Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I was reading this passage by David Whyte on vulnerability and wondered, do sociopaths experience vulnerability ever?

Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

I think the answer must be that they do in fact experience vulnerability, in the sense that this in this life no one or nothing is invulnerable. I think to the extent that they feel it, it must be like so many of their feelings -- dull and contextless and over just as quickly as the experience that produced it is over. There are probably exceptions. I certainly have felt a little... traumatized? I guess is the word I am thinking. Gun shy? After some of the more serious setbacks I have experienced, I have experienced a more pronounced awareness of my vulnerability in the world -- a lack of ability to predict, to control, or to deal with what's happening to me. So yes, definitely a situational awareness style awareness of vulnerability in the sense that we're all mortals. And what about an emotional vulnerability?

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