Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sociopaths as scapegoats

This was an interesting comment from a recent radio interview I did with CBC. In response to another user's (TorontoProud) comment, "I wonder if there is a connection between sociopaths and feminism because there seems to be", Doctor R replied:

@TorontoProud It's not that feminists are necessarily sociopathic. But like any mass movement, sociopaths can hijack it and turn it to their own ends. This is what happened under Hitler and Stalin. Any ideology can become a vehicle for hate-mongering and irrationaity- feminism is no different in that regard. At the same time, that doesn't mean that feminists don't have legitimate concerns. That's why a critique of feminist ideas is so necessary- to help separate the good ideas from the bad. Sadly, that kind of critique is not politically correct, which is why CBC censors so many comments that attempt to provide analysis of feminist ideas. And in the end, it's that kind of censorship that will bring feminism into disrepute, if it hasn't already.

What do you think? Is there a connection between sociopaths and feminism? Maybe I'm not as up on feminist theory, but in what ways does it seem like it has been hijacked by sociopaths? And who were the sociopaths that hijacked Hitler and Stalin's ideology and turned it to their own ends?

Another commenter, jmhaze, replied: "@TorontoProud if you equate the goal of 'equality' to being sociopathic then i guess all freedom fighters would fall under your blanket definition." Or maybe freedom fighters really are sociopaths. Che, anybody?

I ask these questions because maybe these commenters are just not doing a good job explaining themselves, or maybe theirs are just bald assertions, wholly unsupported, and a ridiculous attempt to slander an otherwise legitimate political movement? It's sometimes hard for me to tell because people associate sociopaths with a lot of the world's ills. So how am I supposed to know whether these assertions are serious and which are just politicking when they all seem misguided and ill-informed to me. So I, like economists, largely take people's preferences and beliefs seriously as they come.

I think sometimes people think it should be easy for anyone to tell the difference, that of course everyone would know that X is wrong and Y is right and anyone who says differently is just politicking or otherwise trying to gain some unfair advantage (or troll, on the internet). But it turns out that research shows most people aren't being disingenuous about their assertions of their beliefs, that they actually occupy different moral universes with different laws that they're abiding by (and judging others by). In a world in which we cannot act according to every virtue in every situation, compromises must be made and it turns out that everybody prioritizes certain values over others, e.g. whistleblowers value fairness over loyalty. One thing that has been interesting about the book is not just how polarizing it has been, but how often people remark that they can't understand why other people love/hate it as much as they do. I don't know why this is, but people seem to vastly overestimate the degree of heterogeneity in their community, much less the world. Makes me question how accurately people are actually and accurately able to feel empathy for total strangers, if they always seem to be surprised by others' legitimate beliefs.

Speaking of, my Mormon friend told me how she was hanging out with other Mormons and one of them said something about "the gay agenda." My friend shut her down quickly to which the girl replied "I thought I would at least be safe saying something like that among other members." But no, even Mormons are heterogeneous. Some say that some of them are even sociopaths? Don't get too excited or think this proves something about the Mormon church, there are sociopaths that belong to every group you belong to as well -- atheists, protestants, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu, every political party, every profession, every gender and ethnicity, every political sphere. Can you empathize with sociopaths?


  1. if you are diagnosed as a sociopath do you take the pcl-r or the scl-r?

    1. You just take the piss and call it a day.

  2. This funny… you need to talk to yourself more:

    "What do you think? Is there a connection between sociopaths and feminism? "

    to wit you let yourself know this a little later:

    "there are sociopaths that belong to every group you belong to as well"

    Get it?

  3. "Ideological" people are indoctornated, probably from childhood. They
    take their conditioned beliefs for reality.
    They are taught their stale "shibiloths" and take them for reality like
    the garbage in/garbage out theory.
    If I am taught something from childhood and have no reason to question it,
    it becomes second nature to me. The human ability for self deception and
    denial knows no bounds.
    Did you ever read "Of Mice And Men," by John Stienbeck or see films based
    on the novel? These were two men _______ and Lenny propelled by self
    delusion. Lenny's friend had a dream to sustain him and it seemed almost
    with in reach. He needed Lenny's muscle to help work the farm he planned
    to buy. But it was a tragety in the offing. Lenny couldn't change his
    nature, nor could the girl he killed.
    Just before George kills Lenny he gives him one last describtion of the
    utopian farm they will own one day. "I can see it!, I can see it!,"
    Lenny exclaimes as George shoots him in the back of the head.
    Adolph Hitler, who co-opted the Nazi movement WAS a psychopath. Read a
    book titled "The Psychopathic God," by a man named Waite.
    The Nazi ideas did NOT originate with Hitler. He built on prior ideas and
    made them into a well oiled machine. The economic downturn coupled with
    the indignaties of the Versise treaty made the Nazi regeme.
    Many ideas start with good intentions, but when agressive, charasmatic
    sociopaths get a hold of them they become HELL. If the "reformers" are
    not personally "reformed" they just offer more of the same under a reverse title.

  4. > So how am I supposed to know whether these assertions are serious and which are just politicking when they all seem misguided and ill-informed to me.

    Rather than resulting from understanding, I think the majority of this recurring conversation's momentum comes from a failure of empathy.

    The 'why' is fairly straightforward. People who've never crossed 'the line' can't understand why other people would do fucked up shit, to put it bluntly. They can't put themselves in the shoes of someone who is capable of doing something horrible to achieve an end, or just for the hell of it. In fact, I'd argue that doing so is emotionally traumatizing to the person that attempts to empathize with it. I've always wondered if that is the root of demonic imagery: emotionally damaging empathy. Being transformed painfully by perceiving something horrific. But I digress.

    Instead of realizing 'hey, this is how it is', they try to spin some elaborate theory to sell you alongside a castle in Spain so they can feel good about having a story for why their enemies are terrible people and they're insightful and better.

    I dunno about different moral universes, but I think everyone is shaped by the incompleteness of their ability to perceive the world around them more than any knowledge they may possess. And the line isn't drawn where people feel things, it's drawn where people DO things. Or don't do them, as it may be.

    Sociopaths are a convenient enemy because it's easy to be superior to them morally. Winning is like boxing with a toddler. A very intimidating toddler who you're terrified is going to manipulate you into drinking the koolaid. And you might just like it.


    People pull it on the time, even in the comments section of this blog (especially here). 'Oh, I've invested so much in this horrible sociopath and I just wish they'd pat me on the head and bring me cookies.' Not to belittle the people who've been done in by criminal sociopaths, who (in my ledger) are criminals foremost and sociopaths as a footnote.

    There's never any effort to understand sociopaths and address them in a manner they can appreciate because that's not how the game is played. The /game/ revolves around attempting to bring down punishment on the sociopath for their behavior because it violates the unspoken rules of the social contract. 'You aren't behaving in accordance with the emotional rules that govern the lives of normal people, so get screwed.' That tends to be the way of it. Do sociopaths have the ability to screw people over royally? Sure.

    But so does everyone else, as history proves. Sociopaths weren't lurking in the shadows, waiting to commit all the awful crimes inscribed in the pages of any history textbook. 'Regular' people did that all by themselves. But that's a painful realization to come to, and it's easier to find demons in other people than to realize how easily you could be one.

    It's easier to brand sociopaths as hateful and irrational, like @TorontoProud, and condemn those expressions where they occur as symptoms of something else than to admit that people aren't consistent, that they can fight for noble ideas and also be petty and blind at the same time.

    People want to believe that their world is stable, even if that stability's just a lie they invented to keep things black and white so their need for morality can be satisfied.

  5. what do you think the chanses are that someone with a yelloh car is sociopathic

    1. there is a fleet of cabbies in NYC well known for giving joyrides for kicks.

  6. OMg, feminism and sociopathy ? Haha. Misogyny. What a surprise.

    There are bigots and angry people who, at the slightest threat they're losing power, fuck with the second class citizens. Sniveling whiners.

    Hahahaha nothing like the desperation of angry men to try to sabotage with propaganda "studies" an whatnot.

    I see this teaching quality ME says she does. It the way she gets twitter quotes. Go for it, ME.

    Here's tidbit for you, ME. Dr. Phil came on to Jane fucking Fonda. Oh yeah. Know what she did? She twisted him up very sociopathically.

  7. I don't believe that Hitler was a sociopath. In fact, I think that it was his intention to get rid of sociopaths.

    For good reason. The nation flourished after the antisocials were contained.

    1. Shut it, Himmler. :P

    2. I think we need another go at it, but not along ethnic lines. The more, the merrier.

  8. I think I can empathize with sociopaths.
    To empathize with something that doesn't necessarily fall within our realm of experience. there are certain things one has to be able to disconnect and reconnect within their own 'moral universe' as you put it.
    Find an ant, watch it move, think of it's activity. It is searching for food and material to bring back to the colony. Now squish it with your thumb. Consider this an experiment in emotion, can you imagine that this will make you feel good, the ant is gone, or nothing - simply an experiment in empathy, or badly, as innocence destroyed. This is a level that most people can manage to step over the divide between the two.
    Similiarly people fail to react to deaths in numbers in linear proportion to a single death. For example on the news, you hear two seperate stories, first, of a child that died of starvation in Hungary, then the second, of 200 children who died of of Starvation in Angola. How do you react emotionally?

  9. In regards to the interview, I was impressed with how fluid she talks. I'm in sales, and one of the key things I focus on is to really minimize the "uhs" and "umms". Silence is much better than uh and umm when trying to think of the next word of your sentence.

  10. I simply cannot take anyone seriously who whinges about 'feminists' in the year 2013. It's just too utterly pathetic.

    1. Thank you, Fred !

    2. Does that utterly charming, successful little old woman bother you, Whitey? Very telling, that. I'd advise you not to care so much, if it weren't so futile.

  11. I don't know about this...from what I've read of M.E.'s posts, sociopaths aren't really effected by societal norms, nor do they really express outrage like other people do in response to social injustice. I'd argue that sociopath feminists undoubtedly exist, but do they drive the feminist force?

  12. Yes. If you look at Glenn Close in the Dangerous Liasons clip ME posted, you see this kind of feminist sociopath. She did not have interest in driving the force. She just enjoyed her own games within the system.

  13. "Can you empathize with sociopaths?"

    You can try. But in the long run, it is only sympathy. It cannot possibly be empathy unless you are another sociopath, right??

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