Monday, December 24, 2012

Sociopathy as spectrum disorder

I thought this was an interesting and straightforward explanation of what it means for something to be a spectrum disorder, particularly when we're talking about psychopathy, and the difficulties it introduces in terms of understanding and diagnosing individuals with that particular disorder. From a Wall Street Journal book review of the Wisdom of Psychopaths:

In one of her stand-up comedy routines, Ellen Degeneres riffs on those commercials for depression medications that begin: "Do you ever feel sad?" Ms. Degeneres's sardonic response: "Yes, I'm alive!" Everyone occasionally feels down, so mild depression might indeed be considered part and parcel of living. Recent research suggests that, like pain, it may be a way of coping with a bad situation by making a change. One problem with most psychological diagnostic tools, in fact, is that they attempt to squeeze into a well-defined box behaviors that are, on some level, not all that unusual. So the criteria lists grow and the diagnostic labels broaden into what psychologists call "spectrums."

"Psychopathy" is a spectrum personality disorder characterized by callousness, antisocial behavior, superficial charm, narcissism, grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, poor impulse control, and a lack of empathy or remorse. Popular culture invariably associates psychopathy with serial killers like Ted Bundy, who, after raping and murdering numerous women in the 1970s, boasted that "I'm the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you'll ever meet." Yet a slate of publications on psychopathy over the past two decades—from Robert Hare's path-breaking 1993 book "Without Conscience" to Simon Baron Cohen's 2011 "The Science of Evil"—reveals that about 1% to 3% of men in the general population could be classified as psychopaths. That is more than four million people in the United States alone, and they aren't all potential Ted Bundys.

The spectrum of psychopaths includes CEOs, surgeons, lawyers, salesmen, police officers and journalists. According to Kevin Dutton, the rest of us could learn a thing or two from many of them. In "The Wisdom of Psychopaths," the Cambridge University research psychologist notes that in many circumstances, such as in business, sports and other competitive enterprises, it is beneficial to be a little charming, tough-minded, impulsive, risk taking, courageous and even a bit socially manipulative. We have the makings of a dangerous psychopath only when that little bit of charm becomes devious manipulation; when self-confidence escalates to grandiosity; when occasional exaggeration morphs into pathological lying; when tough-mindedness devolves into cruelty; and when courageous risk taking slides into foolish impulsiveness. 


It's this sort of fuzziness that has led me to sometimes question whether I think that psychopathy is even a real thing. The difficulty is the heterogeneity in the psychopath population and fuzzy dividing lines between normal behavior (if perhaps a little extreme or rare), and disordered behavior. Of course there is evidence that psychopath brains look different, although the research is still very young. Still, I often have wondered what my brain would look like in one of these fMRI tests that some psychopath researchers perform, would it look normal or abnormal and in the same ways that psychopaths brains appear? I have often thought that my brain has to look abnormal, that there is no way I could have such a different way of thinking than everyone else without my brain reflecting that difference. But people say that is a common fallacy -- believing that you are different from everyone else. Then again, I probably prefer that error than to erroneously assume that everyone thinks exactly like me.

48 comments:

  1. I have often thought that my brain has to look abnormal, that there is no way I could have such a different way of thinking than everyone else without my brain reflecting that difference

    It's the way you feel or don't that is what's at issue. Not your thinking per se. The lack of emotional capacity and range is like a missing sense that severely impacts your thinking. Like a blind person trying to navigate by touch and sound only.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Humans can typically do both, but not at the same time.

      Cold-hearted people (myself included) just don't have feelings, or can't tune into them, where other people get flooded by them.

      E.g. if I ask you, imagine there's an economic collapse and race riots. Gangs of blacks roam the cities and gang rape non-black people, chopping their hands off, burning people alive, etc. -- real African-style stuff.

      And I ask you, what will you do? How will you conduct your affairs in that new environment?

      If you are a normal person, just me posing this problem bothers you - because it isn't nice to talk about black people this way. You are probably upset already. You don't like to think about blacks as near-chimps.

      And normal people, when they think about economic collapse, race riots and gangs of blacks going door-to-door gang-raping and mutilating people, get really emotional. Their thinking stops.

      If you pose this question to me - a cold guy - I can come up with a rational plan. I'm angry at the thought of blacks chimping out, but I keep my cool and come up with a plan to fight back.


      Delete
    2. I don't know what skin color has to do with anything other than some arbitrary division between humans imposed from outside. In my experience, especially in parts of the world where blonde and blue-eyed is a minority; you'd be a fool to rely on skin color for anything.

      Delete
    3. i remember my 1st diagnosis they told me the 1st name of adhd/add used to be minimal braindisorder
      i remember thinking minimal my ass (at age 1O)

      Delete
    4. they were testing me for learning disabilities
      my disability is that i'm a lazy slacker who likes to annoy the teacher

      Delete
    5. Watch "war of the Century" on you tube. It deals with Russian German conflict of ww2.
      Both sides (white btw) committed atrocities. Russians would mutilate german prisoners, germans would use russian peasants as human mine sweepers. were all these people psychopaths no. "Normal" people in a psychopath constructed environment ? Yes

      The attitude seemed to be that in that situation every day run of the mill people would kill like that in that sittuation , but not in there present situation of civility.

      The psychopath creates the opportunity/environment, people will in the situation they think is warranted

      Delete
    6. I wasn't upset about your writting about black people and I was also thinking of a plan while reading it.

      But as I'm only aware of my thoughts, I can't be sure most of the population wouldn't react as I did.

      Delete
    7. Ellicit, he was just using it as an example. Hes not saying anything about blacks other than a hypothetical situation in which the villains happen to be black. You cannot force your own personal moral code ont someone else's hypothetical scenario. You either intentionally missed the point to tell the poster what was wrong with his own, personal hypothetical setup, or you are too dumb to get the point.

      Delete
  2. I have to kill the people who deny my existence. Defecating shocking opinions, fake lives, sentiments and cleverness as though there's not enough of me there to deny them.

    There I am, the audience for their banality. To applaud their eloquence and desirability, and believe in their omnipotence. My obsession and envy becomes the thing they miss about me. I must be using that like a pusher addicted to his junkie.

    Given the opportunity, they will evolve even more performances for whom they think can be entertained. Which makes it even worse, because it means they still actually expect and aspire to continue living.

    There's nothing I can do about their incapacity to grasp how much this costs me. The perpetual implosion at my material core. I can tolerate the plunder, decay and rot. But I will not die. At least not before them. There will be no ME for them to entertain themselves at will before my end. Their deaths isn't about any form of justice but my existence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, you are like the sociopath police AND executioner, huh?

      Delete
    2. This makes me wonder about a possible link between the capacity for love and certain disorders.

      Delete
    3. Can I have the link to the random bullshit generator you used to create this post?

      Delete
  3. Yes, psychopathy exists, in the sense that some of us are really, really different from normal people.

    Are you a non-medical type that can watch this video without being bothered or disgusted -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8IdaQXeUdY

    Are you the sort that enjoys swindling people - with skill, of course?

    Are you without fear in situations that normally scare the pants off others?

    Ever drive down the street the wrong way, really fast, for miles, just for kicks?

    Get in confrontations with others where you know there's a potential for grave risk or death - but you just don't care enough to stop doing the risky stuff?

    ReplyDelete
  4. What purpose would it serve for me to admit that even to myself?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "E.g. if I ask you, imagine there's an economic collapse and race riots. Gangs of blacks roam the cities and gang rape non-black people, chopping their hands off, burning people alive, etc. -- real African-style stuff."

    First off, Good Morning Sociopathworld!!!!!

    Secondly, I MUST not be a "Normal person" because I found that to be pretty funny, for some reason, I guess the way it was said, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. I hope Tom's doing OK. He hasn't been around for a few days.

      Delete
    2. Great song, btw, Themes. I'd dedicate this one to my Eden, actually.

      Delete
    3. Thank you Ellicit. I have a great song I am waiting ti give someone. It seems like it would fit you and Eden, so he goes.
      Back to Back Themes

      Delete
    4. Nice one, thanks, Themes.

      Here's a Ricky Martin medley version especially for my Eden.

      Delete
    5. That was great dancing, but it made me car sick~

      Delete
  7. Elicit, are you a sociopath by any chance?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure what a sociopath actually is. I'm as sweet as sweet can be, but have the personality disorderment :/

      Delete
    2. Sweet people don't need to say it so many times.

      Delete
  8. I have some more episodes, yesterday and the day before, if anyone is interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw them. I liked them. There is a part where I am not sure who is Sofa and who is Sandy. Is that deliberate?

      Anyway, whether or not you celebrate, I am going to say Merry Christmas Eve to all!

      Delete
    2. Is this how Sandy and Sofa end up?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LzIS451DnU

      Delete
  9. Someone said I was using names too much, so I stopped using them, when I should have. Sandy is the cousin. I am very sorry for the confusion. I hate when things get confused. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. i'm a highfuntioning autist aka sociopath

    ReplyDelete
  11. Should I use "I" with Sofa and not *She"?

    ReplyDelete
  12. She had to negotiate which body parts she would throw to the lion. Some she would keep, even if her finger tips got gnawed. The lion was a coward, but that could not be known until later. For now, the lion was enormous and wanted to eat her, right down to the white vapor people see when they take a photo of a person at the moment of death. It can be weighed on lab scales, like the pharmacist uses to weigh drugs. It is the PERSON.

    She came back for the lion, with punches and claws to the eyes. However, her attempts were futile because the lion could not be killed. When the white vapor left the lion, it would go to a place where there were no delicious lambs, ripe and juicy. Everything was burned, to a crisp, even.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The real key is how to kill the lion without becoming collateral damage, yourself. If you could figure that out, it would a project of epic proportions.

    The lion gets entwined around your vitals, like a gnarled tree, squeezing the one beside it. It stops short of death. It just makes a funky mess, that is disgusting to look at, but fascinating, nonetheless.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Exorcism may be the key. The priest would reach a fevered pitch. He was not dealing with any ole thing, here, but THE thing. When it was over, he would be weak. You would be free and clean supposedly. Who knows, though?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sandy did not grow up, perfectly. She had an eating disorder. Sandy's mother was good to her, so I don't understand why she felt it necessary to eat like a pig and have stomach issues. By the time I could ask, she was too old to ask such childish questions. I have not talked to her in 15 years because the last time we talked, we argued about democrats, republicans and other stupid shit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I think you should try i instead of she.

      Delete
  16. Ok Cool. Thank you! I appreciate your reading and responding.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am also a malignant megalomaniac narcissist the only difference is I am 100% content with going to hell this shit doesn't matter unless there's no Smirnoff, Jack Daniels or Budwieser in Hell that would piss me right the fuck off

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What happened to the thread. Random poetry and storytelling. I wanted to see why the idea of race riots and survival should be upsetting. Besides, of course, the overall likelihood that most of us lose. How is this a problem? Surplus population problems are solved. Skip simple riots. Apocalypse now.

      Delete

Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

.

Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.