Saturday, September 7, 2013

Psychopaths feel emotions

This is an interesting interview with psychopath researcher and University of Wisconsin professor Joseph Newman in which he basically asserts that psychopaths feel the same breadth of emotions that normal people do, but that they do not attend to the emotions as others do so they do not experience them as other people do.

For those of you who want to skip around:
6:00: Non criminal psychopaths are characterized by weak urges breaking through even weaker restraints.

9:10: What happens when "guiding light" is absent is not necessarily consistent across all psychopaths, so psychopathy cannot necessarily be defined by behavior; behavior will depend on gender, age, social role, etc.

10:32: "The ones who break the law or who are violent, or commit criminals acts, those are the ones that are going to make it into my studies"

11:00: Do psychopaths experience emotions? If they do, are they less "deep" emotions? Sociopaths say they have emotions, will go out of their way to help others, capable of responding to affective materials.

13:53: Conventional wisdom regarding psychopaths and emotions being that psychopaths are fearless, incapable of emotions or general emotion deficit.

14:07: Newman's "attention deficit" theory -- "emotions don't have any power if you don't attend to them," psychopaths are not attending to the emotional cues that would elicit certain emotional responses.

16:12: "Emotions are there, to some extent, to the degree you pay attention to them"

16:48: Sociopaths are not obsessed in that the drive to do something is so strong, it's just that they are not considering other contrary info; but "if you can get them to pay attention to this information, they'll use it."

21:51: Treatment options using fear conditioning.
Newman thinks psychopaths are in some ways more likely to help a stranger than a normal person, which I think is correct in that the psychopath is just as likely to act impulsively doing good things as bad, and certainly doesn't see things in terms of "good" and "bad" anyway. (I talked a little bit about this lack of distinction here). I also think that there may be something to his theory that a lot of the emotional differences between psychopaths and normal people stem from the way that emotions are dealt with or attended to. If I focus on an emotion, I can greatly amplify its force far beyond what it should be. I frequently do this with pleasant emotions, but will also do this with "negative" emotions because there is pleasure in pain and I want to keep a flexible emotional repertoire (emotional yoga). For feelings that I don't care to feel, I just tune them out. I'm so good at compartmentalizing that it's easy to ignore anything I don't care to consider.

This video showed up on LoveFraud recently, leading to the following insightful comments from "Redwald" (excerpts):
It’s easy to understand this idea with an auditory or visual analogy. Suppose we’re in a room where a party is in full swing and there’s lots of noise. Now and again the noise can “interfere,” but on the whole the auditory signals are strong, and we can discern multiple signals. We can not only hear what a companion is saying to us, but we can also pick up snatches of other conversations around us, besides identifying any music that’s playing. In the visual field, we can easily recognize several people we know in a group of people nearby. There’s Ted, there’s Tom, there’s Sally. We can see all of these multiple people clearly and individually.

Conditions are different if the signals are “weak.” If there’s music coming from somewhere in the distance, and murmurs of conversation from the next room, we’ll have a harder time recognizing what’s being said, or played. More relevant here, trying to recognize it calls for an effort of concentration. If we’re straining to hear what’s being said next door, we may not even notice there’s music playing somewhere else. Or if we’re trying to hear the music, we may not notice the conversation at all, let alone make out what’s being said. Similarly, if we spot a group of people some way away, they may be hard to recognize at a distance. Quite possibly we’ll focus on one person who looks vaguely familiar and ask ourselves “Is that Ted or isn’t it?” But while we’re focusing on him we’re not focusing on the other two, so we may never recognize them. In short, we only pick up some of the many things going on around us, and miss others altogether.

Regardless of how strong (or weak) the emotional signals are in absolute terms, much of the problem with psychopathic behavior is still how strong (or weak) these signals are in relation to one another. If psychopaths’ perception of their “urges” is weaker than in normal humans, bad behavior can still result if their “restraints” (such as “conscience”) are weaker still.

I think the point being made is that because psychopathic behavior is not well regulated emotionally in any constant fashion, it tends to be impulsive. One characteristic of “impulsive” behavior is that it’s likely to be inconsistent from one time to another. It may even be somewhat RANDOM in the direction the impulse takes from one occasion to the next. The psychopath is a “loose cannon” whose behavior may be hard to predict.

Given this built-in inconsistency, it’s credible enough, at least in theory, that a psychopath acting on impulse could behave helpfully, even generously toward others at one time, and at another time, acting just as uninhibitedly on a very different impulse, be guilty of an act of sheer cruelty or predation.

For the reason I mentioned above, people observing these contrasting behaviors are likely to discount the psychopath’s acts of helpfulness or generosity and characterize him or her chiefly by the acts of cruelty. But people go further. They attempt to see (as Polonius put it) “method in the madness,” where sometimes there may not BE any “method”! People expect “consistent” behavior out of others, and they look for a pattern. If a psychopath appears helpful and generous to them at first sight, they’ll start off believing “this is a kind, caring person.” If the psychopath then turns round and treats them badly or exploits them, eventually they’ll decide “this person is a villain after all.” But they may still try to reconcile the contradictory behaviors in their own mind by trying to find a common motive or purpose behind both. Then they may conclude that the behaviors they saw as “kind” and “caring” were deliberately contrived by the psychopath in order to “take them in” and “put them off their guard.”
That may well be true in some cases, but in other cases it may not be true at all. The contradictory behaviors may be largely random and impulsive, not part of any greater “scheme” or purpose.


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  2. (Forgive me if this posts twice. I will delete one if they both show up.)
    Redwald's comment state, "Then they may conclude that the behaviors they saw as “kind” and “caring” were deliberately contrived by the psychopath in order to “take them in” and “put them off their guard.”" And then, "That may well be true in some cases, but in other cases it may not be true at all. The contradictory behaviors may be largely random and impulsive, not part of any greater “scheme” or purpose."

    I think this is where being in a relationship with a psychopath becomes maddening. You see some behaviors from them that seem so genuine that you have no reason to doubt them. At at later time you may see behaviors that so contradict the earlier behaviors that you are left feeling like everything was bullshit and you got conned. Then a loop of trying to analyze the behaviors sets itself up and you get trapped. You are pitting the two behaviors against each other expecting one to be true and one to be a lie. The truth may be something that you never expected: Each of the behaviors were genuine.

    1. imho they are both false
      the mask can be everlasting but it is still a mask
      the means to an end
      i bend in
      adoped a mindset
      or just have some random fun
      non of these need to be bad and selden are

    2. This weird bullshit you're talking about, a mask and whatever doesn't quite capture any of it. What this is all getting at is that there isn't much permanence in a "psychopath's" behaviour. In other words, good and bad behaviours are flexible and can seem to be controlled by nothing but a whim..
      Anyway, it's true -- both the good and the bad acts are genuine. Oh, we can calculate and plan, but the impulsiveness pretty much boils down to something much simpler. I can feel gratification by extramarital affairs etc, and I can also feel it by helping someone. It's that satisfaction that occurs either way.

      Hopefully I made some sense - probably not in the best state to do that.

  3. I believe some things that were said were genuinely heart felt. But there was no action to support these feelings. So he wasn't being genuine in a sense of being consistent and motivated to be a part of anything. These were just feelings/thoughts that traveled from his head to his mouth and they ended there. If I said something like "you’re angry and you’re trying to control me with it" he would pause and his tone would change and he would communicate things differently. But I wasn't going to call him on every single thing that needed his attention like that. That would have stressed him out.

    I feel even stronger now that this is a neurobiological situation. When the dr. uses the word signal I think he means that literally. But even a psychopath can be rewired if he/she believes that it's better for them to change than to stay as they are. If they can't fully appreciate, at some point, the consequences of their behavior then why would they change? Because other people say If treatment works then I say give it a try. They can always return to their original beliefs.


  4. I'd like to add that many people have a lack of paying attention to norms, consequences and whatever else might be considered traditional thinking/behaving. EVEN ME! So it must hard to measure the accuracy outside the prison system. Don't want to obsess over the idea I'm might be a psychopath:)


  5. I read your comments, ladies, and sometimes think of situations where I've done that to people. I used to have open relationships, though I don't prefer them anymore. It absolves us of having to put effort in subterfuge. On the other I found my significant other would never sleep with anyone else. Its almost to easy. In fact it is to easy and becomes boring. You get more deviant from boredom and then that becomes boring and you're back to start again with some bird that you took around the city and back again on wild sex adventures. Then its over. I never kept around the freaky girls. They don't make good teammates.
    The rewiring is a non sense idea. Who would want to stop all the fun were having?!
    You know the problem with people judging sociopaths is that people who figure out how you are, still don't know how you think. Every move you make starts becoming a nefarious scheme. Every gesture you make is pure manipulation in their eyes. I have a person in my life that I'm kind with, and she has times when she will start over examining what I'm doing thinking I have some plot behind it. The problem is they see you doing it to everyone else so they figure their chopped liver as well.

  6. Grace,

    I'm not a psychopath or a doctor, but I think you should do some more reading, here on this site and in some psychiatric websites. Psychopathy isn't a 'belief system'. If it was, it wouldn't be a personality disorder. A psychopath doesn't choose to be one and they certainly can't be 'rewired if he/she believes it's better to change...'

    I suspect there isn't a psychopath or sociopath on this site that would agree with these presumptions.

    I was involved with a psychopath, but to me, he was a person first. A human being. A man who did not choose to have a personality disorder, just as I didn't choose to feel normal empathy. I feel that in many of these off-shoot discussions, anti-socials /psychopaths/sociopaths are being discussed as though they are a pet or a breed of dog.

    Many are highly successful individuals who are working to the best of their capabilities in careers that many of us only dream of. Others are behind bars. But they are people, and if you choose to tangle with them, you will likely get burned.

    We all have choices - to stay or go. But staying won't change an antisocial. Unless you're bound by shared children, if your situation isn't good, it's best to part ways with your self-esteem intact.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. I am a lifelong sociopath, so I guess a psychopath.
      I get sick of hearing people try to tell me, "Just stop". I try explaining that I feel emotion, I just feel like I physically can not express it aside from my poetry.
      It is a disorder. Trust, if I could help it, I probably would. (Though from what I hear, I have it easy in the emotional department)
      I personally, a textbook definition psychopath, as I said, feel a great deal of emotion..
      Not an animal. Though my empathy lacks, I'm no lesser a person than anyone else.

    2. sorry, but yes. you are less.

    3. Hey Anonymous from April 22, 2017.

      That was extremely rude of you. The man I love is a sociopath as I recently found out. I admit I'd been wondering for he's also one of my best friends. I don't see him as a lesser person just because his mind works differently. I knew him before sociopathy could even manifest and he was always a just person. That hasn't changed. My love for him hasn't changed, either. Sociopaths and psychopaths (it depends on which school of thought you follow as to whether you believe they are one and the same or not) are still humans. By saying they are less, you are implying that you think they are less than human, subhuman maybe to your mind. What's the matter with you? Instead of tearing others down behind an anonymous title, try being less petty. ~JB

  7. I do think the notion that "psychopaths" can in one minute do something most consider horrific, then turn right around and in the next minute do something most consider angelic, is hard for normals to wrap their heads around. For all the reasons listed in the post.

    I don't have a conscience. That is a fact of my life. Whether we call that sociopathic or moral insanity or just plain different is irrelevant. I am by nature amoral, whatever other label you wish to attach to that fact. It is not a philosophical position I have adopted. It is the way I turned out. But that does not mean that every single thing I do in relation to other people is calculated before hand to gain maximum benefit. It certainly does not mean that every single thing I do has some nefarious, ulterior motive behind it. Sometimes, I do things on a whim, and that includes doing those things that normals consider altruistic.

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  9. "If I focus on an emotion, I can greatly amplify its force far beyond what it should be. I frequently do this with pleasant emotions, but will also do this with "negative" emotions because there is pleasure in pain and I want to keep a flexible emotional repertoire (emotional yoga). For feelings that I don't care to feel, I just tune them out. I'm so good at compartmentalizing that it's easy to ignore anything I don't care to consider."

    I can certainly understand this. I think this is mostly true for everyone.

    I certainly know how to amplify a negative emotion. It's part of my make up and I've been like this since I was born. I feel negative emotions very very strongly, though joy and pleasure is not something I really understand; there isn't much there to amplify.

    Sometimes I might feel a very strong sense of euphoria, but that is different.

    1. This is for Medusa and also the host of this website (I guess) - whoever said there was pleasure in pain and then Medusa said that negative feelings are easy to feel but not so with feelings like joy (other than euphoria). So is pain pleasurable because a negative feeling is better than no feeling? Please expand on this. Thank you!

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  12. Yikes, Aerianne -

    I was about to say that for several years I was convinced a friend had a son who was a budding psychopath, but when I look at him now at age 11, I see a highly intelligent child who was capable of lying and manipulating his world at a young age. For years, he seemed highly questionable, but fortunately the empathy seems to be well in place.

    I hope for the sake of your family that this child is just highly intelligent and manipulative, but that she will normalize with age. But the testicle grabbing and other stuff is certainly suspicious.

  13. She is highly intelligent, I guess we will see what kind of empathy she develops; at this point, it's not showing.
    The lying attempts to manipulate are daily. It's like she never wises up to the fact that she's transparent.

  14. That's how I felt about my friend's son. I spend an awful lot of time with him, and I found it exhausting and depressing. But I will say this: I love the child he's grown into. Keep in mind that they do say that excessive lying in a young child is typically a sign of high intelligence. She could be gifted - even highly gifted - and pushing a lot of envelopes. When this young boy was 8, I was convinced he was headed for prison. Now I presume he's headed for an illustrious career in something or other.

    When I'd catch him in a bold-faced lie, I'd tell him, 'Look - you may be able to get away with this crap with your parents, but I'm onto you. So let's just get past this and understand I'll never buy into it.' Gee - just writing that reminded me that he could also be pretty violent back then. I caught him doing some ugly things. That stuff has passed, and he does seem to be a genuine young boy.

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  16. If you could see this kid you'd understand what I mean. I'm truly proud of this kid and believe he'll make his mark in this world. He'll always be shrewd, but he does feel empathy. Fingers crossed for this little girl.

  17. Well, kids don't learn empathy until they are around 5 years old... so you really can't judge a kid younger than that.

    At age 8... I'd give it a few more years. Not fair to brand a kid that young. Empathy has more to do with what kids are taught/allowed to get away with, rather than anything inherent, when they are very young.

    Can't diagnose a kid with ASP until they are 18 anyhow.

    Do some research on Conduct Disorder.

  18. I'm not out to brand her. I'm out to help her.

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  20. It certainly does not mean that every single thing I do has some nefarious, ulterior motive behind it. Sometimes, I do things on a whim, and that includes doing those things that normals consider altruistic.

    People in general often do altruistic things simply out of impulse; because they've learned that it's the "proper" response to a situation. Often, I simply cannot be bothered by the negative consequences of not having done the obligatory altruistic action, so I proceed in order to avoid complications.

    On the other hand, it's also somewhat difficult to tell if an action will or will not harm someone as a result, and sometimes more difficult to care enough to change one's [my?] behaviour because of that.

  21. On the other hand, it's also somewhat difficult to tell if an action will or will not harm someone as a result, and sometimes more difficult to care enough to change one's [my?] behaviour because of that.

    Sometimes I know what I'm about to do will hurt someone else. (Rather, I know they'll take it as an opportunity to hurt themselves...) I just won't let that stop me. Sometimes though, I have been surprised to discover someone was hurt or the depth of their hurt. I admit to occasionally underestimating the pain other people experience as a response to something I have said or done. I'm usually surprised in those moments.

  22. When you sociopaths do such spazzy things; being kind and altruistic one day, cruel and belittling the next....does it occur to any of you, even passingly, how your actions defy the normal interpretation of an empath?

    I wonder....about the cognitive aspect of this concept. When trying to "get inside people's heads" I usually have a pretty good framework to work with, the cognitive process of any empath is relatively transparent if you're observant.

    I wonder if those polar shifts- ex: generosity to predation-are conscious. Are they...amusing, say?
    Entertaining? Or is it just that, in the absence of an overarching emotional feel, sociopaths slip into this behavior without even noticing or reflecting on it?

    Better yet, could any of you sociopaths tell me why you do that shit?

    1. the shifts usually have to do with our mood. just like you, but we do things bigger.

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  24. Daniel, I can't tell you how much I enjoy your posts. What you are doing is altruistic, whether you plan it to be or not. You allow us to understand the inner mind of a psychopath in ways that few others can.

    I am highly intuitive and instinctively understood how to navigate my way around my friend. Your post today gave me even greater insight into what I've always understood. I haven't really felt anger toward him since his hasty departure, and you remind me of why. I respect him for who he is and seek not to change what can't be changed.

    I view my past relationship as a positive - something that allowed me to grow stronger, more accepting and more resilient.

    Thank you Daniel, for consistently articulating your thoughts in such a clear and insightful manner.

  25. Aerianne, I believe you are trying to help your step-granddaughter. Do think about how sensitive young children can be to other people's emotions though. Think about the likelihood of her being a sociopath vs the likelihood of her misbehaving due to earlier abuse. She needs unconditional love in my opinion. Teach her how to behave appropriately.

    Children are self-centered, they lie, they manipulate, and it's all a normal part of development. I think kids need to be taught empathy. Teach her and give her the benefit of the doubt. She's only 4.

    Parental alienation syndrome can cause sociopathic behaviors in children in rare cases.

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  28. This is the best post you've made, really got me thinking about my emotions and I too can channel into emotions that seem as if they are not there most of the time, I'm interested in what kind of treatment will be developed for the behavioral abnormalities psychopaths possess as it is clear that they do not want them.

  29. I'm not sure that I see any real difference between "psychopaths" and "normal" people, based on what I've just heard and read. I think that "psychopaths" have the same traits of any other people, but just more intense/extreme.

    We all have emotions - being sensitive to them isn't something that always comes naturally and perfectly. How many people really understand what they feel, or what other people feel for that matter? Just like our five senses, training and practice makes us more aware of the signals we receive. A painter's eye is more "sensitive" to colors and shades, they know how to use them more skillfully than others.

    There are also blind people. But I highly doubt that "psychopaths" are emotionally absent. I think they are more like people who grew up without being taught the names of colors they see, or what these colors mean, so they never really understood the different shades.

    Why do I think psychopaths must still feel emotions? Because even psychopaths do things that make them feel good. They still want to do things. People who don't feel anything wouldn't do anything. What's the point?
    And if psychopaths lie to avoid trouble, then they know what trouble is. If they didn't have feelings, they might commit murder, but they also wouldn't mind going to prison, or getting seen, or anything else for that matter. They wouldn't make up lies to get out of trouble. They wouldn't give a damn, like a zombie - which, of course, they never are.
    So I guess it's not a question of having emotions, but understanding emotions.
    My guess, is that "psychopaths" are people who are unusually confused about their emotions/desires. I don't believe they murder for fun, they murder because they want relief - from such a confusing and dark emotional state - that they can't even say that they feel guilty or afraid anymore. Just the way a very depressed person can say "they feel nothing", when actually they are in a deep, deep rut.

    I don't believe "psychopaths" don't feel fear, or shame, or guilt. They just don't know it's there yet. People who are happy know immediately when they get upset, but a really depressed person wouldn't even "feel" depressed anymore.

    So I think that "psychopaths" are curable, they just need a lot of time and patience to get all their stuff out and gradually find relief to a better-feeling place.

    1. Very impressive insight Manuela... That second last paragraph was dead on.

    2. I think this post is very accurate, but not about primary sociopaths. I think it could be possible for secondary sociopaths, maybe, but mostly this post describes the type of people residing in prisons who are *not* sociopathic - the other 60-70%. Those who have never learned an emotional vocabulary, never had their needs met in any way, so never learned how to meet those of others, never learned how to regulate their own emotions because they never knew what they were or how to describe them in the first place - they live an emotionally impoverished life, and they suffer from it a lot.

      If anything, these people are so unable to access their own emotions that they are reflexive in their emotional responses- hit below the knee and the leg kicks out, but why they have no idea- there's not enough awareness to allow any interception of the emotional response, so there is no regulation of their emotions. So what I think Manuela describes is the low end of emotional intelligence - where there is really a total lack thereof in fact. Gangs for example, are not full of sociopaths, though there are some- they are in fact full of the people described in your post, and I too feel sympathetic for them. I've worked with them, and I understand that they suffer quite a bit. Further, these people are not only able to change, but if they can be reached, they want to change given the right interventions.

      But the primary sociopath is not dealing with a lack of emotional intelligence. Actually, s/he is very aware of emotions and able to identify them in others with remarkable accuracy, as well as predict them- this is very important, and there is a lot of research demonstrating this phenomenal skill- it's far better honed than that of the most emotionally intelligent of us. These types of sociopaths are cunning, and though they may be random about some of their actions, at some times, they are also capable of deliberate and planned actions or sequences of actions, depending on functionality.

      It is my opinion that the video is actually describing one of the signs of how functional a psychopath is- the less functional, the more random and impulse driven his or her actions, and the more functional, the less random. The lower functioning psychopaths murder because they can't see beyond the immediate benefit of the action and they want those immediate benefits now- it's more impulse driven, and less cognitively organized. A psychopathic gang leader does not murder a rival for any kind of relief, he murders for whatever advantage he gains by the other's absence, and when he is arrested, he feels anger/rage. The more functional, organized sociopath does not murder because the consequences are too unpleasant, instead, he runs a country, or a global company, and decimates the environment, coffers, competitor/s, etc. and in a very deliberate, planned, and cunning way- this is why they are in the position they are in. These types are usually subclinical sociopaths in fact, because clinical sociopaths generally cannot maintain stasis, so they run into failure too quickly or too often to attain long term success in anything. The subclinical sociopath on the other hand has enough access to emotions to mimic them better, thus maintain stability, plan for financial independence and keep it, or maintain a long term marriage, etc. One can debate how much emotion subclinical sociopaths actually feel, but the fMRI studies on clinical sociopaths show that areas in the brain associated with the emotion of fear, for example, are not active when they normally would be. I don't think this is suppression- that's an active response. When an area is dark - there's no activity there at all. I don't think "light" activity is suppression either, I think it's lack of depth of the emotion. It's not strong, or not strong enough to actually compare to the normal expression/experience of that emotion.


  30. Manuela, finally I see a post with which I can completely agree with. Hopefully, there are people out there that also think the same way.

  31. Yep, Manuela hit the nail on the head for me too. These are all just variations on learnt human behaviors and the labels we've decided to attach to them (which aren't always helpful). The most 'psychopathic' people in our societies are the people in our governments and on wall street. People who can cause massive amounts of death, destruction and pain at the push of a button. And these people and institutions who run our entire world are considered normal. When I was younger I was 'conditioned' by my family, schooling and society to be very emotionally sensitive, distant, unstable and reactionary. My thoughts of violence and murder were constant and grew stronger as I grew older and continued to feel small and insignificant in my little world (if I had had access to guns in my country then I could easily have become a murdering 'psychopath'). At the same time I also had huge empathy towards others, but only those who resembled myself. This 'empathetic' behavior could be considered 'psychopathic' and 'selfish' if you choose to look at it that way too. Decades of diligent work on unconditioning myself has dissolved most of the intense feelings I used to have. I believe the people we deem to be psychopaths can most definitely be rehabilitated. I managed to be. Punishing people for their destructive behavior has never solved anything either. Putting criminals (victims of society/culture) in prisons run for profit and for punishment (revenge) is one of the most 'psychopathic' ideas we have ever come up with. The first thing I suggest we do is stop 'labeling' these behaviors as psychopathic or whatever, and instead try to find out what triggered them in the first place and the payoff they get from exhibiting them. Unfortunately we rarely go to the root cause of issues in our society (even though we tend to think we do) and because of this the pain continues. And when society continues to reward those for overtly/covertly destructive and aggressive behavior (big business/corporations/wall street/sport etc) then there is going to be no reason for these type of behaviors to be changed. They are in fact reinforced on a daily basis. A complete societal collapse is going to be necessary for any major consciousness shift to occur. And that is what is happening around the world as we speak.

    "Being well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society is no measure of health". -J.Krishnamurti

    1. Great post. I was curious to read the account of a sociopath who trained themselves to develop greater empathy.

      From what I can tell the Buddhists have it right - the keys for sociopaths or empaths to develop a greater capacity for empathy and connection are: daily reflections upon common humanity, and mindfulness/bodyfulness. So I was really intrigued by the video linked by ME, perhaps the key for pro-social sociopathy is developing emotional intelligence.

      I agree that - like you imply - our neo capitalist culture is daily encouraging and rewarding callousness and narcissism. There is research involving college students that shows that the US college students are decreasing in empathy and increasing in narcissism.

      Props on developing empathy. I'm an empath trying to do that, and my experience is that it's a challenging endeavor.

  32. I don't appreciate being treated like a specimen, and I don't think you'll find many people who do. This is aimed at most psycho-pathologists (?). Dr Robert Hare himself exhibits his own descriptions of psychopathy, treating others like a specimen and outright hostility to those he's either afraid of or in competition with.
    Now I'm not a violent person. I'm antagonistic and confrontational. And I do have violent impulses that most people seem to be shocked by. But I don't carry out those impulses because in the end, it's not good for me. Just like those common people who are happy to go through school, get a job, get married, have kids, rot, and die... A criminal also seems happy to kill people, spend the rest of their days prison, rot, and die. And that just doesn't fit in with my grand plan.

    What is my grand plan? To control everyone? To murder all life, then die? To rape everything that moves? Nope. My grand plan is to clear out a space for myself which no-one can enter or influence without my permission, and from there, simply enjoy my life. I enjoy working out, playing video games, listening to music, having consensual sex, and getting in a fight here and there. You know, normal stuff.

    The need to rape, control, and murder helpless people is a weakness, and you'll find it most prevalent in common people. You need only to listen to the charts to find their sexual perversion and manipulative lies.
    "Let's go to the club, get drunk, have a good time and make love" means "I'm going to rape you tonight, and you won't fight back". How many normal people do you know who bullied the smaller kids in school? We have gangs of these people where I live - and they hang out in groups of 10+ and attack individuals or couples who did nothing to them. They get sympathy. The psychopath does not. And I don't want sympathy - I just think the imbalance is disturbing.

    These are my thoughts, anyway, I can't be bothered typing more :p, and if I can't be bothered to do that, how am I going to control the world?

    1. You're not a psychopath. You're just emotionally retarded.

    2. I've known people who feel this way- it's not sociopathy but more antisocial sentiment as a defense against a world perceived to be totally unworthy of trust. This because it was untrustworthy, and dangerously or traumatically so when you were growing up. I'm not a big fan of object relations theory, but this is a good example of it. and for you, probably people en masse aren't trustworthy, but people individually might be, and, probably you are "libertarian" leaning in your political beliefs (quotes only because it has different names in different countries).

  33. Manuela, I do hope your viewpoint is the truth.

    I don't know if I am a psychopath, sociopath or an APD-sufferer. What I do know is that my emotions are extremely shallow and that I (used) to be a manipulative liar. In my childhood and teenage years I abused my pets in episodes of rage. My father is a psychopath so there might be genetics involved. Tho my nurture probably wasn't the best either and it did involve some traumas.

    Part of me does not want to change, another part wants to change for own benefit.. And a very tiny part wants to change for myself and everyone else. A very tiny bit wants to have healthy relationships and experience real love. I try to expand that tiny little bit and ignore the other parts.

    I did notice that when I really try to focus on something bad that I've done -> I start to feel bad.
    I can't seem to explain this bad feeling, is it because I regret the way things turned out or because I really feel bad for the person that I've hurt? I don't know. The only thing that I do know is that it does make me appologize to the other person, even if I can't gain anything out of that appology...

    Sometimes it really feels like I have a concentration problem going on. I can only concentrate on one thing at the time, get extremely chaotic.. Maybe it's the same for my emotions? I don't know.

    I can feel 'empathy".. I can imagine what the other person is feeling and feel it a bit myself if I SERIOUSLY take the time to focus on it. It does NOT come natural to me, like it's not my natural way of acting.
    I also can't focus on feeling empathy when I am around people, it's like the mask that I created takes over and I go all cold inside. It takes too much of my brain to be empathatic and focus on the person at the same time (if that makes sense) and my head feels extremely tired when I try to do so. It becomes easier to just fake it.

    It's nothing like autism/aspergers tho. My mask to fake emotions and socializing skills are way too high for that.

    I hope that made some sense.
    Excuse me for my English, it isn't my mother tongue.

  34. I don't like coming off blunt unless it's necessary, but I have no choice here. Keep in mind, I'm 23 years old. I'm trying to figure out what I am and how to deal with it. I have urges to kill, my emotions are the same as described above (my most common emotion is anger though), and I feel no empathy. When do I feel happiness though? When I help people with no strings attached. By nature, I love helping people. I don't feel insulted when money is involved, but it makes no difference to me as long as the person appreciates my generosity. I used to have urges to hurt animals and on rare occasions, I would tightly grip their limbs (not throats), yet I feel more of an emotional connection to them at the same time. As for being social? I HATE crowds. I never know how to respond to people and I can never carry a conversation. In a group I'm the one who stands out the most. As for the impulsive behavior mentioned? Only when I'm angry. I've hit my sister a couple times out of sheer anger and I told my boss "eff you". My main question is "what will I become when I get older?" and my secondary question is "how do I deal with my urges?"

    The kids described above sound like sociopaths, but at a young age it's hard to tell. Sociopaths have more control over what they do and how they react to people as oppose to psychopaths who don't.

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  36. "Given this built-in inconsistency, it’s credible enough, at least in theory, that a psychopath acting on impulse could behave helpfully, even generously toward others at one time, and at another time, acting just as uninhibitedly on a very different impulse, be guilty of an act of sheer cruelty or predation."

    ^This is dead-on.

    Interesting article.

  37. I'd really love to hear a story about two sociopaths dating each other.

    1. You know those mob wars, where two mob bosses are pointing a gun at the other and both decide to fire at the same instance?
      Well the two I have been made aware of have ended like that (figuratively, of course).

      From personal experience, however, it felt more like a Jackson-Dickinson duel.

      I too, would be very interested in hearing about a successful relationship.

    2. In the end one stands tall and the other is just a shell of what they use to be.

  38. I haven't read all the comments above carefully, so excuse me if this question has already been asked.... In the video the man shows a figure of simple outlines of animals and objects with words written in the middle of them (like the word duck is written in the center of an outline of a cow). The researcher says that it's basically an easy test that shows an obvious difference in reactions between non-psychopath people and psychopaths.

    My question: Have the sociopaths/psychopaths who read this blog found that they could easily name the shapes and ignore the words? In other words, did you use it as a self-test, more or less, and find that it worked to I.D. you?

    I looked at those cartoons and had a hard time ignoring the words, so I "pass" the test if "passing" means being labeled as non-psychopath.

    I was diagnosed with Asperger's some years ago and I am very emotional and empathetic in some ways. I have no real symptoms of sociopathy. I just tend to be afraid of interactions with people. Sometimes I want the bullies of the world to disappear and I wouldn't miss them, which seems a bit anti-social. I think I've been trained by the narcissists and sociopaths in my life to avoid people in general, because autistic/Asperger's people are quite vulnerable to social abuse.

  39. Whether living a decent life and having a decent job or not, someone with a mental illness, or any illness, should get help. One mental illness can lead to another and so on, and I'm sure some people won't like what I just said.
    Not that there is any connection between the two illnesses, but it would be like letting a pedophile go without help. Not all pedophiles act on their urges, but some do. Just like some phycopaths don't act out with dangerous and criminal acts yet some do.


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