Monday, October 27, 2008

Sociopaths in the news

Okay, not technically news, just somewhere unexpected like an economics blog. Economists probably should be interested in sociopaths, though, because homoeconomicus seems to be a sociopath. [Unrelatedly, the Dutch should also be interested in sociopaths for similar reasons--slave trade, imperialism, diamond trade. The dutch have invented some of the past millenium's biggest evils, God love them.] But still, it is unusual to have an economics blogger randomly post about sociopath children. More interesting than the post (as usual) are the comments:

On the irrationality and fragility of an empath-based society:
[I]f the ability to operate reasonably with other human beings depends on what we might crudely call an "empathy module" that can break, and uses things like emotions to work, then theories of human sociability based entirely on simple rationality (including objectivism) are invalid.
Two comments suggesting that sociopaths are not that different of a species of people:
Little kids would be frightening psychopaths if not for the fact that they're relatively weak and dumb compared to adults.

I would not get too carried away with calling some people "evil." The dividing line between good and evil runs down the middle of human heart. I have know some exceedingly manipulative people who were very successful lawyers, some people of very shallow affect who were responsible, if somewhat distant, parents, etc. Obviously, if you combine manipulativeness, dishonesty, shallow affect (i.e., lack of feelings), grandiose self-image, poor impulse control and a few other things in one person, you will end up with a socially dangerous individual, but not one who is different in kind from the other people we know.
In response to the previous comment and to the blog author's assertion that treatment is nearly impossible.
A line through each human heart need not be a line through the middle of each human heart. It can be a long, long way to one side or the other. Incidently, notice that [the blog author] is using "treatment" to mean "brainwashing by the Good People". In a twisted kind of way, I am reassured to hear that it is difficult.


  1. The "sociopathic children" issue is very illustrative of one of the main themes that is significant here: SELF REGULATION.
    Children are a "blank slate." They normally function according to primary, natural drives. Wilhelm Reich demonstrated that children will SELF REGULATE. They are NOT naturally antisocial.
    If left alone on a playground, they will self regulate, create their own rules, look out for the younger, smaller children, etc.
    This is how people are NATURALLY. It is only a perverse society that creates what we call "normal people," or "empaths."
    It is merely the "sociopath" that remains characterologically free, or in Jung's language, who "individuates."
    The entire purpose of Reich's therapy is to get rid of neurosis and restore NATURAL FUNCTIONING.
    The "Underground Man" of Dostoevsky is NOT a sociopath, and Neither is Raskolnikov. They are "normal." Although Raskolnikov has the opportunity to rise above, if he can survive the Gulag.

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