Monday, February 10, 2014

Journalistic justice: a parable of Jean Valjean

Those who have read or seen the various adaptations of the book Les Miserables are probably familiar with the protagonist Jean Valjean. Spoiler alert, he stole some bread, went to prison for a long time, and then was branded for life as a felon, unable to live an honest life because no one would give him a second chance. But that's not where the story stops. Instead of just submitting to his fate, he breaks his parole, changes his name and starts a new, honest life . . . until his past catches up with him, in the form of the justice-hungry watchdog Javert.

Along those same lines, I read a bizarre article in the NY Times lambasting someone who had committed a crime and then attempted to start a new life, "An Inmate and a Scholar". Apparently the triggering event for the article was that this convicted felon (whom I won't name, in an effort to avoid connecting it on Google with the term "sociopath") had published a paper in the Columbia Journal of European Law on Turkish nationals and the EU. The NY Times reporter, Alison Leigh Cowan (who seems to specialize in maligning?), does not suggest that this young man plagiarized, falsified, or otherwise misrepresented himself in the paper. Nor does she allege that he has done anything wrong in the recent past (apart from the activities leading to his conviction) so much as she insinuates that his past makes him an inappropriate candidate for a legitimate future as a barrister/scholar.

The facts of our inmate/scholar are basically these: he is the child of a conwoman. He perpetrated a Ponzi scheme at the age of 19. After a confession/conviction ("I did what I did") and serving his time, he was deported (Turkish national). Any money he earns beyond satisfying his basic needs is earmarked to repay his Ponzi scheme victims. In the decade since, he has graduated with honors from prestigious European schools. His applications to these schools were open about his past -- he referenced it in his application essays and his former lawyers wrote letters of recommendation. He did not tell everything to everyone, though, and that is not enough for our intrepid reporter.

Reporter Cowan works hard to suggest that she has caught him red-handed trying to escape from his past. For instance, she mentions that he added a middle name that is not reflected in his American official paperwork -- a clear sign that he is hiding something. She liberally quotes from classmates that found it "shocking" to learn that he an ex-con (shout out to my former classmates who may have found it "shocking" that I had been diagnosed as a sociopath, or to my gay friend's former classmates who might find it "shocking" to find that he is married to a man, or my transgender friend's former classmates who might find it "shocking" to discover that he is no longer a woman.) Despite people's alleged shock at having known an ex-con (?), none of his friends or associates suggested that he ever materially misrepresented himself. And do we have a duty to disclose everything about ourselves to everyone we meet? Cowan goes into great detail about whether or not the inmate/scholar was supposed to check a box on his school applications for certain types of past criminal convictions, but ultimately comes up with nothing, at least in my opinion. (The school defined relevant convictions as "offenses of a violent or sexual nature against a person, or something on the order of drug trafficking," and cautioned prospective students against overdisclosing in violation of the Data Protection Act of 1998). So apart from a general reluctance to expose more about his history than absolutely necessary, that's it for his bad behavior. And as one of his mentors said:

“Here’s a guy who paid a very heavy price and is trying to put his life back together. . . . It’s not that he’s averse to publicity and trying to hide . . . but he’s trying to survive.”

It's hard to read Cowan's article and not wonder what the NY Times found print-worthy about this tale. Although Cowan's reporting style is just-the-facts, it is still manipulatively written to suggest that the inmate/scholar has done something wrong in attempting to move on with his life in the way he has. And in doing so, Cowan joins other journalists (Caleb Hannan, and others) who have chosen to make torrid details of people's personal lives international news. I understand that part of journalism is incidentally ruining people's lives (interestingly, journalism is considered one of the top 10 professions for sociopaths), but there doesn't seem to be anything incidental about this (similar to the Essay Anne Vanderbilt story). Rather, ruining a life seems to be the point of this particular story. And why? This type of public shaming is even more difficult for me to understand than the typical ruin-someone's-life Twitter justice you see against people who violate social norms (possible racism and the too-soon). Is this just blatant journalistic pandering to the desire of the proletariat to be an armchair judge/jury/executioner? Or is Cowan just a Javert type who believes that people shouldn't be able to run from their past?

Why do I care about this story? There is the public shaming thing, of course, but his story speaks to me more personally as well. This guy seems to be a young sociopath figuring things out: his mother was a conwoman, he was a very talented conman, he was described by federal investigators as "brilliant and probably capable of doing anything," and according to the NY Times, his sentencing judge:

did not doubt his desire to reform, but she worried if “in point of fact, he doesn’t yet know how.” His “moral compass,” she said, was simply “not present or not functioning." 

So this story struck a personal note with me, as someone who has also had my career prospects ruined, at least to a certain extent. But at least I sort of brought it on myself. This guy just committed a crime and paid for it. He didn't ask to have the media hound him for the sordid details of his past.

But this problem of trying to escape from a past is not isolated to sociopaths, or even to wrongdoers. Everyone makes mistakes of varying degrees or chooses to live a different way, unfettered by constraints from the past. How much should that keep them from having functional adult lives? Some jurisdictions are instituting a right for young people to wipe their digital slates clean, so youthful indiscretions wouldn't unduly limit their life options. But that policy is only viable if no reporter can come along decades later and use that information against you. Should we believe that people are redeemable or not? Apparently most of the inmate/scholar's classmates did, or at least they said that they “judged him only on the present," and found him to be an exceptionally friendly and helpful classmate. Unfortunately, present performance is often not good enough for the Javert types who are looking for their pound of flesh.

See also Anne Perry (especially the comments section of the video clip, which are predictably all over the map).


  1. Not a good read!! This girl is ridiculous an attention seeking, annoying, wanna-be!! Anyone can "act" crazy or "act" like a sociopath but really are not. Plenty of people can put on a good show for others!! To the author: get a clue, grow up and get a life!

    1. What's with all the exclamation marks?

      You had an opportunity to make a thought provoking contribution that would have been the very first thing people see when they get to the comments.
      But hurling generic insults, while typing like an overexcited girl on facebook, just takes all the magic out of it.

  2. If one were to justify Alison Leigh Cowan's motives - beyond just being stuck for something to write about - you could argue that it's imperative that a lawyer demonstrate good character because of the nature of his work. So clearly his past demonstrates the opposite. The questions is, can people change?

  3. Does anyone know anything about codependency? Is it a makey-uppy condition or real, and why are they destined to engage with psychopaths and narcissists?

    1. I know all too much about codependency. I was socialized to be compliant by narcissistic personalities. My security as a child was linked to pleasing these unpredictable and often cruel authority figures. For that reason, I had a pattern of getting into relationships with men who abused me. How? Not because I liked abuse, but because I never developed a sense of boundaries or the ability to tell how I felt about a situation. The only emotion I had consistently was extreme anxiety- and the joyful relief that followed the inconsistent praise.

      My "good girl" persona was extremely codependent upon the approval of individuals who were highly judgmental. It was strange but the best way for me to become attracted to a man was described in "The Game" (pick up artists guide)- "Negging" is a tactic where you take an attractive woman down a few notches by insulting her when everyone else is being nice. When "Negging" works on someone you can bet they were socialized (at least partially) by a nasty person who made them walk on eggshells because they associate feelings of attachment with being insulted. Strange, but true.

      Fortunately knowledge is power. Once you start to understand the basic behavior patterns you stop and question "inexplicable" attractions in situations like these. It then becomes clear that you're not attracted, per say- but that your need for approval has been triggered. That's all a creep needs for an opening. Once a codependent is on the hook - they're "off to the races" with no looking back.

      Quite sad. And so painfully obvious once you spot it in yourself. The good news is that once you understand where these "mysterious, soul mate" attractions have their origins it's much easier to simply walk away. (Or better yet, deliver a withering response to the "neg" pick up)

    2. 'knowledge is power.' So true, once you really start to investigate what is going on in your relationships, you can begin to untangle and see the patterns. Your ticket to freedom.

    3. That's interesting Mach. Did you need therapy to help identify and break the dynamic? I recently attended a 12-step programme for codependents along with a friend who diagnosed me as one. I couldn't really see how that approach could help, and there was a general air of victimhood about the group that I wouldn't be in a hurry to embrace.

      Sam Vaknin regards codependants as covert narcissists - would you agree with him? When I was with psycho ex, there was definitely an element of basking in reflected glory at having bagged such a catch - until I realised he was no catch - so I suppose that reveals some narcissism in me although I have empathy in spades.

      I would love to hand it over to God as per the 12-steppers since my own efforts have yielded no results, but something in me resists, not least because my faith is on shaky ground.

    4. i was socialized to be compliant by narcissistic personalities too, but it failed. it really comes down to basics. when you peel of all the layers and layers of "meaning" there is nothing. it's like unravelling a ball of yarn. you just get one long frigging piece of yarn, and all you can do is roll it up and start unrolling all over again.

      it just comes down to standing up for what you value, and not waiting for someone else to decide what that is. and if you can't value yourself until someone else shows you the way, the problem is in you not them.

    5. narcissists are so much creepier to me than sociopaths because they actually believe they are warm empathic individuals. they really don't understand empathy beyond a concept they live out in their heads at their convenience. and if they have no empathy for you it's because you don't deserve it and are the kind of horrible person no one normal would empathize with. or you're making too much out of nothing. or they were suffering more at the time and you weren't there for them. whatever, you are the broken one and have something horribly wrong with you (which you secretly feel is true don't you?). that they pay any attention to you is an act of great generosity on their part, and you should consider yourself lucky to have them in your life. anything less than worship is an insult. they are the perfect people, see?

      in general, i think, if you feel invisible, you're likely with a narcissist. if you feel like a rock star and it's all about you, and then he/she just vanishes, without explanation, you were likely with a sociopath. or else you might be the narcissist.

    6. "it just comes down to standing up for what you value, and not waiting for someone else to decide what that is. and if you can't value yourself until someone else shows you the way, the problem is in you not them."

      It's not that simple. Many people who've been brought up by a controlling narcissistic parent don't know what they value. I'm ok once I stand alone but once I love someone, I'm easily overcome, blurry around the edges. Most of what my beloved says - because I respect him otherwise I wouldn't bother - makes the utmost sense. All of a sudden my own beliefs and opinions pale in significance.

      I had an ex (son of a narcissist) who could finish my sentences. I disappeared in his presence. I hated being away from him. Naturally I had to flee. Even when I meet him now years later, I slip back into this after a couple of hours. I am alone and will always be unless I somehow find a way to overcome this. It has placed huge limitations on my life.

    7. "if you feel invisible, you're likely with a narcissist. if you feel like a rock star and it's all about you, and then he/she just vanishes, without explanation, you were likely with a sociopath. or else you might be the narcissist."

      All sociopaths are narcissists so you will feel like a rockstar at first and gradually begin to feel invisible.

      When psycho ex was diagnosed as NPD (an incomplete diagnosis in my view, he's full-blown psychopath) he told me that he thought I was "an inverted narcissist". At the time I thought this was just more manipulation and dismissed it out of hand. But because I am aware of how we can delude ourselves, it's always been there at the back of my mind, and I mull over it from time to time.

      In the codependency 12-step group, they encourage people to take an inventory of their faults. This is tough! I can observe a narc-codependent couple and see how a kind-hearted man might, because of his vanity and pride, have ended up with a cold narcissistic woman, dazzled by her beauty and bearing. So at the moment I'm putting myself under the microscope. Am I vain, proud, lazy, too fond of luxury etc etc. If I can rout out my failings, maybe I can start attracting healthy relationships. F*ck knows. I'm willing to try.

    8. It's not that simple. Many people who've been brought up by a controlling narcissistic parent don't know what they value. I'm ok once I stand alone but once I love someone, I'm easily overcome, blurry around the edges.

      been there! what i never did was buy into it, and i limited the time i spent with them. i don't know if this makes sense or if i have it right. i'll have to think some more about it but... the way out is to lose your own narcissism. it's like they need it to hook you. so sitting quietly listening to them talk makes you feel like you're disappearing until you connect to their crap and you reinvent yourself according to their rules. you can only exist within their realm, so you have to disappear. but it's just your own narcissism screaming to exist. if you let it go, you still have you, your energy, your will. the narcissism is no good anyway since it was created to serve.

      hey not sure any of this makes sense. i'm typing like crazy to finish and go eat my late late dinner. : )

    9. so what i learned was that i could sit there, completely silent, and not say a word and let them talk and not feel like i was disappearing. the feeling of disappearing comes from trying and failing to be seen and assuming it's you. that you somehow are responsible for maintaining the connection. what you do is back off and just let them talk, until they're suddenly missing the signals you've stopped sending. though i have to say sitting like that listening to a narcissist go on is pretty boring.

    10. Yes, limiting the time spent with them might work but when you've just met someone and you're infatuated, it's hard not to spend tons of time together. I never sit there silent letting them talk - I'm pretty vocal and opinionated myself - but over time, I absorb their opinions/desires almost by osmosis and lose myself. (The guy I mentioned above wasn't a narcissist, just a larger-than-life personality and son of a narcissist.) Psychotherapy might help but a) the only psychotherapist I know of was the one my psycho ex attended and b) I don't have the money right now.


    11. just becoming aware of it is the start of the process of leaving it

  4. Interesting article.
    You really have a hard on for public shaming, huh?

    Journalists sensationalise in order to sell, nothing new there. This one sounded to me like she has something against sociopaths with faulty moral compasses moving into positions of influence from which they can seriously fuck people up all over again. So she decided to play hero and warn people. And sell a story. Took some lame "evidence" and tried to make it sexier.
    He's playing the good, reformed boy, he'll be fine.

    I did love how manipulative your writing on this matter is. Comparing him to Jean Valjean, playing the sympathy card, all the eye watering redemption talk, etc. Just lovely :)

    Yes, it would be lovely for us if all our past sins could just be magically erased. Doesn't work that way though. Fuck people over in a big way and the darned bastards just won't forget all about it. How rude~
    You don't want to be judges only on your past, keep making choices that show you have genuinely changed. Then just like the scholar's friends you will most likely be judged on the present.

    1. "He's playing the good, reformed boy, he'll be fine."

      Since he was young when he committed his crimes - and short of exemplary parental role models - there's every chance that he's not 'playing' but is genuinely trying to turn his life around.

    2. Maybe.
      If he is genuine, then he could let his actions, his choices, speak for themselves and would come out of this stronger and quite possibly better for it.
      The journalist will lose a little credibility.

      Or... she gets to give everyone he fucks over the biggest, smuggest "I told you so" she can muster.

    3. He won't come out stronger. Real life is not a Disney movie of redemption. ME understands it personally (oh Dr. Phil) and she never even committed a crime. As both scholars, there is this little thing called "academic politics", or what is known as Sayre's Third Law of Politics "Academic politics are most bitter, because the stakes are so small." It is not a state to envy.

      As for journalism, it is less now about facts than sensationalism. You can be the most honest journalist fresh out of school, and that honesty and integrity will be beaten out of you callously from internship. Journalism is now about money through viewership. That's it. The truth is secondary, because the truth is often grey and complicated. There are numerous editors of popular newspapers which attest to this after retirement.

    4. Nope, life is not a fairy tale.

      How wonderful it would be for us if we could keep slashing, burning and destroying, then just move on and everyone forgets it ever happened. Sure it would not be so wonderful for those hurt, but... sucks to be them :)

      He did the crime. His sins will not be magically erased because he wants a fresh start. Those who want to drag him down a notch will use whatever they can against him.
      Such is life, especially if you want to play the game of "academic politics".
      Let his actions and choices speak for themselves.

      M.E. made her choices too. As much as I like her, she did herself a disservice by going on Dr Phil. Seriously, that was...hilariously cringe worthy.
      I was not expecting him to be sympathetic to her, but she should have put a hell of a lot more thought into it. She handed him all the ammunition he wanted.

      As for journalism, well that's not news to anyone, now is it? It's been that way forever, Sensationalism sells and truth can be such an ugly, boring, subjective thing.
      Live with it and refuse to fall for their bullshit. Or knock yourself out trying to change it.

  5. I agree with you. This is small potatoes stuff. Many presidents have
    done worse. We had J.F.K. a sickly man who was placed in office by
    his criminal father, Joe Kennady, and aided and abetted by a compliant
    media. We had "slickster Bill Clinton," a man who left a trail of bodies
    on his raise to the top, and was so busy concealing his prior history
    to stave off impeachment-including staged military events-that Sept. 11
    later occured down the road. Now we have President Obama, a
    carefully groomed man that came out of no where. And we are shortly
    to get Hillary, a woman who carefully constructed her political carrer
    in collusion with her wicked partner in power.
    And I'm suppost to worry about some jag off teacher? I can't even go
    into the street without worry if I'm going to be slugged by a wolfpack
    of savages, and my skull crack against a curb.
    That's not a worry M.E. has. She teaches colledge in a pristine part of
    the country. She doesn't have to worry about taking a bathroom
    break and have a 6'2 savage sneeking in behind her and...."

    1. Chances are ME is bored shitless in her teaching job in her pristine part of the country and yearns for a more exciting new chapter.

  6. So what did people think of 'Woody Allen Speaks Out'? He makes a quietly powerful case but then again he's a writer. We'll probably never know. Unless he pisses Soon-Yi off one of these days ;)

    1. He's a creepy little man who I find disgusting. It's interesting how his daughter is the one that brought the subject up and he goes off on a rant about his ex (Mia Farrow) and then ends with the ever controlling "I'm never talking about this again; subject closed". He is definitely NPD.


    2. He's very good at shaming others and effecting a compelling tone of aggrieved victimhood. The fact that he's been estranged from Dylan all of these years and also never references her well being but speaks as her simply as Mia Farrow's pawn reveals that she is an object to him. While Mia Farrow definitely comes off as a nut bag- the fact that he was in a decade plus relationship with her doesn't speak so highly about his mental health. My take away is that Woody Allen is comfortable with having people he was once quite close to hate him because he's already deleted the part of himself that cares for them as individuals instead of obstacles.

      He's unpleasant. A child molester? Who knows? Who cares at this point. His general pattern of disregard for former intimates makes me think his movies, while entertaining are not terribly wise. I doubt they will stand the test of time.

    3. Mach,

      It does matter if he is a child molester as Soon-Yi is going to have his child. But you're right, he does act like a predator in the way he treats Dylan as a pawn or an object he once owned. And I think he is still with Soon-Yi because she looks so young. Wait until she starts to look older or there is someone younger around.


    4. I only said "it doesn't matter" in the sense of its relevance to any of our lives because this is something there is likely no physical evidence for and our legal system we currently have is an unlikely place for incontrovertible new truths to be revealed. It is a case of he said/she said that has been subjected to 20+ years of potential contamination involved and trying to get a verdict in a case like that seems near impossible. Child molesting matters- to all parties directly involved. But to the general public? It's just celebrity gossip.

    5. "His general pattern of disregard for former intimates makes me think his movies, while entertaining are not terribly wise. I doubt they will stand the test of time."

      Mach, you should write a book. I find your comments consistently wise and insightful.

    6. creepy creepy guy. no heart.

  7. I like that ME didn't mention his name. Is that empathy she's displaying?

    1. I like that she points out that she's not mentioning his name in an effort not to link him with the word "sociopath," and then she immediately mentions Alison Leigh Cowan's name. Empathy, is it? Or Opportunity? (Or hilarity? I vote hilarity.)

    2. It's also called "how google works". When people look him up, it should not be linked to sociopath. ME knows what happens about that kind of exposure herself. It is also an indirect statement.

  8. An interesting question is how public perception impacts those who are branded as unconscionable monsters. Whether a Dahmer, a Brady, those who have gone beyond the pale- their sense of self must be iron tough to maintain cohesion.

  9. This is a good example of the choices we make. The journalist could have written the same story but in a different context. Instead of using the tone of "look what this guy got away with" she could have written "look at how differently European countries view a criminal past". And I think this is what the real story is; how attitudes in the U.S. differ from those in Europe.

    I think this is an interesting story and worth writing about. It would not be my CHOICE to write it in a way that is so personally negative to one person and miss the bigger story.


  10. As Selina Kyle puts it in DKR-
    'Any 12 year old with a mobile can find out what you did-everything is collated and quantified...' (a very loose paraphrase). Some acts are clearly unforgivable in an existential sense-like murder (suicide by proxy-as the killer generally kills their own humanity in the act.), and child abuse-acts for which there is no way back-once you kill or cripple someones innocence its not really possible to undo the damage in the way a burglar can pay back property damaged or stolen. What I can best describe as existential crimes are one way streets-no U turns allowed. And I suggest this underpins a lot of thinking in the 1st world democracies. A sliding scale with the cheeky rapscallion shoplifting at one end-and John Wayne Gacy or Dahmer at the other end, unable to really understand the gravity of their actions and so learn from them.

  11. To all hateful douchebags/scholars from my ex-university, I have collected plenty of nasty hateful emails in last few days. Why? I can’t figure out. If you guys are doing this, I REPEAT: I’m NOT what you think, but if they help to subside your anger do it. I don’t mind. They only show your ethical standards.

  12. Anne Perry was she not that person from that movie about those 2 girls that killed that old lady and became an author? Yes I think everyone deserves forgiveness, no matter what it was that they did, however heinous the crime. Actually we need to forgive them if we are going to get any peace and quiet. I think it is smart for anyone to want to destroy their past. The past has no value. The past is dead and gone (at least it should be). Ad libbing can help save you. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. If you need to, start your own cult so that people will leave you alone.

    1. Tmac, I genuinely liked you, and I didn’t think you were sending those emails. I knew you were related to superchick, and were kind of fake and funny. But I guess you were another douchebag, stalking your former student. All right! What were you after? Did you get what you were looking for? I have all the emails that I sent to superchick. I never ever lied to her, but she was constantly lying. I assumed her identity as P.J.L from ptx, she was kind of crazy/revengeful. But I always liked her.
      I do not need to forgive myself. I never wronged any of you, or violated any legal rules or laws. You guys were repeatedly the exploiters and the abusers. It’s not my job to tell you to forgive yourself or not. However, it’s my job to tell you STOP HARRASSING ME. If you don’t have any guts to be straight forward with me and tell me what you are really after, then there is no point in these types of communications.
      Communication through harassment, intimidation and violation of another person’s privacy is the worst type, but I guess it’s the primary CHOICE of cowards.
      You guys all take care!

    2. I am not who you think I am. And just because someone posts on a blog - doesn't mean it's directed at you. You are allowing yr mind to be misdirected. Please seek some help before this delusional type of thinking worsens. In kind regards. :)

    3. Dear Pam. What do you really want? I mean really really. Personal information? Gossiping material? Enjoy hate-mongering? Do you like intimidating and harassing? I do post stuff here but I’m not a bad person in any form or shape. On Jan 19th via personal email I asked you to stop this crap, here is part of my email:

      “I would like to cut all my relationship to you, and I will alarm the university that you are affiliated with about your stalking attempts. I want to make it clear that if you continue to harasses or stalk me- with your love, love, love videos-, I have little fear to pursue my legal rights, which you can read them here:

      “[Stalking] is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom he has no relationship (or no longer has), with motives that are directly or indirectly traceable to the affective sphere. Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect).”

      I said that on Jan 19th to you, and I asked you repeatedly to stop posting my personal information on line. It was your choice to continue and its my only choice at this point to pursue legal protection.

    4. "A paranoid delusion is the fixed, false belief that one is being harmed or persecuted by a particular person or group of people. Paranoid delusions are known technically as a “persecutory delusion.”

      It involves the person’s belief that he or she is being conspired against, cheated, spied on, followed, poisoned or drugged, maliciously maligned, harassed, or obstructed in the pursuit of long-term goals.

      Small slights may be exaggerated and become the focus of a delusional system with a person suffers from a paranoid delusion.

      The focus of the delusion is often on some injustice that must be remedied by legal action. The affected person may engage in repeated attempts to obtain satisfaction by appeal to the courts and other government agencies.

      Individuals with paranoid delusions are often resentful and angry, and may even resort to violence against those they believe are hurting them or a loved one.

      Paranoid delusions are most often diagnosed in the context of schizophrenia. But they can also occur in non-psychotic disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, or the use of certain medications or street drugs."

    5. Blah blah blah………….
      Oh well…it’s so bad that my therapist of 3 years doesn’t think like you- & I understand your rage. I’m filing against the university not you, and if I am mistaking you with someone I know the case will be dismissed. OK. So keep your non-sense into yourself.

    6. " A person who has persecutory delusions often creates entire belief systems or mental constructs to justify his or her fears. In the mind of a paranoid individual, beliefs are rationalized to the point that he or she is absolutely convinced that threats are real and imminent. It is very common for delusional people to make frequent calls to the police and file civil lawsuits against others, even though they are not actually being harassed or harmed."

      Please talk to yr therapist. I'm not angry - the contrary - and surprised how un-rational yr faulty perceptions of others are becoming. Your false fixed belief will only hurt you ..if you don't seek medical attention.

    7. PJL, Justify however you want. I’m pursuing my legal rights. UC Davis must be really proud of you.I have all your 50 emails or so, which were packed with lies, as my lawyer said you will not stand a chance in court.

      FYI. I have not called Police or filed lawsuit ever against anyone before, but freaks like you need to be cured. & unlike you I don't have any major psychological issue.

  13. I suspect with the way communication technology is these days, we'll see more of the high-functioning psychopaths getting ahead (lawyers, bankers) and less of the low-impulse control sociopaths. eg a socipath like Javert, who gets off on prosecuting people will do well. the no-self conmen who are one thing to one mark, another to another mark, will lose out.

    In the past, low-impulse control sociopaths could move around, change communities and start over. now they can't.

    smart sociopaths without impulse control will get stuck doing stuff like temp work or computer programming, As they seduce romantic partners and live off them. enough to make a living, but not fun.

    1. There is one thing that some people may find interesting, in particular when it comes to high-functioning psychopaths. There was a peer-reviewed article in "Social Cognition" where a study showed something that will surprise a few naysayers. Here's a quote from the author's abstract:

      "When the others were described as in-group members, participants higher in psychopathy showed greater concern for those others. This indicates that the lack of concern for others produced by everyday psychopathy is due to a lack of motivation to care about others, rather than a lack of ability to do so."

      Believe it or not, but high-functioning members can show concern for others. They just need a reason for it. Ironically, the study was conducted on university undergraduates (though in truth, it is common for research universities to use the student populace as guinea pigs).

      In case anyone is interested, the article is called "Understanding Everyday Psychopathy: Shared Group Identity Leads to Increased Concern for Others among Undergraduates Higher in Psychopathy." by Arbuckle and Cunningham in the journal called Social Cognition (October 2012).

    2. As a psychopath, that fits me. If I can identify a reason to care - as in, it involves someone I know - I'll pay attention and try to come up with solutions. I'll help impulsively, as soon as I see a way to help.

      The result is that some people think I have strong feelings of concern - which just isn't the case. I have a sense that something is important and meaningful. And I have impulses, which I act on. But there isn't much feeling behind it.

  14. > It's hard to read Cowan's article and not wonder what the NY Times found print-worthy about this tale.

    The NYT article said “Otherwise sophisticated investors threw at least $7 million at the young Midas...” I get the feeling that one of those sophisticated investors knows someone at the NYT and got them to do this story so that the inmate/scholar can’t return to the US.


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