahamic story of Cain.  Cain, according to Abrahamic tradition, was the world’s first murderer.  What is infinitely more interesting is how the Abrahamic god chose to deal with Cain.

12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Genesis: 4:12-15 King James Version

God had placed a mark upon Cain in addition to instilling a curse.  That mark would be a signal to others that Cain was not to be touched and would, according to some interpretations, also be a mark that would signal Cain’s crimes to those that met him.

I’ve always found this story interesting.  The murder is relatively boring and simply fills in a needed gap in most proto-societal stories, but the mark that God inflicted is fascinating.  Not only is the sinner flagged for all to see, but there is a guarantee of retribution should the sinner be taken on.  There is only one group of people that immediately comes to mind when applying such a metaphor to society:  psychopaths.

We are marked by society, even if society often cannot find us to apply the mark itself.  The media, movies, and the members of society itself try to identify us.  They paint inaccurate (usually) pictures of bloodthirsty monsters that are out to kill and destroy.  We are not given chances to speak openly about our hardwiring.  Those that society views as psychopaths (be the unfortunate individual chosen be psychopathic or not) are cast out and avoided.  The prison system ensures that those of us that get caught up in the legal system will not have a fair shake at paying the price of admission for our crimes.  For most of us, we are like the “witches” of Salem: we risk being burned alive without any evidence of evildoing.  There will never be an escape from that stigma just as Cain could not escape his mark.

However, the other purpose of the mark applies as well.  The psychopath, in general, is a creature of vengeance.  We do not need the help of God to punish those that wrong us.  We are our own gods, and we can create and destroy.  I personally have ruined others over more minor transgressions.  I suspect my psychopathic audience has as well.  Society may be out for our heads, but I believe they realize that, one on one, we are not to be touched lest they risk their own hides.  Even the most talented psychopath has their mask slip at some point or chooses to not wear one at all.  Our latent state is our mark.  Others see that mark and know that they alone have no chance at taking us on and only great loss to be had should they try.

We wear the mark of Cain.  We know where to find this mark on our brothers and sisters; for us, the mark on the intelligent and successful psychopath is one to be respected.  The neurotypical desperately looks our mark and, should they find it, quickly runs and hides knowing our infinite vengeance.  Society uses the mark to round us up and demonize us.  Society can try to diminish our power, but there will be those of us in the shadows, waiting to strike and waiting to do what the Abrahamic god could not: actually inflicting retribution for those grievances against us.


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