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Good and bad (people)

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Topic: Good and bad (people)
Posted By: Zagros
Subject: Good and bad (people)
Date Posted: 07 Jan 2013 at 10:08
This is a topic I've been looking at a lot recently in trying to explain the behaviour of some people who are close to me and it has turned out to be a very compelling subject which I will hopefully explore further with you.

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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.



Replies:
Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 07 Jan 2013 at 12:04
Firstly we need to define what is good and bad.

Once done, I think it is worth saying that some people are naturally more inclined towards behaviours that society in general views as 'good' and 'bad'. Roughly 1 in every 24 people is a sociopath. And their behaviour, generally absent of the ability to feel empathy, as a whole tends to produce adverse outcomes for those around them. Some people are also inexplicably good, in a way that cannot be explained by upbringing or environment, and more than once I have come across these individuals whom I simply regard as having different brain chemistry. Perhaps they, as a natural function of evolutionary diversity, have bodies which simply produce and dispense more endorphins and dopamine.

Then there are the rest of us in the middle, who are on a continuum between these extremes and are more liable to have our natures determined by environment on the one hand and our own free will on the other.

I pose you a question. Who is better: a person who is naturally good due to warped brain chemistry, or a person whose physiology strongly inclines them towards awful behaviour and overcomes it through sheer will and effort?


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 07 Jan 2013 at 12:58
I am talking about absolutes in the first instance and "good and bad" I am using their black and white definitions as we all understand them when applied to people.  So for example someone good will never stab you in the back, spread nasty rumours or commit fraud etc. whereas someone bad wouldn't hesitate to if it gave them any gratification or materiel benefit - someone with a sense of morals but no respect for them whatsoever.

Anyway, the real subject I want to discuss is not the definition of these words but that which you touched on: sociopaths/psychopaths (same thing). A real sociopath - that 1 in 25 - has more lacking than just no empathy.  He or she has a complete absence of any quintessentially human emotion, hard as it is to believe - they never feel love, empathy, compassion, sympathy, loyalty, guilt, remorse and only have a dictionary definition understanding of what these things are coupled with their observation of them in other people - if they are smart enough to process it then they just mimick these emotions when they get the appropriate cues for them.  They lead their whole lives as a lie and have never done any good if there's nothing in it for them.  They take joy at the misery they cause and view other people as pawns in their games of dominance and exploitation.

This phenomenon is not a curable or treatable "disease" or "illness", it is the worst of a number of personality disorders which is untreatable.  The sociopathic traits are reliably estimated to be 50% inherited and 50% environmental - environmental being societal culture rather than exclusively parenting.  So society's values are thought to have a profound effect on the number of individuals who can be classed as psychopaths.

My answer to the above would be that there are no completely good people but there are completely bad people and they are the sociopaths in our midst.  If they do any good it is not because they have an ounce of goodness in in them but because there's something in it for them and any good they ever do is drastically outweighed by the bad.

After reading several books on this subject my view has changed from one which says that human nature is unkind or inherently bad to the polar opposite.  Human nature when conscience is present and unfettered is inherently good.  It is only ever tainted by the deceptions and manipulations of the completely bad whom depending on their levels of intelligence, education and upbringing can range from your run of the mill self destructive career criminal and prison inmate to your parasitic loser who just leaches off other people all their lives hiding behind a facade of depression and the like to middling professionals who think the world owes them and take every opportunity to manipulate and sabotage others for a kick to the most dangerous being the high powered, manipulative, backstabbing politicians and business people whose ambitions can cause the suffering and deaths of millions.

Although lacking these human emotions, the smartest of these blood suckers know exactly how to pluck them in normal people and when they get into positions of authority the results can be catastrophic owing to a programmed proclivity in about 60% of the general population to follow orders unquestioningly from that perceived source of authority.


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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 07 Jan 2013 at 19:21
Speaking of that... I wish I could eat my deliciously baked potatoes in front of hundreds of millions hungry people...

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 01:26
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity A Paradigm of Humanity A wrote:

Speaking of that... I wish I could eat my deliciously baked potatoes in front of hundreds of millions hungry people...

That joke was lame! You're ridiculing yourself with such reckless antisocial behavior.

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 01:32
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity B Paradigm of Humanity B wrote:

 
That joke was lame! You're ridiculing yourself with such reckless antisocial behavior.


Is that so, my dear friend Lord Hypocrisy? If our only difference is I'm doing something openly and recklessly which you're doing secretly, then only virtue we could mention here wouldn't be your psödo-compassion but my cruel honesty. Surely, your's functioning well at relieving pressure from your conscience. But acting like you're any better than me does no good for very people you're pretending to care.

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 01:40
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity A Paradigm of Humanity A wrote:


Is that so, my dear friend Lord Hypocrisy? If our only difference is I'm doing something openly and recklessly which you're doing secretly, then only virtue we could mention here wouldn't be your psödo-compassion but my cruel honesty. Surely, your's functioning well at relieving pressure from your conscience. But acting like you're any better than me does no good for very people you're pretending to care.


I must admit... Sometimes my conversations with myself is much more entertaining than with many others. After all, a man's expression of his duality is also demonstration of his free will and very proof that he is not driven by primitive communal instincs.

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 01:51
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity B Paradigm of Humanity B wrote:


I must admit... Sometimes my conversations with myself is much more entertaining than with many others. After all, a man's expression of his duality is also his demontration of his free will and very proof that he is not driven by primitive communal instincs.


Indeed sir, it was my pleasure too... Jekyll and Hyde is one of my favorite games, probably second only to Freudian psycoanalysis games...

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Captain Vancouver
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 02:54
PoH..... You're not smoking some of that strong Turkish "tobacco" are you?

Good and bad can be a slippery subject, one that can be a moving target. Some criminals commit terrible crimes, including murder, but then reform, and lead a better life. They were bad, but are now "good".......or is it too late? A good person would not kill, but in war they may kill many, and even feel pretty good about it. Good or bad? Does it depend on the cause, and if so, what is a reasonable cause? A man is angry and violent with those about him, not because he is just that way, but because he was sexually abused as a kid. On the other hand, he knows about the psychological issues, but can't seem to change. Good or bad?

Psychopathy is often not all that clear cut, and there is a broad spectrum of various symptoms that can run from the true Hollywood crazy, to individuals that are merely unpleasant. Those that have absolutely no feelings or conscience are fairly rare. Some are successful in society, and make their contribution, although they may not be the kind that attracts friendships.

I think there is not much doubt that there are a few at the very end of the spectrum for which nothing good can be said. We had a case here a few years back of a guy that raped, tortured, and murdered about a dozen children. Bad would apply here. But for the vast majority,  assigning a good or bad judgement would be tough.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 05:00
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Anyway, the real subject I want to discuss is not the definition of these words but that which you touched on: sociopaths/psychopaths (same thing). A real sociopath - that 1 in 25 - has more lacking than just no empathy.  He or she has a complete absence of any quintessentially human emotion, hard as it is to believe - they never feel love, empathy, compassion, sympathy, loyalty, guilt, remorse and only have a dictionary definition understanding of what these things are coupled with their observation of them in other people - if they are smart enough to process it then they just mimick these emotions when they get the appropriate cues for them.  They lead their whole lives as a lie and have never done any good if there's nothing in it for them.  They take joy at the misery they cause and view other people as pawns in their games of dominance and exploitation.
 
Ok, thanks for the clarification, now that we have narrowed the topic it will be easier to speak of particulars rather than generalities.
 
Quote This phenomenon is not a curable or treatable "disease" or "illness", it is the worst of a number of personality disorders which is untreatable.  The sociopathic traits are reliably estimated to be 50% inherited and 50% environmental - environmental being societal culture rather than exclusively parenting.  So society's values are thought to have a profound effect on the number of individuals who can be classed as psychopaths.

My answer to the above would be that there are no completely good people but there are completely bad people and they are the sociopaths in our midst.  If they do any good it is not because they have an ounce of goodness in in them but because there's something in it for them and any good they ever do is drastically outweighed by the bad.

After reading several books on this subject my view has changed from one which says that human nature is unkind or inherently bad to the polar opposite.  Human nature when conscience is present and unfettered is inherently good.  It is only ever tainted by the deceptions and manipulations of the completely bad whom depending on their levels of intelligence, education and upbringing can range from your run of the mill self destructive career criminal and prison inmate to your parasitic loser who just leaches off other people all their lives hiding behind a facade of depression and the like to middling professionals who think the world owes them and take every opportunity to manipulate and sabotage others for a kick to the most dangerous being the high powered, manipulative, backstabbing politicians and business people whose ambitions can cause the suffering and deaths of millions.

Although lacking these human emotions, the smartest of these blood suckers know exactly how to pluck them in normal people and when they get into positions of authority the results can be catastrophic owing to a programmed proclivity in about 60% of the general population to follow orders unquestioningly from that perceived source of authority.
 
I have had the misfortune to know a couple of such people, and I can empathise with the utter disgust a person feels having seen the results of their behaviour.
 
I do wonder whether there is an evolutionary basis for sociopaths existing. I say this because humans are social animals, and therefore our emotions and relationships based on trust and cooperation have always been central to our survival. But the sociopath is born in just small enough a percentage of the population that humans can continue to be social animals and function as a social group while allowing a few seflish and calculating individuals to achieve leadership.
 
Do sociopaths serve a useful purpose? A socipath is someone who will coldly follow their self interests with little regard for the feelings of others or any sense of fairness. What happens when the sociopath in question is a monarch or totalitarian leader, and therefore considers the survival and strength of the state they rule to be an extension of their own self interest?
 
Could a sociopathic individual like Joseph Stalin, in cruelly enforcing collectivisation on the Soviet people, be an example of a socipath who ensured the USSR would survive the Nazi invasion by ramming through reform with little regard for emotions or dignity? A more emotionally attuned leader might have had too big a heart to make such a move, and in the long term leave the Soviet state less industrially and agriculturally capable of resisting Operation Barbarossa.
 
This is not an endorsement of sociopaths in power. I do think they generally make life worse for the people they rule over. But I do wish to play devil's advocate with this example to get an understanding of your thoughts.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 06:23
You people are overestimating sociopaths. They're not strong rings in the chain, to be precise. Because they are not capable of eleborate schemings, all they could archieve is some antisocial behavior, then ending up in jail. Real monsters need all cognitive abilities - inluding emotions to exploit every situation to their benefit.

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

PoH..... You're not smoking some of that strong Turkish "tobacco" are you?
 Nope, just little eccentricity and it was pretty much within our topic Smile I said that several times, society desperately wants to believe "really bad" persons are demons or at least animals who are uncapable of any empathy, guilt or remorse. A perfectly healthy person can selectively exlude his/her empathical abilities completely or partially from persons who are not from his/her family or opposite sex or another ethnicity or another religon or another political view or another x (again I screwed up English here LOL). In fact we're doing that all the time.

I just look at several polls around Internet. The question was "do you consider yourself a good person?". Results was around; %65 yes, %30 partially (good and partially bad), %5 no. Just like that poll asking Americans "do you consider yourself better than average driver?". %88 of Americans answered "yes". 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority" rel="nofollow - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority

edit: why this stupid BBcodes aren't working Angry just copy&paste link anyway...
edit2: Chrome was bugged, Firefox seems working...



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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Lao Tse
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 07:47
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity Paradigm of Humanity wrote:

Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity B Paradigm of Humanity B wrote:


I must admit... Sometimes my conversations with myself is much more entertaining than with many others. After all, a man's expression of his duality is also his demontration of his free will and very proof that he is not driven by primitive communal instincs.


Indeed sir, it was my pleasure too... Jekyll and Hyde is one of my favorite games, probably second only to Freudian psycoanalysis games...
 
Whatever you're on I'll take 40000 of them pleaseSmile. But I must admit, although I've been using English for 60 years, that conversation was quite confusing, but atleast its entertaining! Have you considerred doing that on TV? You'd get paid the big bucks to do that LOL


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在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under


Posted By: Lao Tse
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 07:49
I thnk that everyone has a good and a bad side, it's just the paths they choose makes them who they are

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在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under


Posted By: Lao Tse
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 07:52
Originally posted by Lao Tse A Lao Tse A wrote:

I thnk that everyone has a good and a bad side, it's just the paths they choose makes them who they are
 
I sometimes wonder what you have going on in your head. Right now I can see throughthe crystal ball, you have a lotus with a tiger sleeping on top. Somebodys been drinking just a little too much saake, my friend.


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在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 09:22
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

Have you considerred doing that on TV? You'd get paid the big bucks to do that LOL

I'm no clown for hire Clown I just enjoy having impressions of miseries of society. Did you actually thought they could enjoy real themselves, even if I'd prefer to reveal gently?.. Hopefully, this time I won't need to count traditional hypocrisies of society and it's a fact that mind of average human being can be aroused and occupied mostly with motion (such as football, basketball, baseball etc.) rather than thought. They'll choose movies that with more motion for example. That's why some directors like Tartovski uses long and boring opening sequences: to keep them away from wasting their time on something they're not gonna enjoy...

I'll enslave them if I ever take over the world. Then make them work less and have more time for themselves (did you knew Lafargue regarded free time equal to culture?) or at least they can discover themselves rather then wasting their lives on trying to buy utter crap. Sleepy

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 09:41
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

PoH..... You're not smoking some of that strong Turkish "tobacco" are you?

Good and bad can be a slippery subject, one that can be a moving target. Some criminals commit terrible crimes, including murder, but then reform, and lead a better life. They were bad, but are now "good".......or is it too late? A good person would not kill, but in war they may kill many, and even feel pretty good about it. Good or bad? Does it depend on the cause, and if so, what is a reasonable cause? A man is angry and violent with those about him, not because he is just that way, but because he was sexually abused as a kid. On the other hand, he knows about the psychological issues, but can't seem to change. Good or bad?


About 20% of inmates in the US are reliably estimated to be full blown psychos.  These are the repeat offenders, the remorseless, the ones who blame society for their actions.  They are beyond rehab.  What you discuss are not personality disorders but well known emotional issues which can be treated.   Psychos only have base, primitive emotions.

Quote Psychopathy is often not all that clear cut, and there is a broad spectrum of various symptoms that can run from the true Hollywood crazy, to individuals that are merely unpleasant. Those that have absolutely no feelings or conscience are fairly rare. Some are successful in society, and make their contribution, although they may not be the kind that attracts friendships.

I think there is not much doubt that there are a few at the very end of the spectrum for which nothing good can be said. We had a case here a few years back of a guy that raped, tortured, and murdered about a dozen children. Bad would apply here. But for the vast majority,  assigning a good or bad judgement would be tough.


People lower in the range are not psychopaths. By definition to be one you have to display certain tendencies and conduct certain behaviours.  I think Hare's checklist is the authoritative tool for diagnosis (only by qualified, experienced professionals).  The Hollywood/celebrity types you speak of generally have what's called narcissistic personality disorder which is related but far less destructive.  The scoring goes from 0-40 (40 being worst).

Here's a link to the checklist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hare_Psychopathy_Checklist

In a big way, I am glad i have read up on this topic as it has rekindled my faith in humanity.

Here are some very good books for the general public:

Without conscience: the disturbing world of psychopaths in our midst (not read - can't get it in ebook in the UK for some reason)
Snakes in Suits: When psychopaths go to work
The devil you know
The sociopath next door (best so far)

reading these books puts into perspective some of the people you've come across in your life and their inexplicable behaviours.


-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 09:53
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Anyway, the real subject I want to discuss is not the definition of these words but that which you touched on: sociopaths/psychopaths (same thing). A real sociopath - that 1 in 25 - has more lacking than just no empathy.  He or she has a complete absence of any quintessentially human emotion, hard as it is to believe - they never feel love, empathy, compassion, sympathy, loyalty, guilt, remorse and only have a dictionary definition understanding of what these things are coupled with their observation of them in other people - if they are smart enough to process it then they just mimick these emotions when they get the appropriate cues for them.  They lead their whole lives as a lie and have never done any good if there's nothing in it for them.  They take joy at the misery they cause and view other people as pawns in their games of dominance and exploitation.
 
Ok, thanks for the clarification, now that we have narrowed the topic it will be easier to speak of particulars rather than generalities.
 
Quote This phenomenon is not a curable or treatable "disease" or "illness", it is the worst of a number of personality disorders which is untreatable.  The sociopathic traits are reliably estimated to be 50% inherited and 50% environmental - environmental being societal culture rather than exclusively parenting.  So society's values are thought to have a profound effect on the number of individuals who can be classed as psychopaths.

My answer to the above would be that there are no completely good people but there are completely bad people and they are the sociopaths in our midst.  If they do any good it is not because they have an ounce of goodness in in them but because there's something in it for them and any good they ever do is drastically outweighed by the bad.

After reading several books on this subject my view has changed from one which says that human nature is unkind or inherently bad to the polar opposite.  Human nature when conscience is present and unfettered is inherently good.  It is only ever tainted by the deceptions and manipulations of the completely bad whom depending on their levels of intelligence, education and upbringing can range from your run of the mill self destructive career criminal and prison inmate to your parasitic loser who just leaches off other people all their lives hiding behind a facade of depression and the like to middling professionals who think the world owes them and take every opportunity to manipulate and sabotage others for a kick to the most dangerous being the high powered, manipulative, backstabbing politicians and business people whose ambitions can cause the suffering and deaths of millions.

Although lacking these human emotions, the smartest of these blood suckers know exactly how to pluck them in normal people and when they get into positions of authority the results can be catastrophic owing to a programmed proclivity in about 60% of the general population to follow orders unquestioningly from that perceived source of authority.
 
I have had the misfortune to know a couple of such people, and I can empathise with the utter disgust a person feels having seen the results of their behaviour.
 
I do wonder whether there is an evolutionary basis for sociopaths existing. I say this because humans are social animals, and therefore our emotions and relationships based on trust and cooperation have always been central to our survival. But the sociopath is born in just small enough a percentage of the population that humans can continue to be social animals and function as a social group while allowing a few seflish and calculating individuals to achieve leadership.
 
Do sociopaths serve a useful purpose? A socipath is someone who will coldly follow their self interests with little regard for the feelings of others or any sense of fairness. What happens when the sociopath in question is a monarch or totalitarian leader, and therefore considers the survival and strength of the state they rule to be an extension of their own self interest?
 
Could a sociopathic individual like Joseph Stalin, in cruelly enforcing collectivisation on the Soviet people, be an example of a socipath who ensured the USSR would survive the Nazi invasion by ramming through reform with little regard for emotions or dignity? A more emotionally attuned leader might have had too big a heart to make such a move, and in the long term leave the Soviet state less industrially and agriculturally capable of resisting Operation Barbarossa.
 
This is not an endorsement of sociopaths in power. I do think they generally make life worse for the people they rule over. But I do wish to play devil's advocate with this example to get an understanding of your thoughts.


This topic is discussed in good detail in The Sociopath Next Door which I would highly recommend along with The Devil you know for every day examples of psychos.  I would tend towards it being a disorder as most sociopaths ultimately self destruct.


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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Captain Vancouver
Date Posted: 08 Jan 2013 at 21:29
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

About 20% of inmates in the US are reliably estimated to be full blown psychos.  These are the repeat offenders, the remorseless, the ones who blame society for their actions.  They are beyond rehab.  What you discuss are not personality disorders but well known emotional issues which can be treated.   Psychos only have base, primitive emotions.

People lower in the range are not psychopaths. By definition to be one you have to display certain tendencies and conduct certain behaviours. 
 
And here is where we get into problems. Psychology tries to isolate and define certain conditions, but nature often resists placement in categories. Each individual brings along his or her own personal traits, and in the case of mental illness, a mixture of clinically definable behaviors. Some lean towards easier definition, but many do not, presenting a hodge podge of symptoms, and often will end up with dual diagnosis, or perhaps a very tentitive one that may change in time. Textbook definitions are models of reality, not the real thing.
 
There are several tests for psychopathy, but there is no silver bullet. There are a few, like the one I mentioned, that leave no room for doubt. But many other cases can be more complex, and hard to define. In Canada, about 30% of prison inmates are felt to register on one or other test for psychopathy. But there is a huge range in here, from serial killers to those who you might think had been wrongly diagnosed if you met them. The actual type that would provide a good Hollywood script are very, very small in number.
 
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

I think Hare's checklist is the authoritative tool for diagnosis (only by qualified, experienced professionals).  The Hollywood/celebrity types you speak of generally have what's called narcissistic personality disorder which is related but far less destructive.  The scoring goes from 0-40 (40 being worst).

Here's a link to the checklist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hare_Psychopathy_Checklist

In a big way, I am glad i have read up on this topic as it has rekindled my faith in humanity.

Here are some very good books for the general public:

Without conscience: the disturbing world of psychopaths in our midst (not read - can't get it in ebook in the UK for some reason)
Snakes in Suits: When psychopaths go to work
The devil you know
The sociopath next door (best so far)

reading these books puts into perspective some of the people you've come across in your life and their inexplicable behaviours.
 
If I had to add up all the people in the world I have met with inexplicable behaviors, I would have a long list. No doubt there are a multitude of reasons for these things. Labels only go so far though in increasing understanding.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2013 at 09:25
Psychopathy is not just psychological - it is neurological and can be detected medically.  And as for inexplicable behaviour, i would encourage you to read a book on the subject so that you know what kind of behaviour I am talking about instead of being facetious and attempting to dismiss a century's worth of objective research into human behaviour with a generalisation about psychologists.  The empirical fact is that 3-4% of the general population have this disorder and it causes them to be social predators who view life as a game of dominance and exploitation because they feel no love or attachment to anything.  And love an attachment is what drives all of our other emotions and positive qualities such as conscience.



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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2013 at 10:14
I'm not quite sure what you mean by sociopath. A completely lack of emotion or remorse does not lead to criminal, megalomaniac or anti-social behaviour. On the contrary, most of the "good" things we do are highly logical and produce the best long term outcome.

Emotion and empathy are in my opinion necessary for the majority of crimes committed. Loyalty, anger, revenge are far more powerful motivators than simple calculation.

As for the original question of inherently good or bad people, then we must, first, define exactly what good and bad actually are. Even religious definitions are circumstantial. Is it right to kill a person? Well, in the appropriate circumstances, yes it could be. It's just those circumstances are rare.

Are there inherently good or bad people? Religiously, yes. Subjectively, it would appear so. Scientifically, you'll have no hope of figuring it out.

A question I've always thought about, is do inherently good people affect a national character?


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2013 at 11:02
The majority of sociopaths are obviously not criminals, in that they don't have criminal convictions, they are just the type of people who make other people's lives a misery for the sake of it - whether they are abusive parents, children, business people.  In fact it is the types of view expressed in this thread that allow them to get away with it by giving the benefit of doubt because there is no understanding of the mindset of these people.  Without a sense of human emotion there is no obligation to anything except yourself as you operate on base survival and competitive instincts and there is no internal mechanism to stop you going for what you want whether morally acceptable or not.  The entire life from childhood to death is spent conniving in the more intelligent ones so by adulthood they are expert manipulators and strategists.

Anyway, I would encourage some, even if cursory reading of available literature.

Quote Emotion and empathy are in my opinion necessary for the majority of crimes committed. Loyalty, anger, revenge are far more powerful motivators than simple calculation.


Yes, and people with emotions are capable of remorse, guilt and sorrow so they can be rehabilitated - unlike sociopaths.  let me give you an everyday example.  A handyma/builder who targets a vulnerable person who's looking to modify their home somehow. he takes their money upfront (a red flag in any case), botches the job - runs off spending the money on a new BMW then comes back and asks for more money to fix the problem he caused in the first place and then disappearing off radar again never to be heard from and if tracked down ends up threatening the victim. There's an everyday sociopath for you; predatory, exploitative, manipulative and potentially violent.  No criminal charges will likely be brought against such an individual (in the UK at least) and your best bet would be a civil claim which they wouldn't honour anyway even if you could prove anything (they are clever, they will avoid any paperwork where possible.)   This psycho will have a trail of destruction of other people's lives in his abusive history and no inkling of emotion for the victims other than contempt.

If somehow the scoundrel is brought to justice he will blame anything and everyone (usually the victim) but himself.

This is an inherently bad person.  If you need it defined.


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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2013 at 11:04
Or how about the more successful sociopaths we've seen throughout history who manipulated, lied and murdered their way into leadership with catastrophic results for their country? Hitler, Saddam, Stalin.

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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2013 at 11:14
I don't believe there are any inherently good people, everyone will have a blotch in their history they are not particularly proud of, but if they are capable of good then they will have modified their behaviour, or tried to or at least recognised it because they care about what they do and its affects on others.  however, i do believe there are inherently bad people, that is people who will do anything, whether socially/morally/legally acceptable or not if they think they can get away with it and it serves their purpose. and sometimes they don't care if they think they can get away with it or not.

Anyway, the bad news is that 1 in 25 people potentially have no scruples and are proud of it - the good news is that 24/25 do and are capable of being decent human beings, if not already so.

Fascinating topic and I would really encourage anyone who wants to know more to read one of the above books.  If you think there are saboteurs at work, then snakes in suits - in general then the sociopath next door and the devil you know.  The one I originally wanted to read but couldn't get a hold of was without conscience.


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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2013 at 11:24
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20981611

Prominent example of a psycho with perverse sexual desires which he acted on because of his position of power, his public face as a national treasure which he used as a cover.  he carried out these offenses because he could get away with it and he was incapable of human emotion and did not have a shred of concern for his victims.  His horrific crimes only coming to the public eye a year after his death.

He did volunteering work and fund raising for the Leeds Bradford hospital amongst many other such institutions because it gave him access to vulnerable child victims whilst at the same time reinforcing his false do-gooder image.

This is an inherently bad person and a classic example of a clever, high profile psycho who ruined the lives of hundreds of vulnerable victims over 5 decades.


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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 13 Jan 2013 at 14:43
Has anyone ever followed Patricia Highsmith's novels about Tom Ripley, which pose this very question?

-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 13 Jan 2013 at 23:22
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

This topic is discussed in good detail in The Sociopath Next Door which I would highly recommend along with The Devil you know for every day examples of psychos.  I would tend towards it being a disorder as most sociopaths ultimately self destruct.
 
Ok, game on. I have added The Sociopath Next Door to my 2013 reading list. I will get to it once Guns, Germs and Steel is out of the way.
 
I really miss one aspect of student days: the endless opportunity to read more. I can't spare more than several hours per week for the activity these days.
 
I would be interested in working out ways in which we can design society to reduce these cold and emotionless behaviours to a minimum. I would expect for them to be sky high in places like North Korea, for example.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 14 Jan 2013 at 15:15
No G - will look into it.

CXI - Good one, post back here what your thoughts are, will you?  Also your final question, it is addressed to an extent in Snakes in Suits and unfortunately it is a bureaucracy centric solution which can (IMO) also be stifling to good honest people who just want to do a good job.  The problem with this disorder is that it is hard to recognise and detect you can only have safeguards and they're never fool proof.




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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 07 Feb 2013 at 02:21
I'm a man of my word and 1/3 of the way through the book. Very keen to continue this discussion but would rather digest the entire text before doing so. More to come.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 07 Feb 2013 at 11:33
Good - look forward to reading your thoughts.  Which one are you reading btw? 

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2013 at 01:28
We human inviduals are equipped with consciousness and it provides us with awareness of our existence and awareness of existence of other inviduals - also known as the theory of mind. Good and bad people defined according to balance of these two. 

Most people claim they are good just because they believe they are following a strict equation between them. Of course, that would only make them neutrals. In reality that one invidual (you) outweights the rest.

"Me" part of this dual concept not just enforced by our basic animal insticts but the theory of ourselves. Because we are aware that we exist! So, we are trying to expand our existence through acquiring more property, power and children. These are inconceivably related to each other. Because we know we'll perish in the end.

First major stage of this struggle is sexuality, it allows you to spread a part of you and this makes you feel that a part of you will live after you passed away. It's also most fundamental stage, because no matter how much power and property you acquire,  you'll need children to inherit them. If this stage stays unfullfilled somehow, emphasis will shift towards acquiring more power and property.

Don't you notice antagonists that are craving for power and wealth and how they are presented in movies? Many of them are asexuals or have other problems with women. They usually presented in form of sexually imcompetent, short, bald and quick tempered men stereotype. Not much different from real life. Powerful men always mocked with sexual imcompetency.

"Hitler has only got one ball,
Göring has two but very small,
Himmler is somewhat sim'lar,
But poor Goebbels has no balls at all."

Second stage is usually wealth of course. When a large sum of wealth is acquired, an ambition for power will follow ---> French Revolution...

Capitalism claims that invidual is all that must be taken into account in equation and promising to archieve continuous existence of invidual through himself/herself, so art and it's products hold greater value in capitalism ( I believe I was told you at one point that art is the most pure form of production that derived from anxiety of our inevitable and imminent perishment). 

I couldn't mention everything in my mind but I should inform you that everything is tightly connected to each other in my mind just in case anything initially appears irrelevant to you.


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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2013 at 01:46
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Good - look forward to reading your thoughts.  Which one are you reading btw? 
The sociopath next door.
 
Nearly done, should add my thoughts on the book around mid week.
 
It's interesting and I do have quite a bit to say on it, but I'll hold off til I get to the end of it in kindle.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 13 Feb 2013 at 17:42
Good going mate, it gets a bit dull for a while I seem to remember about 3/4 of the way through but then picks up again. Think of the example of the rich kid with the frogs and what he grew up to be, those are the most dangerous people on earth.

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 13 Feb 2013 at 17:50
On that point I read elsewhere that because psychologists in the earlier years of their science hailed from well-to-do backgrounds they never really concentrated their efforts on the study of individuals in their own social class. That is, the Skips of this world. Instead they concentrated their efforts on the lowest social orders who committed the crudest of crimes and either weren't smart enough or didn't have the resources to cover up their crimes.

Incidentally, sociopaths make up about 20% of the US prison population yet commit 60% of all crimes. I think that was in the book you're reading, so we know that is how much of a problem they are for the rest of us when[\I] they get caught. How about when they don't, or are above the law; That bullsh*t about evil doing being a part of human nature.

Don't know about you, but I certainly couldn't order the killing of anyone, or steal, con or any other dubious act for personal gain or anything short of survival and protection. I believe that is a fundamental part of being human; wanting to work with other for the common good not against all for personal gain.

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 13 Feb 2013 at 18:08
So in this book you have the examples of

Skip
Doreen
And Luke

Whom Stout vividly illustrated as three castes of non criminal psychopaths prevalent in what i want to distinguish as Anglo-American society for this purpose.   It is these three types of people who, I personally are more destructive over their lifespan than their criminal colleagues, leaving trails of social destruction and ruin in their paths. The only way to combat them is through education and awareness but even that will only ever have a limiting effect since so many people revel in ignorance.

Additionally I found the comparison in the proportions relative to population of sociopaths in places like China and India relative to the US eye opening.

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 13 Feb 2013 at 19:07
I wonder if you own shares of that specific publishing company, dear Zagros... Thanks to your commercial campaign I just decided to ehemm... acquiring the book. And now I have it after one minute or so Cool

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 00:08
Good. the more people pick up on these snakes and their behaviour the less damage they do. I don't care whether it is this book or any other because the more people understand these unfortunate people for what they are the better. I say unfortunate because they will never know what it is to have complex emotions and the life defining attachments and relationships they bring.

Look forward to your thoughts.

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 00:22

Let's not forget Tillie, Zagros. Because she is also a good example of a sociopath.

 
I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I will try and order my presentation of them in the most clear manner possible, but I have a lot of get through and must simply do the best I can in covering such a broad topic.
 
Firstly, the author defines conscience as an emotional feeling a person gets which stems from empathy for other people and impells them to do the right thing. She distinguishes conscience from superego, which is the inner self image and self aspirations of a person which impell them to behave through guilt/shame/pride etc. And she defines a sociopath as a person lacking a conscience.
 
If we accept the author's definition of conscience, then mine is virtually absent. Despite this, I am one of the most courteous, punctual, honourable, law abiding and fair people you will ever meet. Because my superego demands I be so. The vast majority of the time when I do the correct thing and it is against my self interest, I do it because my superego tells me to rather than because I suddenly start an emotional, empathic gushing session for what other people must be feeling.
I turn up to meetings on time because my self-image demands I not suffer the cognitive dissonance of considering myself punctual and then leaving people waiting - not because I start feeling bad emotionally for the other person having to wait for me (unless they are waiting a long time or I know it seriously inconveniences them).
 
So I have difficulties accepting the author's core concept of sociopathy as being defined by us doing the right thing based on empathy to the exclusion of the superego. I think that very few people do the right thing based on empathy, most instead do it based on conditioning in their upbringing which is then enforced upon them throughout life by their superego. Rape, murder, theft, narcissism, laziness - these are all absolutely normal and natural human behaviours. Stout seems to think that 96% of the population will have an aversion to them due to the empathy they have for others. I think that our upbringing hammers into us the moral impossibility of engaging in these behaviours, and that instead is what leads us to avoid them (hopefully).
 
The second point I want to address, but which Martha Stout does not, is that I believe there are degrees of sociopathy. What about people who know they feel no empathy and are aware of that hollowness, but actively try to reverse that because they feel they are missing out? What about people who are entirely honourable due to their superego, with the role of conscience being entirely unnecessary because superego basically does the entire job on its own?
 
What about people who have lots of empathy, but due to their own lack of self and social awareness act on the basis of their unconscious desires in a way that totally resembles that of an utterly cold and calculating sociopath?
 
I'll give you an example. My last housemate was a rather lazy guy. He actually very strongly resembles Luke from the book. He desperately sought to avoid any form of drudgery or monotonous labour, except when faced with overwhelming consequences e.g. "if you don't start picking up after yourself, you can find yourself another place to live instead". The thing is, I don't believe he is a full blown sociopath like in the book. He has an overabundance of empathy for others, as evidenced through his volunteering work at the Red Cross. But he subconsciously does engage in behaviour which is quite selfish. He justifies working only a part time job through the volunteer work, which he believes gives him a special moral high ground. Wider society believes that a man in his late 20s in the prime of his life should be working a full time job, building up savings to support home ownership, and the superannuation funds that he will need as an old man so he is not a burden on the state. But he hates drudgery, which is a typical feature of any paid work, and so excuses his avoidance of it by doing volunteer work where supervision and any sort of managerial demand is virtually non-existent.
 
Having never had a girlfriend, mid-way through last year (at 28) he met a quite overweight girl with very poor self esteem due to her increasing weight and a rather horrible previous relationship. After a few months I consented to her moving in (I actually thought she was delightful). The inner workings of the relationship were curious. She did all his household chores for him, and in return the one thing he did for her was make her dinner (a task he would have had to do anyway when he made himself dinner). His job (standing on a street corner trying to get people to sign up for stuff) ensured he expended a lot of energy each day. But with the meals he was making, supplemented by 200g blocks of chocolate after and crisps and flavoured milk and booze, he continued to gain weight. For her the weight gain was much worse, due to her having a much more sedentary existence. So in return for picking up after him and cleaning up all his mess, he basically cooked meals he was going to have to make anyway and fed her a heap of unhealthy food that was pretty bad for her.
 
He claimed repeatedly to love her in very heartfelt tones. Yet I wondered sometimes why this intense emotional feeling did not translate into greater effort and consideration by him. For example, he snores quite badly. This is due to a combination of him being overweight, his smoking and his common pre-bedtime drinking. She simply could not get a good night's sleep most of the time, and had to get up in the middle of the night to go into the lounge and sleep on the couch. I found it disconcerting that he could find the money for booze and cigarettes, and would not divert such funds towards seeing a sleep therapist. If he wanted to be heroic, he could even have tried losing weight. Instead, despite telling her how much he loved her, he lifted not a finger and so she suffered broken sleep and began most days already feeling tired and worn out.
 
One time I could not help but overhear a conversation they were having, and it was on the subject of a baby. He was enthusiastically for keeping it, should she fall pregnant. This was despite having no money (in fact they were financially very distressed) and little in the way of stable employment. She had in an earlier conversation to me mentioned that she thought having a kid with him was unwise. Think back to Luke in the book.
 
Look at this situation strategically. She is with him in a rather unfair relationship where he takes the lead and calls the shots, owing to her self esteem being virtually gone. What do you think might happen if one day her self esteem recovers? Dropping him like a pile of bricks seems the likely outcome to me. Which is why it would make sense from his perspective to get her knocked up at this advantageous low point in her feeling of self worth. A kid would anchor her into place, making it difficult for her to make new friends or pursue a more meaningful career, and opportunities for her to improve her self esteem would be limited. Plus, the needs of a new born would preclude such selfish endeavours. And so it all makes sense for him, barely 3 months into his first relationship, to urge her to keep the baby if one develops despite the overwhelming other factors (lack of family support, lack of stable employment, no money, declining health of both of them) which should discourage such a move.
 
And I will honestly say that none of this was a conscious calculation on his part. He was merely doing what his subconscious told him to. Despite the fact that he did genuinely care for her, his subconscious had found a way to subvert his concern for her to impose conditions which suited his self interest. I would even go so far as to argue that his lack of superego was a distinct factor here.
 
So how would you class that sort of person: one who clearly has a conscience and sense of empathy, but whose lack of self and social awareness enables him to ignore salient facts and follow the commands of a selfish subconscious?
 
I have more, but I don't want to throw too much your way lest you respond to each point with too much brevity.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 10:09
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

Let's not forget Tillie, Zagros. Because she is also a good example of a sociopath.

Absolutely, I encountered what I suspect to be a Tillie last weekend.

 
I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I will try and order my presentation of them in the most clear manner possible, but I have a lot of get through and must simply do the best I can in covering such a broad topic.
 
Quote Firstly, the author defines conscience as an emotional feeling a person gets which stems from empathy for other people and impells them to do the right thing. She distinguishes conscience from superego, which is the inner self image and self aspirations of a person which impell them to behave through guilt/shame/pride etc. And she defines a sociopath as a person lacking a conscience.


I don't recall her defining it so.  But perhaps this is where the genetics and environmental factors play a role.  Genetics: the lacking of the emotional capacity; environment: the lack of a scrupulous super ego.  I have had the benefit of reading other books as well, but I recommended this one purely on the basis of its examples rather than its definitions; if you want to look more deeply into the psyche, I recommend the books by Hare et al.  Also the label socio/psychopath IMO should be applied to wrongdoers, not people simply because they have a deficiency.


 
Quote If we accept the author's definition of conscience, then mine is virtually absent. Despite this, I am one of the most courteous, punctual, honourable, law abiding and fair people you will ever meet. Because my superego demands I be so. The vast majority of the time when I do the correct thing and it is against my self interest, I do it because my superego tells me to rather than because I suddenly start an emotional, empathic gushing session for what other people must be feeling.
I turn up to meetings on time because my self-image demands I not suffer the cognitive dissonance of considering myself punctual and then leaving people waiting - not because I start feeling bad emotionally for the other person having to wait for me (unless they are waiting a long time or I know it seriously inconveniences them).


The author's definition was not premised on the lack of empathy but a lack of the ability to love.  she specifically stated that those lacking empathy have narcissistic tendencies, which can also be destructive, but not in the conscious way full blown psychopath tendencies are.  Can you love?  A sociopath cannot.  Do you view people as people with feelings or objects? Does your fondness for people resemble more the fondness for your favorite ever car or do you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach for people you care about?
 
Quote So I have difficulties accepting the author's core concept of sociopathy as being defined by us doing the right thing based on empathy to the exclusion of the superego. I think that very few people do the right thing based on empathy, most instead do it based on conditioning in their upbringing which is then enforced upon them throughout life by their superego. Rape, murder, theft, narcissism, laziness - these are all absolutely normal and natural human behaviours. Stout seems to think that 96% of the population will have an aversion to them due to the empathy they have for others. I think that our upbringing hammers into us the moral impossibility of engaging in these behaviours, and that instead is what leads us to avoid them (hopefully).


Again, the definition was on the absence of the ability to love not empathise.  But I think your point on super-ego vrs natural conscience is interesting.  I have an oppressive super-ego which led me to depression but I have got to grips with it in recent years by understanding and knowing myself and human nature better.

I alluded to the difference in proportions to those exhibiting strong Psycho tendencies in the US (4%) vs those in China (0.4%)  The author suggests the environmental factor here could be the cause - in that Chiense society is much more based on togetherness and famly values than modern US society, which is mostly about individualism and the concept of it being a dog-eat-dog world - this affects super-ego.
 
Quote The second point I want to address, but which Martha Stout does not, is that I believe there are degrees of sociopathy. What about people who know they feel no empathy and are aware of that hollowness, but actively try to reverse that because they feel they are missing out? What about people who are entirely honourable due to their superego, with the role of conscience being entirely unnecessary because superego basically does the entire job on its own?


These are not Psychopaths, psychos by their nature do not think there is anything wrong with them, but they think there is something wrong with others or that everyone is like them but they all act nicey nicey and that life's a game of skullduggery, deceit and ultimately dominance.  I suggest Hare's works - there are degrees (measures) of psychopathic tendencies. The author alludes to the people you describe - they are narcissists who lack empathy.
 
Quote What about people who have lots of empathy, but due to their own lack of self and social awareness act on the basis of their unconscious desires in a way that totally resembles that of an utterly cold and calculating sociopath?


Yes, these are people with misplaced values arising from environmental factor during childhood and teenage years.  They can be rehabilitated by showing them the results of their actions, hence kicking in their feeling of empathy.  Not all criminals are psychos and not all psychos are criminals (as defined by law).

 
Quote I'll give you an example. My last housemate was a rather lazy guy. He actually very strongly resembles Luke from the book. He desperately sought to avoid any form of drudgery or monotonous labour, except when faced with overwhelming consequences e.g. "if you don't start picking up after yourself, you can find yourself another place to live instead". The thing is, I don't believe he is a full blown sociopath like in the book. He has an overabundance of empathy for others, as evidenced through his volunteering work at the Red Cross. But he subconsciously does engage in behaviour which is quite selfish. He justifies working only a part time job through the volunteer work, which he believes gives him a special moral high ground. Wider society believes that a man in his late 20s in the prime of his life should be working a full time job, building up savings to support home ownership, and the superannuation funds that he will need as an old man so he is not a burden on the state. But he hates drudgery, which is a typical feature of any paid work, and so excuses his avoidance of it by doing volunteer work where supervision and any sort of managerial demand is virtually non-existent.


did you ever consider that his volunteering work - did you ever actually see him do it? - may be a cover for his lifestyle?  This is an extreme example, but Jimmy Savile used his front as a martyr for charity to do horrendous things.
 
Quote Having never had a girlfriend, mid-way through last year (at 28) he met a quite overweight girl with very poor self esteem due to her increasing weight and a rather horrible previous relationship. After a few months I consented to her moving in (I actually thought she was delightful). The inner workings of the relationship were curious. She did all his household chores for him, and in return the one thing he did for her was make her dinner (a task he would have had to do anyway when he made himself dinner). His job (standing on a street corner trying to get people to sign up for stuff) ensured he expended a lot of energy each day. But with the meals he was making, supplemented by 200g blocks of chocolate after and crisps and flavoured milk and booze, he continued to gain weight. For her the weight gain was much worse, due to her having a much more sedentary existence. So in return for picking up after him and cleaning up all his mess, he basically cooked meals he was going to have to make anyway and fed her a heap of unhealthy food that was pretty bad for her.


No offence but he sounds like a psycho - one without drive or motivation.  Remember they come in as many varieties as there are people.  Think of Skip - there are plenty of achievers like him who are good people.
 
Quote He claimed repeatedly to love her in very heartfelt tones. Yet I wondered sometimes why this intense emotional feeling did not translate into greater effort and consideration by him. For example, he snores quite badly. This is due to a combination of him being overweight, his smoking and his common pre-bedtime drinking. She simply could not get a good night's sleep most of the time, and had to get up in the middle of the night to go into the lounge and sleep on the couch. I found it disconcerting that he could find the money for booze and cigarettes, and would not divert such funds towards seeing a sleep therapist. If he wanted to be heroic, he could even have tried losing weight. Instead, despite telling her how much he loved her, he lifted not a finger and so she suffered broken sleep and began most days already feeling tired and worn out.
 
One time I could not help but overhear a conversation they were having, and it was on the subject of a baby. He was enthusiastically for keeping it, should she fall pregnant. This was despite having no money (in fact they were financially very distressed) and little in the way of stable employment. She had in an earlier conversation to me mentioned that she thought having a kid with him was unwise. Think back to Luke in the book.
 
Look at this situation strategically. She is with him in a rather unfair relationship where he takes the lead and calls the shots, owing to her self esteem being virtually gone. What do you think might happen if one day her self esteem recovers? Dropping him like a pile of bricks seems the likely outcome to me. Which is why it would make sense from his perspective to get her knocked up at this advantageous low point in her feeling of self worth. A kid would anchor her into place, making it difficult for her to make new friends or pursue a more meaningful career, and opportunities for her to improve her self esteem would be limited. Plus, the needs of a new born would preclude such selfish endeavours. And so it all makes sense for him, barely 3 months into his first relationship, to urge her to keep the baby if one develops despite the overwhelming other factors (lack of family support, lack of stable employment, no money, declining health of both of them) which should discourage such a move.
 
And I will honestly say that none of this was a conscious calculation on his part. He was merely doing what his subconscious told him to. Despite the fact that he did genuinely care for her, his subconscious had found a way to subvert his concern for her to impose conditions which suited his self interest. I would even go so far as to argue that his lack of superego was a distinct factor here.
 
So how would you class that sort of person: one who clearly has a conscience and sense of empathy, but whose lack of self and social awareness enables him to ignore salient facts and follow the commands of a selfish subconscious?

 
I have more, but I don't want to throw too much your way lest you respond to each point with too much brevity.


Again I suggest further reading particularly on Hare work - your guy sounds like a classic example of an parasitic, low motivation, psycho concerned only with maintaining his comfort as he sees it, maybe a less lcunning or intelligent version of Luke. Their base parasitic, predatory instincts are quite automatic from what I have read, when they meet new people they go through three distinctly defined phases as described by Hare of something like evaluation, use and then abandonment and for many this is an automatic process, programmed from their childhood development.


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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 10:18
Did you consider that your understanding of that girl's situation proves you have empathy and your "friend's" taking advantage of it (because that's what he's doing - preying on her weakness as a social predator)  proves he doesn't? 

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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 22:07
Ok, you've got me even more interested. I'm going to go read Hare's book so I can pursue these points in more detail with you.
 
BTW, this has genuinely got me thinking and I am very genuinely enjoying this conversation Smile


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 22:20
Good me too, I'm on a bit of a mission with this.

I really need to get my hands on a kindle UK publication of without conscience, for some reason it's only available in print here but the us amazon has it for kindle. I first read snakes in suits because of doing some random Internet searching on empathy because of how one person in my family was treating another... At this point, if you said psychopath to me I would think of ted buddy and mass murderers, but some research brought me to Hare's work and I found a whole new dimension to human society which never gets any good coverage except in psychology literature.

Dunno if I posted this before but here are the indicators: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hare_Psychopathy_Checklist
A qualified, experienced psychiatrist can perform this analysis through interview over a few hours and with knowledge of background including references, testimonies, criminal record (trail of destruction). So the diagnosis f psychopath is not based on exhibiting traits face to face but the actual way of life of the subject.


Anyway, just thought of a bit more of an emotive example for you. If you saw an old frail lady trip and hurt herself and you walked over and instead of helping her up you gave her a solid kick in the ribs, how would you feel after? Guilt? Disgust with yourself? Or would you tell yourself that what you did was wrong by definition and you really ought not to do it again in case you got caught and then proceed to feel nothing of it and sleep easy at night?

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 22:40
Quote Anyway, just thought of a bit more of an emotive example for you. If you saw an old frail lady trip and hurt herself and you walked over and instead of helping her up you gave her a solid kick in the ribs, how would you feel after? Guilt? Disgust with yourself? Or would you tell yourself that what you did was wrong by definition and feel nothing of it and sleep easy at night?
 
If she were a stranger? I would feel bad, both guilty and disgusted with myself.
 
If I classed her as an enemy, I would feel no remorse afterwards. My callousness towards people I can place into a 'hostile other' category is breathtaking. Though that 'hostile other' category is not easy to get into.
 
My interest in this topic stems from my own upbringing. I'm fairly certain that both my parents are sociopaths. My dad resembles Luke, and my mum resembles Tillie. In fact I found the parallels between these characters and my parents to be quite striking.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 15 Feb 2013 at 08:56
A psychopath can feel none of those things which is why they can do what they do.

Quote My interest in this topic stems from my own upbringing. I'm fairly certain that both my parents are sociopaths. My dad resembles Luke, and my mum resembles Tillie. In fact I found the parallels between these characters and my parents to be quite striking.


Some members of my family have very strong traits, but I have since discovered that they are blundering narcissists rather than calculating psychopaths.  I was convinced my mum was and I confronted her quite brutally to actually test her reactions to what I said.  I felt horrible afterwards, but i realised what she was then.  She can love but she is lacking empathy.  On my dad's side as well, there are three of the ten siblings.

BTW - there are 3 clear, related, anti-social personality disorders

Histrionic
Narcissistic
And Psychopathy

Narcs are not narcs as in the everyday use of the word for someone who is vain.  it is someone who gravitates things only around himself because they are incapable of empathy (the other's perspective) but have all/most of the other emotions missing in psychs.

Empathy can be broken down into

Affective - this is where you actually automatically feel what someone else is feeling simply by observing them

Cognitive - this is kind of retrospective empathy where you imagine yourself in someone else's shoes and realise how good or bad they must have been feeling.

I have very shallow affective empathy but a very strong cognitive one.  So I don't automatically know how to reassure or comfort someone in distress beyond doing practical things, its only after I realise what i could have done whereas people with strong affective emapthy are very good at supporting people real time on the spot.

Narcs tend to be martyrs and make everything about themselves in order to get attention or if they are enduring even minor dificulties, everyone else's lives have top stop to take notice of them.  They gravitate all conversation to themselves. 

Often this behaviour drives people away and narcs then wonder why they have no real friends, sometimes they realise they're different and sometimes they get help and learn about the world outside their own sphere and can become normal as they can be otherwise they become bitter/cruel or depressed.



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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 16 Feb 2013 at 00:18
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

 
My interest in this topic stems from my own upbringing. I'm fairly certain that both my parents are sociopaths. My dad resembles Luke, and my mum resembles Tillie. In fact I found the parallels between these characters and my parents to be quite striking.

We like categorisations and numbers, because they make understanding matters easier but amount of complexity people can absorb differs. Most do not even bother beyond "is it good or bad". But it was the analytic thought that made the breakthrough of our understanding of the nature. Still we must always bear on mind that numbers and categorisations are just subjective perceptions attached to mirror images from our sensory system. Variables are immense for even the most simplistic situations, especially when we are talking about persons and their pensonalities. I'm still skeptical about whole this psycopathy issue.


Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:


Empathy can be broken down into 

Affective - this is where you actually automatically feel what someone else is feeling simply by observing them 

Cognitive - this is kind of retrospective empathy where you imagine yourself in someone else's shoes and realise how good or bad they must have been feeling.

I think this categorisation is very sound.

Affective empathy -wrongly named- is direct product of mirror neuron activity. It's the reason why we feel pain in our specific limb when we see somebody's analogous limb harmed. Mirror neurons play large variety of important roles of course, not just empathy.

Cognitive empathy is also needs its share of mirror neuron activity but obviously frontal cortex will be much more engaged. Which translates to software will be matter more, hardware matter less...


Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

 
Narcs tend to be martyrs and make everything about themselves in order to get attention or if they are enduring even minor dificulties, everyone else's lives have top stop to take notice of them.  They gravitate all conversation to themselves.  

Often this behaviour drives people away and narcs then wonder why they have no real friends, sometimes they realise they're different and sometimes they get help and learn about the world outside their own sphere and can become normal as they can be otherwise they become bitter/cruel or depressed.

Narcism is almost universal in children and most females LOL


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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 16 Feb 2013 at 11:39
Before I buy the book by Hare, I'll need to know the title - if you'd be so kind.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 17 Feb 2013 at 09:49
Yes, without conscience: the disturbing world of psychopaths among us
The other good one is: Snakes in Suits: when psychopaths go to work

If you read the first you'll have me at disadvantage because that's the one I've been after but can't get n kindle.

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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 17 Feb 2013 at 09:51
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity Paradigm of Humanity wrote:


Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

<span style="line-height: 1.4;"> </span>
My interest in this topic stems from my own upbringing. I'm fairly certain that both my parents are sociopaths. My dad resembles Luke, and my mum resembles Tillie. In fact I found the parallels between these characters and my parents to be quite striking.


We like categorisations and numbers, because they make understanding matters easier but amount of complexity people can absorb differs. Most do not even bother beyond "is it good or bad". But it was the analytic thought that made the breakthrough of our understanding of the nature. Still we must always bear on mind that numbers and categorisations are just subjective perceptions attached to mirror images from our sensory system. Variables are immense for even the most simplistic situations, especially when we are talking about persons and their pensonalities. I'm still skeptical about whole this psycopathy issue.


Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:


Empathy can be broken down into 

Affective - this is where you actually automatically feel what someone else is feeling simply by observing them 

Cognitive - this is kind of retrospective empathy where you imagine yourself in someone else's shoes and realise how good or bad they must have been feeling.

I think this categorisation is very sound.

Affective empathy -wrongly named- is direct product of mirror neuron activity. It's the reason why we feel pain in our specific limb when we see somebody's analogous limb harmed. Mirror neurons play large variety of important roles of course, not just empathy.

Cognitive empathy is also needs its share of mirror neuron activity but obviously frontal cortex will be much more engaged. Which translates to software will be matter more, hardware matter less...


Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

 
<span style="line-height: 1.4;">Narcs tend to be martyrs and make everything about themselves in order to get attention or if they are enduring even minor dificulties, everyone else's lives have top stop to take notice of them.  They gravitate all conversation to themselves. </span><span style="line-height: 1.4;"> </span>

Often this behaviour drives people away and narcs then wonder why they have no real friends, sometimes they realise they're different and sometimes they get help and learn about the world outside their own sphere and can become normal as they can be otherwise they become bitter/cruel or depressed.

Narcism is almost universal in children and most females LOL


Indeed, and it s these neurological functions that people with anti-social personality disorders lack, hence when I said that the disorders can be diagnosed medically and psychologically.

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 22 Feb 2013 at 23:30
I believe, heart of this issue lies beneath unholy offsprings of the materialism; the denial of free will and even as far as the denial of consciousness and attempts to effectively confine them in high security prison of the causality. Many people unwittingly influenced by these ideas without a doubt. I'll explain later how very little difference we have with so called psycopaths and sociopaths.

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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 25 Feb 2013 at 21:24
Well the first step in solving a problem is recognising that there is one. The materialist culture's promoted idea of the self has many psychopathic traits. But recognising what these traits are helps to combat them from with for those who choose to do so. I believe learning about this kind of disorder has helped me improve my outlook on life and alter behaviours for the better. And there is a universally understood definition of good and bad and it completely involves the effects of your actions on other people.

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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2013 at 16:45
I have not forgot this thread and I am keen to continue. Just been so busy with work. But I will see this through once I read that next book. In the meantime your point about narcissism is important. After more thinking I still think my dad is a sociopath, but my mother is probably a narcissist. I have a 'hypothetical' scenario for you. Have a read and let me know what you think is going on here.



'Andy' goes to sleep one Friday night but lays down having difficulty breathing. He wakes the next morning finding the difficulty has increased greatly. He worries about what might happen if it gets worse by night time and he falls asleep and is unable to breath. At 24 he has also just recovered from a very prolonged intestinal condition, and so won't take chances with his health. So he goes to much increased effort and expense of seeing a doctor and getting a chest scan on Saturday.

That evening Andy's mum 'Jemma' texts him to ask how he is doing, a rare occurance. Answering honestly he replies that things have generally been good but he is resting with a chest infection - it's hard to answer honestly any different when he is rugged up and hardly able to keep his breath. Jemma then calls Andy, her tone is concerned but Andy knows she is drunk. Jemma never goes out of her way to contact Andy unless she is drunk, and all in all she rarely bothers ot contact him. Though he moved out at 16, he has much younger siblings who still live at home and so he knows that Jemma is often drunk. Andy always humours her and is courteous, hoping that his own good example will eventually rub off and that she will gain moderation as she ages. Things have never been good between Jemma and her 4 kids who vary 15 years in age, but Andy hopes that things will slowly improve over time if he shows her he is willing to meet her more than half way.

Instead of her usual anecdotes which are told in a rather circular pattern through slurred speach, this time her tone is one of concern (though her words are still slurred). Jemma asks further what is wrong. Andy, though finding it difficult to keep his breath while talking, says the doctor said it was either bad bronchities or pneumonia, the chest scans would reveal which on Tuesday. He assures her he has everything under control and they say their farewells.

On Tuesday evening Jemma calls Andy. Andy, still through laboured breath, says 'hello?', and Jemma ignores the greeting to aggressively ask "What was it?". "What was what?", Andy replies. "Was it Pneumonia?". "No, just bronchitis".

Jemma then heaps derision upon Andy for being weak, mocking his lack of fortitude. Jemma is back to her usual inebriated self, but this time the slurred tangents have a pompous edge to them. Practically calling Andy a whiny runt, Jemma launches into a boastful juxtaposition of how her own sheer toughness enables her to weather any physical ailment with impunity. Andy is stupefied by this. As an extremely low maintenance child who left home at 16, put himself through school and uni, never asked for any for of assistance and is extremely independent young man, the boasts of a drunken, unemployed, frequently irritable alcoholic subsisting on government benefits and with no instinct to hide her own health sufferings are taken as most unjust. Delivered to him while is still ill and guilty of no trasngression.

She continues with her self indulgent juxtaposition, growing ever more self righteous as her verbalises her fantasy of physical invulnerability in comparison to the obviously soft hypochondriac. The tenor of her voice grows stern and assured, she continues. This is the only reason she called, Andy now realises. The earlier apparent concern had metamorphasised into a predatory and opportunistic attack through which Jemma could replenish her ego and self belief. Andy has lived out of home for 8 years now, but is reminded that frequently does bully and attack her children when she is having a bad day and wishes to assure herself she is very smart, tough and brilliant. And its so much easier to do when the kid is rendered especially weak, like Andy is now. Later he feels sorry for his two youngest siblings, who still live with Jemma.

"Are you really doing this? Are you really going to rubbish me over the phone as I lay here, breathing with great difficulty, and telling yourself how great you are?", it was an effort but Andy managed to summon enough breath to get it all out. She ignores him and continues with her stern self congratulations. Andy feels silly for his naive optimism, and a bit cheated for having earlier been so understanding and made so much effort.

Andy hangs up, and ignores the dozen or so calls and text messages which Jemma sends.

What do you make of the psychological dynamic of the above episode?
What do you think is the psychological makeup of one or either of the two parties?
If you were Andy, how would you have handled that situation?


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 18 Mar 2013 at 09:33
Just wanted to add that I have read another book very recently and it really was a revelation in so many ways, it covered psychopathy and convincingly suggests that it is today an evolutionary anachronism and at one point was so prevalent in the male population that natural selection removed it from fixation.

The book, which I recommend to anyone interested in human evolution is called, Them and Us: how neanderthal predation created modern humans.  It is revolutionary to say the least and is solidly grounded in the theory of natural selection.


-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 18 Mar 2013 at 13:33
What do you make of the psychological dynamic of the above episode?
It's pretty self explanatory. There's definitely a personality deficiency with Jemma. Does she also blatantly seek pity and sympathy?  If I were Andy, I would just cut off completely.  Easier said than done though with someone like a parent. 

What do you think is the psychological makeup of one or either of the two parties?
Andy seems normal, Jemma seems like either a psycho or high end narc - she wants to exert some kind of control over Andy by trying to make him feel crap about himself, although she is not very good at doing this and has no credibility to back it up.  She sounds desperate.  Ultimately she wants something from Andy - probably money - but is far too uncouth and abrasive in the manipulation stage to ever achieve that goal.

If you were Andy, how would you have handled that situation?
Probably the same in the first conversation but much more aggressively in the second since I lose my temper and patience quickly with people who play games, especially family.  I would have turned the odds on her and got personal.  But that would in no way have been productive or worth it and I would have regretted it after.


-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.



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