Thursday, January 30, 2014

Psychopathy, autism, and pointing fingers (part 2)

Not surprisingly, some people found the call for greater understanding and more careful (and empathetic) use of the term and diagnosis of the disorder psychopath to be a bridge too far.

One person has suggested that the term is not ableist or any other -ist because it perfectly accurately describes people who are the bane of humanity and should be rightfully outed and oppressed lest everyone else should be oppressed. The evidence this person provides are google image searches.

The one for psychopath:

The one for autism:

See everyone! Psychopaths are all portrayed as old white males (never mind that autism is also portrayed as very white male)! They can't possibly be oppressed. The diagnosis can't possibly be misunderstood. But it is that very white/evil/male/oppressor portrayal that the original article criticizes:

"In radical communities working toward intersectional social justice, the figure of the psychopath is invoked all too often to characterize members of oppressive classes, especially when they are in a position of political power in addition to apolitical structural power."

Psychopaths, in other words, or merely those who share traits with psychopaths aren't these ubermensch who only oppress and are never themselves to oppressed because they are far too clever. Sometimes psychopaths are children. Sometimes they are people who were abused as children. Sometimes they are people from disenfranchised races (one study found that African-Americans were twice as likely as white Americans to be assigned this diagnosis) or low socioeconomic classes, circumstances that they had no control over. The unfortunate reality, as the original author argues, is that the actual use of the word psychopath to diagnose (typically people who are institutionalized) "is most often a tool for criminalizing poverty, blackness and brownness, and disability."

But some people think sociopaths deserve as much as we can throw at them and more. Proving the earlier point about people with a particular disorder disavowing any similarity or mistreatment of other disorders (e.g., arguments like "my diagnosis is misunderstood, not like these other people who really are monsters") :

When most people think of the word psychopath, they imagine Ted Bundy, Adolph Hitler, son of sam, Dexter, the zodiac killer, jack the ripper, brutal megalomaniac dictators.

For these people the label of psychopath fits perfectly. However we should actually be focusing more about the corporate psychopath, the CEO, the stockholders, the ruling class who show no empathy or remorse, who manipulate and ruin societies and economies.

Psychopaths are the people who oppress, they benefit from being psychopaths because they have no moral restraints whatsoever. That makes them oppressors, most of them are men, white and cis. Again, oppressors.

Erasing this label can only serve the psychopath, the oppressor and the ruling class.

We have to be able to tell people that the emperor has no clothes. To deal with these people we have to open our eyes to the evil they do, and label them for what they are, manipulative dangerous psychopaths. Only then can we hope to remove them from the places of high power, by shaking off our collective apathy and paying attention when someone calls someone out for acting psychopathic we take away their power to manipulate.

Your boss who takes credit for your work all while manipulating people to believe you are useless? Psychopath.

The person who abuses laws and rules to oppress people. Psychopath.

The person who uses bureaucratic excuses to deny needing people social services. Psychopath.

Your therapist who plays games with you, makes you jump through hoops and then still denies you real care. Psychopath.
Psychopaths benefit from being psychopaths, dont defend them. Call them out as the oppressors they are.

The thing that this proposal has going for it is its simplicity -- bad person = evil psychopath and deserves to be outted as such. I can't really criticize this proposal because the actual reasoning behind method of diagnosing and treating sociopaths is hardly any better.

The first author argues against the use of a label but rather just focusing on those who manifest certain behavior:

“My advice: Be precise in your language and say that oppressive structures are violent and manipulative. Say that those who abuse their structural positions of power act with reckless disregard for other human beings. Say that they are callous and unabashedly wielding the power that comes with their privilege.

But don’t call them psychopaths.”

The critic's response:

So, you don’t want us to use the word psychopath, but instead describe them as a psychopath instead? That wont change the reality that people will still use this in a racist and ableist way.

Yes, the only thing that can change the reality that people will still use "psychopath" in a racist and ableist way is if that term stops being a slur we hurl at our enemies or a scapegoat for all of the evil in the world and rather acknowledge what it as what it purports to be -- a mental disorder. 


  1. The psychopath must have a reason for being.

    1. No one likes the psychopath but for some reason they choose to remain psychopath? :S

    2. Read "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout for more information about sociopathy. Here's some quotes:

  2. LIke maybe psychopath is the right path?

  3. and we should be accepting of everyone

  4. I don't blame four-legged preditors for the way they behave.
    After all, they are only acting out their innate nature. And, fortunately,
    I CAN seperate myself from mad dogs.
    The same can't be said for humans. Particularly camellion type humans
    who have the cunning and resulancy to shape shift at will.
    If anyone is to blame for the present day perception of psychopaths,
    it is Ted Bundy. Society's perception of the psychopath should be
    labeled: B.B. (Before Bundy) + A.B. (After Bundy) When one of Bundy's
    numerous ex-girlfriends, who wrote the upteenth book about him:
    "Ted Bundy: The Phamtom Prince," was asked "What sets Bundy apart
    from the average murderer?, she responded, "Ted was a winner!"
    When asked whether she still loved him in spite of everything she
    responded, "I don't know."
    See why we empaths are so wary of you sociopaths? All of Bundy's
    conquests had family, even his ULTIMATE conquests which he left
    lying in the forests of Washington State.

  5. We don't have the answers. Only god knows.

  6. Psychopaths, like the rest of us, have free will. The fact that a psychopath can spend the day at work charming his boss and return home in the evening to abuse his wife means he loses the sympathy vote. He is selective in his abuse. It's not as if he has Tourette's sydrome. If he was an equal-opportunity assh*le, we might be inclined to attribute it to his 'mental disorder' and let him off the hook.

    1. That is not a problem, because their actions have consequences. It is the consequences of simply being that are the issue. If a sociopath never kills anyone, is it right to always look at them as a murderer?

      To most people it is, because thinking of it another way is personally inconvenient. Stepping outside the climate-controlled box is uncomfortable.

    2. If you have free will, can you believe that you don't have free will? if you can do that, I don't think you have free will. If you can't, you don't have free will.

    3. That's a logical fallacy. It may be more accurate to say that human beings possess a limited degree of free will.

  7. Because the homosexual, transgendered, welfare dependant individual is considered to be completely normal.

    It must be the white heterosexual men who are the ebil oppressing psychopaths.

    1. Either way, they're all the same.

      Everyone's out for themselves.

  8. The psychopath doesn't have free will and neither does anyone else. We are run by data. Fore bemoan moans.

  9. But you have the choice which data. Memories or inspiration. Psychopaths are stuck in memories.

  10. Anyone who is suffering is stuck in memories.

  11. Pity the psychopath? Yes, many winos, convicts, bums & homeless people belong to this category. Impossible for them be part of normal society, they do their "routines" over & over again. Not officially labeled as mentally ill, but the screws are really loose. Crackpots. Damaged goods. Their own fault, nobody else to blame? In brutal capitalistic societies with a strong need for "foes" to blame (instead of the real fiends) the answer most likely is: yes.

    1. I used to be a wino and a bum. Occasionally homeless too. Nowadays, I'm an esteemed member of normal society (whatever that is), but I'm still a psychopath.

    2. I'm curious, can you control your impulses? A practicing alcoholic/drug-addict, has no choice. They must get their fix. (unless they get into some kind of recovery) I'm wondering if you have choice when you feel a strong impulse?

    3. I can no more control my impulses than you can control yours (I'm assuming that you're not a socio/psycho). In my view it's simply a question of impulse frequency / severity / response to impulse / effectiveness of response to impulse. Plus, impulse management is probably a better term than impulse control.

      I'm pretty good at manging my impulses...most times I get advance warning, and, unless I really want to embrace that particular impulse, I simply focus on something that requires a lots of...focus.

      Alcoholism is's not an impulse - it's an addiction. To break free requires a totally different approach.

    4. For myself (as a socio) I have been able to control most of my impulses using something in psychology known as "delay of gratification" (youtube "marshmellow test" for a graphical representation). It took me quite a while, years actually, but over time by forcing myself to wait I have been able to control the lions share of it. Not all of it, but the majority of it. As a result, I have found my life improved noticeably, where adopting certain long term efforts has become palatable.

    5. Thanks for sharing that, I'll look into that too.

  12. I would suggest it was time for militant psychopathy to make a show-except psychopaths are already militant, and are members of a party of one.

  13. The objective in progressing public psychological pseudoscience needs to be less about putting people into boxes, because of mental and emotional convenience, and more about admittance of granularity and diversity. Not because it is progressive, but because it is actually how humanity exists. Less comfort fantasy, more reality.

  14. Psychopath and sociopath are labels that the media uses and are not a diagnosis. It would be a wonderful and more accurate way to discuss mental illness using the actual terms (i.e. Paranoid Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, etc.).

    But I am a little confused about why this topic is an issue on this blog. I mean it is based on, along with a book, one of those terms. What's up with that?


  15. No I don't think you can control your impulses. I mean we CAN, like how in western ideology the libido is seen as inherently evil and something that is to be repressed through force. In Hawaiian ideology it is called mana and is seen as inherently good.

  16. why would you want to repress the most powerful part of you. When you learn how to talk to your subconscious (treat it right), it becomes your ally. It is your best business partner and your ideal mate.

  17. I've been treating my psychopathy/autism with weed. Seems to be helping.

  18. My ex is a psychopath. We share kids, so I've learned how to deal with him somewhat "professionally." Basically, he's 18 mos. old emotionally; everything is about him. If I phrase everything I need from him in terms of what it will do for him, in a way I would personally find offensive and/or hilarious, he takes it at face value and totally accepts it! As long as he looks good in public, to groups, he has no problem with me saying: "It would be in your interest to do A because..." Wow! I feel a bit sorry for him. He seems to have very shallow emotion, almost no pleasure in life, at least compared to me. Of course, his lows are limited as well. I am no expert, but his mother is likely the cause of his troubles. Outwardly, she seems like a religious saint. But privately, if you become personal or confide in her, she will either turn on you or simply reject you. Two-faced. She even slapped me once when I was upset. Another time, after my mother died, she told me to stop "complaining." Oh my. As a child, when my ex came to her after being bullied and beaten, she continued to do the dishes and said nothing! He told me this story, only he said it had happened to his brother. His brother swears it happened to my ex-husband. I think he altered the memory to protect himself emotionally from her total abandonment. Oh, one more thing, my daughter actually found a list of ways to torment me during our divorce on his phone, to paraphrase: "always be late or too early," "bring back doggy bags and mementos from expensive restaurants, nice places you've gone, trips" etc. Actually written out! Holy cow! And more, but I've blocked it out! Another great memory from our marriage: After the tsunami in 2004 (when the bodies resembled my kids'), my ex came home to find me tearful in front of the TV and told me to "stop pretending to cry." I told him it upset me. "People die every day." Could not wrap it around his head why I cared. Found my reaction distasteful. Same goes for the Holocaust documentary I was watching. No patience for it. Why the fuss? Plenty of groups have suffered. I am Jewish, btw. Good times. Good times.

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