When Others are Paralyzed by Empathy – Psychopathic Immunity

I would argue that the psychopath’s lack of affective empathy is a great advantage that she holds over the neurotypical.  I was having breakfast this morning at a local diner when it came time for my check.  The waitress was interrupted by a couple that she hadn’t seen in a long time.  She was informed that one in the couple was battling cancer and that is why the waitress had not seen them in a long time.  The waitress appeared to be deeply disturbed and ended up spending five minutes talking to the couple and reassuring them that everything would be okay.  Meanwhile, the number of patrons demanding their checks or other service continued to pile up.  The waitress’ empathy caused her to fail to put her job first briefly.  While a trivial example, consider the consequences if I were to refer to a highly empathic lawyer or surgeon.  Would they be able to put their jobs first if they were so focused on the pain of the person in front of them?

The psychopath is not concerned with such matters.  She is cool under pressure because she has no stake in the game other than her own.  She is unconcerned with the impact her actions have on others sans those actions that may reflect poorly upon her.  She is not paralyzed by empathy, unlike the waitress I mention above.  She could trim the payroll and save a company while others could not.  Would the lawyer defending a predatory sex offender be able to keep his cool and do his job while viewing pictures of victims in court?  Only if his empathy did not come first.  The theoretical surgeon, in the throes of losing a dying patient, could also fail to save lives if he is focused on the suffering and tragedy in front of him.

However, a lack of empathy allows for more than merely putting one’s job first.  It allows the psychopath to achieve great rewards through any means.  While I do not believe that a lack of empathy automatically results in bad behavior, the one who chooses to act antisocially certainly can if they do not possess empathy.  Psychopaths can act prosocially while ignoring the smiles and joy of those they touch, or they can act antisocially and be equally blind to the suffering they cause.  The psychopath, thus, has a complete arsenal to face any challenge before her, for she is unaffected by the impact of prosocial or antisocial action on another.

I would rather live my life in monochrome than be paralyzed by the pitfalls of empathy.  I have no concern for those around me; this allows me to make any decision based on one factor alone: the impact on myself.  There can be no other way.

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