Thursday, June 27, 2013

More on empathy

From "The Partial Psychopath" by Elliott Barker, M.D. and B. Shipton, Ph.D.:
In our experience, the dimension that correlates most closely with psychopathy and which has been identified or is implicit in all definitions of the illness is the concept of empathy, but empathy defined in a specific two-part way.

Empathy is loosely thought to be the capacity to put yourself in another person's shoes. But this seems to be only one part of what constitutes empathy in relation to the psychopath. What is different about the psychopath is that he is unaffected or detached emotionally from the knowledge that he gains by putting himself in your shoes. Thus, although he is able to very quickly glean during the briefest encounter with another person a lot of very useful information about what makes that person tick, this knowledge is simply knowledge to be used or not as the psychopath chooses. What is missing in psychopaths is the compelling nature of the appropriate affective response to the knowledge gained from putting himself in another persons shoes, in the way that this happens in the normal person. This essential missing aspect of empathy, even in the severe psychopath, is not in my experience easily seen and one does not often get a second glimpse of it if one has been treated to a first one by mistake.

A rather crude example might suffice. A young psychopath who had inflicted multiple stab wounds on an elderly woman, and was charged with attempted murder, appeared subdued and appropriately sad about the offence during the early stages of a first interview. His eyes were moist as he accurately described how the woman must have felt during and after the attack. But later in the same interview, after good rapport had been established, this boy blurted out, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. The old bag only had a dozen scratches." To my knowledge, in all his subsequent years in the psychiatric hospital, he stuck to all the right lines of remorse which he quickly learned were more appropriate and useful. The bright psychopath, the experienced psychopath, doesn't stumble like that very often.

With luck and the right question about how the other person's feelings affected him there will be a barely perceptible pause, or a puzzled look, or even – rarely - the question, "How am I supposed to feel?"

The second part of this two-part empathy for the normal person is the automatic, compelling, intuitive, appropriate response to what the other feels - not the acting out of a chosen script. The psychopath can follow the same script as a normal person, usually with all the subtle nuances of a skilled actor - if he chooses to do so. An untrained observer is very unlikely to note any difference from the real thing.

Thus the second part of this two-part empathy in a psychopath is the choosing and acting of a script. Unlike the normal person, he can choose what script to follow. He is not compelled intuitively or automatically to react to the way he knows you feel. And unlike the normal person, he has been told, or learned by observing others, what he is supposed to feel.

As he rapes you or strangles you he is not compelled to feel your pain, your terror, your helplessness. There is no automatic, compelling, intuitive connection between what he knows you feel and what he feels. There is no way he must feel. Thus there is none of this kind of restraining force on his behavior. Therein lies the danger of psychopathy.
Almost more interesting than the answers they try to provide are the questions they ask:
To take the issue further, if a relative incapacity for this two-part type of empathy is a key ingredient in the makeup of psychopaths, what are the consequences for society if large numbers of individuals are functioning without it? Isn't a capacity to be affected by what is happening to others a necessary component in the makeup of a majority of persons in order for a group to function as a group? From a sociological perspective, isn't this one of the functional prerequisites of any social system? Is there a critical mass for this type of empathy for a society to survive?

112 comments:

  1. Finally, a post that isn't complete nonsense.

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  2. Very informative. I liked it.

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  3. Maybe someone can explain to me the difference between sociopath and psychopath? Or are they much the same?

    I think there is an important role for empathy in society. But like sociopaths, empaths need to find an outlet that matches their personality and serves the greater good. This is a fantasy though. I don't know how many of us follow the road less traveled. We follow our needs more. I know for me as an empath if I had understood myself more when I was in my twenties I would have chosen a different career. I worked for high profile lawyers most of my life. WHAT A HORRIBLE MISTAKE THIS WAS!! But the money kept me there. Now I'm going to be a critical care nurse. How appropriate for someone like me...I can save someone and get paid for it.

    Grace

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    1. Psychopath and sociopath are synonyms. They both refer to an individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder.

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  4. i hope you don't lose your empathy Grace. i hear nursing is tough on the ones who care.

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  5. It is tough but with the right education and training I will do well. One of the hard parts is getting along with the people I would be working with. Some women are tough to work with in this field..the men are easier..at least for me.

    Grace
    M.E. put a cool backround on the site!

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  6. Hi Zoe and Grace,
    I am a nurse and have been for more years than I care to mention. As far as the empathy thing goes, I have become a much better nurse as I have gotten older. As my life experiences have come together more with those of my patients, I have been able to empathize with their needs and understand what it is that they need from an emotional perspective. Grace, you are right, dealing with your co-workers is one of the aspects of nursing that makes it tough. It is also very draining because the nurse it the "key" person. Everyone looks to the nurse for everything. You are expected to know what is going on at all times and often if something doesn't get done by another professional, the nurse gets to hear about it. Your constantly chasing lab techs, dietary people, xray techs, house-keeping, physicians, therapists, charts etc. You are IT! If something goes wrong the patients get mad at you. I don't mean to sound negative, sorry Grace. There are many wonderful things about it. There is nothing better than knowing that you were able to contribute to the wellness of people who were very ill. It is extremely rewarding and you will never be in a position where you will not be able to make decent money. Good luck Grace. Your name fits perfectly with the profession!
    Zan

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  7. Thank you Zan!

    I figure if I have worked with attorneys then I have been exposed to pretty much every personality and mood and so on. I just have to work on not taking anything personally. That's my weakness. But I work in a science lab right now with biology and chemistry professors and they can be real full of themselves and they know how the universe came into being and all that stuff so it's hard for them to be patient with me while I learn stuff. So when they criticize me I know why.


    Grace.

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  8. Most sharks need to constantly swim in order to breathe and cannot sleep very long, if at all, or they will sink.

    My mind reels when I think of the energy expended on keeping up appearances; of being in such a heightened and constant state of awareness lest one be seen for what they really are. But then my perspective is of one who swims with the fishes and goes with the flow.

    Is there a critical mass for this type of empathy for a society to survive?

    Society will survive, and that's not a worry for society as a whole, only the few hapless victims. 1% do not large numbers make and there is after all safety in numbers.

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  9. “The second part of this two-part empathy for the normal person is the automatic, compelling, intuitive, appropriate response to what the other feels - not the acting out of a chosen script. The psychopath can follow the same script as a normal person, usually with all the subtle nuances of a skilled actor - if he chooses to do so.”

    When it comes to empathy, this describes my own experience to a tee. I believe the distinction made here is a necessary one, for the sake of clarity.

    I still wonder though if the truth of the matter is that I am not all that different from anyone else in this way. Maybe the only real difference is that I am honest with myself about it.

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    1. So you have never tried how would it be to act as you feel and be honest to the person you are?

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    2. Yep, I agree. If everyone were honest with themselves, everyone would be considered a sociopath. The notion that it is a psychiatric disorder is a fantasy.

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  10. "Maybe the only real difference is that I am honest with myself about it."

    That's important for your own self knowledge but what does it do for the empath in your path? I respect honesty a great deal. Because it's hard for me to be honest with myself so when I see it in others I value them for it. Especially when someone has lied about them self and then decides to come clean. I would really love to hear more honesty from my ex about himself. I got some in the end but I wish he could have revealed more. I was shocked I got as much as I did.


    Grace

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    1. “I would really love to hear more honesty from my ex about himself.”

      That would be honesty towards the others, which is against the interests of the sociopath because it would reveal his evil nature. To be “honest with himself” meanly means that he is conscious of what he is doing and he is going to continue doing it. He doesn’t care what happens to you, just to get what he wants from you, then he changes target.

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  11. Grace said, “That's important for your own self knowledge but what does it do for the empath in your path?”

    Nothing. My most important value is self honesty. Being honest with other people… well that’s not important to me at all.

    Grace, is your loss fairly recent? I have to admit, this part of things with normals still flummoxes me. Why on earth would you care to hear your ex be more honest with you? About anything? I haven’t read your story with him (if you have shared it here, that is). Do you share a kid with him? Is that why? Otherwise, if there are no ties or any reason you need to stay in touch, why would you need him to be/do anything for you? You are perfectly free without him, right here, right now. All you have to do is manage your thoughts.

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    1. Hi Grace-
      One of the greatest strengths of the sociopath is the ability to compartmentalize effectively, and to detach emotionally from an attachment newly understood to be not in one's self interest to maintain. I can't speak for you, but I can attest to the fact that for many individuals, the heart can be stubborn even when the mind recognizes that it is time to move on.
      A self deception I have participated in (and hopefully am less vulnerable to now) is a sort of Messiah complex- as in "If I keep loving unconditionally, I can 'save" this individual and then one day we will live happily ever after." The biggest key to ending that compulsion to hang on was accepting that the person who is mistreating you will likely never see the world as you do, and that all intended "acts of love" are perceived as meaningless by that individual.
      Grace, I don't know if this will help you the way it does me, but understanding that a sociopath doesn't feel shame and a need for forgiveness for cruel acts helped me understand that offering compassion to someone who was treating me horribly was costing me a lot, but was meaningless to them. In short- it's a waste of energy.

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  12. The relationship started in Jan ended in early April. Fast and furious. That's my fault because I didn't have self control and he took advantage of that. I believe that a woman that was strict and had firm control over the relationship would work for him. He was a dangerous charmer...he had a violent past, liked guns, taught me how to use them, and was buying a new Harley. Are you getting the picture? I dated him in HS in the 80's and met up on FB. I was lonely and he knew it..he knew me better than I knew myself. There was sadness and anger about him that I couldn't put my finger on but I wanted to make him happy and feel good. He made me feel so good, secure, and I was so excited to be with him. My work at school felt meaningless compared to the feelings I had for him.. and I love my work! In the end it turned out he used me to get the attention of another woman. The day after we had sex and he promised so much to me..he was gone. Just like that. No closure nothing..only texts to break it off. He's a man in his forties so he's not a teen acting crazy and I’m older too which doesn’t make me feel good about myself after all this. His ex-wife warned me about him and she told me he's a sociopath but I was so infatuated with him and in love I didn't believe any of it. That's sort of it in short. Lots of details missing but I'm sure you get the picture.

    So being without closure with some compassion I have thoughts of ...he may still call or text me..he may change his mind about me now that time has gone by..and so on. I should be grateful it ended sooner than later and intellectually I am but emotionally I'm sad and wanting to be with him. It’s like winning the lottery and finding out it was a fake ticket. Meanwhile I'm sure he never thinks of me. I did lots of fun stuff with him too so I connected with him through those times and they were meaningless to him he just pretended to enjoy it. Even when we went to the Guggenheim…only a non feeling person would find that boring and criticize a Picasso.
    Grace

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    1. "It’s like winning the lottery and finding out it was a fake ticket." Yes, pure fraud.

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    2. "but what does it do for the empath in your path?”

      It only matters if they are in a position to make things difficult for you if they react badly. How they fell and what baggage they end up carrying around as a result of your interaction is their business.

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    3. Grace, one thing you must be very aware of is (sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, whatever you call them; they are basically the same thing.) have a habit of coming back; laying on the charm, telling tou what they know you want to hear just im order to get you back so they can dump you again. They will admit to everything they ever did wrong, make all kinds of promises and declarations of love and you will think they have seen the light.
      You think they must mean it because why would they bother? Because they are bored, need the ego strokes, because they can.
      Don't believe it if he pops up one day out of no where professing his love!
      Carrie

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  13. Suppose I am a completely rational being, which will always act in my own interest. I know that I am composed of a certain sequence of genes and a large number of environmental factors, most of which can be broken up into specific linguistic, mathematical, and social symbols... memes, if you will. Shouldn't I always act in the best interest of those genes and memes? In the long run, the majority of those genes and memes will almost certainly be benefitted by advancing technology, building infrastructure, and protecting the environment. If I am a Westerner I live in a state of relative abundance, and if I do these things my descendents are likely to as well. As long as I make some effort to reproduce sexually, raise my offspring effectively, and make my ideas available to others, (all of which will be made easy for me by my society) my genes and memes survival is almost entirely conditional on the integrity of my society.
    Furthermore, to the extent that I can count on others to be rational, I can count on them to also follow these principles. As long as there are plentiful resources for our mutual survival, my neighbor's best interest is therefore also usually my own best interest.
    If I behave according to these principles, but in the event of accidentally violating them feel no remorse, am I a sociopath?

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    1. Maybe not. But if you violate them for fun, just because you can...

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    2. I have a question, you say you “will always act in my own interest.” and you think that “In the long run, the majority of those genes and memes will almost certainly be benefitted by advancing technology, building infrastructure, and protecting the environment.”

      Do you actually do “in your own interest” anything that is benefits advancing technology, building infrastructure, and protecting the environment.”?

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    3. Well yes, I am a volunteer science and math tutor, a mostly-vegetarian, and I am studying to become a biochemist. I am also not a sociopath, so your question entirely misses the point of my thought experiment. When empaths like you and myself play nice, we benefit by benefitting our allies. Of course we also gain a reputation for scrupulous honesty as well, but this is also a rational, game theoretical move, akin to the tit-for-tat strategy in the iterated prisoners dilemma. My hypothesis is that there must be quite a few Mister Spocks out there who feel nothing but are compelled to be good by the logic of it. Most high functioning autistics seem to fit this description.

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  14. So being without closure with some compassion I have thoughts of ...he may still call or text me..he may change his mind about me now that time has gone by..and so on.

    why would his words count as closure but not his actions? his actions seem loud and clear. i think in your brief time with him you handed over your self-worth to him. why is that? what you may want to ask yourself is what would it take to change your life so that you feel good and secure in your own skin all by yourself?

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  15. I’m sure your right to some extent Zoe. Although I was lonely, I didn’t need to be loved that way, you and I know he didn’t really love me though, and I didn’t want to be involved with him at that level. I would have preferred to take things slowly and develop at a genuine pace but I was too busy reacting to his lead and didn’t follow my intuition telling me “this is wrong!” It was all a fantasy that he happens to believe in just not with me. I don’t hold him responsible for my feelings now and I understand I’m responsible for my own happiness.

    As far as his actions go I’m not sure I trust them either but that in itself tells me to forget him and that’s what will happen

    Grace

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  16. Ryan, that was a rather nice hypothetical mind-game. I quite enjoyed it. The entire thing is a tad complex, so I'll respond a few points at a time:

    Ryan: "Suppose I am a completely rational being, which will always act in my own interest."

    Are you implying that acting in your own interest is a part of rationality? If so, where do you get this basis? It is very important that you justify this, due to the fact that it is the foundation of all that you've said.

    Ryan: "In the long run, the majority of those genes and memes will almost certainly be benefitted by advancing technology, building infrastructure, and protecting the environment."

    Again, how do you justify this? Your memes could end up being Hitler-esqe, for all we know.

    Ryan: "As long as I make some effort to reproduce sexually, raise my offspring effectively, and make my ideas available to others, (all of which will be made easy for me by my society) my genes and memes survival is almost entirely conditional on the integrity of my society."

    So apparently, the role (This is your implication, not mine.) you see as important is reproduction. I find this strange, it's almost as though you're trying to act textbook to the evolutionary connotation of being a living thing. However, textbook with a side of intelligence and rationality. How strange.

    Ryan: "As long as there are plentiful resources for our mutual survival, my neighbor's best interest is therefore also usually my own best interest."

    I can agree with this point. Our most primary and bare-bones interest is survival. (This does not necessarily connotate reproduction. Is that where you're getting the idea that reproduction is in your own self interest?)

    Ryan: "If I behave according to these principles, but in the event of accidentally violating them feel no remorse, am I a sociopath?"

    :) Isn't that up for you to decide? The label matters not; the actions do.

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  17. Hi 2. Thanks for the response... here is my counter response:

    1 of 2 (or 3)

    2: "Are you implying that acting in your own interest is a part of rationality? If so, where do you get this basis? It is very important that you justify this, due to the fact that it is the foundation of all that you've said."

    Ryan: No... I am saying that these things, separately, are part of our givens. It is simpler for us to assume that our being is rational, and it is important to assume that he is self serving, because we are posting on sociopathworld.com, and we are talking about sociopaths. The sociopaths that normals are typically afraid of are intelligent and uncommonly rational, so taking these two assumptions together makes sense. I could make arguments for or against rationality being caused by being self serving, or vice versa, but that is not the point I am trying to make.

    2: Again, how do you justify this? Your memes could end up being Hitler-esqe, for all we know.

    Ryan: If my memes (or genes)themselves will by their very nature cause their own destruction, then they will be discarded by natural selection. It seems very unlikely that our rational actor has no genes or memes which will stand up to this test, but there may be a few. In any case, it would be absurd to say that my genes and memes survival will be negatively impacted by their survival.
    If what you are saying is that my genes or memes might not actually be benefitted by improved technology, infrastructure, and environmental conditions, pause for a moment and think about how many people there are in the world. Humans are the most common large mammal by far, except for species which we have ourselves domesticated. We have certainly benefitted in a Darwinian sense from the technology and infrastructure we have developed so far. Atomic bombs and other WMDs are good examples of technology which might not benefit us at all, but our rational actor would never actually press the button to use one of these. If our nice theoretical world here is destroyed by an irrational actor doing so, we could blame the rational actor for building a device which can only be entrusted to other rational actors, and entrusting it to irrational actors. Perhaps by doing so the rational actor gains some reward which to him outweighs the small probability that the irrational actor will actually destroy everything. This scenario is problematic, and I think it's part of a good case for nuclear disarmament... after everyone else's nuclear disarmament.
    I admit it's problematic, but the problem doesn't actually reflect much on the value or lack of value of our sociopathic rational actor on society... Humans already have nuclear weapons, and they weren't designed by sociopaths for the most part (read American Prometheus), but by mostly rational empaths. In terms of the bigger picture of what kinds of pandoras boxes technology might open up in the future, consider this: we can rest assured that the universe will eventually find a way to kill us all if we do nothing. But yes, our rational actor would have to try to be fairly responsible about his research... we can partly credit scientists like J Robert Oppenheimer, who fought for the sane management of the bomb he created, with our still being alive today.
    As far as the environment is concerned: it should be obvious that if the Earth really does become inhospitably hot, or all of the plants die, or all air and water become toxic, etc, that the nice situation we created with our technology goes away.

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  18. 2 of 2

    2: "So apparently, the role (This is your implication, not mine.) you see as important is reproduction. I find this strange, it's almost as though you're trying to act textbook to the evolutionary connotation of being a living thing. However, textbook with a side of intelligence and rationality. How strange."

    Ryan: What I am saying here is that as long as I do a certain bare minimum of things which have obvious, immediate Darwinian benefits to my genes and memes, that they will flourish in the world of plenty created by technology. Thus, assuming that our rational actor does these things, which he will because he is a selfish rational actor who defines his "self" in Darwinian terms, and has energy leftover, which he will because he lives in a world of plenty, the next step is to protect his society and its environment (the Earth).
    If you are saying that it is strange that a person would ever value their genes and memes in this way, I say that it is stranger to value your consciousness more, which even if you are perfectly rational is limited, fragile, mortal, and made up of pieces of information that came from outside of it anyway. If our rational actor is smart about it, his project of "intentionally benefitting himself in a Darwinian sense" will, by the process of natural selection, result in very many people thinking in this way in the future.

    2: I can agree with this point. Our most primary and bare-bones interest is survival. (This does not necessarily connotate reproduction. Is that where you're getting the idea that reproduction is in your own self interest?)

    Ryan: While it is usually in our own best interest from a Darwinian point of view to survive, it is easy to think up a situation in which this is not the case. If I am made of my genes and memes, and have four children trapped in a burning building, each of which contain 1/2 of my genes, it is in my Darwinian best interest to run into the burning building if there is a fifty percent chance of saving them all and myself and a fifty percent chance of being killed. If we are accounting for memes too it could be more complicated, but I think generally memes are even more favorable to acting heroically than genes (think about what an inspiring story that would be).
    But yes. I am glad you agree that your neighbors survival is beneficial to your own. I think your neighbor's Darwinian survival is also beneficial to your own... population genetic studies of animals have shown that species with more genetic diversity are more likely to survive hard times, and this makes logical sense. There are other reasons, but I went over the best ones in my original post.


    :) Isn't that up for you to decide? The label matters not; the actions do.

    Ryan: Unfortunatly I really am talking about a theoretical person. I experience guilt when I do morally questionable things, even when they are quite certainly for the greater good. I would love to be this kind of sociopath, if it exists, because I can't see how the existence of this particular breed of sociopath could be anything but a boon to mankind, and like a typical empath I get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about helping people. Guilt is largely an emotion evolved for primitive tribal societies without complex laws, technology, or even possibly many of the linguistic concepts necessary for true consciousness. These societies didn't have the benefit of rationality to guide their decisions, so they came up with the next best thing, and now that thing mostly just makes us hesitate, mope, hate ourselves, and generally behave irrationally.
    Consider this though: many people are still born stupid, or are raised ineffectively and end up being stupid. They don't have the benefit of rationality either, so perhaps it's better that most of us are born feeling guilt, just in case we happen to end up stupid.

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  19. 1 of 2

    Ah. Interesting.

    Ryan: "No... I am saying that these things, separately, are part of our givens. It is simpler for us to assume that our being is rational, and it is important to assume that he is self serving, because we are posting on sociopathworld.com, and we are talking about sociopaths. The sociopaths that normals are typically afraid of are intelligent and uncommonly rational, so taking these two assumptions together makes sense. I could make arguments for or against rationality being caused by being self serving, or vice versa, but that is not the point I am trying to make."

    I must've misunderstood you on this point. I was taking a general approach to your comment. I still think that rationality does not necessarily lead to being self-serving. I suppose this is a moot point, though? There seems to be a bigger picture you're trying to portray.

    Ryan: " If my memes (or genes)themselves will by their very nature cause their own destruction, then they will be discarded by natural selection. It seems very unlikely that our rational actor has no genes or memes which will stand up to this test, but there may be a few. In any case, it would be absurd to say that my genes and memes survival will be negatively impacted by their survival."

    I think I misread. I took your statement to mean that your genes would encourage said actions. However, that's much different from what you actually said, which was that they would simply be benefited by those actions.

    Ryan: "What I am saying here is that as long as I do a certain bare minimum of things which have obvious, immediate Darwinian benefits to my genes and memes, that they will flourish in the world of plenty created by technology. Thus, assuming that our rational actor does these things, which he will because he is a selfish rational actor who defines his "self" in Darwinian terms, and has energy leftover, which he will because he lives in a world of plenty, the next step is to protect his society and its environment (the Earth).
    If you are saying that it is strange that a person would ever value their genes and memes in this way, I say that it is stranger to value your consciousness more, which even if you are perfectly rational is limited, fragile, mortal, and made up of pieces of information that came from outside of it anyway. If our rational actor is smart about it, his project of "intentionally benefitting himself in a Darwinian sense" will, by the process of natural selection, result in very many people thinking in this way in the future."

    Interesting. I see what you're trying to say, I think. Basically, since a sociopath views himself/herself as important, they seek to reproduce their genes to continue on their ideals. Due to the reproduction and the benefit they glean from the positive actions, they would commit them themselves.

    I do agree that a 'rational actor' would reproduce if he felt his genes were more important than his state of consciousness, in the context you're speaking.

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  20. 2 of 2

    Ryan: " While it is usually in our own best interest from a Darwinian point of view to survive, it is easy to think up a situation in which this is not the case. If I am made of my genes and memes, and have four children trapped in a burning building, each of which contain 1/2 of my genes, it is in my Darwinian best interest to run into the burning building if there is a fifty percent chance of saving them all and myself and a fifty percent chance of being killed."

    It is logical, from a self-interested Darwin point of view. However, there are some impractical things to the Darwin point of view.

    For example, reproduction. (This is where a sociopath goes wrong when it comes to being a darwinianly rational actor:) I am incapable of having emotional attachments to people. This would most likely also mirror into my relationship with my children. I could never truly satisfy their psychological needs; albeit I could attempt to with deception. However, I imagine that, after a while, they'd pick up on the real picture. (Who knows for certain; I might be a truly great actor.)

    This is one of the reasons why I choose to not reproduce. Also, factor into the inconveniences a child would cause me. Due to my self-servingness, I would not have a child for this reason, as well.

    This is why, in the context of talking about a sociopath, I found your reproduction statements to be rather strange.

    (You could take this from another perspective wherein I don't raise the child. But the point I'm making is still there.)

    Ryan: "Unfortunatly I really am talking about a theoretical person. I experience guilt when I do morally questionable things, even when they are quite certainly for the greater good."

    If I were capable of it, I would feel sympathy for you. Guilt is such a silly thing to have to live with. Quite a trouble, really.

    Ryan: "Guilt is largely an emotion evolved for primitive tribal societies without complex laws, technology, or even possibly many of the linguistic concepts necessary for true consciousness. These societies didn't have the benefit of rationality to guide their decisions, so they came up with the next best thing, and now that thing mostly just makes us hesitate, mope, hate ourselves, and generally behave irrationally."

    Guilt is a truly outdated mental mechanism. Evolution, when's the next upgrade?

    Ryan: "Consider this though: many people are still born stupid, or are raised ineffectively and end up being stupid. They don't have the benefit of rationality either, so perhaps it's better that most of us are born feeling guilt, just in case we happen to end up stupid."

    I suppose, in that sense, guilt is the whipping stick for the mental destitute. It's a catch-all mechanism that unfortunately plagues even some of the most rational.



    On a whimsical note, I think we are slaughtering M.E.'s comment board with text.

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  21. Grace said...
    I’m sure your right to some extent Zoe. Although I was lonely, I didn’t need to be loved that way, you and I know he didn’t really love me though, and I didn’t want to be involved with him at that level. I would have preferred to take things slowly and develop at a genuine pace but I was too busy reacting to his lead and didn’t follow my intuition telling me “this is wrong!”


    i've been there. what i realized afterward was that i was missing the person i was when i was with him more than i was missing him. it was like a piece of me was gone.

    but then isn't there a part of you that had to take a back seat to this guy, and isn't it nice to have her back?

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  22. Thank you Zoe! Yes I do miss that excitement I felt and the energy I had. I took care of the girly stuff in me more.

    I did take a back seat to him. In the end I knew how selfish he was. I was thinking today maybe he was testing me to see if I was a weak person. lol...I have to stop thinking about him! Not obsessing about him has been challenging but I know me and I will get tired of it and forget about him...it’s getting easier these days. But of course if he contacted me I would be so tempted to communicate with him…thank God he doesn’t.
    Grace

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  23. Grace, I really think you should read a book called "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood. This book is good for males, too, if there are any guys out there with similar relationship patterns to Grace. Sorry, Grace, for implying this is a "pattern" of yours... maybe it isn't. But just in case it is...

    I'm concerned because you said you would be glad to get back together with him if he was interested. That would be asking for misery. Self-destructive.

    !H!

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  26. TO RYAN AND 2-

    As far as you imaginary person - I am a person who doesn't feel remorse. And I do my best to be as honest as I can and to take care of my responsibilities and of the people I am responsible for and care about. And I pretty much follow societies ideals as far as a lifestyle.

    I have a problem with guilt - because my father blamed me for anything and everything until he 'disappeared' 3 years ago, but I think that my problem is not feeling upset that I have ruined something or hurt someone, but rather that I am guilty of making someone upset, resulting in them being unkind or distrusting of me.
    I have had NO regret. Ever.
    I either do not trust the emotions of empaths to the point that I do not empathize with them, or I simply DO not empathize with them to the level that a normal person does.
    I have never smoked or drank or gotten into trouble of any sort, no crazy affairs or strings of murder - I do less damage to myself and to others than most empaths, but this is from choice/preference. I prefer not to waste my time with activities or people I have no interest in.
    I am extremely careful about other people's feelings, but I have in the past completely used someone for companionship, affection, and attention.
    I always told the person flat out that I was doing it, exactly how I felt, and that I did not care about them the way they wanted me to, and that I couldn't. THEY initiated the relationship, and when I called it off in their best interests they were VERY hurt by the incident.
    I was the best person I could be in these situations, and I was not cruel or dishonest, and only used the person insofar as I knew they had deep feelings for me that I knew I did not and could not reciprocate, though I liked them enough to enter a relationship with them shortly.
    I always ended it for the other person, because I do not wish to destroy people or string them along, and when I see that they are doing it themselves, I usually become disgusted or concerned and end it.
    Though I never feel bad about any of it.
    After all, I had done nothing wrong, had I?
    I hadn't even seduced them. They did everything themselves. Should I feel guilty about letting something happen? If I am honest and sincere about everything I do/ allow?


    So, Ryan, to your original question - does this make a sociopath?

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    1. I don't know! My example, and your example (yourself) are limiting cases that strain the definition of a sociopath.

      Delete
  27. I have a question about an Empath and a sociopath, I tend to use empathy as an inside edge to fuel my sociopathy, is this a normal trait. I fake feel the sadness or troubles of others to gain acceptance of friendship then will use my past kindness as a "you owe me cause I was nice to you stance" although I never use the words to say so. I find a way to manipulate those feelings so they think that it is their own thought, that he was nice to me when I needed it now I owe him. Is this a normal behaviour of a sociopath. I may have answered my own question but am in need of confirmation that my sociopathic behavior indeed preys on the vulnerable and weak.

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    1. I think that's a pretty textbook example of how a sociopath gains the trust of a victim so an exploitative relationship is possible.

      Delete
  28. Interesting article. I would've preferred something not dug up from the archives though. At least try to be original please M.E.

    I do like the article though. My ability to get behind the eyes of others is why I used to think I was especially empathic. The fact I just don't care about people on a level deeper then amusement/personal gain is what showed me I'm not.

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    1. At a certain point, everything that can be said about a topic has been said. Also, are you completely surprised that M.E. has started to get bored with the blog? I'm surprised it took so long.

      How can you be so sure that empaths think and feel differently from you? Because they say that they do? Most people spend much of their time saying things that they don't truly understand.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure empaths think and feel differently, I have trouble conceptualizing an existence where one didn't think and feel similarly to me. I just know that reactions to my thoughts and feelings range from disapproval, to denial, to disgust. Based on this I choose to operate as if they think and feel as they claim they do rather then how I think is natural.

      And I'm not particularly surprised by M.E.s apparent boredom, just a little disappointed with it.

      Delete
  29. A world with a majority of sociopaths would self-destruct.
    I still think that empathy is not affecting the empaths as much as the article mentions. Empaths can also be responsible of fraud, and act to be more likeable, conscious hypocrites, The also cannot respond to the feeling of the other one. Death penalty is definitely supported by many empaths. What empaths do, more often, is to respect others because they acknowledge they are as important as themselves.

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    1. "A world with a majority of sociopaths would self-destruct."

      How? Why? People would still need to find a way to live together. Is it not possible that the rules would merely change to suit the new majority with a unique personality type?

      "What empaths do, more often, is to respect others because they acknowledge they are as important as themselves."

      Is that true? Most of the people I've met place themselves very firmly in the center of the universe. I don't blame them for it, while people may share each other's emotions they will never be able to share each other's perceptions. Shared perception would be the ultimate form of empathy, with affective empathy being a mere shadow of that true form.

      Delete
    2. Either it is a dictatorship or the rules voted by a majority of sociopaths would be mild rules they could over pass without consequences. Like M.E. proposition about "restorative justice". In such a jungle any form of destruction would be a normal pattern, and destruction leads to a complete destruction of the entity.

      "Most of the people I've met place themselves very firmly in the center of the universe."

      They would like to be the center of the universe of those others they consider important. The technique of forcing others to look at them as a center it is usualy against their own interests. To do stupid things is the real common thing between humans.

      "Shared perception would be the ultimate form of empathy, with affective empathy being a mere shadow of that true form."

      I agree. To perceive like the other one perceives is the ultimate form of empathy.





      Delete
    3. I actually agree with Jessi on the "world of sociopaths" thing. I know that I for one would take every advantage I could get and look for more. If everyone else did the same thing everything would collapse into backstabbing squabbles.

      Delete
  30. This is retarded. I dont act out a script when i am talking to people. I dont find that i need to fake emotions and observe peoples social interactions because ots not that hard to speak to someone.

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    1. Do you consider yourself an empath, a sociopath, or something else?

      Delete
  31. Misanthrope considers herself simple minded.

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  32. @Mach
    I see you took off your comment but thank you for it.

    I understood you in a new way, as happens when someone takes off his mask. That happened to me with someone else.

    She was ribbing on me because I am a Born Again Christian and I wanted to jump down her throat but I forced myself not to.

    Later, when she needed help, she came to me and told me her life story which was filled with abuse. You and she are examples that one should not judge as there is a much deeper story underneath.

    I suppose one has to protect oneself by boundaries and my saying that to you was out of character for me but I forced myself to be honest and then we had a kind of magic.

    I hope you did not go away from SW in shame because you revealed yourself.

    Everyone who stays does that imo

    You can't stay here forever and be fake. xx

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    1. I took the comment down because it was intended for you specifically, and I assumed that you had read it. While I am very much in favor of sharing back and forth within the context of a conversation, I have never been a big fan of an outsider taking a personal story out of the context where it was shared.
      Something I have had a hard time with since I was little is people who feel sorry for themselves. When I reread my post, I felt a bit like it was a bid for pity, even though that was not a conscious strategy when I wrote it. I have had some hard knocks in life, but so have most people and I don't ever want to fall into the trap of saying "I am this way bc I had a bad childhood". We choose who we are going to be each day and the only way I have found to break the spell of the past is by trying very hard to move on from a victim mentality.
      As far as going away from SW- no way. It's an extraordinary community where there is freedom to drop all masks created to satisfy social convention.
      As far as being a born again Christian goes, I am uncomfortable with using that terminology to identity myself because of some very evil people from my past hiding behind that label, (it triggers a fear of hypocrisy for me) but I understand the value of being a new creation in Christ. The part of Christianity that resonates with me most is the idea of the Holy Spirit (the comforter) who is available to all who ask for help. My faith has been the one thing in my life to keep me from becoming a very bitter, hardened individual. Despite my verbal bluster, I am a believer in the power of love and forgiveness, and am not sure I could keep functioning in this world without those two ideals to strive for.
      My experience with people who have strong anti-Christian reactions is that they have been deceived, abused, or shamed by individuals who claim the moral upper hand. In so many ways, Jessi's attitude reminds me of intractable youth pastors who wouldn't listen to logic, and who participated in shunning behaviors. The hardest thing about people who are self righteous for me is their utter denial of the humanity of the person they are judging. I had an aunt I dearly loved who committed suicide when I was five after being shamed by people like this within our family. For that reason, I get very angry when people twist the bible and especially the words of Christ to marginalize or scapegoat others.
      As I examine my own kneejerk reaction to Jessi's shaming of Andy in particular (who seems to have disappeared, which distresses me), I see that my past may've caused me to overinterpret the present.
      I worry about ME, and others whose brains are wired in the way hers is because I don't think that anyone is inherently evil. I worry about how scapegoating is human nature, and how advances in neurobiology may force a literal mark of Cain onto this demographic. The automatic assumption that the sociopathic perspective is evil is conducive to some very nasty behaviors from an unrelenting "empathic" majority who suspends empathy for those it deems monsters.
      I will never judge your faith, and would happily talk to you about mine sometime outside the context of this forum because it is simply too personal for me to feel I can share it without somehow proselytizing the SW community, which I have a hunch would be quite unwelcome.

      Delete
    2. @Mach
      I am going to be honest as you seem to appreciate it( and I do too). Your comment was not self pity. if you don't have empathy for the child you WERE, you will have no empathy in the present( true empathy, that is)

      I notice that you have a hardness and a coldness even though you try to couch it under warmth. The reason it comes out as cold and and like a person feels judged is the above.

      I felt very judged when you asked to help the fake Monica. I felt like you were looking down your haughty nose at me in the GUISE of helping. That is why I reacted as I did.

      Anyway, feel free to tell me anything about myself~

      Delete
    3. Mach is repressed from going to church her whole life.

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    4. I see that Mach’s not talking with me statement didn't include not talking about me. I am anti-dogmatic so it is funny to be compared to a Christian pastor.

      About Andy, I used a wooden stake to get rid of him, I don’t think he is coming back any time soon.

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    5. @ Monica-
      I have had to battle my own demons. As a young woman, I struggled with feeling suicidal until I realized that just because people in the church thought I was evil - that did not make me evil. Because my aunt committed suicide, and I know of others who have, I tend to take all suicidal "hints" very seriously. Not because I am above them, but because the despair that brings you to a place like that is something I know all too well.
      I was brought up in a religious family where to be a woman was to be subservient to men- men that abused power in the most heinous, hypocritical ways. I was told that if I told the truths about my upbringing then I would "tear the family apart". I remember thinking I was going crazy because I couldn't reconcile the righteous outer image with the horrible things Christians could do to each other behind closed doors. The only way to heal from the despair of being called evil simply for asking "WHY" was to start telling the truth, instead of being shushed. Ultimately it meant leaving the faith of my childhood behind- a faith that says "if you believe what you are told by a Christian patriarch, then you are good, if you point out that the emperor has no clothes, then you are evil."

      I would never look down upon you. My offering support was not condescension, and I am going to offer a honest question of you- not meant to be harsh but- WHY are you so quick to judge my motivations?
      While I can accept that I may need to work on my delivery, my intention with that note was simply to try to tell you to make it until morning. A month ago you expressed sadness and I remembered that. I didn't want you to feel that your sadness didn't matter. No agenda beyond that. My mistake was- I wrote the sort of letter that would've been comforting to me if I was despairing. I should never have presumed that you wanted my support. But that was a mistake made from a lack of social grace (being overly helpful when help wasn't asked for) not out of disrespect.
      You assume that I am hard and cold. I ask you to consider if it is me you are reacting to, or the fact my sarcasm reminded you of your mom. I am not your mom. We are probably the same age and you know very little about me to assume I am like her. You say she's like the mom on Gilmore Girls. That is hugely ironic bc I always identified with Lorelai and have looked at the freedom she allowed Rory in developing her own self to be the sort of freedom I wanted for my kids too. The world I left was full of Emily Gilmores. I suspect you would find that we have more in common than you might think.

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    6. @ Monica-
      one other clarification-
      I do honor the child I was by choosing to not ignore her. There's always a temptation to say "abuse is ok" and then become a perpetrator yourself. Honoring that perspective was key to forming an adult identity away from fundamentalist Christianity.
      When I referenced self pity what I meant was- over sharing about life trials may've seemed like I was trying to make excuses for actions (overreacting to Jessi by lashing out with sarcasm) that I am responsible for. The past may provide context for our actions, but it does not remove responsibility for them. Self pity seeks to be absolved of blame. Self compassion involves taking responsibility for your actions by seeing why they happened, giving yourself the space to change, and then trying to grow beyond your limitations.
      If I were to continue to say "Jessi is wrong, I am right" then I'd be using self pity to justify my mistake. I'd prefer to say "My past is causing me to act in a way that is less than admirable, so I'm going to recognize that Jessi triggers me and I will remove myself from that negative feedback loop." That was a choice made from a place of self compassion, not because I think Jessi is unworthy of being interacted with. Note that I didn't call on the SW community to shun her. I just stated that I didn't want to get into stupid fights with her that waste energy.
      This interaction with you, Monica, has been constructive, if not pleasant bc I feel that you have given me some valuable insights. So in this case the discomfort is worth the energy. I don't feel like you want to win at all costs- I feel like you just want to tell the truth about your experience and that is something I very much respect, and am open to dialoguing about.

      Delete
    7. Thanks Mach
      I have one agenda on here and that is to be honest. I love this place and honor it because we are allowed that here. No moderation allows the law of the jungle but that is good because it is real. I have made wonderful friends on here, too. I am glad we are talking, Mach!

      Delete
    8. I feel the same way. I really like the honesty factor because to me no interaction is truly kind unless there is honest intent behind it. Otherwise it's just cowardice in disguise.
      If you are comfortable discussing your faith online, I wanted to ask what you are currently reading for devotions/meditation- for me I am loving the book of Proverbs. Both insightful and unexpectedly funny :) I do love SW, but it's important for me to keep a balance.

      Do you know about Andy? He disappeared after a heated comment stream on Sunday and I haven't seen him comment since.

      Does anyone know where Andy is? Did he get chased off or does he have a pattern of only commenting sometimes? As a newbie I don't know patterns yet.

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    9. I did not follow the heated stream. I stopped reading due to Jessi.

      I am totally comfortable discussing my faith. I found a person who has changed my life--Kenneth Hagin. He is passed on now but he is the real deal. I can feel that honestly as you probably can.

      I bought about 6 CD sets and am listening all the time. I started listening to him on U Tube to see if I liked him.

      I was super impressed with 2 things. He had an NDE and went to hell. He died twice and he got himself healed through the Bible--just him and the Word.

      He died in the coolest way possible--when he was in his 70's-80's-- not sure.

      God told him that he would die at 10 AM on a certain morning. He ate his fave breakfast and say down on his chair and died.

      He is very, very real, talking about real. He is very, very funny, too.

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    10. I will check it out.
      There's a lot of stuff out there on NDE's from the scientific community as well as the faith community. I don't know enough about this topic to have an informed opinion so I will read up.
      The individual who helped me to the other side of a the dogmatic faith background I grew up in was M. Scott Peck. His most famous book is "The Road Less Traveled" but the one most interesting to me is "People of the Lie" where he deals with good/evil.

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    11. Yes, People of the Lie is one of my all time favorite books. My all time favorite is The Bell Jar.

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    12. then you will understand this-
      I escaped my Ted Hughes- and that is probably why I am still sorting things out by coming to SW. The cruelty of betrayal is incomprehensible to me- but I suspect it is because I am limited in my understanding of how someone wired so differently would be capable of such a deliberate pattern of cruelty to the mother of his children.

      Delete
    13. @Mach
      Many people come here due to a sociopath. My feeling is that we go involved with one due to our issues. If someone was not empty, they probably would not.

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    14. Oh, come now Monica, give the sociopaths a little credit! They exude a false sense of vulnerability. They appear sensitive, but not so sensitive that they'll come to you crying and showing weakness. At the same time they have strength and confidence in themselves, and they are engaging. Victims like to blame themselves, to think that something must be wrong with them to be tricked like that. The only thing wrong with you is that you are human, and sociopaths are born to prey on people, not just the weak but the strong as well.

      Delete
    15. Maybe, Andy. Nice to see you back even though I have not been reading enough to know you were gone

      Delete
    16. Oh, I just get mopey from time to time. As Misanthrope can tell you, I'm just a whiny emo sociopath wannabe.

      Delete
    17. Kenneth Hagin is a fraud.

      Mach, I have not said anything until now, but I do read your comments, and some of them resonate a great deal with me. I especially appreciated what you said concerning eschewing vulnerability, although I have not personally reached the point where I have any desire to experience it "normally", or as a positive state. Intimate friendships also do not interest me.

      I am Christian, but I avoid associating myself with denominational affiliations, and even church. I was also physically abused as a child.

      My conduct is often far from exemplary, but my time here has allowed me to finally accept and come to terms with what I am. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your transparency. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
    18. Come now Andy, you can't let yourself genuinely care about what anyone on the internet says to you. Especially not misanthrope. He's pretty much just an unpleasant troll.

      Delete
    19. I'll bite. Why is Hagin a fraud? Be specific, too, not just cuz you think it~

      Delete
    20. Because the prosperity gospel he preached is false. He distorted the word of God for profit, promising adherents health, wealth and abundance... For a price.

      The healings are fake. The tongues are fake. It's a load of bullshit with which to lure in, deceive, and profit from suckers who are not well grounded in Biblical doctrine- individuals seeking extravagant, emotional "spiritual experiences". This is not what Jesus taught.

      Delete
    21. Hagin is not a prosperity guy unless it is spiritual and a basic decent life with money. I agree with that-- not millions but your needs should be met.


      Copeland and Jesse DuPlantis and some of the other ones are garish with the money thing but not Hagin.

      You have him mixed up with them.

      Hagin HIMSELF was healed so how could that be fake? He dies twice in fact as a young child.

      You should study him more.

      Delete
    22. @ Monica-
      You said something I have been pondering- that getting involved with a sociopath is due to having "stuff" that is not whole inside.
      I think you are correct. Sociopaths may target all manner of individuals, but those of us who stay involved with them once they have showed their true colors have a personal blind spot. In handing over your self protective instinct because you can't bear to accept that you have been used and abused, you are literally giving a way a piece of your soul to a puppet master.
      Sociopaths do have a remarkable ability to see through the false selves we construct. They are vigilant for "humble brags" so they will know which levers to press to activate a sense of narcissistic supply being delivered. They understand that the pretty girl may secretly feel dumb and has a chip on her shoulder about this, so they crack the code of her defensiveness/playing hard to get by ignoring her "hotness", and subtly suggesting that they think she is brilliant.
      The better the "mirror" the sociopath has constructed for the victim, the more thorough the enslavement becomes. The ultimate weapon a sociopath uses against a victim in any sort of long con is their own narcissism.

      Once again you have provided a strong (albeit painful) impetus for reflection. Thank you.

      Delete
  33. PS I am not gonna get a new Monica Account for now. If someone is off the wall, it is not me, Mach xx

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  34. Mach is monica.

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  35. I'm not the least bit concerned about sociopaths taking over the world.
    Sociopaths are a minority of a minority. True, many people will die at
    the hands of sociopaths and there are many terror stories about sociopaths,
    for media sensationalism (If it "bleeds it leads.") but I am fully confident
    that no one can hurt me until it is my "time."
    We all can recall "close Calls" in our lives, when we should have brought it
    but it didn't occur. We were saved because it was not yet our time.
    It just so happens that the sociopath might be called upon to do the deed
    (Wrong place wrong time) but I have no control over that so why worry?
    I knew a long time ago that I had no special immunity. I am no more
    desirving of a "charmed" life then Caylee Anthony, the Newtown Conn. 20
    or God's own son. It says in the Bible, "It is given to ALL men once
    to die and then the judgement."
    As long as we fill that requirement it's just a question of when and how.
    Thought I must say that a young lady who is strapped in a torture van
    does have a more difficult time of it then an elderly person who dies in
    thier sleep.

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    1. "but I am fully confident that no one can hurt me until it is my "time."

      With a reasoning like this I don't even know why there is police.

      Delete
  36. Personally I don't see what the big issue is with sociopaths. First of all most crimes and murders are not committed by sociopaths, they are committed by "regular people" who loose control of their emotions or become desperate enough to act out.

    Secondly, as this post points out, sociopaths work to mimic proper social etiquette, like reading from a script. . . Again so what? At least they are putting an effort in, they are working hard to meet the requirements society has set forth, and making a greater attempt to act accordingly then the overly empathetic people who let their emotions run wild and live in self pity and remorse when they have gotten too out of control.

    People just don't understand or are afraid of people who don't carry the same level of emotions as them, and as such move to a defensive stance. This is no different than the logic that lead to witch burnings, you don't understand something so you fear it, so you want to eliminate it, or at least be able to recognize it on a regular basis to avoid it.

    I know one sociopath who has an amazing relationship with his wife of seven years. Why? Because she makes him happy. He does more things for her than a lot of my empathetic friends do, not because he feels bad, but because he knows the happier she is the greater his home life will be. Is it selfish? Yes, but again who cares, she is not being miss-treated and she is not left wanting. Sure one day he could get bored of her and just leave, but I would prefer someone just leave when they are bored with me then hang around out of guilt arguing with me all the time and making the breakup a long and painful experience.

    Everyone also seems to think sociopaths are constantly looking for people to manipulate, to bring into their web of lies and have fun with. For this I ask how self-centered are you people!? To think that sociopaths have nothing better to do with their time than to manipulate your little brain, or cause problems with your mundane life. Most sociopaths don't give a shit about you or what you do unless you can be EXTREMELY beneficial to them, or you cause them a lot of problems. Even then, an intelligent sociopath is still bound by the legal system, and isn't stupid enough to risk going to jail simply to exact revenge on someone who means as little to them as the person who serves them food at a restaurant.

    My point is stop judging, stop harassing, and stop acting like the sociopath's very existence is a crime. You empaths have done more judging and criticizing in the name of morality or god than any sociopath has done in regards to your character, and stop acting like you are not flawed because you feel regret, you still act poorly from time to time, you still manipulate from time to time, but because you go home afterwards and cry or feel bad it's ok? Come on now.

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    1. I agree completely with this post.

      "stop judging, stop harassing, and stop acting like the sociopath's very existence is a crime. You empaths have done more judging and criticizing in the name of morality or god than any sociopath has done in regards to your character, and stop acting like you are not flawed because you feel regret, you still act poorly from time to time, you still manipulate from time to time"

      very well put.

      Delete
    2. “At least they are putting an effort in, they are working hard to meet the requirements society has set forth”

      They just mimic to hide and get close to their targets, which they will use and abuse. It is not about people being less emotional than the rest and looking weird.

      “I know one sociopath who has an amazing relationship with his wife of seven years.”

      How does he behave in her back? Does he tell her that he loves her though it is not true?

      “I would prefer someone just leave when they are bored with me then hang around out of guilt arguing with me all the time and making the breakup a long and painful experience.”

      It is not an “either - or”. What about a break-up were too people do acknowledge the other one has the right to move on and help each other with the transition? Some people stay friends with their ex and have civilized break-ups.

      “To think that sociopaths have nothing better to do with their time than to manipulate your little brain, or cause problems with your mundane life”

      M.E scamming didn’t follow that pattern. Maybe it is not about having something “better to do” but taking what is at reach, and that can be something daily.

      “You empaths have done more judging and criticizing in the name of morality or god than any sociopath has done in regards to your character”

      That’s definitely true. Sociopaths don’t care about what is just, only at getting what they want. I don’t think that talks well about them though.

      “acting like you are not flawed because you feel regret”

      I don’t think anyone has said that empaths are not flawed, but that they don’t lead a life where scamming and using people is a classic way of proceeding.

      “but because you go home afterwards and cry or feel bad it's ok”

      The lack of regret its related to the probability of being recidivist. Which is what matters, not if someone cries or not, but the continuation of abusing others.

      But if you think that it is great to marry a sociopath, search for one and tell us how is it going.

      Delete
    3. Antisocial behavior is a defining characteristic of sociopathy. M.E. has related many tales of this behavior, but she has recently said that she recognizes it as self-destructive and has tried to limit it. Wisdom comes with age to everyone, sociopaths and empaths alike. At the ripe old age of 33, M.E. is starting to grow up.

      What concerns me are the immature sociopaths in their teens and early twenties. Particularly the males are flooded with testosterone and prone to risky behavior. Sociopaths may not commit the majority of crimes, but they are famous for the most heinous. Only a sociopath will kidnap, rape, and murder your children. Only a sociopath will tie up an innocent person and torture them for amusement.

      No, sociopaths are not responsible for the majority of horrors, just the worst of them. It is impossible to prevent all the crimes committed without invoking science fiction, but what if you could prevent the worst ones? Do we not have a responsibility as morally upright individuals to prevent atrocious acts if we can? Freedom is a pretty dream, but people have always sacrificed some freedom for safety.

      As Jessi said, recidivism of sociopaths is the main problem. M.E. has suggested alternative treatment could be effective for sociopaths, but until that effectiveness is tested, sociopaths should, and do, receive extended sentences for their crimes, or they are committed to mental health institutions. It's not fair, and it's not the best solution, but I assert that it is the best available solution.

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    4. Eric, I agree that once someone has developed full blown ASPD, society's best option is contain the individual until age mellows them somewhat. But It's tough to tell who simply has ASPD traits, and who is beyond redemption.
      The thing is, there is a lot more success treating people with this brain wiring if treatment/rehabilitation starts well before adulthood. That to me is the best hope, but one that is in danger of remaining unrealized in the vast majority of cases because it's unlikely the general public will approve of government funding to help a segment of the population it considers irredeemable.

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    5. There aren't any advocates for sociopaths. It seems that child abuse and schoolyard bullying are major factors in the development of antisocial behavior. In addition, punishment of children is largely ineffective, which is not surprising given that selfishness is a near universal trait in children. Sociopaths don't need to be specifically identified and targeted from a young age. Incentivization of good behavior would be effective for children of all personality types. Those with empathy will still develop a conscience, and those without will learn the benefits of prosocial behavior. This kind of change, though, would have to occur in homes, and would not be easy to institutionalize. In that regard, any well-written individual could become an agent of change.

      Is punishing children natural and pan-cultural? Why is it not normal to incentivize good behavior when it is vastly more effective? Parents don't give their children a conscience, it will develop on its own.

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    6. " Incentivization of good behavior would be effective for children of all personality types. Those with empathy will still develop a conscience, and those without will learn the benefits of prosocial behavior. "

      I agree completely, if kids of any personality type are shown the benefits of pro-social behavior it will help them to develop more appropriate social skills. Even sociopaths are primarily creatures of reason, if it makes more sense to do good deeds instead of doing bad, because it is more rewarding, that is what they are going to do.

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    7. I rarely hurt people and typically don't use anyone for anything more then a couple liters of milk. There are definite exceptions to this but for the most part I live a fairly pro-social life as I recognize it as the path to the greatest rewards.

      " Only a sociopath will kidnap, rape, and murder your children. Only a sociopath will tie up an innocent person and torture them for amusement."

      Empaths do things like this to if you make them angry enough or if they think it's justified. There aren't enough sociopaths to compose the entirety of all war criminals ever. Though I concede a socio might be more likely to behave in this manner there would have to be a definite benefit for them to behave this way.

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    8. "Anonymous June 27, 2013 at 10:07 AM" - commenting your text, why do you care what opinioms people have or judgement they make? People will always think whatever, do whatever. As long as you go by, it shouldn't be a problem.

      "Erik AndersonJune 27, 2013 at 11:37 AM" - I have to state that I do not agree that humans with empathy can not disconnect from it or otherwise somehow get affected to act differently then you would expect. The human mind is not deterministic, A does not certainly lead to B in sence of humans.

      Sentencing sociopaths harder then empaths. How would you know the difference? Another thing about humans is that they are layered, filled with ambiguity and an ubpredictable set of varying variables. Even though psychology has made a very good step into the art of science, the human mind is not measurable. All emotions, thoughts and processing factors are private to the person in question, thus there is no way to really know for sure. That person might walk, talk and look like anything else then whatever is in there, regardless of whatever impression you have.

      "MachavellianempathJune 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM" - The U.S. way from what I have learned is to create the highest incarnation rate in the world. The effect, necessity and predecessors of that can be discussed, but seen from the outside this way of handeling your society might witness of a mentality and mindset that is reaching a certain level of ignorance. Are you sure incarnating everything is the way to go or is it a sign of not truly understanding the problem?

      I very much disagree with the labelling and box-way of thinking where everything can be distrinctly ordrered in each theyr boxes. If you are lucky, there is no question about what box a person can be defined within. In most cases this is not true.

      We all minpulate, we all lie, we all gather information for usage, we alle hide information. We all play tricks. From the youngest age, most of us instrinctly start physical fights with other children over resources, we lie, and learn to manipulate our parents. All children do this, fake crying is almost a rule and not the exception. We are later socialized, maybe broken like a horse. Some learn slower, some are harder to break, and maybe some just don't have the mechanics needed to get there. I wouldn't know, but this matter is not a simple one.

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    9. The criminal justice system is based entirely on determining the inner worlds of people. Also, the defining characteristics of sociopathy were not pulled out of a hat. They were determined empirically by observing a specific group of criminals with a lack of guilt and remorse, high criminal recidivism, and resistance to all forms of therapy and rehabilitation.

      It is not 100% fair and 100% accurate, but we are working within the context of the criminal justice system, so that basically goes without saying. It's not a perfect system, not by far, but it is supported by empirically acquired data and represents a pragmatic, if flawed solution to a complex problem.

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    10. "Erik Anderson June 28, 2013 at 5:31 AM"
      Might point out that any justice systems around the world might function differently from what I and you are used to. I have no idea what area in the world your justice system represents.

      If I try to judge from my little knowledge of my home countrie's justice system, I would say that the role of the inner workings of a criminals mind really depends on the crime and what is found of interest from that person.

      If you had a personality disorder like M.E. has, I think it would propably not count into the sentence you would receive if you were a criminal. You propably could disgust the judge in such a way(depending on your presentation of yourself) that he would heigten your sentence as a mechanism of his emotional humanity(conciously or not), but I would really doubt that the judge would find psychopathy without previous criminal behaviour as an aggravating circumstance.

      Personally I would find such a thought as unfactual.

      However, if you were thought to be insane (psychotic) at the time of your criminal action and therefore not capable of judging right from wrong, there would be a huge difference in how the justice system would treat you around here. But then M.E. or any other sociopath out there are more likely to be fare from psychotic.

      I know of court rounds where criminals have cried theyr eyes dry. That display ofg remorse didn't help them much. Here justice-practice has everything to say. Judges folow an established practice to what your sentence should be, cry whatever you want. Thats exactly how it should be if you would ask me.

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  37. "They just mimic to hide and get close to their targets, which they will use and abuse. It is not about people being less emotional than the rest and looking weird."

    Right there you proved my point, why do you assume they are there to use and abuse you? What because they are sociopaths they can't generally enjoy some social situations, or want to take part in intelligent discussions? There HAS to be some evil hidden agenda? Playing a part so you can avoid being ridiculed and prosecuted for being different does not mean you are trying to harm and manipulate every person you meet, this just goes to show how self-centered people are.

    "How does he behave in her back? Does he tell her that he loves her though it is not true?"

    He behaves very well when she is not around because it's not worth the risk loosing her for a simple fling, and who are we to say what love is, for him respect and admiration can mean more than the concept of love to others.

    "It is not an “either - or”. What about a break-up were too people do acknowledge the other one has the right to move on and help each other with the transition? Some people stay friends with their ex and have civilized break-ups."

    You're right it's not either or, but you are missing the point, it's not that it has to be one of two extremes, it's that their are worse ways to end a relationship that having a sociopath simply walk away.

    "M.E scamming didn’t follow that pattern. Maybe it is not about having something “better to do” but taking what is at reach, and that can be something daily."

    I don't know what scamming you are referring to but sociopaths are not coke addicts looking for their next fix. Sure they might manipulate some people, but not everyone within reach simply for the act of manipulating others. Again you are putting too much value in what they get from manipulating you. Just because you can manipulate people doesn't mean you have to or will do it on a regular basis, they can get tired and bored of it just like anything else, and again, don't you think they have better things to do then to manipulate some menial aspect of your life because you are simply around? maybe they are busy living their own life.

    "That’s definitely true. Sociopaths don’t care about what is just, only at getting what they want. I don’t think that talks well about them though."

    If it means they mind their own business and don't throw stones at glass houses like empaths, I'll take that.

    "I don’t think anyone has said that empaths are not flawed, but that they don’t lead a life where scamming and using people is a classic way of proceeding. "

    Again a sociopath doesn't wake up and think, I wonder who I can manipulate today?.. Yes they might manipulate some people more than others, but we can't know for sure, we are basing this off of flawed information given by the medical community, and unless you have never manipulated someone for anything in your life, even as a kid, you cannot judge someone because they have simply done it more than you.

    "The lack of regret its related to the probability of being recidivist. Which is what matters, not if someone cries or not, but the continuation of abusing others. "

    So now we are passing judgement based on probability? So since a sociopath has a greater chance of being a criminal or being manipulative we assume he/she is, and act accordingly? Well glad the assumption of innocent unless proven guilty is limited to the legal system, this way we can pass our righteous moral judgement on the off chance someone might act poorly.

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    1. I agree with this completely. I never wake up thinking "who am I going to manipulate today". My average manipulation consists of getting people who interest me to talk to me. I have yet to hear a complaint from anyone who uses me as a confidant. I lie routinely but normally just so that those around me think I feel the same suite of emotions as they do.

      When I was with my ex I was loving and devoted, there were times I did things she would've disproved of without her knowing but I never truly betrayed her in any way.

      In my life I care about and interact with others proportionate to how much they amuse or irritate me. I'm also pretty easy going most of the time so very few people irritate me.

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  38. There has been plenty of times in our history where non-sociopathic people have done some pretty horrendous things. To assume we know enough about our history, and the statistical average of what percentage of the worst crimes are committed by sociopaths is wrong. You have no proof to backup your assumptions outside of what you have learned from news reports and other forms of social media.

    I do agree teenage sociopaths are probably a greater risk, but again it's just a risk, not a certainty. I do not agree that we have a moral right to initiate anything on anyone unless they have done something to harm another human being. That frame of thinking leads to things like the crusades, where it was "morally" and "religiously" right to prosecute anyone who did not follow the same beliefs. There is no definite concept of morality because it has changed too much over time, so no we can not prosecute someone based on a concept that is not definite, and even then, it should be ONLY if they committed an act of harm towards another.

    You talk about giving up freedoms for security well frankly we have done enough of that, it's getting ridiculous, everyone is becoming so afraid of any dangerous possibility we are willing to throw our rights out the window at the first sign of trouble, for the illusion of safety. Do I think sociopaths who commit crimes should be prosecuted, yes, just like empathetic criminals who commit crimes should be prosecuted. But to prosecute someone because he or she MIGHT do something bad is simply put fucked up.

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    1. "I do not agree that we have a moral right to initiate anything on anyone unless they have done something to harm another human being. That frame of thinking leads to things like the crusades, where it was "morally" and "religiously" right to prosecute anyone who did not follow the same beliefs"

      This is an excellent point.

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    2. Do you wish someone could have protected you from harming yourself?

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    3. Before you get too defensive, you should know that I largely agree with your first post, and that is precisely why I chose to argue with you. It seems you have strong convictions on this matter, and I'm guessing you have a lot of respect for the married man you mentioned. I appreciate that you have a backbone, but please don't take anything I say too seriously.

      I suppose I'm mixing public perception of serial killers as sociopaths with my own understanding of empathy. I am assuming that dehumanization of a victim is a prerequisite for an empath to commit a horrendous crime. In that case random murder or torture of a stranger, to which you and I are susceptible, would necessarily need to be committed by a sociopath. Many gruesome crimes are committed by people who know their victims because they know enough about them to dehumanize them. Thus, we are "safe" so long as we treat the people in our lives well. Except, of course, from sociopaths.

      I agree that people should only be punished for crimes they commit, but criminals identified as sociopaths should be kept away from society as long as legally possible. As Mach says, intervention in children could lead to less antisocial behavior, but teens and adults are much harder to integrate into society.

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    4. That would depend on the circumstances, If I am not of sound mind, meaning I cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy, then yes I would like to be protected from harming myself (though if it were something that can not be cured or dealt with I would prefer to be allowed to die). That said, if I am of sound mind, meaning I can carry on a conversation and understand both my surroundings and the situation I am in, then I should have full right to harm myself or take my own life.

      Now I know that gets tricky, and it's hard to decide what is considered being of sound mind, especially since the idea of wanting to harm yourself to some seems like an act of a crazy person, but there is a difference from someone suffering from schizophrenia or dementia, and someone who might be a sadist, or want to cut themselves to feel. You can generally tell from a detailed conversation with a person whether or not they are functioning within our realm of reality, after that it would be completely based on that person and the specific circumstances. (at least in my opinion)

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    5. Erik, sorry if I appeared to be too defensive, I do have strong convictions and sometimes the way I word my thoughts, or the tone I seem to portray might come off as that of a harsh one, or someone who is upset. I did enjoy your post regardless of my arguments with it, and enjoy seeing and discussing different points of view.

      I can see how you would consider anyone who can dehumanize or torture another human sociopathic, but what about empathetic people who are forced to go to war, they commit some pretty bad crimes. Mind you when they return home they are a mess, but even non-sociopathic people are prone to some pretty extreme acts of violence in the right environment. I will admit that the dehumanization of a person does play a large factor, and that sociopaths have greater potential for committing crimes like murder because they require much less effort to obtain this viewpoint.

      When you say kept away from society as long as legally possible I assume you mean for their entire sentence. I do think if you commit a crime you go to jail for the proper length of time regardless of your personality. The only issue I have (and started this post about) was in regards to how people act towards and judge sociopathic people just because they are emotionally different. Sociopaths get harassed for trying to "fake" emotions to blend in with society, but what is the alternative? We are a very brutal race that punishes those that don't conform, if you are a sociopathic child you have two choices, lie and fake emotions to fit in, or become a social outcast and ostracized by friends and family (or worse treated like someone who is sick). Of course you're going to play the "normal" game, and over time, you're going to become quite good at it. Right now we don't set a good example or environment for young sociopaths growing up, and it goes back to what you mentioned in regards to proper treatment at a young age. My friend for example grew up on old video games where it payed to be virtuous and display acts of chivalry. Yes it is a rather childlike view that he adapted (as most sociopathic emotions are childlike) but this person has found a way to reward his selfish nature through acts of kindness and charity, it may be fake and for show, but isn't it our actions that define how the world sees us, not what is going on in our heads?

      The way the world is headed in regards to judging people based on one characteristic of their personality, people who are sociopathic aren't even going to get a chance to live a normal life, and instead will deemed dangerous as soon as it's possible to diagnose them.

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    6. Shoot, I should have let you keep your tone! It's much harder to argue with you when I not only agree with you, but you have a more convivial air about you. Try saying what you just said, but with a more accusatory voice and I think I might be able to pull it off.

      Also, brain scans are stupidly expensive and the U.S. constitution would have to break down rather substantially before medical procedures can be performed on people without their consent and for non-medical purposes. I hope. Beyond that, the only tools are the PCL-R which is very easy to lie about, and a history of criminal activity. The chivalrous sociopaths like your friend are probably safe, at least for a while.

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    7. I worry about brain scans being "prescribed" for conduct disorder kids by public educators. I could see state legislation organizing around identifying young sociopaths who have less capacity to recognize the danger of this (so called) diagnostic tool.

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    8. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/2012/09/25/ignobel-prize-in-neuroscience-the-dead-salmon-study/

      You can get a positive fMRI result from a brain scan of a dead salmon if you don't interpret the data probably. People put so much faith in science, but this technology is heavily flawed. You would have to blind the experimenters and the people who analyze the scans to get an accurate result. For every child you think is a sociopath, you would need 5-6 more random children as controls to be able to make a concrete distinction between sociopath and normal. With the cost of the scans and the time, not to mention getting parental consent, the price of determining just one child is probably between $20,000 to $30,000. Are we really going to spend more to find one sociopath than we will pay to educate a child for a couple years? And lastly, the child you expect to be a sociopath must cooperate fully and hold completely still for the scan to work.

      In reality, this technology is simply not a feasible method to identify sociopaths. There will have to be something new.

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    9. "Andy GlassJune 28, 2013 at 3:14 AM" - if I look away from the rest of the discussion I might comment that the entire population of Iceland has been genetically mapped in a genetic database, ref deCODE genetics.

      Discussing the challenges of brainscanning a whole population is out of my reach, but I believe anything would be possible given the right way and reasons.

      However, I see no point in pinpointing sociopathic individuals. We could just as well start lobotomy and old fashion witch hunts again.

      For the reasons of science, it might be interesting though. Maybe not that useful from what I can tell..

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  39. This excerpt is a perfect example of the absurdity of subjective assessments of type, i.e., by talking to the person and trying to analyze his or her responses to figure out what's going on neurologically. It's like trying to figure out what's in a gift by analyzing the wrapping; both a necktie and a bomb can have "Happy Father's Day" printed all over the box.

    Ironically (and, perhaps amusingly) it's a very empath way of trying to figure people out, and the way the culture clings to this mode is more a symptom of bias and gullibility than a solution for them.

    We'll understand these issues much better by transitioning from bias-riddled and fraud-prone interview methods and focus on brain scans.

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  40. I listened to the Huffington Post thing, and I finally understand the definition of a sociopath!

    Sociopaths are men who have been in relationships with women, and the women don't like them. Sorry Emmie, I'm pretty sure that disqualifies you as a sociopath :(

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    1. hahaha. What its a woman who the man didn't like? Admittedly its much rarer for a man to call a woman a socio. Crazy bitch is more likely, but it could always come up.

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    2. I thought a crazy bitch was a woman who spoke her mind.

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    3. Only if you don't like what she has to say. haha

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    4. but if you think she's hot, that's just part of the fun....

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  41. I work in a school which is like a small city. Some people have the gift of empathy and are wonderful for those who love to dump, dump, dump. I do not have the ability to hear the whining and complaining. I can act like I give two bits, show concern, etc...but what is wrong with being shut off? In this country, we are fortunate and people complain about some of the most ridiculous things like their dishwasher being broke (some folks don't have a dish to their name).
    I listen, but no I really don't give a damn...we are here to do a job, not to kvetch.
    Everything is Illuminated being a socio....and yes, I am happy....

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