Thursday, June 24, 2010

A chicken parable

When I was growing up, my grandfather raised chickens and other animals on his ranch. Each chicken laid approximately one egg a day, so if he had seven chickens at the time, we would expect to see seven eggs. My grandfather was always very careful to feed the chickens and collect the eggs everyday and taught me to be equally diligent when I stayed with him. If not, he said, the chickens might turn to eating their own eggs, and once a chicken has a taste for egg, it will continue eating eggs and have to be killed. I don't know if it is really true that there is no cure for a cannibalistic chicken, but that is what he told me to scare me into feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs regularly. One time while I was gone, he got sick and couldn't visit the chicken coop every day to feed them and collect their eggs. When he finally did get out there, he saw broken egg shells everywhere, the evidence of egg eating. Ever after, there were always one or two eggs missing from or pecked over in the daily collections. At least one chicken had gotten a taste for egg and wasn't willing to give it up, even with the renewed ample food source.

"How are we going to find out which one of them it is?" I asked.

"What do you mean."

"We need to kill the chicken that is eating the other eggs."

He just laughed. "No, seriously, grandpa. One of these chickens is eating our food, taking up room in our coop, and ruining our eggs. We have to find out which one it is and kill it, right?"

"I don't have time to sit watching chickens. Plus that chicken actually helps. It helps to remind me to stay vigilant about caring for the other chickens and collecting the eggs. It also reminds me that nature is cutthroat, and that human nature is just that."

I wasn't satisfied with my grandfather's reasoning. The next day I woke up early and kept watch over the chicken coop. I saw the chickens go into the nesting area and lay their eggs, one by one. I also saw one of the chickens begin toying with an egg with its claws and pecking at it with its beak. I thought about killing the chicken. I had learned how to slaughter a chicken by hanging it up by its feet, securing its head in my weak hand, and with my strong hand locating the jugular vein with a knife and slitting it open, spilling the blood on the ground while the chicken flapped itself to death. The whole process took no longer than five minutes. Instead I yelled at the chicken, causing it to scurry away. I gathered the remaining viable eggs and walked back into the house.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The corporate sociopath

From the Boston Globe's short excerpt/review of Babiak, P. et al., “Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk,” Behavioral Sciences & the Law (March/April 2010):
Watching the news some days, you’d think a lot of companies were run by psychopaths. And, according to a recent study, some might well be. One of the authors of the study was hired by companies to evaluate managers — mostly middle-aged, college-educated, white males — for a management development program. It turns out that these managers scored higher on measures of psychopathy than the overall population, and some who had very high scores were candidates for, or held, senior positions. In general, managers with higher scores were seen as better communicators, better strategic thinkers, and more creative. However, they were also seen as having poor management style, not being team players, and delivering poor performance. But, apparently, this didn’t prevent some of them from being seen as having leadership potential. The authors conclude that “the very skills that make the psychopath so unpleasant (and sometimes abusive) in society can facilitate a career in business even in the face of negative performance ratings.”
Does this mean that there is something right about sociopaths, or that there is something wrong about business?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lies, lies, and manipulation

A reader asked: "Why is it that sociopaths are natural manipulators and expert liars? How can an everyday person acquire such skill?" My response:
Interesting. I posted a little about this a few weeks ago. I think the main skill in lying is to discover how people are able to determine what is truth and what is lie and always make your lies look more like truth and less like lies. I guess that sounds simplistic, but what I mean is that there are certain tells, certain aspects of a lie that alert the listener to be suspicious. If you could figure out what these things are and give the listener more what they are expecting to see when someone tells the truth, then you are a good liar, right? It's the same with any lie detection system -- find out how it works, then game the system. For a polygraph system you know that it establishes a baseline of stress levels and then looks for spikes. The game that most people try to play with a polygraph is to keep your stress levels high when telling the truth, thereby establishing a high baseline level of stress and making the lies more difficult to detect. I think sociopaths are particularly expert at lying because they are very used to being what is expected of them, particularly in wearing masks to become someone or something else in reaction to what people want to see.

Manipulation probably works the same way -- you read people, you really learn what makes them tick, and then you adapt in such a way that they are almost compelled to do what you want them to do. But everyone is a natural manipulator, not just sociopaths. We learn it when we are babies. As babies we fussed for the things we wanted, sometimes we were honestly upset, but sometimes we did it just to make people jump. Look at this site for a hilarious explanation of that.

I don't know whether sociopaths are necessarily better at manipulation than all of the other natural manipulators. If they are maybe it it just because they have had more practice. Sociopaths use manipulation because it is quick and easy and they can't see any reason why not -- they do not have the same respect for personal boundaries and individual autonomy that neurotypicals do.

I personally try to avoid it. I feel like particularly in interpersonal relationships, it is not worth the distrust and bitterness that are its byproducts. I guess in some ways that makes me like an industrialized nation version of a sociopath. When I was younger I was more like China, undeveloped and eager to get an edge anyway I could, even if it meant polluting my sky and water sources. Now I am more like Hong Kong -- at least willing to consider some of the negative externalities that my actions produce, partly because I have the luxury to do so (I have sufficient resources and stature to get what I want without getting my hands dirty all of the time), and partly because I at least half believe that polluting my relationships is probably not in my best interest.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sociopaths and animals (part 2)

My response:
You're right, I feel like there is a lot of emphasis on animal cruelty in the diagnostic criteria for psychopaths, typically juvenile cruelty. Does animal cruelty only appeas to a juvenile psychopath's mind? Or they shift their cruel behavior to humans as they age?

I myself have no affection for animals, certainly no greater affinity for them than I would have for any person. Still I don't go out of my way to hurt or kill them, but I have also never shied away from it when the situation called for it. For instance, I don't have the urge to kill a chicken just to see its blood spill, but no problem killing it to slaughter it for food. I am the type of person that would kill a neighbor's barking dog if I knew there would be no negative repercussions from it.

I saw this on some site: "I know one sociopath who really likes her Preying Mantis and doesn't like dogs. An enjoyment of dogs generally requires some degree of caring, empathy--characteristics devoid in sociopaths." Maybe. I just don't understand the appeal of animals, other than their pure utilitarian value. But I love children and inanimate objects, so I'm not judging or anything.

i've also been thinking, though, in regards to everyone that asks me if they are a sociopath or not. my thought is this, either you believe that sociopaths exist, or you don't, you think that they are self-aware narcissists or have ADD or asperger's or autism or are borderline or manic depressive or schizoid, or not loved as a children, guarded, unemotional, or the myriad of other "disorders" that if you stack them on top of each other in the right combinations could explain everything a sociopath is. but if you believe that 1-4% of the population has a condition called
"sociopathy," then ask yourself -- in a room full of 100 people, am i the most coldhearted, remorseless bastard in that room? if the answer is yes, than that is probably a good indication that you are a sociopath. if no, or if maybe, then you probably aren't, or your aren't enough to really be concerned about it. and as many have said before, labels do not have any intrinsic value, just the value from being able to explore the truth about yourself and others.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sociopaths and animals (part 1)

A reader asks:
Dear ME,

After reading your website, I've come to believe that I'm possibly a mild sociopath. Not only is my world view and general behavior in many ways consistent with a sociopath but my childhood and teen years definitely have featured the kind of social rejection consistent with the development of this disorder. However one thing keeps on bugging me. A commonly described characteristic of sociopaths is cruelty to animals. But I have never been cruel to animals. In fact, I feel a profound love for animals of all kinds, even going out of my way to kill many species of bugs. In my childhood, I bought a pet snake, because I thought it would be cool but ended up in tears when I first watched my snake constrict a baby mouse. Indeed, seeing animals in pain or seeing people behave cruelly towards them has always been upsetting to me.

Is it even possible for an actual sociopath to feel this kind of strong connection to animals? Let me reiterate that my feelings towards humans are almost completely opposite: I'm a total misanthrope and have no faith at all in human nature. My theory for this dissonance is that, while humans have always treated me like shit, even though I've been nothing but kind to them, animals have always reciprocated my friendliness. One recent anecdote serves as a kind of mise en abyme for my entire relationship with animals. A girl I'd been hooking up with had inexplicably broken things off with me. I left her residence in tears, and collapsed in the woods outside her house. It was cold and I was sobbing in the darkness when I heard something coming towards me. One of the cats that lived at her house had followed me and rubbed it's face affectionately against my body, purring as it nuzzled back and forth. The cat was there to comfort me when the human had broken my heart. And that pretty much encapsulates my relationship with animals throughout life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Irresponsibility is supposed to be a sociopathic trait. I often wonder why, or what it means. I feel like I am fairly responsible. I excelled in life, I paid my debts, I fully funded my retirement by the time I was 30. Looking at just those things, I seem exceptionally responsible.

The other day I saw a college-aged kid with his parents. He had opened a rear car door, only to have a ceramic vase fall out and shatter on the ground. The kid just laughed about it. His father was very angry and started yelling, but the kid started yelling back that it wasn't his fault, that the vase must have have shifted while they were driving. The mom corrected him, "yes it is your fault, but you broke it accidentally," but the kid refused to take any of the blame. "No one is at fault here, there is no fault."

I found this to be such an interesting perspective -- no one is at fault? From where I was standing, I could see that the car door had a window -- the son could have easily seen that the vase was leaning up against the door if he had taken the time to see. He boy knew or should have known that there were risks, that he behaved recklessly. To me, the boy clearly seemed to be at fault, just as his mother said.

Maybe he wasn't morally in the wrong for the vase, whatever that would have meant, but clearly he was the cause of the destruction of the case and could have easily prevented it by being more cautious, or securing the vase when it was first loaded, or arranging other transportation for the vase, or wrapping the vase up, or packing it in a box, or any number of different options that he could have chosen that would have protected it from being destroyed.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered -- why would the boy even want to believe that no one was at fault? When something goes wrong in my life, I always try to look for something I did wrong because that means that there is something I could do better next time to potentially avoid the negative event. Taking responsibility for yourself, for your actions, equates to taking control -- you determine your destiny, you choose what happens in your life. Being irresponsible makes you a victim. You don't make things happen, they happen to you, all you can do is hope and pray to be spared true calamity.

I just don't see why, given that sociopaths are primarily motivated by power, that sociopaths would be irresponsible like this boy with the vase. It doesn't make sense to me. Maybe when they include irresponsible in the diagnostic criteria it is because sociopaths tend to blame others as a sympathy play? Maybe because most sociopaths that are studied are incarcerated and every prisoner thinks they are innocent of whatever crime they supposedly committed? Maybe because sociopaths don't see anything morally wrong in what they do? Or we try to work the system, which sometimes includes parasitic behavior? But lack of responsibility is sort of a weird phrase to encapsulate all of that. Because we are very aware of the consequences of our actions, it's what helps us to play the games we play as well as we play them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm not a crook

From Friday's NY Times, an article with accusations of potential censorship against everyone's favorite psychopath scholar with a monopoly on this poorly understood disorder, Robert Hare, regarding his alleged overemphasis of criminality in the PCL-R:
Academic disputes usually flare out in the safety of obscure journals, raising no more than a few tempers, if not voices. But a paper published this week by the American Psychological Association has managed to raise questions of censorship, academic fraud, fair play and criminal sentencing — and all them well before the report ever became public.

The paper is a critique of a rating scale that is widely used in criminal courts to determine whether a person is a psychopath and likely to commit acts of violence. It was accepted for publication in a psychological journal in 2007, but the inventor of the rating scale saw a draft and threatened a lawsuit if it was published, setting in motion a stultifying series of reviews, revisions and legal correspondence.
The inventor of the clinical test, Robert D. Hare, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, sees a different principle at stake.

“The main issue here is that these authors misrepresented my views by distorting things I said,” he said in a telephone interview. “I have been doing this work for 40 years and never seen anything like it.”
The paper — “Is Criminal Behavior a Central Component of Psychopathy?” — was circulated widely among forensic psychologists well before publication. Experts say the scientific issue it raises is an important one.

Dr. Hare’s clinical scale, called the Psychopathy Checklist, Revised, is one of the few, if not the only, psychological measures in forensic science with any scientific backing. Dr. Hare receives royalties when the checklist is used; he called the income it generated “modest” compared with providing paid expert testimony — which he said he does not do.

Dr. Skeem and Dr. Cooke warned in their paper that the checklist was increasingly being mistaken for a complete definition of psychopathy — a broader personality construct that includes deceitfulness, impulsivity and recklessness, though not always aggression or illegal acts. The authors contended that Dr. Hare’s checklist warps that concept by making criminal behavior a more central component than it really is.

Dr. Hare maintains that he has stressed “problematic, not antisocial or criminal, behavior” and that his comments were distorted.

Dr. Skeem said she was “just worn out” by the prolonged dispute.

“When we first wrote the paper,” she said, “we saw it simply as a call to the field to recognize we were going down a path where we were equating an abstract concept with a checklist, and it was preventing us from looking at the concept more closely.”

The report appears in the June issue of the journal Psychological Assessment — that is, along with a rebuttal by Dr. Hare, and a return response from Dr. Skeem and Dr. Cooke.
The abstract of the offending paper:
The development of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; R. D. Hare, 2003) has fueled intense clinical interest in the construct of psychopathy. Unfortunately, a side effect of this interest has been conceptual confusion and, in particular, the conflating of measures with constructs. Indeed, the field is in danger of equating the PCL-R with the theoretical construct of psychopathy. A key point in the debate is whether criminal behavior is a central component, or mere downstream correlate, of psychopathy. In this article, the authors present conceptual directions for resolving this debate. First, factor analysis of PCL-R items in a theoretical vacuum cannot reveal the essence of psychopathy. Second, a myth about the PCL-R and its relation to violence must be examined to avoid the view that psychopathy is merely a violent variant of antisocial personality disorder. Third, a formal, iterative process between theory development and empirical validation must be adopted. Fundamentally, constructs and measures must be recognized as separate entities, and neither reified. Applying such principles to the current state of the field, the authors believe the evidence favors viewing criminal behavior as a correlate, not a component, of psychopathy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What once was lost

There are all sorts of weird side effects of my condition. For instance, I have a genius for finding things things that other people have lost. If I know a person well enough, I have a pretty accurate idea of the way their mind works -- I have all the formulas and patterns that explain the bulk of their behavior, I just need to plug in a certain unknowns to get a very accurate prediction of their future or present behavior. The only time normal people really see this at work is when I am helping them find something that they lost (sometimes emotionally, but in this case physically).

I recently received important mail at work that had been misplaced. Many people had remembered seeing it. Even I remembered seeing it on a particular surface. I casually questioned people, narrowed it down to a few leads, asked a few more questions -- this time hypothetical questions all based around what could have happened to the mail. Within 30 minutes of discovering that the mail was missing, I was able to locate it in a specific trash can in the office before it got emptied.

My most impressive "find," though, didn't involve any questions at all. I was on vacation with friends. At the airport, one of these friends was concerned that he had lost his glasses -- he had apparently been looking for them all morning, and they could have been anywhere. When I heard about it I immediately asked him, did you check in the top of the cooler? He looked, there they were. How did I know? I just know this person very well: very concerned about glasses, no glass case, safe and secure pouch in the top of the cooler, if I were him (and i mean actually him, not just if *i* were in his position) that is where I would have put the glasses. Sometimes I am amazed that people aren't able to do this for even their own selves.

It's a little thing to find some physical object that is lost, but I think it's illustrative of how scarily accurate my knowledge of someone can be. This hyper-awareness of others must be a primary distinction between us and those on the autism spectrum or the narcissists, or as you will see it on many diagnostic criteria, "charming and seductive." And yet society still loves aspies more (I feel my cain-complex flaring up again).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Speeding through the turns

Sometimes when I am driving I want to take chances, drive aggressively, get a rush. I want to push the limits, I want to feel the danger. I don't choose to speed, though. or I don't speed in the straightaways. I think that is too obvious, and I'd be worried about getting a speeding ticket or worse. Speeding is so cut and dry a rule that it is very apparent when people are breaking it. Going excessively fast through a turn, though, you get all of the rush you're after, without obviously breaking any rule. Those little signs giving the suggested speed for a turn are just that -- suggestions. And even if they weren't, the turns go too quick for anyone to clock you. There is obviously still the chance of losing control, harm and injury to yourself or others, but that is what you are after, why you are doing it in the first place. This is the appeal of speeding through turns -- smaller likelihood of getting caught, or least having a decent excuse if you do get caught: you didn't expect the turn to be so sharp, you are unfamiliar with this stretch of road, you did not see the warning signs. It is harder to explain away something like extreme speeding.

I feel like I live my life this way. I don't tend to explicitly break rules. Rather I look for loopholes, areas of exploitation in the social fabric. I want to have a ready made excuse when I get caught. I try to have the bad things I do intentionally be things that other people do mistakenly or accidentally.

Maybe this is why I don't feel fear -- I always have an escape plan. I've had a doctor try to diagnose me with anxiety disorder before based on this obsession with escape and certain physical markers. I thought it was laughably inaccurate when I heard it -- I have such a low fear response, never get nervous, a healthy death wish, etc. But the more I thought about it, I realized that I do get anxious, particularly in crowds or with strangers, something that I had always credited to my fear of mobs or clear vision of the horrors of which seemingly "normal" people are capable. But I wonder if this is just indicative of a very healthy survival instinct, something that has largely become obsolete in the modern world of few avoidable hazards, but something that still has great use for someone like me. Maybe even the secret to my success.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sociopath quote of the day: outplay

"You might get lucky and beat me, but you'll never outplay me."

-- Chris Ferguson, a.k.a. Jesus, poker champion

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thoughts on versatility

The versatility of the human personality is far, far underestimated. We're raised to believe and to put faith in the fact that people are special, that we have some greater meaning of life, and that we serve some purpose of design. Growing up is a process of finding out that it's all bunk; that we really are just animals with animalistic goals and with animal desires. However, by the time we realize this about our lives, we've already spent a long time carefully dividing our conscious from our sub-conscious, instinct from fitting into the social norm, and being socially accepted from being happy. Suppression (sexual as Freud would say) causes the intricacies of the personality to develop through adolescence. Any empath or emotional being would tell you that this separation somehow makes them special. That these intricacies make them unique. In reality, each suppression is met by a compensation of the subconscious, and each compensation is predetermined in our chemical make-up. Jung would call this the collective unconscious, where similar human traits, natures, instincts etc are stored.

What any empath would call a soul, originality, or spirit, the sociopath and reality would call instinct, function, and science. Having no delusions of purpose, the sociopath mind is unclouded by such "human" or "spiritual" demands and simply functions. This function illustrates with regularity what myths and universal themes illustrate on a sociological scale. The sociopath puts people into classifications and predicts their actions as a creation myth presents symbolic representations of the developmental standards that people follow. Recurring themes in stories are recurring subconscious traits. These themes are not coincidence, nor are they when they are implemented on a singular scale.

The sociopath has a very real grasp of reality minus the symbolism. They understand that life as they know it is here for them, their happiness, and their well-being. They never lose too much sight of their instinct because they never try too hard to suppress it. This lack of suppression leaves the aspects of their personality already intact. So while other people are going off discovering their subconcious, and inner self, sociopaths are using their desire for finding meaning and their self deception as a tool to get what they want. This selfishness is not bad, but simply the only good that people can ever really hope to achieve with their life.

While the Empath desperately clings to belief, faith, love, God, meaning and other such trite and worthless sentimentalities, the sociopath has reacted already as nature simply intended them to do. Those who really grow up, grow up to realize that they are merely an assorted amount of traits, factors and actions that nature designed specifically to react specifically to promote life. Those who suppress more of themselves have more sub-conscious reactions, easily exploited.

Versatility is something we are all capable of. The traits compiled by nature are predetermined. Any time you suppress a conscious desire, you replace it with a subconscious reaction. And vice versa. Any time something consciously unbearable happens, your subconscious compensates. Neuroses, compulsions, etc. are examples of sick, overly suppressed minds. Perhaps the healthy versatility of the sociopath is an example of a healthy mind, and the goal in the long run is simply to figure out that it all really meant nothing. Perhaps the sociopath is just farther advanced, or more "naturally" balanced.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The pro-social sociopath?

I found this recent comment on an old post. It raised an interesting question of whether sociopaths can ever be "pro-social" despite being clinically labeled antisocial. The reader explains it thusly:
I don't fit the textbook description of "antisocial personality disorder". That's because there appear to be two types of sociopaths... intelligent ones and stupid ones. The stupid ones break the law (and get caught), lie (and get caught), hurt people (and get caught), and therefore have relationship problems, etc - and get the psychiatric label. Intelligent ones, on the other hand, become politicians, businessmen, etc. At least I assume they do, because not being stupid, they don't get labeled with a psychiatric disorder.

So with my definitions, I'm an "intelligent" sociopath. I don't have problems with drugs, I don't commit crimes, I don't take pleasure in hurting people, and I don't typically have relationship problems. I do have a complete lack of empathy. But I consider that an advantage, most of the time.

Do I know the difference between right and wrong, and do I want to be good? Sure. One catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. A peaceful and orderly world is a more comfortable world for me to live in. So do I avoid breaking the law because it's "right"? No, I avoid breaking the law because it makes sense. I suppose if I weren't gifted with the ability to make a lot of money in a profession doing what I like, I might try and profit by crime. But with my profession, I'd have to really hit the criminal jackpot to make it worth a life of crime.

When you're bad to people, they're bad back to you. I'm no Christian, but "do unto others as you would want them to do unto you" works.

So to any other sociopaths out there reading this... don't be an idiot.
This is not the first time I have heard of a pro-social sociopath fitting almost exactly this description, even apart from my own self. But there is also another very simple explanation for this that keeps everything people think they know about sociopaths -- just categorically exclude all of these people from the definition. If you otherwise fit all of the diagnostic criteria for being a sociopath, but have ever done something good in your life that didn't immediately benefit you and only you, we'll call you a social-apath. No?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Haitian rape

This is somewhat of a follow up to an idea I sort of hinted at in my last post, the idea that sociopaths possibly succumb to temptation less than empaths do, such that proportionally we yield to temptation less than normal people do (i.e. fewer indiscretions per temptation), if not necessarily less in terms of raw numbers. I think there is some evidence for this -- that empaths are also quite inclined to commit crimes, they just see fewer opportunities than sociopaths do. I think the strongest evidence for this comes from times of war or other social strife when the fabric of society has broken down to the point that people are basically getting away with murder.

I read a statistic recently that 20% of the violent crimes committed after the Haitian earthquake were rapes, and that 11% of the population knows someone who was raped. It makes sense. Whenever there is unrest, whenever they can get away with something, people exploit the situation by looting whatever there is of value. In a situation like Haiti post earthquake, there isn't much more of value besides other people. For your pleasure, from this article:
But women are not the only victims that are falling prey to sexual predators. According to the AP, two small girls ages 7 and 2-years-old were victims of rape attacks and as of Monday (March 16), leaving the toddler taking antibiotics for a gonorrhea infection of the mouth.

"We are aware of problem ... but it's not a priority," Information Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said last month.
Lest we think that this uptick in rapes is earthquake specific (men mad with grief at the loss of a wife turning to rape?), any sort of social upheaval will do:
Rapes, which have been a big problem in Haiti even before the earthquake, were frequently was used as a political weapon in times of upheaval. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president, was ousted twice after his enemies assassinated his male supporters and raped their wives and daughters.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lie to me

I've finally gotten around to watching the television drama "Lie to Me," where they detect lies by reading microexpressions. It's sort of making me nervous. I realize that like all fictional depictions of science, the good guys are going to have a success rate of almost always, when in real life the accuracy of these methods is not nearly as high. Still, I'm worried. When I say I fake emotions well, I mean well enough to get by in a world where people assume that I am having normal emotions and/or don't care. My skills are not good enough to withstand this sort of close scrutiny.

The show also portrays the struggle that occurs when one person can intuit things about another person that that person doesn't want to be known. First, it's hard to be the one intuiting, to look the other way, to pretend you don't see what is happening, or to be presented with the temptation of using that information for your own gain and to not yield to that temptation. Second, it is hard for the person being read to not conceal their secrets, to not be able to control how the reader sees them, and to feel constantly vulnerable around another person because they can read you and you can't even fathom them. This is sort of an interesting dynamic that most people here are familiar with, but rarely gets represented in entertainment media.

And the show does make you more aware of different means of deception, which will always be relevant if you ever interact with anyone.
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