Thursday, November 1, 2012

Monks, psychopaths, and shameless empaths

All walk into a bar...

This Forbes article, "What Vulnerability Looks Like to Psychopaths, Monks and the Rest of Us," makes an interesting comparison between sociopaths and Buddhist monks (apparently made in Kevin Dutton's book The Wisdom of Sociopaths), before veering off into stream of consciousness nonsense:


Ironically, both psychopaths and Tibetan monks detect deep emotions that are invisible to others.  Psychopaths are much better at recognizing “those telltale signs in the gait of traumatized assault victims” notes The Wisdom of Psychopaths author, Kevin Dutton.

Tibetan monks, steeped in meditative practice, are also especially adept at reading feelings that are hidden from the rest of us, Paul Ekman discovered. Ekman, is the preeminent expert on lying and on the six universally expressed emotions in the face — anger, sadness, happiness, fear, disgust and surprise. Scarily, psychopaths score especially high on the Hare Self-Report Scale of psychopathy in seeing those core expressions, especially the ones that make us most vulnerable, fear and sadness, according to Sabrina Demetrioff.

Not to get overly aspie anal about semantics, but I don't know how it is ironic that both psychopaths and Tibetan monks detect deep emotions invisible to others? I have made the connection before to a psychopath's detachment and a buddhist's detachment.



Unlike our common impression of psychopaths as dangerous serial killers, and some are, others use their high-performing capacity to remain calm in stressful times to conduct surgery, lead soldiers or become sought-after CEOs.  After all, as Dutton suggests, if you’re having brain surgery, wouldn’t you want someone who is not distracted by feelings and completely in control and concentrating on the operation? If your life were in danger on the battlefield, wouldn’t you want someone who could coolly survey the situation and deeply recognize others’ reactions, to determine the best way to rescue you?

Psychopaths adept detection of vulnerability is one of their most potent skills.


At which point the article contrasts Brene Brown's work on shame, and how one need only embrace their vulnerability and let go in order to be more courageous and connect better with others. Of course sociopaths are also shameless, but in a bad way that is different than when empaths acquire a lack of shame? It's not clear, but the article seems to suggest that lack of shame can lead to two very different result: extremely prosocial behavior and extremely antisocial behavior. I agree with that, particularly to the extent that feelings of shame seem to mitigate any extremes in behavior. But I disagree about the implicit distinction that it is psychopaths who would be doing all of the antisocial behavior and that shameless empaths are harmlessly prosocial. It's just odd to see an article come so close to drawing exact parallels between psychopaths and monks, and psychopaths and the empowered shameless empath, and then just sort of assume that monks, empaths, and psychopaths are not the same at all, for some undisclosed reason.

68 comments:

  1. Herrro fellow socios. Hope you guys had a great halloween

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  2. nope sandy saw to that my one night of the year to dress like a pyscho well theres always christmas

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  3. Mindless PleasuresNovember 1, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Had a great Halloween party on a boat travelling down the Thames River, London. Weather wasn’t the best but the party raged below deck until the wee small hours.

    Although Halloween is not traditionally an English celebration - Londoners love any excuse to dress up, neck pills, snort any old available powder and drink themselves into a coma. It’s called your garden-variety mid-week piss-up.

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    1. That sounds awesome MP!!!! Iam glad you had a good time :)

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    2. Buy me a beer and I'll come visit. :)

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    3. Mindless PleasuresNovember 1, 2012 at 5:26 AM

      Thanks Richy Rich. It was a good time had by all. However, don’t take this the wrong way – but it was probably a good thing you weren’t there bucko. Too many temptations for a young man like yourself to withstand. And that is not even including the abundance of drunken English girls that would have been all over your American ass – just for the accent alone. There’s something about women being dressed in kinky anonymous costumes that make usually reserved English ladies turn into lascivious sexual predators : )

      @ Sure - name your tipple (English for what type of beer/drink etc.)

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    4. Any kind of beer is fine

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    5. LOL MP!!!! That sounds like a BLAST to me!!!! I still drink a little bit, just not daily and not as much..... Like last night I drank 3 16 oz Steel Reserves (8.1% alcohol) and a glass of wine and was feeling pretty good! My liver is probably alot happier now too!

      English girls sound fun,a love a good female sexual predator ;) Ive gotta take a trip there sometime! Sounds like fun!

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  4. Mindless PleasuresNovember 1, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    "Not to get overly aspie" - I think you've introduced a new phrase into the ever-expanding SociopathWorld lexicon M.E. - love it.

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    1. you didn't know me is an aspie?

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    2. Hi Mindless Pleasures :) :)

      Back to the article. I think maybe one's own ego keeps one from having a proper perception of others. If we are invested in how WE appear to others, we do not have the appropriate feelers going out to the other person and what is going on with him.
      I think the common factor in both groups is a reduced ego, albeit derived in different ways.

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    3. Mindless PleasuresNovember 1, 2012 at 5:53 AM

      Hello Monica my dear : )

      I hope you’re well. I read the all the articles and a lot of it makes sense to me. Buddhist Monks mediate for years to attain a certain equilibrium within the world. Sociopaths have an innate indifference to superfluous emotion built into them.

      Both ‘qualities’ allow them to tune out most of the noise that passes for everyday human interactions and allow them to see things for what they are.

      Naturally, this is not always desired and appreciated by others that are not so attuned to these personal frequencies.

      Which perhaps goes some way to explain why some sociopaths find themselves competing with others who are envious or even hostile to their naturally intuitive insights and their willingness to share them without consideration to the feelings of those they are talking about or those around them.

      O tempora o mores!

      I think there’s even an old Zen Buddhist saying words to the effect, “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off” : )

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  5. monks= schizoids?

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  6. with ME in your life every day is halloween

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  7. :) Good Morning Sociopathworld!!!!!

    How was everybodies halloween?

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    1. Morning, Rich...

      Mine was quiet. Yours?

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    2. :) Hey Virus!!!! Mine was BUSY! Kids all over! We got a bunch of candy, like bags of Butterfinger minis, Butterfinger Crisps, Reeses, and like 3 bags of Blow pops and tootsie pops!

      By 9 o clock everything was gone!!!! I grabbed a couple lollipops cause I like em but it was amazing how many kids there was, at the end we could only give out one piece per kid cause we were running so low! It was fun seeing the costumes though!

      How ya been these last few days?

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    3. Whew, I had some INTENSE sleep today! I slept really badly the last few nights because of the pain of my abcessed tooth! Now the pain is all gone though and I can actually chew with that side of my mouth again! lol! I still gotta take Antibiotics for 3 more days though so it dosent come back......

      Tooth pain is the WORST, and Iam on methadone and it still was killing me, I cant even imagine what it would feel like if my brain/body wasent so narcotized all of the time!

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  8. Psychopathic empath monks, Hmmm. I think we might have one of those lying around here somewhere...

    Buddhist Monks tend to lean toward the altruistic.

    Shameless empaths? Are we talking Carrot Top?

    And well, psychopaths... now would be a good time for someone from the peanut gallary to stand up tell a little about your self; you know you want to you narcissistic thing you.

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  9. chaan
    (look inside yourself/meditate)

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  10. SociopathWorld Forum Digested ReadsNovember 1, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    A page from Spatial Mind's Journal - While SociopathWorld’s East Coast North American residents have been intrepidly resurfacing from the devastating effects of ‘Superstorm’ Sandy and the rest of the world from their collective hangovers from the previous night’s Halloween celebrations – events within SociopathWorld Forum have been happening at a rapid and dramatic pace. It is with this in mind that SociopathWorld Digested Reads will attempt to summarise the events for our cherished and loyal readers. Admittedly, this has been a long time in the making by SociopathWorld Forum standards, but as they say slow and steady wins the race and Spatial Mind (also known as Specious Mind, Space Case, Spaz, Helmet, The Unawanker etc) has been exposed as Anthony Romany – a 34 year old Canadian home-alone douche-bag with far too many issues than is feasible nor even desired for Forum Digest to undertake itemizing. Needless to say this has set off a chain-reaction that has yet to fully play itself out and no one, not even our tireless and audacious Forum Digest reporters know exactly what will happen next and how this will pan out. Certainly, nothing will ever be the same for our luckless Piss-Ant – Spatial Mind.

    TNP – Perhaps best expressed in the immediate setting-up of this thread by the Specious One after being exposed in the aforementioned thread ‘A page from Spatial Mind’s Journal’ simply entitled ‘TNP’. The opening post – a heart-rending solitary plea, “When will you stop?” The ‘Spatial Mind’ nomenclature now replaced with the all-revealing, sparse, “Anthony”. The signature line, a heart-breaking, “Here I am”. Also one of photo’s that had been exposed as being Anthony Romany was now his avatar. Though this is subject to change as it has constantly been with Spatial Mind’s profile recently on SociopathWorld. Surely, no better sign of a sick mind in a tail-spin with little or no options left to inundate and swamp the SociopathWorld Forum with his exceedingly tedious malignant narcissistic persona.

    MY SOCIOPATH DAUGHTER IS NOW PREGNANT – But also, what more unambiguous example of The Unawanker's toxic omnipresence on SociopathWorld Forum than the creepy and cavalier treatment of worried antipodean mother and her wayward pregnant daughter. Fortunately there were other SociopathWorld Forum regulars at hand to warn the mother of The Specious One’s childish and potentially catastrophic game-playing with other people’s lives. And judging by The Unawanker’s response it will become apparent to the distraught mother. To date, the Specious One has mixed-up his ever-changing avatar to Robocop and wrote as his signature line the prime directives from the eponymously titled film as his own, “1) Serve the public trust 2) Protect the innocent 3) Uphold the law and 4) (Classified) which he re-wrote as, “avenge his tormentors”. He then allowed one of his many sock puppets (Anttaru – now changed to ‘Spatial Mind’ – of course so no one can usurp his name as he did with Medusa)to admire his work. Not content with the avatar photo of Robocop, the helmeted one then changed it to Robocop’s proto-type, “Judge Dredd”. And perhaps this was the most prescient avatar of all as Judge Dredd fanatics everywhere will tell you that the in the graphic novels, Judge Dredd has never been seen fully-faced without his helmet on. However, this all went out of the script when Sly Stallone made the first of the Hollywood flops based on Judge Dredd and off came the helmet within the first 10 minutes or so of the film much to the many fans outrage. But certainly not for fans of SociopathWorld who are now more than happy to see the passing of this particular blow-hard having been exposed – or what has come to be known here at Forum Digest –‘Franken-shitstorm’.

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    1. wall of sext crit's you for 9999999999999 99999999999 999999999
      (you die)

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    2. Start reading. You'll soon be laughing too hard to be bothered by the wall of text.

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    3. You know that my boyfriend, Mindless Pleasures, does the Forum Digest.

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    4. Monica: No he doesn't.

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    5. When did you two hook up?

      She makes pretty good money, Mindless Pleasures. She's a Christian Psychi- er, charlatan. Big money from bored housewives. She can definitely be your sugar momma while you work on the next great American novel.

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    6. Haha - y'know what TNP - fuck it, you've sold it to me. Why not? I've had worse offers ; )

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    7. That cinches the deal~
      Maybe, Themes can find us our song!

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    1. Mindless PleasuresNovember 1, 2012 at 6:53 AM

      Thank you Themes : )

      I recall also I've had “We Go Together” from the soundtrack to ‘Grease’ and Richard Strauss - "Salomé - Dance of the Seven Veils".

      Quite the busy little theme-maker now aren’t we ; )

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  12. "After all, as Dutton suggests, if you’re having brain surgery, wouldn’t you want someone who is not distracted by feelings and completely in control and concentrating on the operation? If your life were in danger on the battlefield, wouldn’t you want someone who could coolly survey the situation and deeply recognize others’ reactions, to determine the best way to rescue you?"

    I find this line of reasoning very ironic, and flawed. I'm an empathy myself, and if I were injured or indeed of assistance, I would desperately want to be in the care of someone who was genuinely concerned for my well-being. It is my understanding that a person with Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ie sociopaths / psychopaths) will never have genuine empathy, or concern for the well being of others. This makes them exceptionally ill suited to any job that involves look after or caring for anyone - especially the vulnerable!

    Imagine a sociopath brain surgeon, in a situation where a few extra hours are needed for the surgery to give a long term successfully outcome. But a few extra hours could cause them to miss a football match planned after work, and no-one will know it was their fault if the surgery fails - it's brain surgery after all.

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    1. You made a good argument against the idea of useful psychopaths, however I'm going to disagree with you. First of all, if a sociopath is doing a brain surgery it probably means that s/he likes the job (I don't think that it is possible to accidentally become a surgeon). So now we have a neurotypical and psychopathic surgeons. The psychopathic one can handle critical situations better than the normal one. Empathy and caring can make one hesitate while a sociopath would do his/her job no matter what. The accident with the football match is more likely to happen for a neurotypical. Because being more emotional makes you distracted more easily, right? Of course it could happen to a psychopath too, but s/he probably too a day off anyway... :)

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    2. Do you often let your misguided and irrational fantasies influence how you see the real world?

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    3. Mee,

      I can see what you mean about the sociopath surgeon having some psychological advantages over the neuro-typical surgeon. But I'd still be extremely concerned about trusting such a person with a task like that (or numerous other tasks) because in a situation where another person has power over you, you are relying (largely) on their empathy and morality to keep you safe. Sociopaths don't have empathy of morality. Would the Hippocratic oath (for example) mean anything to a sociopath?

      What I was trying to illustrate with the football match analogy was a situation where a conflict of interests forced the surgeon to chose between their own interests and those of the patient. (plenty of other such situations also come to mind - what if the patient and surgeon knew each other in another area of life?) In such situations, an Empath would be willing to make small sacrifices to their own interests for the good of their patient (eg. working late and missing the game). Since the sociopath surgeon is only motivated by self interest, and since a brain surgeon could easily sabotage the operation without it looking like their fault, we have a situation where the sociopath is motivated to bring tiny benefit to themselves at enormous cost to the patient.

      If I have miss-understood sociopath psychology in some way, please explain it to me? As it, whist I'm all in favour of integrating such people into society as well as possible, I have serious concerns about situations were sociopaths have this kind of power over others. Particularly in the caring professions.

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  13. A monk's life is that of a re-incarnated, spiritual life in that they use their insight for the good of themselves and the universe where psychopaths use their insight for themselves, only.

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    1. I disagree. I often use my insights for the benefit of others. It's so much better when there are plenty of helping hands when you bring the roof down on your head lol. Which I suppose makes it for my own benefit in the end, but people think I'm nice and are always willing to help out :)

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  14. There was an old regular that brought this up a few years ago - the parallels between sociopaths and Buddhist monks. I remember it vividly.

    Intriguing stuff.

    I've found that emotionally stunted people of any variety get frustrated with overly emotional people. It's like being yelled at in a language you don't understand.

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    1. "I've found that emotionally stunted people of any variety get frustrated with overly emotional people. It's like being yelled at in a language you don't understand."

      Exactly!!!

      I think tea with you would be a great afternoon, TnP...

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    2. I've found that emotionally stunted people of any variety get frustrated with overly emotional people.

      Buddhists don't.

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    4. I wouldn't call a Buddhist emotionally stunted, as it's a choice/lifestyle.

      So, what shall we do, Tom? Sit around and talk about how awesome it is to be mentally damaged? You can do that in a psych ward too, and they have more people to talk to, plus free apple sauce.

      I guess I'm more awesome than applesauce~

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    5. I don't care for applesauce. I guess it was a cheap food as I ate a lot of it growing up… I think it would be nice to sit and talk without the over indulgence of emotions about things such as death. I'm not talking the blood lust thing or an urge to kill… I speak of ours. Specifically of your take on the whole thing. How old are you again? I ask because I am puzzled by the aging narcissist… the aging psycho. Perhaps its different for all and you would only be able to impart YOUR perspective and the time would be wasted on me any how… but I bet the tea would be fucking awesome.

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    6. 1. I don't have a personality disorder

      2. I've never disclosed my age/location

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    7. 1. RIIGHT…

      2. Well?

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    8. Ok, doc. Diagnose me, then.

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    9. you GO medusa gurl,

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    10. It's funny that the main topic you can come up with is death, Virus. Is it really that intriguing? Or chatting up psychopaths is actually same as other people?

      In addition, I believe that you often face death (you are a soldier, duh) so what can you say about it? Anything that a person without your condition (whichever it is) couldn't say?

      I have lost 3 relatives, a pet, attended one funeral of some family friend and one my friend from primary school lost his mother.

      So when I heard that my friends mother died I was intrigued by the plot, but death wasn't bothering me. Obviously I never cared about his mom and later I realised that I don't really care about anyone (I can be altruistic but just because it isn't hard for me).

      The most interesting death was when I had a chance to participate in saving process.

      The sadest of all was when my old hamster died ( the only time when I cried). I can't remember details, it was ages ago.

      The most irritating one was when we had to drive a long distance and spend three days until funeral ended. One of my most boring memories it's like spending three days in a boring lesson. It was one of the more personal ones so my main goal was to force myself to cry. Needles to say, I failed.

      My overall pov about death is that it is a big deal for the dying one while others can't do much to change anything and everybody dies.

      So Tom, happy? Your turn.

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    1. Theme for Virus and TNP spending the afternoon together

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  16. my most very very favourite topic today :)

    It's just odd to see an article come so close to drawing exact parallels between psychopaths and monks, and psychopaths and the empowered shameless empath, and then just sort of assume that monks, empaths, and psychopaths are not the same at all, for some undisclosed reason.

    motivation?

    say perceived reality is a box. the more aware you are, the more you see that it's only a box.

    the empath exists exclusively within the box and doesn't know it. the sociopath sees the box and can step outside of it. same with the aware monk. only the enlightened one sees that there is no box. :)

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    1. "The empath exists exclusively within the box and doesn't know it."

      That's a bunch of crap. I know many, many, intelligent empaths who are conscious.

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    2. replace above with.. the unaware empath, the aware sociopath. k?

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    3. the aware empath then has more in common with the aware sociopath, then with the unaware empath. if both become enlightened then maybe no difference?

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    4. Not true, the aware empath will always have more in common with the other empath...aware or not.

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  17. I thought that analogy was brilliant Zoe.

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  18. All those little socio brats were lying through their cavity filled teeth when they said "thank you" after getting a hand full of treats the other night.

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  19. This comment makes ME wonder, are highly empathic Human Sociopath Hybrids and psychopathic Human Sociopath Hybrids really all that Different within the Sociopath Community? If so, how would that Difference be defined? Is it sort of like a female version and a male version within the Sociopath Community, just like Humans have men and women? Or is that too ridiculous? Thank you for your valuable time and energy, and thanks again for your blog ;)

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    1. What the hell are you talking about? Hybrids?
      You make it sound almost like the breeding of lions and tigers, for example, to make different hybrids.

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  20. Anyone can do these things man. Since sociopaths have to watch for cues in people much more attentively, and they don't have emotions clogging their objectivity, they are more in tune.

    But anyone can learn these skills. It takes time and practice.

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