Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Feelings

In the past couple years I've finally been able to identify and contextualize my feelings. I call it a sort of emotional puberty because emotions that other people have learned to understand and cope with, I'm still a little shaky at. 

I saw someone's tweet thread a few days ago about how people are rage porn-y to avoid dealing with like sadness, grief, loss, pain, fear, uncertainty. I didn't even re-tweet it because "duh." 

This morning I really felt the truth of it. My family is musical and I have over a dozen nephews and nieces who also have various musical talents. My sister suggested we do a family music album for my mother for Christmas. All my nieces and nephews did a song that my brother lovingly collected, spliced, and mixed for the past month. I even for the first time in over a decade downloaded some recording software, set up a mixer, bought an xlr to usb cord and did hours of recording for just 6 minutes of album time. The family had been hyped about this for a couple months and the plan, at least as I heard it from others, was to watch her open and listen via zoom, which would also be our family Christmas zoom time. One sibling had done nothing for the album but burn the cd, but was also the first one there at my parents' house Christmas morning and had my mother open it and listen to it without us in true Leroy Jenkins fashion. I woke up to seeing posts in the family chat, etc. about how much she liked it, but I didn't want to see posts, I wanted to experience it with her. 


My feelings were at first surprise, then confusion, then anger, which I didn't want to be the dominant feeling of my Christmas. On the one hand if I had anger and disappointment then I wanted to feel it and not sweep it away into the land of resentment, but I didn't understand why I was as angry as I was. I texted my brother and told him that I was 3/10 sad about him not waiting for us. He said he was sorry and he hadn't understood that was the plan. I had in my mind a bunch of rejoinders, like he would have known that was the plan if he had bothered to participate and read the family group messages and/or use a little common sense (what person gives a gift to a person that they themselves didn't buy or make?). I did explain to him directly that people who contributed had wanted and expected a listen party. But as I was typing more to him I realized that probably no one said that explicitly to him because he was out of the loop about most of it. And we have a little rule in my family that people cannot be held accountable for others' unexpressed expectations. So I found myself apologizing to him for getting upset about an unmet expectation I had, but had never expressed, and said that it was unfair to him that I left that expectation unclear but was still upset with him about it. And after I sent the text, I found that my anger had been released and I cried just a little bit with a sense of loss for what I had been anticipating most about Christmas this year. And it didn't feel good, but it felt much better than relying on the anger to shield me from those feelings of sadness. 

See also below "trying to avoid big [feelings] by focusing on small ones you're more comfortable with."

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Brad Zoom!

Brad and M.E. talk about DMT and how it helped him to understand the interconnectedness of humanity, living life more outside the closet, keeping people on our radar, psychopathic gray rage, etc. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Sunday Zoom on coming out to loved ones with Brad

 M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Topic: My Meeting with Brad

Time: Dec 20, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77753354873


Meeting ID: 777 5335 4873

Passcode: nb0Bt2


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Elsa and Victoria on Gratitude and Willpower

Elsa and Victoria analyze the research, including the suggestions that normal people are constantly at war with themselves emotionally and either need to exercise willpower to be the people they want to be or must actively tap into positive emotions like pride to self-regulate their behavior. The group suggests that instead of gratitude or pride, what may be happening is something tied up more with identity or a personal aesthetic for how the world should look and function.


 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Arya and Frances on Identity Next Zoom on Willpower

 Great conversation today with Arya and Frances about identity -- what in their experiences identity means now vs. their past, what has helped in terms of getting a stronger sense of identity, and personal boundaries. 


M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Topic: Arya, Elsa, Arthur on Willpower

Time: Dec 13, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77125652278


Meeting ID: 771 2565 2278

Passcode: Ef8srZ




Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Next Zoom Arya and Frances on the Reckoning! UPDATED TIME!

Note the time difference -- it's an hour later. Also \there's a chance that this time might change a bit either a little forward and back, so double check beforehand (I'll try to indicate an update in the subject line of the blog post). 

This one I'm really excited about, it's Arya again and her ex Frances talking about Arya's path through the "reckoning" to get back in touch with her feelings, i.e. a workable treatment!!!! Who knows why psychologists aren't talking about this, but you heard it here first!

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Topic: My Meeting with Arya and Frances part 2

Time: Dec 6, 2020 12:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/75944556298


Meeting ID: 759 4455 6298

Passcode: jsM209




Sunday, November 22, 2020

Arya on Maura Murray, Feelings, and People Sickness YouTube link

 Here's Arya talking about starting to feel her emotions, how previously her emotions seemed decontextualized, about difficulties in attention (needing subtitles while watching television), people sickness, sensory overload and sensory deprivation, being both cold and na├»ve, and whether famous cold case missing persons Maura Murray is a psychopath. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Blake Part 2 life after prison and Arya this Sunday 11:00 am.

Here's the invite info for this Sunday!

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: My Meeting with Arya re Maura Murray, sociopath?

Time: Nov 22, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74213343854

Meeting ID: 742 1334 3854

Passcode: iAp41y 


Here's the Blake video on boredom and careers! More invite info up soon.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Zoom Sunday 11/15 with Blake part 2

 M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Topic: My Meeting with Blake

Time: Nov 15, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74941089512


Meeting ID: 749 4108 9512

Passcode: KaW6Bn


Sunday, November 8, 2020

NY Times Modern Love "He Married a Sociopath: Me"

 This was an interesting NY Times Modern Love column by a sociopath. 

Here are a couple interesting observations:

Human beings aren’t designed to function without access to emotion, so we sociopaths often become destructive in order to feel things. I used to break into houses or steal cars for the adrenaline rush of knowing I was somewhere I wasn’t allowed to be — just to feel, period.

***

Like many, I gained my first understanding of sociopaths from pop culture, which portrays us as singularly dangerous and threatening, our flat emotional state and lack of remorse making us unfit for normal life. It wasn’t until I began my research in graduate school that I learned sociopaths exist along a wide spectrum, like many people with psychiatric disorders. You’ll find us everywhere in daily life, as your colleagues, neighbors, friends and, sometimes, members of your own family.

When you’re a sociopath in a marriage, especially one with children, honesty is critical — even more, I would argue, than for people in “normal” relationships. As a sociopath, I had difficulty prioritizing telling the truth, but as a wife and a mother, I forced myself to learn.

Outside of my family, my loyalty to the truth is what has enabled me to connect with other people. As a doctor who specializes in the research of sociopathy, I prize credibility and integrity as my greatest asset.

Granted, it hasn’t been easy. People claim to want complete honesty from their partner or spouse, but I have found they aren’t always happy when they get it, especially when that honesty is coming from a sociopath.

***

And thanks to me, he started to see the value in not caring as much about what others thought. He noticed how often guilt was forcing his hand, frequently in unhealthy directions. He would never be a sociopath, but he saw value in a few of my personality traits.

He learned to say “no” and mean it, especially when it came to activities he was doing purely out of obligation — family visits or holiday gatherings he didn’t enjoy but couldn’t decline. He started to recognize when he was being manipulated. He noticed when emotion was clouding his judgment.

I do wonder, did the husband know she was publishing this? Does the husband's work crush recognize herself in this portrayal? 

Maybe even more interesting were people's reactions. From Reddit:

I took a look at her website.

"Today I am working to expand the definition of sociopathy to include its status as a spectrum disorder. Sociopaths are not inherently evil people. We suffer from what I believe to be an emotional learning disorder, one which is both relatable and treatable."

Honestly not sure how I feel about that. Having worked with someone I'd consider a sociopath, I'm conflicted. I would like to think every human is redeemable with help. But I can't help but feel a primitive urge to punish and cast out evil.

I'm not a big fan of the post-religious types which describe mental disorders like this as evil. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this trend, but there is a new atheism out there that rejects conventional religions and just substitutes it with an equally monolithic belief in good and evil that tends to reject out-group beliefs as being "evil." Another good example of how religion is not the problem, it's the narrow concept of morality being something that just coincidentally tracks your own preferences. 

Interestingly a lot of people with no evidence or support suggesting that she was misdiagnosed, even though she is herself a psychologist (and has lived her whole life with herself). For whatever reason I went through Twitter engaging with people. Feel free to visit and be part of the dialogue: https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1317146794976043009

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Road trip!

 Hello friends! I am on a roadtrip, slightly different locations and dates than I first tweeted. I'm looking for people in the DC area going east to the Smoky Mountains the second week of September.

Also if you want to meet me at Six Flags in either New Jersey or Virginia the first week of September. 

Or Orlando the third week of September. 


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Victoria Part 4

Ok friends! So Blake never made it on the call and sorry it was cut off suddenly in the last few minutes because of an internet glitch. Here's the YouTube link of Victoria and I talking, and the YouTube description:

Victoria and M.E. Thomas swap stories about narcissistic fathers, talk about whether ASPD and BPD are a good match, talk about boundary problems with people who suffer from a personality disorder, nature vs. nurture for developing psychopathy, parallel universes and the trauma psychopaths may feel when realizing that the way they thought an experience was unfolding was really very different. 


I will get back to you on the next zoom meeting as soon as I can confirm them. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Victoria Part 3 and Next Zoom: Blake and Victoria

Here's a link to the interview with Victoria. We pick up where we left off and talk about all sorts of topics, including fear of death and primary and secondary emotions. 



Here's the invite for this Sunday:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Blake and Victoria 
Time: Aug 9, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74810154919

Meeting ID: 748 1015 4919
Passcode: DwA26L




Sunday, July 26, 2020

Victoria Part 3 Sundar Aug. 3

Here's the invite for the next zoom meeting a week from today:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Victoria Part 3
Time: Aug 2, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77118513341

Meeting ID: 771 1851 3341
Passcode: hzj8M8

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Arya and Frances Interview Youtube link

Here's the interview with Arya and her ex Frances. From the YouTube description:

Arya (boo of M.E. Thomas) interviews her ex-girlfriend, who was the one who told Arya she might be a sociopath, had Arya read "Confessions of a Sociopath", and sent Arya to meet M.E. They talk about the role of mercy in relationships, the possibility of change, empath/sociopath relations, emotional growth, getting better, strengthening sense of self, kismet, spirituality, personal boundaries, relationship boundaries, etc.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Zoom call tomorrow: Arya and Friend!

Tomorrow we'll talk with Arya and the friend who suggested to her that she might be a sociopath. An hour later than last time!

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Arya and Friend!
Time: Jul 12, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/75875742726

Meeting ID: 758 7574 2726
Password: 9uFV3t

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Victoria Asian female psychopath Part 2

This was a super interesting one for me because I've tried to be less ethnocentric about my view of psychopathy, but with the language barrier and travel restrictions, it's been hard to connect meaningfully with any Asian psychopaths, and bonus a female Asian psychopath. Here's the description from the YouTube video:

M.E. Thomas of Confessions of a Sociopath interviews an East Asian woman in her 20's about why it may be easier to "mask" psychopathy in Asian than western cultures. 

1. There's no real word or sense of meaning regarding psychopath in East Asian cultures. 

2. The social norms are all explicit and easy to follow. 

3. Public displays of negative emotions are frowned upon as being a burden on the rest of the community, i.e. they require the listener or observer to respond empathetically, which is considered a little rude, too individualistic, and a burden on the community. 

We also talk about animal experiments, narcissistic parents, guilt vs. shame, and public shaming and community centric punishments in American law and East Asian culture. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Yale Finance Professor Denigrates Personality Disordered Individuals

I don't know why the world of wokeness has not even begun to approach the issue of the stigma of psychopaths, but I thought I would just flag that in a Yale University Coursera course on finance by Robert Schiller, he spends a whole module on personality disorders, including ASPD and BPD. Why? I don't know. Can you imagine sitting in his class diagnosed with ASPD, BPD or another personality disorder and hearing him give you his take on how these people will not succeed in finance but will end up in jail?

From the transcript:

The movie The Big Short suggests that some people in the finance [LAUGH] profession have antisocial personality disorder, is that true? Well, there's a literature on this, I think the answer is no, those guys are in jail. That the profession like, the finance profession, like other professions is pretty successful in discovering these disorders, but on the other hand, there might be an attraction. If you read the list of symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, it does fit, but I think that it's not true. That, like in any other profession, we are successful, and you can't hide these things for too long, and you'll end up caught. It's unfortunate we have to deal with these, it's 3% of our male population has this disorder, we have to live with it. Anyway, I'm just going to conclude with these psychological principles that I talked about are involved in many things that happen in the financial world.

There you have it, you can't hide these things for too long, you'll end up caught. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Blake Video and Victoria Part 2 Invite

Here's the video from today with Blake, fresh out of prison.



Here's the invite for next week's part 2 interview with Victoria:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Victoria Part 2
Time: Jul 5, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79798542315

Meeting ID: 797 9854 2315
Password: 3THw1T

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

New Interview Sunday Blake 20s East Coast Felon

Hello friends! I am excited for this next interview. I met him while he was in prison and am so happy that he is out, join me this Sunday for a conversation with Blake and I'll share how I was almost kicked out of visiting hours.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Blake East Coast 20's felon psychopath
Time: Jun 28, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71902335520

Meeting ID: 719 0233 5520
Password: 6hy2S3

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Self Part 2 with Elsa, Eddie, and Ryan

Here is last week's video about the self with our psychopath friend Elsa, my brother and philosophy major Eddie (whose philosophy interest is self but until recently has not been able to identify anything beyond an illusion of self) and empathy Ryan (who has struggled with knowing herself but has tried new techniques to get beyond the surface labels). We talk about the first 1/3 of Bruce Hood's Illusion of Self. If you're interested in that book, here is a list of quotes you might like and if you google specific passages you'll find a Russian cite with the whole book (although I decline to post the link).


Victoria: Asian female 20s scientist married poly-amorous psychopath interview.

Hello friends!

I'm going to try to post last week's video on self as soon as I can get the slightly edited version, but here is this week's Zoom interview with Asian female 20s scientist married psychopath Victoria!

This is the astrology test we referenced.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Next Zoom meeting June 21st

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Asian female, 20s cancer patient, scientist, self-identified sociopath
Time: Jun 21, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/73663904501

Meeting ID: 736 6390 4501
Password: 8V9uxH

Friday, June 12, 2020

Next Zoom meeting Sunday 10 am PDT on Self!

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Elsa and M.E. Brother
Time: Jun 14, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79132777257

Meeting ID: 791 3277 7257
Password: 6KpGq8

Monday, June 1, 2020

Alex and George Part 2 Video and Mormon Psychopath interview

Here is the video for Alex and George Part 2.


Here's the information for my interview with an ex-communicated but returning to the church
Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) psychopath-identifying individual.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Mormon Sociopath
Time: Jun 7, 2020 09:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78448523671

Meeting ID: 784 4852 3671
Password: 9VDqxh

Sunday, May 24, 2020

UPDATE! Time and date for Part 2 Alex and George Sociopath/Empath relationship interview

Here's the link for today's interview with a couple, one of which is a self-identified psychopath and one of which is not.



I had so many follow up questions that I asked if George and Alex could do a follow up interview, and they graciously agreed. Same time and day.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Alex and George Part 2
Time: May 31, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74526489985

Meeting ID: 745 2648 9985
Password: 0wiCtU








Sunday, May 17, 2020

UPDATE!!! Time change again, sorry! Elsa interview link and Socio/Empath relationship invitation

Sorry about the timing mix-up for the last one, but see the recording here. Zoom messed up the recording a bit so it's just my head, sorry.

Here's the info for next week, also a Sunday morning in Los Angeles, European Sunday evening because our guests are a psychopath/empath couple, going to be on talking about relationship and other stuff.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Socio Empath relationship
Time: May 24, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71812284940

Meeting ID: 718 1228 4940
Password: 2PH7GT

Monday, May 11, 2020

Arya interview video link and Elsa interview invitation

Here is the link to the interview with Arya.


For Elsa, on the advice of a listener, we're going to try to have a more structured audience participation. So come prepared! Or feel free to lurk as always. But we're going to be discussing this Slate article from an American lawyer who specializes in Chinese law.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Elsa and Arya
Time: May 17, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71244896244

Meeting ID: 712 4489 6244
Password: 5mhHH0

Tweets referenced:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Zoom Week 4 link and Week 5 Saturday night Asian Sunday morning

Here is a link to Zoom week 4 where we talk to Arthur.


Here is the information for Week 5, which will be Saturday night Los Angeles time and Sunday morning Asian time. Guest will be my psychopath boo, Arya.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld 20 0509 Arya
Time: May 9, 2020 06:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79210397856

Meeting ID: 792 1039 7856

PASSWORD: 8pm01L



Saturday, May 2, 2020

Zoom week 3 youtube link and Zoom details for Monday 5/4

Here's the video for last week. Our guest had technical difficulties and didn't end up making it in time, so it turned into just a little Q&A about filling out forms, ethics, moral inconsistency, and religion.


M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld Zoom Meeting 20 0504
Time: May 4, 2020 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71647075746

Meeting ID: 716 4707 5746

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Zoom week 2 Youtube link and Next meeting Monday April 27th

Here is the interview with our Australian friend.



Here are the details for the next meeting, Monday because our interviewee is busy on weekends:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld 20 0427
Time: Apr 27, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74366789171

Meeting ID: 743 6678 9171



Thursday, April 16, 2020

UPDATE to the UPDATE!!!! Saturday 7:30 p.m. Zoom meeting details

UPDATE -- NOTICE THE TIME HAS BEEN PUSHED BACK AN HOUR FROM THE ORIGINAL

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld M.E. Thomas
Time: Apr 18, 2020 07:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74816132923

Meeting ID: 748 1613 2923

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Zoom Week 1 YouTube link and Zoom Week 2 Time

Hello friends! Thanks for trying out Zoom with me. This is a link to the video. It's blurred this time, but next time please make sure that you exclude any personally identifying information or any information that you wouldn't like made public so we don't have to blur it.

We're going to do next week during Americas Saturday evening and Asiatica Sunday morning: Saturday 6:30 PDT (Los Angeles). I'll post the link in a bit. We'll try to mix up the format this time too, both technically and substantively.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Zoom get together Easter Sunday morning!

Hello everyone! We're going to try to do a Zoom meeting tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles). Here is the meeting code: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/877666548.

Feel free to participate by asking questions, lurk anonymously, or whatever else you might like to get up to that is not disruptive to the other participants. You should be able to participate via your computer audio and video (if you choose) or type questions in the chat feature.

For those who cannot make it at that time period, I think we're going to alternate weeks and do the first week morning U.S./evening Europe and then the next week evening U.S./morning Asia/Australia. If someone can figure out the perfect time to do it worldwide, let me know.

I'm going to try to record the discussions and post them on YouTube. If you do choose to log into the Zoo meeting, you acknowledge and agree to the terms of use on this website, including providing me a nonexclusive perpetual license to use any material from the Zoom meetings that you contribute.

Apologies in advance for any technical hiccups, I'll try to keep getting better at this. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Spotify playlist and regular Zoom meetings?

I thought some of you might enjoy listening to my favorites (mostly chill) for your WFH.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0POLBEvrpm8gKDiOr2282h?si=2rIldJTzQ0-kphKFKGHLyw

If you want to chat about the music sometime, I might set up a Zoom or something. In fact, I enjoyed the aforementioned Killing an Evening Zoom webinar so much I thought maybe we could do a similar format on the regular, maybe Sundays (to replace church for me). I'll try to get the details to you ASAP, but let me know in the comments if that is something you'd be interested in.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Panelist for Killing an evening: The inconvenient truth about psychopaths and sociopaths

I'm going to be participating in an online Zoom panel Thursday 9 April, 7.30pm - 9.00pm London.

Here is the info. Signing up is free, but limited. Relevant details and sign up link:

Killing an evening: The inconvenient truth about psychopaths and sociopaths.
Psychopaths are commonly viewed as evil serial killers, but many top athletes, business leaders, journalists and comedians have psychopathic traits; are psychopaths helpful for a prosperous society? If there is a neurobiological basis for personality disorders, what does it mean for our understanding of free will and culpability in the criminal justice system? And why are we all addicted to watching psychopaths and sociopaths on TV and in films?

The panel
Luke Jennings - author of the Killing Eve novels.
Dr Luna Centifanti - a senior lecturer in Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, where her research focuses on the development of psychopathic traits in children.
M E Thomas - a high-functioning non-criminal sociopath and author of Confessions of a Sociopath.
Dr Mark Freestone - a senior lecturer in psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London and a consultant on the TV series Killing Eve.

This event is part of Life Science Centre's Science Speakeasy programme – a series in which important and often controversial topics are debated. No question or statement is taboo, so these events are not suitable for anyone who is easily offended!
At events held in Life Science Centre, a cocktail bar is available; for Virtual Science Speakeasy, we want you to replicate the experience in your living room, so pour yourself a drink, dim the lights and get comfy on the sofa.

Register your place at our Zoom event by clicking the link below and enjoy a lively night of debate from the comfort of your own home, and even raise a virtual hand to ask our panel a question.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Waking up to Self

I recently stumbled upon this very old comment that I thought was interesting and relevant to current events:

We're born narcs, then our parents starts to exhibit control and dominance. In other words, they are psychopathic towards us. "It is for your own good". This role is later taken over by the society. Collectivism, mores, police and so forth.

But already as children, most people give up. They give up their true desires and personality, and then start to create something, which most aren't. They define themselves by their creation. "I am lawyer"... Not you're not. you have studies laws, because you had to get a fcking living and salary. And you probably picked something you suspected would maximize income per effort. And deep down we all know it. It is just so hard, and often impossible, to find an alternative escape from that fact and from the "dominators". So if someone comes around and remind "you" of reality, "you" become frustrated, because "you" had forgotten about being "arrested", being "under control". You had accepted it, and even developed the Stockholm syndrome. You were doin fine till someone reminded you that it is all just bullshit. So you fight. You have to keep the false ego in place. Even though you know it is false. Because, in reality, alternatives are very few. One of them is suicide. And some people opt for that. Others need a very bright mind. Most people don't have that.

I have learned that parents, in my society, are allowed to do to their children, what a grown up would be imprisoned for years for doing. And I just had to ask why it is like that ? Well, I think I have touched some possible answer to it in my first paragraph.

Weird World

Monday, March 30, 2020

Covid-19 and Reactionary thinking

I've been tweeting a lot more. Probably because I think the world has gone a little sideways, but mostly not because of the virus. I know in times of uncertainty people have a tendency to be more fearful (I have noticed people struggle with uncertainty). Others will try to profit and superimpose their previously held viewpoints on the situation in a way that is more opportunistic and transparent than I am used to seeing. I thought this was particularly true of this NY Times piece about how as early as 2006, the United States federal government found that it was 700,000 ventilators short in the event of a pandemic. Rather than just buy more ventilators, it tried to contract with medical device companies to produce some very cheaply. Companies submitted buds, but it wasn't until 2010 (a few months after the H1N1 outbreak, so already too late for the next pandemic) that a contract was signed with a company. So it took  4 years of the government dicking around from realizing it needed 700,000 ventilators to signing a contract to procure those ventilators. Remember, design and production are still years away. 

The lowest bid was for 15% the going rate of ventilators by a very small, unproven company. Why 15%? Apparently the government really didn't feel like this emergency surplus warranted paying retail rates. To me, this is a little like (as I tweeted) leaving my car on the side of the road gasless and waiting until gas prices drop below $3 before I gas it up again. Like knowing that you don't have fire extinguishers for your 50 story building, but waiting until they go on sale for 85% off until you buy any. This alone is not the craziest part of the story to me, in terms of shocking government decisions.

$6M government dollars later, the contracted for medical device company got stalled at FDA approval in 2012 (apparently because it didn't work on infants), but the NY Times article tried to make it seem like the failure was because the company was intentionally purchased by a bigger company to stifle innovation (no sources were named to support this proposition). The contract was finally cancelled in 2014.

But now 8 years after it realized it was short 700,000 ventilators and not being able to get a single one (at least according to the NY Times), instead of just buying ventilators on the open market the federal government again chooses to contract with a medical device producer, Philips. I can't really tell from the gaps in the NY Times timeline, but I think that contract happened around 2014. Philips has also failed to produce any usable ventilator in the past 6 years. Why? The FDA: "It wasn’t until last July that the F.D.A. signed off on the new Philips ventilator, the Trilogy Evo. The government ordered 10,000 units in December, setting a delivery date in mid-2020."

The NY Times take on this, with zero facts to support their argument:

The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies; their focus on maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.

Whoa kay! Sounds like a defamation lawsuit to me, especially since Medtronics (the parent company of the original contracting party) is not in any way a public figure under the Supreme Court standard from NY Times v. Sullivan and its progeny.

People have a lot more spicy takes nowadays. The arguments I see most from though-leaders are that these circumstances call for extreme measures, and don't worry we can just trust them that what they're saying is necessary and if we don't comply we lack empathy and are team virus and should be fined or imprisoned. At least, that's according to my local subreddit that is saying that surfers who want to still surf during this pandemic are "entitled fucking children" lacking in "empathy".

I've seen other people savagely (gleefully, I think) tear apart Richard Epstein after this New Yorker interview. Not his ideas, mind you, just him, or perhaps in fairness laser focusing on some ideas they disagree with and ignoring his other points.

I guess that's the most common thing I have seen that scares me, much more than the virus -- that people are no longer willing to attack other people's ideas, they seem to be only attacking people. And the people they attack are people who do not share the same "feelings" they do about what is happening.

Because the truth is even the data we have is extremely all over the place (even when you exclude the the Chinese data and try to account for differences in culture, etc.). If you hear anyone say that they know what is happening, you can know for a fact that there is no definite evidence to prove practically anything. We are in the extreme position of flying blind on almost every level.

So why attack each other personally and not the ideas? And here's what I mean using Epstein as an example. I think the main issue that people seemed to take with Epstein is that he said that viruses evolve, and tend to (1) evolve in response to their hosts responses and they (2) evolve to weaker strains, which I don't know anything about but a quick google turned up innumerable sources that support number 1, including this peer reviewed article from two years ago in the journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution. And again without spending too much time on this issue, I found in support of number two this and this. But read the interview, it's crazy how much of a set-up hit piece it is and how cherry-picked their own experts are to contradict Epstein. They knew ahead how they wanted to discredit Epstein, not just his ideas but to discredit him as a person. Why? Because Epstein made the mistake of asking what is the basis for all of this non-democratic action from the executive branches in this country:

Well, I’m saying in effect, by this particular point—this is not the medical side—is after you start declaring emergencies you have time for reflection and adaptation and modification, which you don’t have in a fire case. So the political point is one which essentially says, when you see governors of three major states putting out statements that their experts have said this, that, and the other thing is a result, and you don’t see the studies and you can’t question the assumption, I regard that as a serious breakdown in the political process. So my view on that particular point is I’d like to know which of these studies they’re relying on. If it’s the New York Times studies, then I thought that that study was mistaken for the reasons that I was trying to give you a moment ago, which is that as the virus becomes more apparent, adaptive responses long before government gets involved become clear.

The craziest thing is he doesn't even criticize them for acting with urgency, he just says that now that we have some down time and this is the new normal, maybe they could do us the favor of explaining what models and assumptions they're basing their decisions on.

I want this too. I'm tired of being subject to mob mentality throughout with people who appear to be (at least to me) fear driven and not thinking as well as I am used to seeing from them, but instead being reactionary and making knee-jerk decisions with lasting consequences on the spur of the moment with seemingly little before-thought. But even some of that, that's ok that's predictable, that's fine. Pandemics, I get it. But what about after thought, i.e. thought after we've jumped to decisions and conclusions about what we think is going on or should be going on? What about allowing new ideas in? What about challenging what we think we know? What about attacking ideas instead of people? What about using data instead of feelings? Can we at least agree that those precepts don't go out the window in an emergency?

Hopefully another we can get back some humility to question our own thinking and that of our leaders, lest we turn out like Hungary.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Religious moral reasoning vs. guilt and getting better

A reader sent me this video of David Woods (Christian psychopath) talking about his religious conversion and how he gets pushback from other Christians because he still doesn't feel guilt.

First, him explaining (I don't think super well) about guilt. 


Second, him talking about how religious people insist that feelings of guilt are a necessary part of religious conversion/salvation. 



I remember when I got judged by some members of my own church, they said that it wasn't necessarily what I had done in the past that made me such a bad person, but that the way that I felt about it. I thought that was a totally anticipated reaction for people to have because my religion does emphasize to a certain point one's change of heart over the ledger recording one's actions in life, whether good and bad. That is, someone might have a change of heart at the last minute death row style and still be just as worthy of salvation as someone who had been "good" their entire life. On the other hand, it's obvious a mental health disorder to not have the same feelings of guilt and to expect someone to feel differently is like expecting gay people to not be attracted to members of the same sex. So I feel like this thoughts vs. action issue is something that many if not all religions have had to evolve their thinking on as we learn more and more the limits of controlling one's thoughts and feelings.

A quick word about guilt. The way I explain a sociopath's lack of guilt is through sense of self. Shame is something that society imposes on you to make you feel bad because you have violated one of their moral constructs. Guilt is a feeling that you have violated your own moral construct or self construct. For instance, if you think of yourself as being an honest and generous person, you may feel guilt if you behave in a dishonest or selfish way. But if you don't think of yourself in any sort of terms, either as being dishonest or honest, you won't ever have experience guilt because you won't ever violate your own self concept. I think sociopaths can regret that things didn't play out differently, and they can even feel remorse when they understand that it was their action that led to things paying out poorly or hurting people that they didn't want to hurt but maybe in a moment of extra impulsivity they did hurt.

Here's his video saying that before a sociopath can get better, he has to see himself as having a problem or being flawed or missing something, rather than seeing sociopathy exclusively as a super power.






Thursday, March 12, 2020

Knowledge vs. Understanding

One thing I hear a lot from people is that sociopaths know right and wrong, i.e. if you asked them to say what is the right thing to do in a particular situation, they'd more than likely give you the "right" answer. Consequently, the argument goes, sociopaths are responsible for all of their actions to the same degree as a normal person. I've tried to use the analogy before of how most children understand the "right" answer regarding stealing, hitting, not waiting their turn, not sharing, etc. but that we don't expect them to have the same capacity to behave well as we would a neurotypical adult. I think this difference between knowing something and understanding something was illustrated well in this video.



On the positive side, just like this guy learning how to ride the messed up bike, I think that sociopaths can learn to perspective take (which is basically empathy) and to learn to think more of others and other "good" behavior (or behavior which promotes "good" actions). I actually think the bike analogy is really good because like the hard wiring we have regarding riding a bike, the sociopath got hard wired at a very early age -- hard wiring that is very difficult to ignore or bypass. Just as the man describes needing to concentrate the whole time while riding the messed up bike and if anything should happen to distract him, he crashes, even a sociopath that has learned the "good" behavior mentioned above will likely socially or morally "crash" if there are too many other things taking up his or her cognitive load. I do think with practice the sociopath can get better and better, like learning a foreign language, but we should not expect sociopaths to just understanding good behavior automatically, just like we shouldn't expect a normal person to understand how to ride the messed up bike automatically. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The origins of criminality as a feature of sociopathy (part 3)


Because it largely captures people who commit crimes, either sociopathic or non, the PCL-R is both over-inclusive of non-sociopathic criminals and under-inclusive of non-criminal sociopaths. (Id, citing Lilienfeld, 1994.) At best, research based on the PCL-R can be characterized as “a literature on unsuccessful psychopathy.” Id. However not all sociopaths are unsuccessful. Rather the “great majority of psychopaths” have (Id, quoting Hercz, 2001, ¶ 11.) via their “ individual differences in talents and opportunities” channeled their psychopathic tendencies not into criminality, but into heroism, worldly success, etc. Id, citing Cleckley, 1976; Harkness & Lilienfeld, 1997; Lilienfeld, 1998; Lykken, 1995. Hare himself has conceded, most sociopaths are not criminals.

Although Hare never filed suit, he successfully delayed publication of Skeem and Cooke’s article by three years. He was also roundly criticized as improperly interfering with the peer review process. In an article titled “Fear Review,” Scientific American writes : “’It was [a] shock,’ Skeem says of Hare's legal threat. ‘this is not about Professor Hare, and it's only incidentally about the Psychopathy Checklist,’ she says. ‘The focus was really on how we could move the field forward.’”

Hare conceded in his response to Skeem and Cooke that the PCL-R does not embody the concept of psychopathy, nor is criminality a necessary component, but there are only twenty factors and three of them specifically deal with criminality: “criminal versatility”, “juvenile delinquency” and “revocation of conditional release” (revoked parole). Another is “many short-term marital relationships”. Only half of the factors track Cleckley sociopathy.

How did non-Cleckley traits enter the PCL-R?

[B]ecause participants in the PCL development sample were criminals rather than nonincarcerated patients or nonpatients, it seems likely that the initial candidate pool included many more deviance-related items, such that [Cleckley’s] positive adjustment indicators dropped out in the selection process. The result is that the PCL-R, compared with Cleckley’s original diagnostic criteria, contains items that are uniformly indicative of deviancy and psychological maladjustment.

Patrick, et al. (2009).

Studying exclusively criminals and then assuming sociopathy must be related to criminality seems like an obvious sampling error. If I exclusively studied my church congregation for sociopathy, could I properly infer a connection between sociopathy and organized religion? Even Hare admits “the majority of psychopaths aren't criminal,” so how could he be satisfied basing his test exclusively on criminals?

Despite round criticism from the psychological community, the PCL-R’s psychopath has left a lasting academic and public impression. Notwithstanding mounting research to the contrary, the dominant popular view of sociopathy is Hare’s criminal recidivist remorseless killer. This is the psychopathy of Hollywood murder movies. I too am scared of such a person, although I haven’t yet encountered one.

Modern researchers remain divided between Cleckley’s carefree bon vivant and Hare, Rollins, McCord and McCord’s criminal deviant.  While Cleckley’s view of sociopaths amounted to emotional colorblindness, Hare et al. depict a “bad egg” rife with moral rottenness – a severely emotionally damaged individual characterized by a loveless and guiltless existence of unrestrained malice for fellow man. Id. Where Cleckley saw “boldness,” they see “meanness.” Where Cleckley saw a lack of connection to the sociopath’s own feelings and the feelings of others, they see a vicious disregard for the feelings of others. Id. Cleckley sought to understand underlying thought patterns, they sought to label external behavior. Cleckley saw a potential patient, they see a social predator. Cleckley saw a problem for which he was seeking a cure.[i] They see a problem that needs to be identified and isolated to protect society, or as Hare has said:

Measurement and categorization are, of course, fundamental to any scientific endeavor, but the implications of being able to identify psychopaths are as much practical as academic. To put it simply, if we can't spot them, we are doomed to be their victims, both as individuals and as a society.

Hare’s remorseless criminal psychopath is associated with “Factor 2 psychopathy”. While Factor 1 traits track Cleckley’s sociopath, Factor 2 adds new traits largely associated with deviance. Not surprisingly, there is little correlation between Factor 2 and Factor 1 traits. In fact, some flatly contradict each other:

  •         High aggression, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. Harpur et al., (1989); Hare, (1991).
  •         Aggression provoked by reactionary anger. Patrick & Zempolich, (1998); Porter & Woodworth, (2006).
  •         High levels of alcohol and drug dependence. Hare, (2003); Smith & Newman, (1990).
  •         Deviant behavior.  Hall et al. (2004)
  •         High disinhibition and boredom, anger, alienation, distress at negative everyday events. Id.
  •         Low conscientiousness and low interest in achievement. Id.
  •         Low personal socioeconomic status. Id.
  •         Historic and future crimes against people, including violent crimes. Skeem, Mulvey, and Grisso (2003)
  •         High aggressiveness. Id.
  •         Low agreeableness and lower connection to or interaction with other people. Id.
  •         High FFM neuroticism (worrying or negative feelings about everyday incidents), low FFM agreeableness, and low conscientiousness.

o   Interestingly, these are exactly opposite of the Factor 1 results for these categories.

Patrick, et al. (2009).

How can the same group be characterized by both high emotional reactiveness and low emotional reactiveness? Are they angry anxious drug addicts or are they happy-go lucky charmers? Are they impulsive sadist below-the-poverty-line loners or socially dominant Machiavellian CEOs? Are we looking at violent offenders who have a hard time regulating their overpowering emotions or feckless opportunists who have a hard time feeling their own or others’ emotions? Are they primarily emotionally or intellectually driven? Reactive or proactive?

As researchers have posited, the same group can’t really be both, unless we’re talking about two or more separate but related things. Perhaps, as some have suggested, one thing is more nature and the other nurture. Some say one is a sociopath and the other is a psychopath. Or one is a primary sociopath and the other a secondary sociopath. Some say they have the same underlying cause, but only manifest differently. For example, that sociopathy manifests itself naturally in boldness, and meanness is only what happens when you combine sociopath plus risk factors, e.g. childhood neglect or abuse, low socioeconomic status, low education, single parent household, etc. When Cleckley’s emotional blindness is given prosocial outlets, they argue, it can lead to “social efficacy, imperturbability, and tolerance of danger” and if not, “impulsivity, rebelliousness, alienation, and aggression.” Id. This would explain the shared traits (fearlessness and boldness) you see between criminal and non-criminal sociopaths as well as the differences in behavior between the two.[ii]


[i] Cleckley’s position was that he knew of no treatment, but he blamed it in part on the collective evasion of the issue by the psychological community and society at large rather than any definitive evidence of there being no treatment:

Although I spared no effort to make it plain that I did not have an effective therapy to offer, the earlier editions of this book led to contact with psychopaths of every type and from almost every section of the United States and Canada. Interest in the problem was almost never manifested by the patients themselves. The interest was desperate, however, among families, parents, wives, husbands, brothers, who had struggled long and helplessly with a major disaster for which they found not only no cure and no social, medical, or legal facility for handling, but also no full or frank recognition that a reality so obvious existed.

….the psychopath presents an important and challenging enigma for which no adequate solution has yet been found. Although still in the unspectacular and perforce modest position of one who can offer neither a cure nor a well-established explanation, I am encouraged by ever increasing evidence that few medical or social problems have ever so richly deserved and urgently demanded a hearing.

Cleckley, “Mask of Sanity”.
[ii] See, e.g.:

“The boldness component of psychopathy, which is tapped weakly and incompletely by the items of the PCL-R, is important to distinguish in turn from the meanness component, which is well represented in the PCL-R. One reason is that the distinction between boldness and meanness is crucial to reconciling Cleckley’s conception of psychopathy with that advanced by more criminologically oriented theorists (e.g., McCord & McCord, 1964; Robins, 1966). Another is that boldness, although phenotypically distinct from meanness, appears to share a key etiologic substrate (i.e., diminished fear capacity). This raises the important developmental question, discussed in the last major section below, of what intersecting etiologic factors give rise to meanness as opposed to boldness in temperamentally fearless individuals.

Yet another reason is that the construct of boldness is likely to be of unique importance in understanding so-called “successful psychopaths”: individuals exhibiting high levels of charm, persuasiveness, imperturbability, and venturesomeness who achieve success in society as military, political, or corporate-industrial leaders (cf. Lykken, 1995).”

Patrick, et al. (2009).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The origins of criminality as a feature in sociopathy (part 2)


Cleckley’s sociopath was “bold”, boldness here being “a capacity to remain calm and focused in situations involving pressure or threat, an ability to recover quickly from stressful events, high self-assurance and social efficacy, and a tolerance for unfamiliarity and danger. Terms related to boldness include fearless dominance (Benning, Patrick, Blonigen, et al., 2005), daringness, audacity, indomitability, resiliency (Block & Block, 1980), and hardiness (Kobasa, 1979).” Id. Bold individuals are likely to show: “social dominance, low stress reactivity, and thrill–adventure seeking (Benning et al., 2003; Benning, Patrick, Blonigen, et al., 2005) . . . imperturbability, social poise, assertiveness and persuasiveness, bravery, and venturesomeness.” Id.

Boldness was evident in [Cleckley’s] case descriptions and diagnostic criteria in terms of poise and high social efficacy, absence of anxiety or neurotic symptoms, diminished emotional responsiveness, imperviousness to punishment (“failure to learn by experience”), and low suicidality. Other historic writers concerned with psychopathy in psychiatric patients as opposed to criminal samples (e.g., Kraepelin, Schneider) also identified bold externalizing types. Id.

Cleckley studied non-criminal sociopaths at a large inpatient facility. No other researcher has focused so extensively on non-criminal sociopaths.

Most researchers studied criminals, and consequently defined sociopathy as a dark strain of criminal deviance. Early researchers William Maxwell McCord and Joan McCord painted a picture in “The Psychopath: An Essay on the Criminal Mind” (1964) of a socially detached, predatory, aggressive, and remorseless individual plagued by angry-reactive forms of aggression and resultant criminality. Similarly Lee Robins, whose work underlies the DSM-V’s “Antisocial Personality Disorder” (ASPD), focused on a maladjustedness marked by persistent aggression, criminality, and destructiveness. Robins (1966, 1978).

Around that same time, Robert Hare developed his Psychopathy Checklist (now revised, PCL-R), based on the Canadian criminal population. The PCL-R is the most popular diagnostic tool for sociopathy. Hare based it on Cleckley’s sociopath, however, it is distinctly darker:

In contrast with Cleckley’s portrayal of psychopathic patients as personable and ostensibly well meaning but feckless and untrustworthy, this latter perspective conceptualizes psychopathic individuals as cold, abrasive, and aggressively exploitative in their interactions with others.

Patrick, et al. (2009).

Cleckley saw “boldness.” Hare substituted “meanness.” Why? Interestingly, Hare’s own early work also found boldness instead of meanness. Id. What changed?

Alice, a sociopath I met in Australia, theorizes that it wasn’t the sociopaths that changed, but Hare. Alice thinks Hare is biased. In fact, she goes so far as to tell me she believes he’s a subclinical narcissist. Her evidence for narcissism includes Hare’s statements that suggest he has a fragile ego and needs to be liked by others. For instance, you could read the following statement as a theory about how most people feel, or you could read between the lines and see someone who is overly concerned with how he is perceived by others:

“We are haunted to some degree by questions about our self-worth. As a consequence, we continually attempt to prove to ourselves and others that we are okay people, credible, trustworthy, and competent.”

He does seem to take the misdeeds of sociopaths personally, for example he warns:

“All the reading in the world cannot immunize you from the devastating effects of psychopaths. Everyone, including the experts, can be taken in, conned, and left bewildered by them.”

Hare speaks from personal experience. He is on record describing his first encounter with a sociopath “Ray” as a long con in which Ray influenced Hare to break prison rules. Hare said he did what Ray asked to build a “rapport”. Due in part to Hare’s influence, Ray received a plum job in the prison mechanic shop. When Hare’s tenure at the prison ended, Ray performed a tune-up on Hare’s car. The brakes failed while Hare was driving down a hill, family in tow. A local mechanic confirmed that the brakes had been rigged with a slow leak. 

Alice thinks this early experience and his continuing inability to build a rapport with prison sociopaths caused him to harden his heart against them. Alice thinks he sought payback by portraying them in the worst psychological light possible, destroying their possibility of parole.

Alice’s theory for Hare’s anti-sociopath bias is consistent with the facts as we know them.

To give you an idea of Hare’s lack of scientific objectivity, in his book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us he calls sociopaths the “monsters of real life” and warns:

“On a more personal level, it is very likely that at some time in your life you will come into painful contact with a psychopath. For your own physical, psychological, and financial well-being it is crucial that you know how to identify the psychopath, how to protect yourself, and how to minimize the harm done to you.”

Hare has manifested other narcissistic traits. In a widely publicized move, he threatened to enjoin the publication of an academic, peer-reviewed article that criticized his PCL-R. The article, by researchers Jennifer Skeem and David Cooke, argued that “the PCL–R weighs antisocial behavior as strongly as—if not more strongly than—traits of emotional detachment in assessing psychopathy.” Consequently, it “is overly saturated with criminality and impulsivity (Blackburn, 2005; Forouzan & Cooke, 2005)” and as such, it “imperfectly maps psychopathy” and “does not fully correspond to Cleckley’s (1941) conceptualization, on which it is purportedly based.” 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The orgins of criminality as a feature of sociopathy (part 1)


“People tend to think of psychopaths as criminals. In fact, the majority of psychopaths aren’t criminal.”
--Dr. Robert Hare

In his seminal treatise The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality (1941), Hervey Cleckley theorized that sociopathy was due to an underlying impairment in emotional processing, e.g. an emotional colorblindness.

Common manifestations of this impairment included emotional disconnectedness:

  • ·        lack of feelings of guilt
  • ·        shallow emotions
  • ·        self-centeredness
  • ·        lack of empathy
  • ·        insincerity
  • ·        lack of awareness or understanding of their own emotional states
  • ·        failure to imbue sexual behavior with emotional meaning

Adaptive (positive) traits:

  • ·        intelligence and social aptitude
  • ·        absence of irrationality
  • ·        boldness and confidence
  • ·        low incidence of suicide

And maladaptive (negative) traits:

  • ·        deceitfulness
  • ·        unreliability
  • ·        impulsivity
  • ·        failure to learn from experience
  • ·        unrealistic expectations that things will work out
  • ·        recklessness, especially when intoxicated
  • ·        atypical sexual behavior

Modern researchers would call Cleckley’s sociopath a “Factor 1 psychopath”. Factor 1 traits make up the first half of Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) and/or the similar set of personality traits in Scott Lillienfeld’s Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI).

Factor 1 sociopaths are associated with:
·        High social abilities and emotional resilience. Hall et al. (2004).
·        High five-factor model (FFM) extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness. Id. The Five-Factor Model includes the five major personality traits that all people share in different levels: extraversion, openness to experiences, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness. These standardized traits are used to compare different personality types or reflect the prevalence of certain personality characteristics in particular populations, like sociopaths.
o   FFM extraversion is associated with social confidence, social adeptness, and charm.
o   FFM openness is associated with novelty seeking, adventurousness, and openness to unconventional beliefs and behaviors.
o   FFM conscientiousness is associated with an awareness of the effects of one’s actions.
·        Low FFM neuroticism. Id.
o   FFM neuroticism is a preoccupation with avoiding negative experiences or punishment, worrying, focusing on problems, and an inability to cope with every day stressors. People low on neuroticism are much more influenced by positive rewards than punishment.
·        High verbal intelligence and personal and parental socioeconomic status. Id.
·        High self-interest and self-regard, prone to manipulation and Machiavellian behaviors. Harpur, Hare, & Hakstian, 1989; Hare, 1991; Verona et al., 2001.
·        Long-term planning to use people and things in an instrumental way to achieve the psychopath’s desired aim. Patrick & Zempolich, 1998; Porter & Woodworth, 2006.
·        Low empathy. Hare, 2003.
·        Social dominance. Hare, 1991; Harpur et al., 1989; Verona et al., 2001.
·        Low fearfulness, distress, and depression. Harpur et al., 1989; Hicks & Patrick, 2006.
·        Low physical responses to fearful situations. Cf. Patrick, 1994, 2007.

Patrick, Fowles, Krueger (2009).

Are you surprised at how many positive characteristics there are? It’s easy to imagine how traits like emotional resilience and social dominance could promote success. Or how low fearfulness and depression might improve overall mood? How extraversion and adventurousness might help in love, business, and overall life satisfaction? Indeed, I receive several emails a month asking me to help the writer become more sociopathic.

Noticeably absent in Cleckley’s sociopath are traits like intentional cruelty, sadism, misanthropy, or even violence. Id. In fact, only three out of fifteen of Cleckley’s sociopaths showed high interpersonal aggressiveness. Id. They were no one’s angels, but nor were they devils. Instead, they were “charming ne’er-do-wells who harm others incidentally rather than deliberately.”  Id. Cleckley even argued that sociopaths are less prone to violence because they’re less likely to be emotionally triggered. Id.

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