Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pro-social sociopath (part 3)

Ok, a few more responses about the legitimate foundation of the stigma against sociopaths, and then we'll stop this series.
  • you said you salivate at the thought of ruining people (that's been stuck in my head for a while btw). 
Yes, I do. It's an involuntary reaction to a stimulus, like someone becoming sexually aroused. I once heard a (possibly specious?) statistic that men think about sex every seven seconds. And I bet some of those times are triggered by girls younger than 16 years old. Maybe they even wish that it was ok to sleep with girls that young but since it isn't, they don't. And in any case, they can't control the fact that they are attracted to them. It's just the way they're wired. Similarly, I am also wired to enjoy the aggression inherent in power games. And there are certain contexts in which these power games are particularly useful, like in times of war/diplomacy/debate, just like how there's nothing wrong with sex in the right contexts. It's good for society to have a few people around that don't shy away from conflict but actually enjoy it, particularly as long as you can convince us we're on your team. I understand that people are concerned that I actually "ruin" people in that the person is "ruined". I don't. I have always defined and used the term to refer to power games (ruined in this sense means the same thing as it would in the context of a game, "I've ruined her" = I've beat her in a game). I'm not results-oriented about the ruining. I don't actually want to hurt them. But I still make a game out of it. To use the previous example, a man might flirt with a young girl just to see where it could possibly lead without actually intending to sleep with her. Similarly, I will sometimes exercise small degrees of influence over people to see how quickly I can acquire even larger degrees of influence over them. I don't actually use that influence to intentionally or malicious harm them (unless that's what they're asking me to do).

  • and that you've never killed anyone but very likely could. how can you not think that would make people hate sociopaths?

Yes, I understand, it would be scary if I had actually ever said that I "very likely could" kill someone or if a significant percentage of sociopaths are killers (I don't know what percentage of sociopaths are killers, and I don't think anyone does, but it can't be that high because there simply aren't that many murders committed). I think what I said was roughly (and even this was taken out of context): "is it possible that I would kill someone? I don't think I would, but it's possible." This is true. In my mind pretty much anything is possible -- I'm naturally very open-minded about what is and is not possible and my educational background has also led me to believe that it is foolish to not believe that it's within the realm of possibility that killing (either as a perpetrator or victim) could be part of my life -- or having a child with down syndrome, or becoming an amputee, or any number of unusual and unlikely but very possible events. I actually think it's weird that people assume that they're much more likely to be the victim of killing than the perpetrator, particularly because if most killers have only killed once, the odds of killer/killed happening to you are not so different. I wish more people would acknowledge that they too could be killers, given the right circumstances, then maybe they would take appropriate precautions to avoid things that might trigger any latent violent tendencies, like I do and have done since the DC metro worker incident from the book. If you have never experienced anything approaching a murderous rage, good for you but I fear you are in the minority of the population and there's no guarantee that you won't ever ("she always seemed so mild-mannered..."). But despite sometimes feeling like or wishing that I could "stick it to" someone, I have no real history of non-consensual violence and I don't really have the skills for killing someone even if I wanted to. My guess is that there is a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being killed by a sociopath and I am certain that there is a much greater chance of being the victim of violence perpetuated by a non-sociopath than by a sociopath. Do you know what kills much more frequently than sociopathy? Love kills. Emotions kill. It happens so often that we have a separate version of homicide for it, voluntary manslaughter. If you really want to decrease your likelihood of being murdered, you'd never get married, disown your family, never have kids. But of course this is stupid to do when the chance of getting murdered by anyone is so low and much lower than dying doing any number of other activities we still willingly engage in (driving automobiles, working, biking, etc.)

  • You are as repulsed by the fat girl as anyone else, but you see an opportunity to use her and have no qualms against taking it.

No, let me be very clear -- I am not repulsed. The fat woman does not bother me. Not only am I not repulsed, I don't understand why your feeling of repulsion and your mind-blindness are so strong that you can't imagine anyone not feeling repulsed to the point that you keep insisting that I am. I am not you. And your continued projection of your own failings unto me (along with a laundry list of failings that you imagine me to have) are telling as to how and why there is such a negative (and still unfounded, as far as this recent exercise is concerned) stigma against sociopaths. Why would her appearance offend me at all? I'd love to see someone even attempt to come up with a rational reason why, and yet you all conveniently write off this particularly ugly and antisocial empath trait as being "trivial" or necessary to the survival of humanity by ensuring that there be social conformity. Conformity as to what? Fit of clothing? Is it also ok to make everyone conform to the same religion? Same political beliefs? No? And yet, you all think there's an incredibly compelling reason to shame a fat person out of completely innocuous behavior. This is nonsense. It's irrational and hurtful and it's so common that you can't even imagine what humanity might look like without it. I don't think this example is trivial, rather I think this example and your reactions to it clearly illustrate how convinced empaths seem to be that their fecal matter doesn't stink.

  • And when you've used her up, when her value is gone, there's no marriage contract, no division of property, just a social umbilical cord to cut which thrusts her back out into the world, cold, naked and alone.

This is a funny thing to say, especially when the actual marriage success rate is 50%. I guess empaths are all selfish and self-interested? I don't think I've met anyone who consistently acts outside their own self-interest, and I don't think we'd want them to, or at least rational self-interest is the basis of capitalistic economies.

  • The person who commits a crime in a moment of temporary madness, or a blackout, is considered to be less dangerous than the one who knowingly and willingly commits an identical crime. The former is not held responsible, and in less need of reform. The latter is responsible for his actions, and heavier penalties are necessary to discourage future crimes.

It's not clear that sociopaths are actually deterred by heavier penalties. In fact, there has been substantial evidence suggesting that sociopath do not respond in the same way to punishment (but they do respond to incentives). If the idea is to actually prevent sociopaths from doing criminal acts, a one-size fits all method is not at all optimal. And I don't believe that sociopaths are incapable of reform. Sociopaths may not respond well to the current methods of prisoner reform, but we are far from having exhausted every possible option in terms of attempted reform of criminal sociopaths.

  • Sociopaths do not feel guilt and will never atone, and thus commit social crimes in perpetuity without any legal or social recourse. The solution, then, is to identify people who are sociopaths and ostracize them, strip them of social privileges and cast them out.

Sociopaths don't need to feel guilt/atone to choose to behave in socially beneficial ways. And your solution seems difficult to execute. Historically, what typically happens when you disenfranchise a group of people and treat them as less than? Does it work out well? No, because after they are no longer invested in your society (nothing to lose), they will have every incentive to tear it down (French Revolution, and really every other revolution, terrorism, etc.) And if we're imprisoning people based on their status (and an inborn genetic propensity at that), then we're opening the door to any number of atrocities committed against types of people that we might, in all our infinite and flawless wisdom, consider a net loss to society -- disabled people, mentally sick, even poor children who, just like sociopaths, are statistically more likely to grow up and become criminals. And if we're going to eliminate things that seem to cause problems, let's also get rid of religion because it makes people bigots and terrorists, and children in general because killers have to come from somewhere, and money because people don't like that other people have more of it and sometimes they commit crimes or murder for it, corporations, and a slew of other really great ideas for social reform. A certain degree of conformity is beneficial to society, but absolute conformity is absolute death.

  • I mean, sociopaths, almost all of them, have antisocial behaviors. And you are asking why humans, who life together, who organize in a society, stigmatize those who have antisocial behaviors?

My point is that everyone has antisocial behaviors. The sociopath's antisocial behaviors may seem uniquely distasteful to you, and it may be difficult for you to acknowledge your own failings, but it's not at all clear that sociopaths as a class of people are a net loss to society. You may have an intuition that this is true, but your intuitions appear to be tainted by your visceral negative reactions to the very idea of sociopaths. So I'm not just going to take your word for it on sociopaths being pure evil, and I don't think any reasonable person should. If your beliefs are really based in fact, they should hold up to even a modest degree of scrutiny. Otherwise, “that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." I'm not saying that people can't hate sociopaths -- they can and they do and I'm sure nothing will change that, particularly for some of you. But sociopaths are here, we're queer, and if you want to make our lives worse in some way, at least acknowledge that you are really just blindly enforcing your own personal and subjective set of aesthetic preferences of what humanity should look like onto sociopaths in the same way that you bully fat girls in a tube top. And it's not even effective -- as much as society shames fat girls in tube tops, they keep doing it.

  • A clue - empaths, and people of this ilk, especially in a group, as you know, are a thousand times as intelligent as any sociopath.

One more outrageous claim to add to the pile of irrational outrage. But this has been incredibly enlightening to me. I am pretty sure I now know where the intense stigma and dislike for sociopaths comes from, but unfortunately it's not anything that any of you seem to be able to put into words. Correct me if I'm wrong.

106 comments:

  1. M.E. I do not consider the blog comments to be filled with any amount of genius. lol

    I think for me, the part that bothers me the most, is lack of guilt, shameless lying and inability to learn from mistakes. Especially in close friendships and romantic relationships.

    It is hard for me to fathom that someone can hurt me, I can tell them they hurt me, then they could say they won't(lie), and keep doing it over and over again.(lack of guilt and inability to learn.


    If I loved someone, and they told me I hurt them, I would apologize and try not to do it again.

    It is a hard pill to swallow. And this does not have to be a specifically sociopath trait. It could be any of the PD disorders, that do this.

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    1. I'm happy to hear a genuine response to ME. It seems that many responding here are either jaded by bad experience with a sociopath or refuse to open their empath hearts to the sociopath. A bit ironic.

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    2. I don't hate sociopaths, or anyone with any mental illness,PD.

      They are tough to live with, have in your life, etc.

      It is just a different way of interacting that is hard for me, personally. When I meet someone, I assume they are presenting their true self, intentions, etc. That is what I do.

      It just catches me off guard when people are fake. Once I know they are, I can decide if I want them in my life or not.

      They major love of my life is someone with "something" off. LOL I am not with him, but I love him still. Just the way ME's family loves her.




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    3. Yes. The lies. They often happen because your personal details are not remembered because they are not important to someone who's perception is completely self centered. It is so very hard for most empaths to understand the "lack" of guilt. It's just not there. Quite a baffling concept. The disconnect can be quite unsettling. Me personally, I enjoy gamesmanship, but a game is a separate activity within everyday existence/living. Gaming every angle IS manipulation. I like you for who you are. I quess that leaves you quite bored. Maybe I'll scratch your back and carress your neck for you. Cheers!

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  2. The attitude about reform is one that never made sense to me. To break a taboo or harm others, the empath has to convince himself that the behavior is correct and just. His actions were the right ones, and nothing may tell him otherwise. For the sociopath, the behavior was the most profitable. Correcting the behavior is as easy as incentivising the "good" one.

    "They can't be reasoned with!" - no, empaths just suck at reasoning.

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    1. With reference to the example of the fat girl, there is a certain amount of comment in certain branches of the media about the ways in which other branches cause and/or encourage eating disorders and other manifestations of misery among young people-particularly girls- by filling magazines with airbrushed images of already skinny models.
      How many lives are ruined by this kind of very mainstream practice, and what seems to be a herd instinct to enforce conformity?
      I do not deny for a moment that psychos can be very dangerous, but the herd is very brutal to those on its fringes and it is the glossing over of this and the complicity of individuals who on their own would not "hurt a fly" which truly disgusts me about people.

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    2. Hey no one is saying that empaths can't be assholes too. Especially media, full of assholes.

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  3. "No, let me be very clear -- I am not repulsed. The fat woman does not bother me."

    Repulsion/revulsion are biological responses to the perception that someone is ill. It is an evolutionary defense mechanism against the spread of disease. I believe you are not repulsed, but that does not refute my point. It is more likely that you find her amusing and interesting. You're probably intrigued by how she's confined her gluttonous rolls into that strip of fabric, like an overstuffed pastry desperately trying to maintain equilibrium and not burst out of its inadequate casing. Despite your lack of revulsion, you see her vulnerability because you understand how everyone else perceives her, and you will exploit her because of it. And my point stands, that you are doing her no favors. In an ideal world, she would not be judged harshly for her unfashionable decision. In reality, her choice of apparel indicates self-destructive behavior, and supporting self-destructive behavior is akin to twisting the knife someone has plunged into their own breast.

    "This is a funny thing to say, especially when the actual marriage success rate is 50%. I guess empaths are all selfish and self-interested?"

    My point was that your example of the husband telling the wife she's the most beautiful woman in the world was a poor one. The wife needs to believe that her husband holds her in high esteem in order for their relationship to continue. In smiling at and engaging the fat girl in conversation, yes, you boost her self-esteem.

    There are two types of people who do this. The sociopath will boost her up because she is vulnerable to exploitation. She's a low-effort high-reward target, and when you've got your reward she's trash. Since you care nothing for her feelings, you'll throw her away and she'll crash harder to reality due to you lifting her up. Maybe she'll hurt herself to manifest her emotional pain physically. You don't care, you've already moved on to target #2.

    The other person sees a woman who accepts that she is fat and likely to be socially rejected, and realizes that stepping over social boundaries requires an act of determination and courage. He engages with her, and maybe he'll realize that that there is strength of will underneath those rolls. Maybe he's even into fat girls. The end result is that he's looking for a real bond, a real connection with this person that you perceive to be a toy or a tool to be used and thrown away.

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    1. "It's not clear that sociopaths are actually deterred by heavier penalties. In fact, there has been substantial evidence suggesting that sociopath do not respond in the same way to punishment (but they do respond to incentives)."

      The purpose of heavier penalties is not to deter and reform sociopaths, it is to keep them from hurting others for as long as possible. You've found some of my comments to be funny, but nothing is so amusing to me as the thought of giving sociopath criminals extra rewards for good behavior, which amounts to not committing the crimes they love so much. Why expend extra effort to help sociopath criminals integrate into normal society, where their major crimes may diminish, but they turn to cunning, manipulation, lies, and petty thievery? There's a far simpler and more effective method, which is extended incarceration. That's the current method, and as you mention, there aren't that many murders committed by sociopaths nowadays. If it's not broken, don't fix it.

      "Historically, what typically happens when you disenfranchise a group of people and treat them as less than? Does it work out well?"

      Ok, now I'm literally laughing my ass off. Are you suggesting that sociopaths, SOCIOPATHS are going to band together and start a revolution? Oh, there might be bloodshed, but a revolution of sociopaths would be no band of merry thieves. They'd gut each other in their sleep. And the ones necessary for revolution, the movers and shakers, the higher-ups in cushy positions, are they going to throw away their hard-earned resources to help, of all people, other sociopaths?

      You listed a number of groups as potential targets, as if disenfranchisement of sociopaths is some kind of slippery slope. The problem is that there is no slope, the ground is flat. What is being done now works. Sure, there are still murders, but they are far from the biggest killers, which are heart disease and cancer. Just face it, sociopaths are not and will never be a big enough problem to warrant the expenditure of resources necessary to identify and punish them. In that, at least, sociopaths are free to be on their merry way, and their victims come here to vent and/or cry about their hurt feelings.

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    2. @ Andy

      "nothing is so amusing to me as the thought of giving sociopath criminals extra rewards for good behavior, which amounts to not committing the crimes they love so much"

      ME is not suggesting incentivising good behavior to sociopaths because she believes that they deserve it. She's likely referencing the growing body of research that suggests that sociopaths are impervious to traditional methods of correction. Metaphorically they will continue putting their hands on a hot stove because the pain does not bother them the way it bothers an empath.
      This brain structure does respond well to positive reinforcement. That's why treated brand new sociopathic brains with the utmost care is well worth society's time. When the neural pathways for good behavior are laid down heavily in the first few years by offering strong incentives to a young sociopath to redirect his impulses to constructive activities, then good outcomes for all of society are achieved.
      When you beat the crap out of a little sociopath for not conforming, however, you have done nothing to reduce the likelihood of the offending action being recommitted. Ostracism doesn't work well either. In both cases, it simply adds to the beginning of a long list of perceived injustices a sociopath feels that society has committed against him.

      So what is to be done? I think we have to work on the positive reinforcement side of the puzzle. I agree that simply rewarding adult sociopaths for being nice is ludicrous. But what if the sociopathic reward structure was less about receiving material goodies for not being bad (which strikes me as an extreme version of a star chart for good behavior- what a joke!) and instead was geared more towards helping a sociopath fit into his social world better?

      Practically speaking it might look something like this. Sociopathy is treated like Aspergers (or any other recognized learning disorder) in the sense that our public health and education systems recognize that sociopathic children need supportive interventions so that they meet their full potential. (I am focusing on children because research supports intervention in this personality structure is much easier earlier on).

      The way that plays out is that federal funds are appropriated to create unique educational opportunities for these kids. Many sociopaths are quite intelligent. They are also stimulation seeking. They are bold and fearless. They are wired to handle crisis very well. If you capitalize on these strengths and create an "explorer program" where kids like this are trained early to be pilots/surgeons/CIA/military/race car driving by getting to compete against themselves and others like them in simulated circumstances designed to engage them mentally and funnel the will towards honing these skills, you reduce the frustration of a child who doesn't fit well in a mainstream learning environment.

      With Obama's recent new mental health care initiative, the timing is right to begin thinking about options like these. If the general public can begin to see sociopathic brains as morally neutral, and only dangerous if they develop under the wrong circumstances, the stigma a sociopath faces for doing what comes naturally (and the inevitable cycle of rage and acting out that follows long term marginalization).

      The sad part of this solution is that most of the intervention will be focused on the under 18 crowd of sociopaths because that is where the rewards to society can be felt- but perhaps the simple recognition that sociopaths are not evil, simply doing what comes naturally in a system that failed them will help the empathic majority respond with compassion rather than revulsion. If someone is no longer "evil" , there's a much greater chance of being able to come up with reasonable solutions to antisocial behavior on a case by case basis.

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    3. I take it that it's not a coincidence that my post is gone. Lightning usually doesn't strike the same place twice.

      Do you want me to stop playing Devil's Advocate?

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    4. I can't speak for everyone but I want you to keep posting. I thought you maybe had other things going on and that is why you haven't been posting and have missed your perspective. But judging from Monica's statement below, It looks like you are not the only one who is losing posts- maybe a technical glitch?
      The only way debates improve is through people being willing to play devils advocate.

      I am working so hard to wrap my mind around sociopathy right now and these debates provide such fertile ground for new thinking. It would be a crying shame if anyone gave up because they felt that they were being silenced.

      ME- can you, as site administrator, check on what is going on here?

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    5. I'm fairly certain it was deliberate. I had the text copied, posted it twice, and it was removed twice (hence the lightning). I confirmed immediately after posting that it was successful each time, but then it disappeared in moments.

      She said this was the last part of this series of posts, so I assumed she wouldn't care to respond. The post that was removed here, in reply to you, was probably about as harsh as I'm willing to be, but she's left plenty of inflammatory comments here before.

      I guess we'll see what happens tomorrow :)

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    7. Mach: "If you capitalize on these strengths and create an "explorer program" where kids like this are trained early to be pilots/surgeons/CIA/military/race car driving by getting to compete against themselves and others like them in simulated circumstances"

      You are overestimating the sociopath IQ. This people are very delusional about their own capacities. They will go for the "explorer program" and they will use their trickery to succeed, and their frustration against others if they don't.

      "Do you want me to stop playing Devil's Advocate?"

      Paranoid? ;) I think the blog doesn't accept long comments anymore. Make several.

      Jessi

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    8. @Jessi and Andy-
      I just made 2 long posts below in response to one of Jessi's comments. Let's see what happens. Even if it disappears my gut response is not to jump to the conclusion ME is removing things she doesn't want to hear. Controversy in good and keeps blogs alive. She's been pretty brave about putting herself out there - I doubt negative feedback from us would put her in a place where she is editing what gets said. Perhaps I have an overly rosy viewpoint, but I think that if she was cynical enough to do that, that same trait would've caused her to better anticipate what was coming and decide against writing the book in the first place.

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    9. Can I just not post anything in this comment thread?

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  4. "This is a funny thing to say, especially when the actual marriage success rate is 50%."

    I don't think the argument was about the success rate of marriage. It concerned the psychopath's tendancy to use people in relationships. Most people make commitments and set up their relationships so that in the case of breakdown, both are fairly treated. The psychopath, on the other hand, just wants to use the other person and walk away with everything leaving their former partner empty-handed.

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    1. Plenty of empaths have caused messy divorces out of spite or hurt or anger. Exploitation isn't solely the domain of sociopaths.

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    2. No, the argument was not about marriage at all, but M.E. gets terms of the comments, takes them out of context, and responds out of scope, maybe to confuse?

      Jessi

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    3. Jessi- sometimes you take things out of context as well. Perhaps you both have a secret agenda- or perhaps you both interpret things differently than the original author intended. There's not always a nefarious motive...

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    4. Please, point me out when I do it because I am not aware of it.

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  5. I keep losing my posts.

    I think that anyone who pricks people's comfortable denial will be punished by those sheeple. I think that is what is happening to M.E and will happen to anyone, anywhere, who is an independent thinker.

    Most people are are hiding in lies will have no mercy to the person who is exposing their lies.

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    1. Good point. I think that the specific lie in question is the empath's need to feel superior over sociopaths. I don't think empaths can handle the strain of being inferior, especially since they spend the majority of their lives engaging in a tribal belief that familiar is better than alien. It's not limited to sociopaths; anything alien must be denounced as inferior, but sociopaths get the brunt of this because of how starkly different they seem.

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    2. "I think that the specific lie in question is the empath's need to feel superior over sociopaths. I don't think empaths can handle the strain of being inferior, especially since they spend the majority of their lives engaging in a tribal belief that familiar is better than alien."


      not sure I agree- I think empaths are scared of sociopaths. They might feel that they have the moral high ground, but it's sociopaths that tend voice feelings of superiority over empathic "sheep" who are perceived as stupid sitting ducks.

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    3. Its only natural for the prey to feel afraid of the predator. In fact its instinctive to do so. It has also been shown that there are many empaths who get "creeped out" by sociopaths within moments of meeting them. This could possibly be an instinctive defensive response some empaths have developed to help protect themselves.

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  6. M.E., your definition of ruin or "ruined" is very different than that of those who have been "ruined" by sociopaths. It's also different than the dictionaries definition which is total destruction or disintegration, either physical, moral, social, or economic.

    Ruined for empaths means to have been lied to, with those lies, often huge, elaborate lies, leading to great emotional and financial harm. Lies leading to the "target" falling in love, only to be abused and being turned into basket cases in some cases, or ending as a suicide. Or to be financial ruined or greatly harmed.

    You said yourself there is nothing more beautiful, or words to that affect, than a broken heart. Well that is the worst thing you can do to most empaths. To lead them to love and then crap on them.

    You make it sound like your ruining of people is comparable to getting a promotion over a target or beating them at a game of monopoly.

    That's why sociopaths are hated by most. Because they lie to achieve whatever ever they want without regards for consequences, which many times are very bad for the target or non target. It's sometimes said sociopaths are more honest than empaths. This is obviously completely wrong. They are sometimes honest about their own behavior, usually saying empaths are the same, that lying about someones terrible pasta dish and saying it is good is similar to lying to Mrs Jacobs, marrying her, killing her and taking her money, but they are not honest about their dishonesty. And for this reason cannot be trusted. Ask a sociopath why they do what they do and they will almost always make it about you.

    I disagree when i read how sociopaths have a good or special use as a soldier or surgeon. Empaths can do the job just as well, however, at the end of the day we are far more reliable and will not go kill our mates or just walk off.

    Most people are scared of sociopaths. Saying you are a sociopath is like saying I have a flamethrower in my jacket, I love using it and you look cold. People are going to run. No one wants to get burned, and no one wants their heart broken.

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    1. "Most people are scared of sociopaths. Saying you are a sociopath is like saying I have a flamethrower in my jacket, I love using it and you look cold. People are going to run. No one wants to get burned, and no one wants their heart broken."

      Until this point, I didn't think you were awesome. Now I am convinced that you are.

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    2. The other reason they are hated is because many express a sadistic enjoyment over the harm they have done; a mocking chuckle. Some if not all appear to experience delight in hurting others. Not just the win, but the ruin.

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    3. "Ask a sociopath why they do what they do and they will almost always make it about you."
      I know ME touched upon this in an older post but it's not that sociopaths are blaming you so much that sociopaths are merely illustrating the chain of cause and effect. Sociopaths don't consider themselves to be at fault because they don't care who's at fault and thus never give any thought to it. If you forced one to answer a question like that, I'm sure you'll eventually get them to eventually admit that they're at fault, but no matter how hard you try, you won't get them to care. So it's not that they're lying; rather, they're not answering the question you actually asked because they don't care about the question you asked and can't imagine why you would, so the thought that you'd be asking about blame doesn't even occur to them.

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    4. Awesome Aspie is the most interesting read here!

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    5. Not only awesome but accurate.

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    6. Aspie <3

      Jessi

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    7. Where did ME say "there is nothing more beautiful, or words to that affect, than a broken heart."

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    8. There is nothing wrong with running away from a sociopath who advertises their flame thrower. I think there are sociopaths like ME who lock up their flame throwers for the good of society and to be "good people". Isn't it wrong to ostracize someone for their potential, particularly one they could temper.

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    9. I personally get immense enjoyment out of inflicting pain on another, but I typically restrain myself from hurting anyone to badly simply because of the messy future repercussions I would then possibly have to clean up.

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    10. Most people get off on giving pleasure- and in both situations there's a common theme- power over the one who is at your mercy (so to speak). Is that what is behind the enjoyment or is a completely different thought process at work?

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  7. Wow, very insightful. Andy is such a delight!

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    1. I'm hoping this is a sarcastic comment!

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  8. "a man might flirt with a young girl just to see where it could possibly lead without actually intending to sleep with her"

    Appeal to the popular giving a bad behavior to justify yours.

    "I don't know what percentage of sociopaths are killers, and I don't think anyone does, but it can't be that high because there simply aren't that many murders committed".

    The fact that there aren't that many murders committed does not imply that the percentage of sociopaths that are murders is low. For example, those few murders could just be committed by sociopaths.

    I read that research also shows that only 20% of U.S. prison inmates are sociopaths and between 1% and 4% of the U.S. population. It is more likely that you are meeting a potential criminal when you meet a sociopath than when you meet an empath.

    "I actually think it's weird that people assume that they're much more likely to be the victim of killing than the perpetrator, "

    In being a victim you have no control of, in being the killer you do. So it is logical that people who are not prone to killing believe that they are more likely to be victims than killers.

    "particularly because if most killers have only killed once, the odds of killer/killed happening to you are not so different"

    What?! Where is the connection?!!

    " If you have never experienced anything approaching a murderous rage, good for you but I fear you are in the minority of the population"

    I don't think that is a minority.

    "Do you know what kills much more frequently than sociopathy? Love kills. Emotions kill"

    If "emotions" will commit more crimes than lack of emotions ( sociopaths) the % of sociopaths in prison will be different than the actual ones.

    To die from an accident, illness is terrible and frequent enough but it doesn't make any better murder and more innocent a killer.

    "Sociopaths may not respond well to the current methods of prisoner reform, but we are far from having exhausted every possible option in terms of attempted reform of criminal sociopaths."

    I think there is no possible reform. But I am curious about which methods do you consider that will help "reforming" a sociopath.

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    1. From my reading of ME's book, and emails with her, I believe the "murderous rage" is something different from what everyone here is interpreting. I believe we have all wished a world in which our problems disappear, often those problems being people.

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    2. It's funny that you think a majority of people would never think of killing as a possibility when there are so many murders portrayed on television, in movies, and many role-play it in video game format.

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    3. I routinely imagine myself killing someone. Especially if I'm in a dark alley with only one other person in it with me. I usually touch the switchblade I'm usually carrying and imagine killing them. The issue is always and will likely always be that I would require a change of clothes, rubber gloves, a water bottle and cloth, and a foolproof means of disposing of the body without getting caught amongst other issues. I don't carry these things on me and there is no completely foolproof way to kill someone so its likely that I never will

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    4. I'm curious Khan, is it an internal state that makes you want to kill? Or do certain individuals set you off? Or is it the sense of power that would come from being in control of someone else's destiny?

      Because I'm wired differently it's hard for me to see how that would be rewarding. I try to think about how that could be a positive experience and the only similarity I can come up with is how some people like the thrill of seducing people and then walking away with no strings/obligations. Is it something like that?

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  9. "because after they are no longer invested in your society (nothing to lose), they will have every incentive to tear it down"

    That's the way they already behave now.

    "disabled people, mentally sick, even poor children who, just like sociopaths, are statistically more likely to grow up and become criminals"

    Disabled people are more likely to become criminals? Why is a poor children is more likely to become a criminal? Probably because of a social unfairness. Society is somehow responsible that children poverty derives in few opportunities to lead a normal life. This will not exonerate him but will morally excuse him and made society partially responsible of those acts. The condition of sociopathy has no mitigating circumstances.

    "And if we're going to eliminate things that seem to cause problems, let's also get rid of religion because it makes people bigots and terrorists, and children in general because killers have to come from somewhere, and money because people don't like that other people have more of it and sometimes they commit crimes or murder for it, corporations, and a slew of other really great ideas for social reform."

    Cause-effect fallacies.

    "The sociopath's antisocial behaviors may seem uniquely distasteful to you"
    "But sociopaths are here, we're queer, and if you want to make our lives worse in some way"

    If the sociopath devious conduct would just be uniquely "distasteful" for me, it would not be "antisocial". Another thing is that I personally believe, that it is not possible to reform a sociopath. That is purely a personal guess.

    Being fat and wearing tube tops is not antisocial, that is the aesthetic preference. Rapists are also here and to rape is neither a aesthetic preference. You should distinguish a conscious damaging action with an ugly tube top.

    But, if to abuse is for you an "aesthetic preference", I guess you tolerate very well if someone will abuse you. So, if you think that the reaction towards sociopaths is rather abusive, why do you sound outraged? You should just take it as an irrelevant question of taste.

    A sociopath, smart or stupid, harms and abuses people consciously to satisfy personal interests and without mitigating circumstances. I can't imagine a conduct which deserves more a social stigma.

    "am pretty sure I now know where the intense stigma and dislike for sociopaths comes from"

    Enlighten us...

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    1. It feels really good to scapegoat, doesn't it?

      Trust me, knowing my own history and heartbreak I felt my pulse rise with the pleasure of feeling validated, feeling understood. It feels really good to imagine Jessi, Aspie, and Andy cornering the sociopath in my life- the same person who towered over me, backed me into a corner, and screamed "You're despicable!" because I wouldn't do as told.

      I imagine them as a motley band of avenging angels who would say "You are a monster. You crush the vulnerable and you abuse all trust extended to you. Your privileges as a fellow human being are hereby revoked."

      And after that brief satisfaction I remember something. I remember that sociopaths are not the only source of evil in this world. Empaths, after bad breakups are notorious for rubbing their exes faces in new relationships and "making them pay". Sometimes the empathic scorned partner's desire for revenge is even so nasty that they drag their children through horrific court battles because they want some ultimate authority (usually a county judge) to pronounce one side good and one side evil.

      Jessi- you reference the murderous rage that you are privileged enough not to have ever felt. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you've never been given adequate reason to feel it? I anticipate your rebuttal with stories about the sociopath in your life that you walked away from. You, as an adult, had the freedom to extricate yourself from an abusive situation.

      Do you know where I think murderous rage comes from? The year in, year out experience of living with an abusive parent. Or the year in, year out experience of being bullied and not having the adults in your life move you to a better environment to protect you. It comes from recognizing injustice will rule, no matter what you do. You have 3 choices. You can despair. You can act out your rage. Or you can learn to game the system.

      Sociopaths were little tiny children once. Some children with this particular brain wiring had good parents who didn't do things like lock them in closets without food and water and forbid them to make a sound. Those kids probably grew up to be people who don't have murderous rage. For that reason, the lack of conscience they were blessed/cursed with doesn't need to keep them from murdering someone. These kids might cheat on their taxes and signifigant others, but by and large live the lives of prosocial sociopaths.

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    2. (continuing my long response- )


      But for the little sociopaths who grew up with monsters for parents, it gets a whole lot more complicated. The child who is helpless against inevitable abuse either becomes a victim, or identifies with the aggressor. They never learn to respect the human dignity of another person because their dignity was never respected. They learn ugly truths like "eat or be eaten" or (thinking of the Dangerous Liaisons post- "win or die".

      A more temperamentally gentle child is content to become an addict, mutilate themselves, commit suicide in a passive way (accident prone to the extreme), or otherwise self destruct to escape that pain. A more typical child goes on the develop symptoms that look like PTSD or borderline personality disorder. Or, if they happen to be good brown nosers who develop a false self the abuser likes, they become narcissists. Bottom line, though, is that they get stuck using primitive defenses like splitting people black and white and vacillating between cruelty and kindness because they are so mixed up inside they don't know how else to let out their feelings.

      A more willful child who is biologically less wired to be less vulnerable to emotions like despair, ext, will absorb the abuse, and learn how to suppress feelings like grief and despair entirely. They do not identify with their aggressors and think "it's my fault. If I am a good boy it will stop happening". Instead they think "Fuck everyone. The world sucks. Me first." and develop a life pattern of extremely selfish behavior patterns.

      That's where a sociopath comes from. It doesn't mean that they are safe, good, or 3 cuddles away from being productive members of society. It does mean that sociopaths have a personality style that reacted poorly to the sorts of circumstances that would drive anyone a bit crazy.

      ME talks about her father in pretty stoic terms. But make no mistake about it. He was a class A tyrant who allowed his teenage daughter to walk around with a ruptured appendix to the point she became severely septic. His primary concern was looking bad. WTF??? If I were ME I'd have some murderous rage too, except I'm wired differently so I've had different battles.

      Bottom line: we have to see sociopaths for the dangers they present, but to scapegoat them and to deny them their full humanity by putting them in a box labeled "monster" we commit a grave error.

      If we dehumanize sociopaths, how on earth can we judge them for dehumanizing us?

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    3. We don't dehumanize sociopaths. They have all the rights to which everyone else is entitled by law. Socialization is not a right, it is a privilege. I learned that lesson well as a child. What led to revocation of my privilege? I was weird. All my peers saw that, recognized it, and punished me accordingly. The sociopath that faces the social consequences of their actions and identity is far more deserving of ostracism from her peers than I was.

      If M.E. wants to be let back in, there's a price. She could publicly announce that she's donating all her personal profits from the book to a charity that helps those with mental illnesses. If she puts her money where her mouth is, showing that sociopaths, while not altruistic are capable of doing good where the reward in social acceptance is great, she will turn her situation on its head and bring about the paradigm shift she desires so much.

      Of course, a real sociopath would never do that, would they? What if they also offered proof of sociopathy in the form of a clinical diagnosis accompanied by one of these brain scans everybody is talking about? Everything has a price.

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    4. You are forcing a double bind. Either ME personally redeems herself with a public mea culpa and gives all of her money away and proves that she is not a "real" sociopath in the first place- OR- ME gets ostracized.

      What do you think is the best course of action for her?
      Personally, I think that we don't have to engage in all or nothing thinking here.

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    5. "Jessi- you reference the murderous rage that you are privileged enough not to have ever felt. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you've never been given adequate reason to feel it?"

      I am sure I was given as many reasons as M.E., and yes, my spath gave me several too.

      "I anticipate your rebuttal with stories about the sociopath in your life that you walked away from. You, as an adult, had the freedom to extricate yourself from an abusive situation. "

      As an adult I did extricate myself of the abusive situation as soon as I saw I had been abused and I was being abused. As an adult, and with the freedom you talk about, I believe no one can blame their parents for how they behave when adults. That's a miserable excuse. And, well, that would bring us I guess to the original sin... because those parents had also other parents to blame, etc,... so rather put the blame on Mame... ;)


      "If we dehumanize sociopaths, how on earth can we judge them for dehumanizing us?"

      If we kill a murderer how can we judge him for killing us? The answer is in: why is he killing? Why are we killing?

      In any case, we are not dehumanizing sociopaths we are evaluating their behavior that happens to be inhuman. No scapegoat or whatsoever, we have no interest in dehumanizing anyone. We are the first ones who would like to see their humanity if it is there, but we are not going to invent it if there is not. And, as said before, it is their choice as adults, to behave in an inhuman way, an therefore being seen as inhuman or not.

      Jessi

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    6. @Mach: While we still haven't gotten any details, hints and rumors abound that M.E. is already facing ostracism on some level. I'm not forcing anything, I'm presenting an option. If M.E. wants to open up a dialogue about sociopaths, an act of self-sacrifice to support her ideals would turn heads. It would have to be a carefully calculated move, and she would require media attention, but it would give her the opportunity to talk publicly about the issues she's faced following her 'coming out'. I think people would find it very interesting, especially if she had a solid diagnosis to back it up so that everyone doesn't just shout 'NARCISSIST'.

      I know that it's extremely risky, but what does she have to lose? I have no idea what her book profits are, but I doubt she can live off them. If she can become a figurehead, a spokesperson for sociopathy, she could not only rebound but bounce higher than the book alone could propel her. If the plan fails, she regains credibility and humanity and becomes hireable again in the law field.

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    7. that's assuming she wants to be in the law field... my sense is that she was bored of it.

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    8. Ha, for some reason I'm really having trouble posting. I wonder if M.E. wouldn't mind having my response up.

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    9. i dont think donating profits would make ME seem less sociopathic. I think it would make ME seem to have an agenda of a person more likely to be invited to charity events.

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    10. . . . a woman who changes the world.

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  10. You nailed it, Andy, Jessi and Aspie!

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    1. Wow, I am surprised that Andy, Jessi and Aspie keep getting shout outs when their ideas are so emotionally reactive and unsympathetic. Do sociopaths deserve no sympathy simply because it is difficult for them to offer it?

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  11. Yes, ME's definition of 'ruin' is bullshit. Typical psychopath attempting to redefine words after the fact.

    People dislike psychopaths because there is nothing concrete to like. They are shape-shifting lizards for whom the truth is an alien concept.

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    1. You described Monica to the tee. Is she psychopath or a Malignant Narcissist?

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    2. what does this have to do with Monica?

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    3. Does the mal narc do the con - pretend to be whoever they think you want them to be to seduce you - in the same way as a psychopath does?

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  12. Replies
    1. Themes, did you catch Cindy Lauper do "True Colors" on the Tony's tonight? Ok ok, so I'm a fag...kill me~

      I thought of you, Themes. xxx

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    2. Thanks Anon. No, I did not see it but that song is so awesome. You are not a fag. You are a cutie xox

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  13. Get this? I can't post with my Monica account unless I give them personal info. :(

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    1. It's god and the christ themselves telling you to leave my dear.

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    2. Yea LOL
      Well, if they want personal info, I will have to use this kind of posting. If you see a bunch of wild and out of control Monicas, it is not me~

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  14. I think everyone needs to imagine that they had a child, that child was diagnosed a sociopath, and that child struggles with all things a sociopath does. That mindset will be proper for deciding treatment and addressing the "problem" of the sociopath. I "understand" why many here are up-in-arms against sociopaths(they fear the bully, and respond like a bully), I just don't think that response is educated or rationally founded. If someone can imagine their child sociopath and why they might fear them, I think those are responses worth hearing.

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  15. Haters gotta hate..... no. Seriously, I get it. People generally hate sociopaths because we think of sociopaths as people who murder and hurt others for sport with no guilt afterwards. But how many of those types of sociopaths are there? And how many empaths and "normal" people are there that hurt people and murder people and don't feel bad? Maybe those people only feel bad afterwards because they're now stuck in jail..... The more I read from the blog the more I realize that sociopaths and empaths are more alike than us empaths want to admit. I refuse to believe that every sociopath out there is bad and should be avoided. That's like saying every empath out there is good and should be celebrated. Its not black and white. I choose to try and understand ME because I want to understand how someone who's not exactly like me thinks. And its entertaining as well.

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    1. And since this is the close of this series, might I suggest that we have some fun. I'd love ME to write a blog post about which celebrities she thinks are sociopaths. So far I'm thinking Jesse Eisenberg.

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    2. Not everything is black and white, but black is actually black and white is actually white. It would be sad to confuse black and white with other colors.

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  16. thanks for answering my questions... i love ME. there i said it.

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  17. @ Mach: I could come up with a dozen reasons why it is not feasible to identify sociopath children, give them special treatment/training, and expect them to come out any better than they would had they been left alone. The vast majority of sociopaths do not commit major crimes and end up in prison, suggesting that there is no problem to be fixed. Also, while M.E. and others have suggested that sociopaths would excel in certain jobs, there is no evidence that they do. Rather, the risky behavior to which sociopaths are prone is much more likely to cause them to fail at professions that require cold and calculating logic.

    M.E. herself has said that she got into her teaching job by being cunning, manipulative, and charming. Recently, commenters who claim to be well-versed in matters of law have stated that her publication record is mediocre, indicating that at no point in her career did she succeed through diligence and effort. I am no expert, so I cannot be completely objective on these matters, but M.E.'s case suggests that rather than excelling in jobs that seem tailored to sociopaths, they lie and cheat their way into those jobs and get by doing minimal work. If hard work and excellence offer no reward, then sociopaths will slack off and rake in profits. I've heard this is how sociopaths climb the ladder of corporations, who encourage this type of selfish behavior.

    No, all the great thinkers, inventors, scientists, and scholars over the course of human history have had some emotional investment in their work, some great curiosity that drove them to excellence with no promise of great reward. Rewards they did reap, though, and humanity has benefited immensely from their efforts. Tell me, what have sociopaths done to be great, besides being excellent liars, thieves, and murderers? At what do they excel, besides being perfect monsters?

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    1. "Also, while M.E. and others have suggested that sociopaths would excel in certain jobs, there is no evidence that they do"

      There have been interviews done with surgeons definitely (maybe others, I'm not sure) where the surgeon states that in order to do their job efficiently they must shut off their empathy. They need to view the patient as a piece of meat, not a living creature.
      Now I know this behavior doesn't make the surgeons socios, nor does it mean that socios would make good surgeons. But it does show that there is at least one sociopathic trait that is beneficial in at least one case.
      And if your involved in a legal case would you rather have the lawyer who hates to loose and will do or say anything, regardless of its moral dubiousness to win. Or would you rather have the lawyer who might feel bad about the loses the other party would incur should you win? I'd personally rather have a lawyer who'd bring me the greatest chance of victory personally.

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    2. Andy, completely agree.

      Khan, "shut off their empathy". As much as when you are involved in something serious you might need to shut off your humoristic side. A good surgeon will not just use with precision the bistury, he will also care about the patient's wellbeing. This emotional motivation will help him searching ways to do better his job, and part of doing well his job consist in focusing on the surgery while he is performing one.

      In a legal case, you rather have a lawyer who wants to do well his job because he does believe in the Law systems and believes that eveybody deserves the best defense, not an opportunistic who might let you down if a more rewarding case comes into his hands meanwhile.


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  18. @ Andy-
    I am most interested in the minds of developing sociopaths in less than ideal environments. If intervention can be made- both their general well being and that of everyone around them will be positively impacted.
    How to intervene? Make sure that primary caregivers are not overwhelmed and respite care is possible. Kids with conduct disorder are difficult to parent. Pay attention to school bullies and stop them before it's more than child's play. No need to shame or stigmatize. Focus efforts of positive redirection. So much heartache could be averted.

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    1. Are all bullies sociopaths, and are all sociopaths bullies? Personally, I do think something needs to be done about bullying, especially when kids are in grade school and social development is critical. However, I don't see how that has anything to do with sociopaths. Most children act like sociopaths anyways. How do you propose they be identified? How will you convince parents to provide consent that they be identified?

      It's all too messy.

      My dad said that there was an old bathtub outside when I was a kid, and the neighbor girl and I found baby mice inside of it. He said we both got a crazy look in our eyes, and proceeded to smash all the baby mice to bits. He said he was literally afraid of us. We turned out all right though. I think she married a Chinese guy a year or so ago. I'm still killing mice.

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    2. I agree with Andy. It's not possible to diagnose children as sociopaths while their brains are still developing.

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    3. A definitive judgment should never be made about a child- but if they are already diagnosed with conduct disorder, it might be wise to offer support options to the caregivers and to make sure that the school situation is a good fit. As a culture we have to think differently about how we treat children who are wired this way. They don't respond to punishment or ostracism, but can improve if the proper incentives are put in place. The brain is so plastic at this age there's far less chance of pathology developing if we think "vulnerable" brain- not "bad" brain.
      The danger lies in the objective evidence that neuroimaging provides. If we are not careful about how we handle this information, a brain scan could follow a child like a mark of Cain. No more hiding in plain sight.

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    4. "They don't respond to punishment or ostracism, but can improve if the proper incentives are put in place."

      Are you sure they can improve?

      The pity pictures you wrote about sociopaths as being the victims of a horrible household remind me of an article in The New York Times I read a year ago.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html

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    5. I know that article well. My take away from it was that society would be well served if we could give the primary caregivers more of a break. Raising a child like the ones described would be terrifying, especially if you were concerned for sibling safety. Kids with conduct disorder are provocative, and much more likely to be abused because their parents go temporarily mad with frustration at times.

      My argument is- as a society, we are all served by investing the necessary resources to prevent caregiver burnout of these kids. I'd rather face a a prosocial sociopath than a raving lunatic. The difference between the two has a lot to do with what sort of caregiving a vulnerable brain receives during a period where the brain is very plastic.

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    6. @Mach

      Are you still in love with your psychopathic ex?

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    7. nope. That was 2007. There is a police report on file about everything he did, even though I chose not to press charges, mostly so I could focus on my children and not give him anymore energy. I established a no contact policy that I have kept and my brother briefly came and lived with me to protect me during the time he stalked me.
      I knew it was important to not live in fear so when his ex wife and mother of his child (who I had come to love) asked me to support her in family court, I stood next to her and supported her for her daughter's sake. He was seriously delinquent on child support payments and was trying to use his new girlfriend's credit card to satisfy court requirements. It was important to me to look him in the eye and not look away to show him I wasn't afraid anymore.

      At the time, it was the most terrifying experience of my life. Today, I understand that it was the moment I stopped expecting to be taken care of because I was a good little girl. In hindsight- I am so grateful for this experience because it taught me to be brave.

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    8. that is lovely :)

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    9. I think it's a mistake to be grateful for the experience. This is like someone saying: I am grateful my mother died when I was a child because I got to be more independent. There is no cause-effect in learning for a bad experience, your life can also finish ruined. And it that case it is also a mistake to focus on it to blame all what happens in your life afterwards *typical case for people blaming their parents still at 40*. What you should be is proud on yourself for dealing with it well and learning from it.

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    10. I am grateful to have a more realistic view of the world. The lessons learned through that experience make me a better person and more effective mother. Without that experience I probably would still be a sitting duck for future predators. The experience was just awful enough to completely change the way I looked at the world, but was not so terrible that I was crushed forever. I could easily be one of many in government data on partner violence. I was one of the lucky ones.
      At the risk of TMI - after I had broken up with him, he broke into my house, assaulted me, and then held me hostage one night when he was out of his mind (kids were thankfully with their father- that was a stroke of luck). To this day I am not sure how I made it until morning. The experience changed me forever and made me understand how valuable my life is.
      That is why I am grateful.

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    11. Well, I guess I don't need those experiences to have a more realistic view of the world and to value my life... I would not have been grateful for the experience and I would just recommend it to those that would feel grateful for it. I would have presented charges.

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    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Fascinating discussion. I may be incorrect, but it appears to me that many here are immediately defining calculated behavior as "evil" (however meaningless self defined terms are) and/or necessarily socially or culturally proscribed. Why does one's motivation for a certain behavior or action determine its acceptability?

    How does one define evil or good? My definition of social benefit may be different than another's. Do I have any right to judge someone else based upon the terms I set without their belief system? I do not understand why an honest assessment of personal gain and /or loss is necessarily less moral.

    Do I help others for some ill-defined altruistic motive or for my own self-interest? From a broad perspective I'm not sure it matters. My ego wants to believe my culture values my contribution so I volunteer, or play nice, or work hard, or whatever. It is in my own interest to convince myself my motives are not suspect.

    Brenda

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    1. If you don't like the word evilness, maybe because it has religious connotations, use another one. The emphasis is not in the fact that the behavior is "calculated", a kind behavior can also be "calculated", it is place on the fact that some individuals, which have been called sociopaths, in order so the psychiatric world has a term they can all use meaning the same, use and abuse people as a modus vivendi. And is the abusive behaviour that is rejected.

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  20. Fucking Bravo M.E.

    That is the first time that i recall having read you "comment" here. This post, I mean. I am so happy to see you respond .

    Thank you. I was feeling you disappear. X

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  21. sevvack khan writes: " I'd personally
    rather have a lawyer who'd bring me the
    greatest chance of victory personally." (with some earlier comparisons of a lawyer who would do anything to win, versus a lawyer who feels bad about the other side.)

    What you've described is a very shallow depiction of legal service. See, what many clients don't realize is that a *really* good lawyer doesn't focus on "winning," but on figuring out the client's goals and how to help the client get to those goals.

    Here are ways where a "winning"-centered approach can be terrible:
    * If the methods it takes to win causes the lawyer (or the client) to be embroiled in ethics disputes leading to professional sanctions (example: the many scandals one reads about on Above The Law)
    * if the methods it takes to win costs so much it leads to client bankruptcy (despite the "win"), or at least much more monetary loss than would otherwise be incurred to reach the client's actual goals (example: an attorney who spends way more on providing legal services, through experts, doc review, etc, than the client can afford)
    * if the methods it takes to win ends up creating difficulties with the client's other long-term goals. (example: an attorney who litigates to death the problem you have with one source supplier when you still need to work with that supplier for other sources for your manufacturing process.)

    You're right in that one probably doesn't want a lawyer who feels so bad for the "other side" that they don't do a decent job at their case. But I can't think of a single lawyer (even "empathic" ones) who would do that. Call us "kinda sociopathic" or whatever, but we understand it's not part of the job.

    But to take the broader view I describe above--which is what it takes to be a *great*, versus passable, lawyer--I think some empathy is helpful, or at least some ability to come up with a theory of mind for one's clients, if one doesn't have the ability to "feel." It's not about "winning" one case or another, but about helping the client get to her real goals, which *might* entail winning a case, but could just as often entail coming up with a creative settlement or even moving to a different project entirely.

    Note: I don't really have a dog in the fight about whether or not certain behavior is "sociopathic" or whether "sociopaths" can be good lawyers; my main beef is with this all too narrow understanding of the legal profession, which often leads clients to settle for mediocre services when they could be much better.

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    1. Excelent comment.

      "You're right in that one probably doesn't want a lawyer who feels so bad for the "other side" that they don't do a decent job at their case. But I can't think of a single lawyer (even "empathic" ones) who would do that. Call us "kinda sociopathic" or whatever, but we understand it's not part of the job."

      There is no need be "kinda sociopathic", the legal system is defined in a way that the best a lawyer can do in the name of Justice is to represent his client in the best way for his client. The lawyer should not act as a judge, decide that the other side is the one that should win and do a poor job to help the opponent.

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  22. It's actually similar to what some of us lawyers were saying on the other thread: that sociopathy might have helped her be a passable lawyer (though maybe not, because accounts suggest Jamie was fired from her law firm, or at least not on track to be partner, which at many places is effectively the same) as well as law professor, but at the same time, sociopathy might have hindered her from being a really *great* lawyer/law professor.

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    1. That was most likely down to office politics. Making partner has bugger all to do with being a great lawyer.

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  23. And don't even get me started on how most legal practice isn't about litigation (where people can more easily talk about "winning") but instead about transactional and compliance work, which doesn't fit into that mold.

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    1. People watch too many tv series...

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  24. I a m just an active reader on here but I am definitely learning. Thanks!

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  25. Anonymous June 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM writes about Lund's firing: "That was most likely down to office politics."

    Seriously, you think it's more likely that office politics caused her firing than the various other things Lund mentions in her book, like her "laziness" and her "leverag(ing) a brief cancer scare and outpatient procedure into a three-week paid vacation"? If so, I'm not sure you know what pressures for output most firms are facing these days. An associate who just takes off work (sadly, even ones who have valid, versus fake, reasons) are at risk of being canned; office politics don't even need to come into play.

    And no, I don't consider attorneys who leverage a brief cancer scare into a three week paid vacation to be particularly "great." A lot of legal practice involve everyday filing deadlines than mean you have to be around.

    ReplyDelete

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