How Essential is Empathy? – A Computer Simulation

I was reading a Tumblr post on the need for empathy in a larger social group in order for the larger group to succeed. Interested in simulating this, I wrote a perl module and a perl script to “see” such dynamics in action.  What I found is not surprising.

Apologies in advance for the poor code formatting, my WordPress theme does not like rendering code.

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Where Nothing Resides … Projecting Psychopathic “Boredom”

I’ve been a bit quiet lately as I haven’t had anything new or insightful to report on, but this comment from a reader raises an interesting question:

I was wondering what you think about the concept that the psychopath is actually very boring to us more normal people? Are they projecting their boredom onto others or is their lack of emotional repertoire the reason they bore others? I would be interested to know what you think about this.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard the psychopath referred to as “boring”, but I can see where this question is coming from.

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Tools of the Past, Tools of the Present

I am a firm believer that what separates the imprisoned psychopathic (or otherwise antisocial) individual and the free and prosperous one is restraint.  None of us arrived at a formal diagnosis without a sordid past of some sort.  The past need not dictate the future, however.  I’m still digging out of the myriad holes that I’ve dug while living in a freely latent state.  My impulsivity has left me essentially destitute and the interpersonal relationships that I’ve ruined with my parasitism and, often, callousness are never to return.  What incentive is there to keep on such a path?  What is there to be gained?

I chose psychotherapy as a means to quell my antisocial behaviors even if my lack of empathy, identity, and ability to form realistic goals (among other permanent traits) will never be corrected.  I do not advocate therapy for most.  That said, there is a great power in realizing that the condition need not define you, but rather you can choose to define the condition.  While my relative commitment to relative prosocial behavior is a purely pragmatic one, I realize that in order to have a meaningful quality of life, it must be so.  I’d rather not be in jail.  I’d rather have savings and consistent employment.  The psychopath in his natural state is not guaranteed any of this.

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Duality … The Quick and the Dead

The act of social justice infuriates me.  Not because I am upset with the grave injustices of the world – I’m not – but because of the inherent hypocrisy of those doing the fighting.  People will fight for some causes and leave others to rot.  Everyone, neurotypical or psychopath has their “us” group that they are willing to fight for and their “them” group which they leave for the buzzards.  There are those that will fight for matters of race and leave issues of homelessness to the wayside.  Others will educate regarding gay and lesbian issues and then leave the injustices felt by the bisexual or transgender for someone else.  Not only will they let someone else do the fighting, they won’t even bat an eye at the suffering experienced by these other groups.

Neurotypicals, in particular, live a duality – crying over the injustices of the world, but taking on the roles of the gods in deciding whom is worthy of their psychic energy.  They claim to be above the psychopath but then are no different – NTs on a daily basis choose whom is worthy of saving even though they claim that their empathy gives them a connection to all.  They will fight for one group while crushing the skulls of another out of bias and bigotry.  The psychopath is merely more honest, acknowledging that everyone is in their “them” group and that no one is worth saving except the self, the only member of the “us” group.

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Searching for the Unnameable … Motivation, Goals, and Stimulation

Motivation is very difficult for me, especially as I grow older.  The relatively focused drive I had back in my late teens and early 20s has evaporated as I near my 30s.  When I was young, everything was full of relative wonder and I had not yet come to believe that nothing can be truly stimulating and satisfying.  I suppose I had goals back then, but they were nebulous and ill-defined.  “Get my degrees and I can do … things,” I told myself.  What things?  I didn’t know then and I don’t know now.  How the NT can plan into the future in a realistic fashion and summon the energy to see it through is beyond me.  Why would I spend so much energy on anything when the end result is neither guaranteed nor stimulating and satisfying.

I feel like a junkie looking for some fix that will bring a true and lasting high.  I scour through the possibilities that lie all around me, try each one on for size, and conclude that I really gained nothing.  I suppose that the lack of long-term and realistic goals as well as the insatiable need for stimulation are the biggest drawbacks of the psychopathic condition.  Now, ten years later, I’ve come full circle: “get another degree and I can do … things”.  This is what I try and tell myself, but the nagging thought in the back of my mind remains.  What things do I wish to do?  Will I be stimulated enough along the way in order to see this nebulous goal through?  Is there anything in life worth experiencing?  I don’t mean this in a fatalistic or depressed sense, but in a logical one.  When nothing registers as enough, how could I be motivated to move forward?  How can I climb the stairs before me if I’ve convinced myself that they lead to a place that cannot be reached or if I otherwise do not know where they go?

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The Borderlands

One whom I communicate with on a semi-regular basis contacted me a while back to resolve an internal dilemma.  I often use the words ‘antisocial,’ ‘neurotypical,’ and ‘psychopathic’ in a haphazard fashion.  The picture in my mind is really a spectrum, but I suppose that it can be easy to instead think of the categories as being distinct, mutually exclusive, and exhaustive buckets in which one has to jump in.  Often one’s place on the antisocial spectrum is much fuzzier.  What of the person with chronic impulsivity and aggression that manifests via physical encounters that does not meet any other criteria for ASPD?  Would they be considered neurotypical?  Antisocial?  Somewhere in between?  The DSM would say that they are not disordered but maybe there is improvement or changes to be made.  What of the antisocial individual that clearly meets ASPD but falls just short of psychopathy?  Would they identify with the strictly antisocial?  Psychopath? Neurotypical?  Does it matter?

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Snuff … Exacerbating Antisocial Behavior

There is a reason that my words are tailored to the antisocial adult and that I limit my communication with those that are younger.  Empathy continues to develop in individuals until their late teens, for instance.  Most importantly, there is a level of maturity that is required in order to succeed as a successful antisocial individual.  Without the utmost in maturity, many who come to the “realization” that they are antisocial or psychopathic quickly snuff themselves out.  I prefer not to see my brethren in jail or dead, but ultimately I lose no sleep over those that could not control their desires.

It is not uncommon for the newly realized antisocial to intensify their antisocial behavior.  I’ve seen this time and time again with those who contact me and with my own personal experiences.  Thinking that the only way to honor themselves or their diagnosis is to “prove it”, they quickly become pariahs in their social circles and some even end up in trouble with the law.  I suppose this is no different than a child realizing that her vocal chords produce sound.  In wonderment, she utters all sorts of sounds.  More personally, I can think of the transgender individual who becomes hypergendered once they come to the realization that they know “who they are.”

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Poison Was The Cure (Part 2): Assimilation

This post will not make sense without the context provided in the previous post.

Thomas’ words regarding the hope of redemption for the psychopath upset me greatly. Maybe I am looking too deeply into her words, but the meaning seems to be clear: only through assimilation can the psychopath be accepted as part of the human condition.  I believe that restraint toward overtly antisocial behavior is key for surviving in a (relatively) prosocial society and I do not believe in multiculturalism, but I also believe that the psychopath is worthy to stand on his two feet as he is.  It is the responsibility of those opposed to him to get out of the way, not for the psychopath to change his core self to adapt to society.  Curbing antisocial behavior does not imply that one cannot be true to themselves.  “Curing” their behavior in full and disavowing the neurological differences that he possesses destroys all hope of an authentic life.

The argument reminds me of the plight faced by intersexed children.  The authority – doctors in this case – proclaim that they are doing the social good as well as doing good by the child, by enforcing an approximation of a given sex via genital surgery.  Children with ambiguous genitalia are mutilated so that they approximate either true male or true female.  They are not given the choice to make their own choice in life.  These children are not allowed to seek authenticity; it is mandated for them.  Thomas seems to be arguing for similar logic: that the responsibility of the psychopath is to fall in line with society via normalization of their traits.  Rather than approximating normal, it is the goal of the psychopath to become normal it seems.

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Poison Was The Cure (Part 1): Cacophony of Chaos

The landscape for discourse regarding psychopathy could be quickly changing and not for the better.  With M.E. Thomas’ recent admission that she is “no longer a psychopath” and the apparent endgame inferred by such a statement, the situation looks bleak.  I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of Thomas, but I recognize that she is the face of the psychopathic demographic.   What validity will there be for those wishing to speak if the main voice is perceived as fraudulent?  Infinitely more distressing, what outcome will be had when the champion of the cause speaks of “hope and redemption” as being the individual endgame of each psychopath?  We face potential extinction from within.

There has always been a trend for those to embrace psychopathy as a means of being trendy.  The condition is (falsely) portrayed in popular media and many adolescents have taken to the term akin to how many embraced goth or emo in the past.  Psychopathy is not a condition to be played with.  For those who possess the condition, they are to be feared so long as they do not end up incarcerated.  Many play with identifying with the condition in a most casual manner, but ultimately, the shepherd will shoot regardless of whether the fur of the wolf is faux or real.   Will Thomas’ present a lesson in humility and caution or will her turn merely fuel the ranks of false psychopaths?

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Why I Decided to Drop the Pseudonym

I really liked the pseudonym Anathema.  The word sums up perfectly the status of the antisocial individual in society.  We are constantly held out of sight and out of mind and our ability to live authentically is rendered nonexistent.

However, what example am I setting if I hide behind the pseudonym?  Yes, I’ve given interviews with my real name and presentations with my real face, but I thought that even I had to keep any writing and general discourse under a separate name.  I was merely reinforcing the stigma that I said we should fight.

From now on, my posts at Psychogendered and my Twitter name will show my real name.  If I talk the talk, I must walk the walk.  I was going to wait until the possible publication of my manuscript to make such sweeping changes, but I am coming to realize that there is no other option.  My goal has always been to be transparent with my readership and I will continue to be as such.  However, now I will take that to the level it requires so that I can live with authenticity and hopefully impart that others can as well.