Friday, April 19, 2013
Q&As (part 3)
Do all sociopaths have criminal tendencies?
There is a higher proportion of sociopaths in prison than there are normal people, but most sociopaths are not criminals by profession. Still, there are several traits that may dispose a sociopath to crime: impulsivity, lack of guilty feelings, and risk-seeking, among others.
Research shows that one in twenty-five people is a sociopath, yet most of us believe we’ve never met one. Are we just kidding ourselves? Are you able to spot them?
Statistically, everyone has met at least one sociopath; further, most people will have a closer encounter with a sociopath at some point in their lives, either as a friend, family member, or lover. Sometimes I can tell who they are. I find that many successful sociopaths will leave breadcrumbs for you to discover who they are, the thought being that only other sociopaths would recognize them. I think sociopaths, like serial killers, often have a yearning to be acknowledged for who they are. They want people to admire their exploits and that is hard to do when they are completely hidden, so they make small compromises.
You are a lawyer, and a professor at a law school. How has being a sociopath made you good at those jobs?
Some clients can be despicable people, but even they deserve adequate legal representation. The best lawyers are the ones who are able to detach themselves from emotionally or morally reacting to their clients’ stories. That has never been a problem for me. As for teaching, the best teachers present material in an even, unbiased way that will be the most palatable to the audience. My professors would often try to hide their own personal ideologies or incorporate other, foreign learning styles into their lecture plans. I do these things very naturally.
Do sociopaths have emotions?
Sociopaths have emotions, but they do not give their emotions the same meaning that most people do. Many people believe that their emotions are expressions of “Truth”-- that if they feel hurt, it is because someone hurt them. Sociopaths experience their emotions largely without context. Except perhaps for anger, sociopaths do not experience a strong cause-and-effect relationship between reality and their emotions. For sociopaths, emotions have a disjointed, dreamlike quality. So a sociopath is not likely to make emotional decisions based on anything besides anger.