Often times our lack of empathy is of no real harm to others. So what if we can’t feel the pain or joy of others? We often have our masks in place and can feign enough concern or elation to where those around us don’t realize the disconnect between our thoughts and actions. Other times, our mask does not fit well enough and the perceptions others have of us come crashing down. Of course this is bound to happen; like one wearing a corset, eventually true forms return.
The long-time reader knows that I have been married before. The relationship was one of parasitism and it wasn’t until I drove my ex-husband to the brink of suicide that my playtoy left my life. In an intimate situation like that, every move is both under scrutiny and quickly forgotten. We notice the quirks of those that we are around most, but at the same time we often gloss over those details that are incongruent to that we expect. Many years ago, my lack of empathy would take the relationship to the brink – long before I had a word that explained it.
Without retreading all of the particulars of what I term “psychopath erasure“, I want to tackle one of the common perceptions of psychopathic-identifying (or assessed) individuals. Some speak of the psychopathic condition as being a fictitious one and that the efforts of psychopathic individuals are merely one of reclamation. To these individuals, the use of the term “psychopath” by antisocial individuals is seen as a way to fight the often oppressive use of the word in society. To them, the word does not hold actual significance beyond the personal meaning given by the psychopathic individual. This is wrong.
I’ve cited numerous examples of the neurological differences (and behavioral differences) that exist between psychopaths and mere ASPD individuals. In my opinion, we are not “taking the word back” so much as we are seeking to be validated for the differences we possess. ASPD does not sum up the elegance of our brains, the tenacity of our actions, or the magnitude of the thoughts we are with. The analogy would be the discovering of a new species on this planet and then refusing to give it proper taxonomy because a similar – but still different – species already exists. Essentially, psychopaths are erased.
I am a loner. I do not value the company of inferiors, especially neurotypical ones. I get all of the social interaction that I need by teaching and communicating with those who are antisocial. Even then, I do not care about their lives or their hopes and dreams. I am concerned solely with my own will. The company of fleshbags is simply not appealing.
I’ve written before about the bubble that exists between the psychopath and those around him. Our lack of affective empathy creates a rift between us and others. We cannot feel their pain nor their joy. We can see what lies before us but can never touch. However, the pain of such can only exist if there is a true desire to be with others in anything beyond a superficial level. I don’t want people in my life, I want potted plants. I want people to be there when I need them, but I only want to interact with them on the shallowest of levels – “feeding” them occasionally and ensnaring them in such a way to where they can’t leave on their terms – only mine. This is in alignment with the psychopath’s intense self-centered nature.
Psychopathy, in many ways – though not completely, runs counter to evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychologists believe that many human behaviors have been hardwired over time due to the evolutionary desire to procreate and otherwise propagate the species into future generations. This is not a stretch by any means; we see this with dogs that have been selectively bred over time. German Shepherds, for instance, were bred in part for their protective personalities. Poodles, not so much.
I was listening to a psychology professor lecture on evolutionary psychology recently. She was discussing how evolution has incorporated behaviors into the human psyche. Even homosexual couples that will never reproduce are subject to this evolutionary drive:
Even if you will never have children, you still are subject to these evolutionary pressures to ensure the survival of your genes. Unless you are pathological, a psychopath, you have a drive to protect your siblings and their children and a desire to see the species live into the next generation.
The anecdote, while brief, sums up an important point regarding the psychopath. We tend to not care about anyone’s survival except occasionally our own.
It’s not often that I get to combine my loves of mathematics and psychology, but this will be one such post. The less mathematically inclined reader can gloss over many of the details, but the more mathematically inclined reader may refer to probability theory for further details.
The prevalence of psychopathy in the general population is believed to be anywhere from 1 in 150 individuals (Kiehl) to 1 in 25 (Stout). Male populations have been studied in greater detail than female populations, but let’s assume that there is no difference in the proportion of psychopaths according to either dominant sex.
For a single encounter with a person, the distribution is Bernoulli in nature, so, assuming the probability is .01 (1 in 100):
Psychopathy is a real and separate disorder from Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Innumerable academic studies have concluded that psychopathy is distinct and real via confirmatory factor analysis – a statistical technique. Neurological studies confirm differences in the paralimbic system between psychopaths and those only exhibiting ASPD. The paralimbic system is much more “atrophied” in those with psychopathy. Yet, many refuse to acknowledge psychopathy as real. Some perceive the disorders existence as being pure oppression by criminological circles. Others cite the DSM, the “Bible” of psychiatry and proclaim that it must not be real. In all cases, a pandemic of psychopath erasure is in play.
Numerous studies by academics including Robert Hare and Kent Kiehl have confirmed neurological differences in those called psychopaths versus those simply diagnosed as ASPD. Anticipatory anxiety is nearly non-existent. The areas of the brain controlling empathy and emotion are atrophied. The corpus callosum – the construct connecting the hemispheres of the brain – is thicker. Etc. etc. These distinct – and statistically significant – differences create the framework for differentiating psychopathy from ASPD. Yet, many cover their eyes and ears and proclaim psychopathy is not real. Rather than honoring our individuality, they attempt to place us in the same group as vanilla ASPD individuals. This would be akin to referring to humans only as primates rather than a distinct species simply because the baseline is the same between us and apes. Does that truly make sense?
Champions are determined by popular thought. One man’s enemy is another’s hero. The lines between “good” and “evil” often blur as those on the winning side of history are allowed to frame the conquests of their champion in any light that they wish. Consider Stalin, who dragged the Soviet Union into the industrial era – a hero by one light and a plague by most others. It is all about perception granted the larger mass.
Consider the radical feminists who pat each others backs over the latest outing of a transgender individual. Most would say that such actions are repulsive for the individual deserves the right to remain healthy, happy, and to disclose their gender identity according to their terms. These same warhorses slander transgender individuals as a whole, seeking to turn public opinion against the transgender cause. Many transgender individuals have committed suicide as a result of such deleterious behavior by the hands of these “feminists”. I suspect the more moderate reader finds this disconcerting at best. Of course, I have a psychopathic angle on such “heroes”.
Trigger Warning: This post refers to topics of child molestation.
Are people with “evil” thoughts that choose not to act on them truly evil? For that matter, are people with “good” thoughts that choose not to act on them truly good? I suspect that many neurotypicals, with their infinite hypocrisy, would consider the first group evil and the second group good. There is perception among many in this world that thought is equivalent to action regardless of victims or beneficiaries.
The psychopath – and I would love to know if there are counter-examples / how diverse this facet really is – that dreams of blood in the night should not be abhorred so long as he chooses to keep his red fantasies within the realms of the mind. His love of blood is condemned, while the masses enjoying the same bloody scenes through their favorite media are considered ‘a-ok’. It is acceptable – by the will of the mass – for those with a prosocial alignment to enjoy the primal and carnal thoughts that many humans enjoy. However, the neurotypical shows signs of confirmation bias toward those who are psychopathic. They use the psychopath’s love of the same blood red fantasies as post-priori justification for further stigma. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Many readers are probably aware of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that is making the rounds across the world. A person dumps a bucket of ice on themselves, challenges someone else to do the same, and (hopefully) donates to a foundation researching ALS as a means of helping “educate” others on ALS and as a means of eradicating the crippling and lethal syndrome.
Sounds absurd, right? Maybe it’s just me, but this sounds like a social experiment in which many feign altruism in exchange for publicity. In a way, the altruism (just assume quotation marks around the word for the rest of this post) is societally mandated. By calling out another to perform the challenge, the message is made clear: participate or be stigmatized by having been publicly called out on a task that may or may not be important to you. Let me repeat that: the dynamics of the “challenge” require that another be tasked with doing the same. It is viral. In addition, the one initiating the challenge is – in most cases – posting to social media (or other media for those who are celebrities) as a means of “Look at this great thing I’m doing” and then is effectively forcing another to do the same thing regardless of how this other person feels about charity or whether they even have the means to afford it.