Friday, July 30, 2010

Asperger's in popular culture

Andy from the television show "Weeds" talking about the 5 abortions he helped his girlfriends to get: "It's no big deal. For me. The ladies tended to get a little weepy. Except for Deirdre. But I found out later she had Asperger's."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Libertarian leanings

Thanks to the Ludwig von Mises Institute for putting together a massive library of libertarian literature online:

One reader suggested that for a sociopath like me "who equates feeling 'other' with being an at-risk minority, fear of mob rule and fondness for libertarianism makes sense. But for the sociopath who feels that their cunning and logic and fearlessness make them invincible and all-powerful (plenty of criminal sociopaths fall into this category, I think), totalitarian politics might be very appealing -- assuming, of course, that the sociopaths are in power."

Fascist sociopaths? That's probably the dirtiest thing you could call people in certain cultures.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More sociopath stories

From a reader:
I can be whomever you want to be. Be your best friend. Your most trusted confidante. The girl of your dreams. I will learn discreetly everything that you love or what makes you tick. And from there I will gradually build myself up. Love what you love and hate what you hate. Not too much as to make you feel that I'm patronizing you. But just enough diversity to make you feel that I am normal. That I am the right person. For you.

I will listen to you. To your most boring problems. To issues as mundane or as complicated as the world. And make you feel that I sympathize. I can make you feel like I am the only person you can trust and understand you.

To you I will always be perfect. But to me, you're just one of the many opportunities for me to re-invent myself.

I've lived hundreds of different lives. And I see my past acquaintances, friends and lovers, as one hit wonders.

One day they will interest me so much that I will be constantly thinking about them. Manipulating ways and tricks to reel them in. It never fails. It also helps that I take really good care of myself. I work out excessively everyday. Eat right. Of course I have vices, smoking and drinking. But those vices fall in shadows once I magnetize a person.

I can be the most charming, graceful, articulate woman and turn into a laid-back hippie or country girl, depends on who I'm with.

I have no real identity. Maybe I have. But it's hidden deep down somewhere, where I can't find it anymore. And I don't have any wish to.

Fascinating really, I get my self worth for the fakery I emulate myself into.

I read, study, work, converse with anyone from the most idiotic moron to the most intellectual people, men and women. And I always get away with it.

Problem is, when I get tired of someone. When that person starts failing to stimulate me intellectually and physically. I move on. Disappear without a trace. And I hurt people that way. I know I do, but I feel no guilt. This is how I am, how I operate.

I apologize and say sorry but I never feel sorry.

So when you meet anyone who seems too good to be true. A person of your dreams. Remember what I said here. It could save you a lot of heartaches.

Take it from me, I'm a sociopath.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Orthodox sociopathy (part 2)


I've never had a strong religious background growing up. I was baptized at the age of 13, however it wasn't my choice. I would like to think that the first thing I did after the baptism was jerk off to gay porn would kinda invalidate that. I've never liked how in Christianity how the masses pick and choose which portions of the Bible they'll follow. Take the gay issue for example. Most people conveniently forget that the laws of Leviticus are for the Jews to follow. Yet even though everyone eats lobster and shaves their facial hair, they go hating on the gays. And in my Orthodox community, everyone seems to follow the rabbi's opinion. Never mind the fact that he's just as prone to keeping up with community standards as everyone else. The verse "Thou shall not lay with a man as you would a woman. It is an abomination" is the most condemning arguement against homosexuality. Nevermind the fact that I take the "as you would a woman" part to mean that a) God allows us to sex up other men as long as I don't do him as a woman and b) everyone seems to forget that part. My rabbi has a different opinion on that. He thinks it's ok to lay down with another guy, so long as there is no sex. Nevermind the fact that to lay with is a biblical euphemism. I much prefer the Karaite movement, they rely more on their individual interpretation than a rabbi's. However, in order for my conversion to be universally accepted, I have to go the Orthodox route.

One thing I didn't really touch upon when I was being wordy though were my thoughts on the nature of God. I've never really believed in God until my stepfather's death, and as I mentioned, it was only because I felt cheated out of a victory. Before that, and after that, I always acknowledged the existence of forces outside of my control or influence. So when I told people I believed in God, what I wasn't telling them was what exactly I believed in.

One thing I do have problems with is when people ask me why I want to convert. I find that all I can do is give them a canned response. Something like my love of Judaism, I love the sense of community, I want my (future) kids to grow up with others who'll share their beliefs. I know that I don't have to convert in order to have my part in the world to come. I don't have to convert for my children to be Jewish or even to have a Jewish wife (though marrying outside the clan in frowned upon). Perhaps my goal is to successfully assimilate? I don't know, but I'm having fun doing it, touching the lives of others, and being the prosocial sociopath.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Orthodox sociopathy (part 1)

Being sociopathic is not necessarily inconsistent with being religious. An addictive spiritual high frequently accompanies the practice of religion. Like tantric sex, denying yourself certain things intensifies the pleasure of your indulgences. Religion is a good beard and a prosthetic moral compass. For some, it can also be a welcome respite from the sociopath's legendary feeling of emptiness, at least as much as any other opiate. Plus it's not that hard -- sociopaths are used to keeping up appearances. In short, the benefits of religion for a sociopath can and often do exceed its costs. I asked one of our sociopath readers to describe what role religion plays in his life:
In order to understand my religious upbringing better, you'll have to understand the back story of my life. I was born in a small town in Florida. My mother was an Adventist and my father Agnostic. Me and my mom would go to church every Saturday, and me being little at the time, I couldn't care less. When I was eight years old, my parents divorced, mostly because my mom hung out in these places on this new thing called the internet call chatrooms. She met a guy, divorced my dad, and we moved to Montreal. A few months later, she had enroled me in a Catholic school, and married my stepfather. She quit being religious at the time, but was more than glad to send me to a private school because of Quebec's language laws at the time- I could only go to a public french school.

When I was fourteen, my stepfather died. At that point in time my stepfather had become a heavy smoker and a total drunkard. One beautiful Friday morning, he broke into my room with a butcher's knife as I was getting dressed for school. He was drunk and therefore easy to subdue. A few well placed punched to the ribs and he was out. He had to be hospitalized for his injuries. He died that day. And my mom blamed me for his death. The police also thought I killed him, they escorted me out of class that day, and in my opinion, they could have shown more discretion. My mother decided to have him cremated, and under Quebec law, you need to have an autopsy before you do something so irreversible to a body. Luckily for me, it revealed that he had lung cancer, and that it had spread to his brain. That was my first major religious experience. I was not sure whether his death had been ordained by God, or if it was His way of laughing in my face.

A few months later me and my mom had moved back to Florida. At first we were living with my father. We arrived in time for me to finish the last week of school in the Florida calender. Summer had come and gone, and because of the moving process I had failed a grade because I missed so many days of school. On top of that, The States have one more year of high school compared to Quebec. So instead of graduating in 2006 as I had planned, it was 2008. To add insult to inconvenience, because I wasn't around for the FCAT testing, they put me in remedial classes.

It wasn't until I was 20 that I moved back to Montreal. When I first arrived here, I found myself in the middle of a Jewish neighborhood. I always wanted to have a sense of community. I did my research on Judaism vs Christianity, and found that I rather prefer the monolithic portrayal of God. I fabricated a little story about how my grandmother practiced Judaism, but never converted. My first time at the shul, and I didn't even have a yarmulke (head cap). I was quickly welcomed into the community, and after a while, I realized that they have resources I don't have, and that it would only be a matter of time before my parents quit supporting me. I made sure to attend the social functions, and mingle. At first I thought that I would have to manipulate them to get what I need, however I've learned since then that they are good people.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sociopath quote: pleasure of the mind

"Martyrs and what power the pleasure of the mind has. And further, even the pleasures of the senses reduce to confusedly known intellectual pleasures."

-- Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sociopath song of the day: Lied des Verfolgten im Turm

Happy birthday Mahler.

The prisoner:
Thoughts are free,
who can guess them?
They rush past
like nocturnal shadows.
No man can know them,
no hunter can shoot them;
for it remains thus:
thoughts are free.

The maiden:
In summer it is good to be merry
on high, wild meadows,
where one finds a green little place;
my heart's beloved treasure,
I do not wish to part from you!

The prisoner:
And if they lock me up
in a dark dungeon,
it is all only
in vain that they try,
for my thoughts
rip apart the barriers
and break the walls in two:
thoughts are free!

The maiden:
In summer it is good to be merry
on high, wild mountains;
one is always alone there;
one hears no children shrieking,
and the air is so inviting.

The prisoner:
So may it be, just as it is;
and if it is proper,
may it be in silence;
[ And what gladdens my heart,]1
my wish and desire,
no one can restrain;
for it remains thus:
thoughts are free.

The maiden:
My darling, you sing so cheerfully here,
as if you were a bird in the grass;
and I stand so sadly by the dungeon door.
If only I were dead, or if only I were with you!
Alas! must I always lament?

The prisoner:
And because you lament so,
I will renounce love,
and if I dare,
then nothing will torment me.
So in my heart
I can always laugh and joke,
for it remains thus:
thoughts are free!

I, Robot

This is an interesting article about therapeutic robots that are designed to look like adorable animals such as baby seals and interact in comforting ways with individuals like the senile elderly. I think you'll enjoy the parallels:
Paro is a robot modeled after a baby harp seal. It trills and paddles when petted, blinks when the lights go up, opens its eyes at loud noises and yelps when handled roughly or held upside down. Two microprocessors under its artificial white fur adjust its behavior based on information from dozens of hidden sensors that monitor sound, light, temperature and touch. It perks up at the sound of its name, praise and, over time, the words it hears frequently.
After years of effort to coax empathy from circuitry, devices designed to soothe, support and keep us company are venturing out of the laboratory. Paro, its name derived from the first sounds of the words “personal robot,” is one of a handful that take forms that are often odd, still primitive and yet, for at least some early users, strangely compelling.
But building a machine that fills the basic human need for companionship has proved more difficult. Even at its edgiest, artificial intelligence cannot hold up its side of a wide-ranging conversation or, say, tell by an expression when someone is about to cry. Still, the new devices take advantage of the innate soft spot many people have for objects that seem to care — or need someone to care for them.

Their appearances in nursing homes, schools and the occasional living room are adding fuel to science fiction fantasies of machines that people can relate to as well as rely on. And they are adding a personal dimension to a debate over what human responsibilities machines should, and should not, be allowed to undertake.

But if there is an argument to be made that people should aspire to more for their loved ones than an emotional rapport with machines, some suggest that such relationships may not be so unfamiliar. Who among us, after all, has not feigned interest in another? Or abruptly switched off their affections, for that matter?

In any case, the question, some artificial intelligence aficionados say, is not whether to avoid the feelings that friendly machines evoke in us, but to figure out how to process them.

“We as a species have to learn how to deal with this new range of synthetic emotions that we’re experiencing — synthetic in the sense that they’re emanating from a manufactured object,” said Timothy Hornyak, author of “Loving the Machine,” a book about robots in Japan, where the world’s most rapidly aging population is showing a growing acceptance of robotic care. “Our technology,” he argues, “is getting ahead of our psychology.”
Dorothy Marette, the clinical psychologist supervising the cafeteria klatch, said she initially presumed that those who responded to Paro did not realize it was a robot — or that they forgot it between visits.

Yet several patients whose mental faculties are entirely intact have made special visits to her office to see the robotic harp seal.

“I know that this isn’t an animal,” said Pierre Carter, 62, smiling down at the robot he calls Fluffy. “But it brings out natural feelings.”
”When something responds to us, we are built for our emotions to trigger, even when we are 110 percent certain that it is not human,” said Clifford Nass, a professor of computer science at Stanford University. “Which brings up the ethical question: Should you meet the needs of people with something that basically suckers them?”

An answer may lie in whether one signs on to be manipulated.

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