Selfishness and Psychopathy

Narcs and Paths and Heroes

bernanimatedThere’s a movie called Miller’s Crossing about gangs controlling the government in a small town. One of the characters in this movie is a really low-life slime-ball named Bernie Bernbaum. This guy would sell his mother if there were two bits in it for him. The hero of the movie, Tommy, is expected to execute Bernie for chiseling a gang leader. Bernie begins begging for his life in a most cowardly and unbecoming way. Tommy lets him live but Bernie (true to form) uses Tommy’s act of mercy to blackmail him. Bernie is the most thoroughly selfish person imaginable. As a psychopath, I accept the fact that I’m selfish. Yet, I don’t want to share the label of psychopathy with this person. Am I wrong?


aynrandI re-read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged every few years. I am in the middle of reading it now. I like her writing because every time I re-read her books, I get something new from it. I consider that the sign of a good writer. Many people say she’s a lousy writer. I think that is because of her politics which are slightly right of Atilla the Hun. I, myself, became a true believer of her philosophy first time I read the book while I was in my teens. Over the years, I have found holes in her political ideology and have written several critiques of her opinions. The last rebuttal I wrote is The Social Darwinism of Ayn Rand. Ms. Rand has written a book called The Virtue of SelfishnessAtlas Shrugged is a novel about productive people, mostly industrialists, who have adopted selfishness as a necessary virtue. In other words, you can’t be a good person without it. They even swore an oath, “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine.”

badguysReading Atlas Shrugged, I have come across characters who are selfish in the usual sense of the word. One character, for example, Mayor Bascom, sums up his philosophy of life by saying, “In this world, either you’re virtuous or you enjoy yourself. Not both, lady, not both.” People like Mayor Bascom are clearly not intended as role models. The selfish people Rand admires run companies that produce metal, in one case, run railroads, in another hankndagnycase, or are even philosophers. They live for their work. They are brilliant. They have no empathy for the unproductive. Rand explained that when she wrote that need should never be an imperative for action. Ability, achievement were what counted. These characters have a tendency to adhere to a rigid system of ethics. One character, Henry Rearden, believes so solidly in keeping one’s word, especially when given in a solemn ritual, that he is determined to stay in a bad marriage as long as his wife wants to. He was eaten up alive with guilt when he started an affair with a woman he really loved.  He did get over it but it really messed him up for a long time. His wife’s pain mattered but only because he had a contractual obligation, i.e., wedding vows.

Morality

kantKant coined the term categorical imperative as an ethical rule one must obey. My parents were liberals and my mother raised me on the categorical imperative that one must feel compassion for those in need. I learned to fake it but I’m conflicted on this subject. It would be easy to accept Rand’s philosophy and shrug along with Atlas. Who needs people who can’t even sustain themselves? Except that sometimes I’m the one in need. I depend on Social Security and Medicare. The truth of the case, the extended family doesn’t provide for it’s aging and/or disabled members any more. The individual is freer. He is more of an atomized entity. With no more extended family, Social Security and Medicare are necessities. When workers are unable to work due to age or illness, a society that doesn’t provide for them is not going to work well. Whether people “care” about others or not, they, too, unless they are wealthy, are going to need these programs. Republicans collect their benefits and I doubt the GOP will really make their rhetoric into policy. Their base would never put up with it.

unemployment line cartoonIt makes me smirk when I think of how Rand, herself, collected Medicare when she needed treatment for lung cancer. She did it under her married name, Alisa O’Connor. You might consider this an ad hominem but I think the ability of an individual to live hir own philosophy speaks to the sustainability of the philosophy being advocated. In this case, need was the criterion upon which Rand made her choice. She used programs she had called robbery. One might argue that she figured she paid into the programs. But the amounts she had paid would never have covered the cost of her cancer treatment. Unless, of cancercourse, one is a psychopath. Psychopaths know what is right or wrong. But we don’t care enough to let that knowledge govern our choices. Not that we always do what’s wrong. But is what we want to do happens to be wrong, we might go ahead and do it anyway. So a psychopath may believe something (abolishing Medicare for example) is morally right, but choose to benefit from the policy they thing objectively ought to be abolished. I suppose the difference between a psychopath and an ordinary hypocrite is the former doesn’t feel guilty while most hypocrites experience a twinge of conscience.

highroad.pngEthics is all about should, not what is like in Metaphysics, for example. One’s system of ethics is presumed to be universal and proscriptive rather than descriptive. An act is right or wrong no matter who performs it. Circumstances can affect the moral significance of the action but every time those circumstances exist, the moral value of the act is the same no matter who is performing it. In politics, liberals and conservatives advocate policies that are often in direct conflict with those of their opponents while claiming a universal principle as justification for that policy. No wonder politics is so volatile.

A problem with making need a basis of policy is that it encourages people who need but welfare-18can’t produce so they have to receive the fruits of someone else’s productivity in order to satisfy that need. Liberals think the government should redistribute the fruits of productivity to the extent that everyone has a minimum of the things needed to live a reasonably happy and healthy life whether or not they produced those fruits themselves. Most liberals believe everyone should be productive enough to earn a living. Those who need extra help must prove they are doing the best they can. There has to be a reason someone needs assistance. It can be a disability. It can be the fact that one is a child. Or it can be the very complexity of the economy makes one unable to find a job. Then they must prove they are trying honestly to get a job. In other words, people must be provided what they need if and only if they can’t earn their own way.

That seems reasonable.

narcsandpathsEthics

But back to Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Rand believes in the heroic and the ethical. She believes everyone should compete for the good things in this world but they should compete on a level playing field and with the same rules. So shoplifting may be selfish but it’s unethical by Rand’s standards. Stealing is wrong. Production is right. That’s much more in keeping with narcissism. Not all but many narcs try to live up to a self-image in which they are superior people. Psychopaths might agree with Rand’s standard of right and wrong. But we are not as likely to get all fussed up about it.

A narc is more likely to really live a “good” life. He wants to believe he really is superior. Ayn Rand’s heroes are “good” because they have something to create that they are really interested in. Unlike a narc, the Ayn Rand heroes are trying to be good to help the world. They are genuinely interested in production. Dagny wants to run a railroad. Rearden wants to invent a new metal. They want to think well of themselves and live in a way they respect. And yet, the creative strikers in Atlas Shrugged were willing to let the entire civilized world to fall to pieces. That’s kind of psychopathic of them.

shrug

Advertisements

Life Can Be Ducky

Jemima Puddle-Duck Finds Lovefraud

The_Tale_of_Jemima_Puddle-Duck_cover
My thanks to Beatrix Potter, author of Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck
This story is adapted from her story, brought into today’s world of psychopaths, victims and recovery on the world wide web.

foxreadingpaperJemima Puddle-Duck lived on a farm. It could have been a nice place to live except for one thing. The farmer’s wife would not let Jemima hatch her own eggs. She routinely confiscated Jemima’s eggs and gave them to a hen to hatch. For some reason, she thought Jemima would get bored sitting on eggs as long as it would take to hatch them. She wouldn’t even give Jemima a chance.

Jemima ran away from that farm, seeking a foxandducksafe place to lay her eggs. She chanced upon a handsome fox who was reading a newspaper. “Quack!” said Jemima. The fox looked up surprised to see a duck addressing him.

The fox, James Tod, was a charming psychopath. A predator by nature, James loved roast duck. Never before had a duck actually sought out his company. This was just too good an opportunity to pass up. He and Jemima walked along the path while Jemima explained her dilemma.

sillyduck“I need a place to lay and hatch my eggs,” she quacked. James listened attentively, giving Jemima his full attention. “I think I can help you,” he said. “Come to my home where there is a delightful place for you to make a nest and hatch your precious ducklings.” He let her into his shed, smirking psychopathically at the naivety of his prey. “Come right in and make yourself comfortable,” he said softly. 

jemimasnestJemima found a lot of feathers in the shed. They were very soft. A perfect nest. She laid lots of eggs. What a relief to finally have laid them. She settled down luxuriating in her soft new home.

The next day, James suggested they have a feast. He listed some herbs they would need to make a delicious omelet. Jemima apparently didn’t notice any cognitive dissonance in planning to eat omelets while hatching eggs.

donnaShe did go off into the forest to find the herbs James had specified. As she was carrying back, she ran into Donna Anderson, the creator of Lovefraud, the anti-path blog. Donna specialized in helping victims of psychopaths to realize they were victims and to tell their tales of woe. “You silly duck,” scolded Donna. Don’t you know that foxes are natural predators. This fox is planning to cook you and eat you.”

omelet“Oh, no!” replied Jemima. “We are just going to eat an omelet.”

“Eat an omelet?” screamed Donna! “You are going to eat your own eggs?”

Jemima blushed. “No! We are not going to make an omelet out of my eggs.”

“So you’re going to eat someone else’s eggs?”

Jemima realized there was no way she was going to win here. “Never mind,” said Donna. “I have some courses that will help you recover from your relationship with that psychopath. Here are my continuing educational webinars. And the most important thing, you must go no-contact immediately.”

“But my eggs are there,” said Jemima.

“Actually, the eggs have already been eaten by some dogs I keep around my place. They protect me from flying monkeys. But they love to eat eggs.”

And that was the tale of Jemina Puddle-Duck and Lovefraud.

 

Ha! I knew it!

What did I know?

Psychopathy and Creativity are intimately related.

Today’s Psychopathic Times has a stunning article: What do psychopaths and creatives have in common? I have always cherished our ability to “think outside the box,” richard-wagner1conscience-free, able to go wherever our muse leads us. Some great artists have been considered scandalous. My favorite composer, Richard Wagner, was, as my mother called me, “a law unto (my)himself.” What got tongues wagging the most was his tendency to borrow money without paying it back. My sister and I got into some heated arguments. I maintained the great music he composed more than paid for whatever he owed. Later, when society’s widespread anti-Semitism fell into general disfavor (without necessarily diminishing), Wagner was attacked for being anti-Semitic. The fact that anti-Semitism was part of society, not considered antisocial at all, didn’t seem to matter. Now a man can be retroactively antisocial as the social standards change and make what was normal now demonized. If that hadn’t been enough, Hitler loved Wagner’s work (as do many other people) and caused his work to become associated with Nazism in the minds of the public and historians. The fact that there is a vast distance between loving and being loved seems to elude Wagner’s critics.

Blake, an indisputably great poet and artist wrote the Proverbs of Hell. Some of them the-red-dragon-and-the-woman-clothed-with-the-sun-1803-1805-by-william-blake-framed-paintingwere “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” That has always struck of chord with me. Others are

  • “The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.”
  • “The road of folly leads to the palace of wisdom.”
  • “Sooner murder an infant in it’s cradle than nurse unacted desires.”
  • “You never know what is enough until you know what is too much.”

Blake also painted the Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Sun. This stunning painting has been featured in Thomas Harris’ novel, The Red Dragon, the first on the Hannibal Lecter novels, and Diary of a Drug Fiend, by Aleister Crowley.

Aleister_Crowley_1Some artists outraged common sensibilities by their very creativity. Wagner, Blake, Crowley and even Ayn Rand were among them. Rand has often been called a “psychopath” due to her philosophy. I don’t agree with her social Darwinism. However, her daring to state that selfishness is a good thing pushed many buttons. She ever wrote an essay called The Virtue of Selfishness. Isn’t that what psychopaths are always being damned for? Crowley, of course, is notorious. He has been nicknamed “the evilest man on earth” for his colorful reputation, some of it earned and some made up.

Freedom enables “antisocial” acts as well as sublime acts of creativity. There’s a slogan that well-behaved women never make history. Of course, that was more about politics than art but the underlying issue is freedom, after all. Those who dare step outside the protective confines of society can be monsters or geniuses or just people who have a greater range of choices because we have taken them. We all have an aura of the forbidden. As Coleridge wrote in his wonderful poem, Xanadu — Kubla Kahn.

Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Who’s the Asshole?

badseedPsychCentral has an article about RAD children (this isn’t Rock Against Drugs—it stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder) and their parents. The article, Why Parents of R.A.D. Children Always Look Like A**holes by W. R. Cummings, defines RAD as “a brain disorder that is caused when a child is not nurtured in the first few months of his/her life.” The description of these children reminds me of psychopathy (or “callous unemotional” if you like). They warn us that RAD kids are capable of manipulation to get what they want/need. RAD kids see people they like as “resources.” What do they want?

That might be snacks. That might be physical affection. That might be TV time. It could be a myriad of things.

pussycatPhysical affection? That is something the child hugs the parent for? S/he “manipulates” the parent into giving physical affection? Why does physical affection have to be obtained by manipulation? The description of a child with RAD kind of reminds me of the way a cat behaves. Sure, most cats will rub up against your legs and purr in order to get fed. But sometimes the cat just wants to be petted.

manipulationWhat is manipulation? Isn’t everything manipulation when you get right down to it. We learn what behavior elicits response from others and we deliberately behave in ways we have learned will be rewarded. If we had no idea how our behavior affects the treatment we receive from other people, we would really be unmanageable and we would probably have to be institutionalized. For that matter, the way parents and other adults treat kids is just as manipulative. We try to get kids to act the way we want them too. We punish them when they do things we don’t like and reward them when they do things we do like. How is this any less manipulative than the behavior of a RAD kid or a psychopath, for that matter. Face it: Society is run on mutual manipulation. The behaviorist psychologist, B. F. Skinner recognized this as shown in his books, Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

strictmomThe article lists ways parents of a child with RAD should behave. Some of these items are stunning. “They have to monitor every bite of food their kids take.” Say, what? Why? “They have to respond to negative behavior with a robot-like voice because giving any type of emotional reaction to their child spurs the behavior onward. They have to respond to positive behavior with a robot-like voice because being overly bubbly teaches their child how to manipulate people more thoroughly.” At this point, I start wondering if the kid was emotionally unattached before receiving this kind of treatment or if s/he is reacting to the parents’ own lack of attachment towards the child. No matter what the kid says or does, all s/he gets is a robot intent on greyrockcatching the kid in bad behavior. I’m baffled as to why Cummings thinks cutting a child off emotionally is going to make hir feel attachment to the parent. Why even adopt such a child? Why not leave hir in the orphanage. The people who work at such institutions can give hir the same detached “robotic” care.

The internet is full of articles instructing people to disengage emotionally from psychopaths. They warn their readers that psychopaths only charm and seduce them as a prelude to hurting them. So go no contact or grey rock the moment you discover psychopathy in a lover. This article is telling parents to be the same way towards their child. Wild.

Help! Someone’s Dying!

urbanempathyIf empathy is so wonderful, why does it get so obnoxious? Why do empaths feel the need to get so hysterical about someone else’s problems? OK. If someone has a problem and asks for help, it’s perfectly fine to help them, if one wants to. But I’m talking about cases where the one with the “problem” has not asked for help. The failure to ask for help is what really seems to upset these empaths who want to make other people’s problems their own. At the same time, these same empaths get all pushed out of shape when the person with the problem get a following and exerts an influence on others, usually people younger than themselves. There’s something about age differences that brings out a really annoying feature in many people. The older one thinks s/he has a parental right, nay, responsibility to boss the younger one around. This is especially obnoxious and absurd when the age difference is only by a couple of years. When the older person doesn’t get all bossy, s/he’s accused of being a bad influence. Can’t we take our hands out of each other’s wounds, folks? Please?

I recently stumbled upon a group of You-Tube videos about someone named Eugenia Cooney. This person is a model and You-Tuber. She is also anorexic.  But she doesn’t admit it. She claims to be a normal, naturally thin woman. She has many fans who have been agonizing about what appears to be her imminent death.  The video below,

made by a former anorectic, explains what is really going on in the mind of Eugenia and how clueless these fans are. But it seems retarded to me to see these folks self-righteously demanding that “we” do something about what seems to be a slow suicide. By “we,” is that Onision and me? Yes, Onision is one of the ones who likes to shame himself and everyone else with guilt. It seems “we” have failed Eugenia Cooney by not somehow saving her.

onisionAmidst all the confusion and finger-pointing, one You-Tuber has shown actual insight. A chick at Of Herbs and Altars  shows amazing wisdom. But even she can’t help moralizing. In her case, she guilt-trips, not the fans as much as Eugenia, herself, on the ground that she is a bad influence on the kiddies. Oh, brother! This again? If we are to have free speech on the internet, we can’t let our fear of being a bad influence on kids censor us. People need to think for themselves. I have no sympathy for people who won’t take responsibility for their own ideas. They get what they deserve.

The world of empathy-worship insists on moral involvements between people that goes 'What kind of crazy nonsense is that? It sounds like you've been listening to your inner adult again!'far beyond simply treating each other in an ethical manner. We are somehow responsible for a self-destructive celebrity. The celebrity, herself, is responsible for her effect on her fans. Why can’t everyone be responsible for hirself? If someone is too young to think for hirself, let hir parent or guardian monitor what s/he can see on the internet. Personally, I thought for myself from the earliest age.

I am sick of those who want to save us from ourselves. I’ve done self-destructive things. I knew they were self-destructive and I didn’t want anyone trying to stop me. They are not responsible for my choices and I don’t hold myself responsible for their choices.


Eugenia Cooney is certainly freaky looking with her extreme emaciation. I can understand “fans” watching her just waiting for her to die. Our interest in each other is not always benevolent. In fact, entertainment in general often focusses on the darker side of life. Most people find the spectacle of people killing each other more fun and interesting than watching peace and tranquility.

Marilyn Manson’s song, Mister Superstar from the Antichrist Superstar album alludes to the desire of fans to consume and destroy their idols. It contains a whisper in the mix slyly suggesting to the superstar “Why don’t you kill yourself on TV. I wanna see you die.” While the TV sitcom, One Day at a Time was playing and MacKenzie Phillips was heavily using cocaine, fans watched the show just to see her gradual deterioration. The lack of empathy is really refreshing.

How To Spot One

We’ve all seen articles promising to tell us how to “spot a psychopath.” Psychopaths are the ones wearing masks, just waiting for “us” to let down “our” guard so they can harm “us.” What if everyone is wearing a mask? Why?

There was a great TV series in 1994 called My So-Called Life. It was about teenagers but, unlike Beverly Hills 90210, it only had 19 episodes. That’s one more episode than Freaks and Geeks. Why did these great series get cancelled? Because they were so good? Sure. But why? The sixth episode of My So-Called Life, called The Substitute, gives us a clue. A substitute teacher offers his students a different perspective to learning or, really, to living. The kids had written nice, conventional poems for a publication that was supposed to show who they were and what they were capable of. The first day the substitute came to class, he threw all these offerings out the window. He told them to see what they could produce NOW. With his encouragement, the kids wrote new more honest statements. When the principle of the school found out what some of these statements were, he banned the publication. That’s probably what happened to both of the series. As the principle put it, this new, honest Liberty Lit (note the irony of the name) didn’t meet the standards of the school. Maybe these two series about teenagers didn’t meet the standards of what we can admit about our own lives in America. People get judged just as TV series do.sociopath

Mayo Clinic Staff defines Anti-Social Personality Disorder, “Antisocial personality disorder is defined by a pervasive and persistent disregard for morals, social norms, and the rights and feelings of others.” Psychopaths don’t meet the standards of society. That’s why psychopathy or ASPD (as the American Psychiatric Association would have it) is called a disorder.

beverly-hills-90210-locandinaIf society doesn’t approve of one’s personality, it calls one “disordered.” If it doesn’t approve of a television series, it cancels the series. Both My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks were superior quality television dramas about the lives of teens. When I say they were superior, I mean they were more honest. Beverly Hills 90210 crawled up it’s own asshole long before it was mercifully ended. Not that it had never been any good. It just jumping_sharkwasn’t as good as the other two. It continued way beyond it’s artistic integrity should have allowed. It jumped the shark which means it got totally absurd. I would advise anyone diagnosed with a personality disorder not to fret about it. If the “disorder” makes your life  unpleasant or difficult, by all means, go to therapy and try to get “cured.” If you are OK, just enjoy your uniqueness.


Links

The D Factor

The Dark Triad

selfishnessIt was once considered good enough to call someone a psychopath or a narcissist if you wanted to say he was bad or wicked enough to condemn him or her. But human nature, being what it is, nothing is so simple that it can’t be made more complicated. Psychopathy (or Anti-Social Personality Disorder) and Narcissism were part of Cluster B but that wasn’t good enough. Something called The Dark Triad needed to be invoked. Psychopathy and Narcissism were joined by Machiavellianism to make the triad. But someone has now set out to simplify things again and reduce the Dark Triad to one trait.  Katie Heany has said, If You Have One of These Dark Personality Traits, You Have them All.

white wooden chess king on wooden chessboard closeupThe study’s authors argue this overlap is because all nine dark personality traits share the same dark “core,” which — I’m not kidding — they call “the D-factor.” The, uh, D-factor is defined as “the general tendency to maximize one’s individual utility — disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others — accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications.” Though each dark personality trait varies in expression and severity, all nine rely on personal gain as one’s primary concern.

So the whole thing can be boiled down to selfishness? The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised lists 20 traits. Perhaps the one trait for psychopaths should be optimism and the penticostcrossbelief in happy outcomes. Kevin Dutton mentioned our optimism in Psychopath Night, the TV show on the UK’s channel 4. Ayn Rand believed in the universe being fundamentally benevolent and life being about happiness rather than suffering. I think this kind of “up” view of life can go together with number 8 of the PCL-R, Callousness and Lack of Empathy. We can identify with joy or sorrow. There are powerful arguments toward either. Catholicism is very much identified with suffering. The crucifix with the crucified Christ on it is very much favored with that church. Some evangelical churches identify with optimism. Their symbol is a stylized cross, sometimes with the Holy Spirit bird over it. Some of these churches are identified with prosperity. While both kinds of churches worship Christ, they each focus on a very different side of the story, which is, come to think of it, the different sides of life itself.

Lestat_from_The_Vampire_ChroniclesPeople who are happy and selfish (maybe vulgar and superficial) are often more fun to be around. People who are full of empathy are the sort one wants to find when one is in need of this trait. I’m thinking of Anne Rice’s novel, Tale of the Body Thief. The hero, Lestat, is conned by a mortal with whom he exchanges bodies. As a mortal once more, Lestat finds himself penniless and ill. A woman nurses him back to health. Later, once he is again a vampire, Lestat runs into her. From his new perspective, this almost saintly woman seems narrow and boring. Just saying.

Donna’s Shit Don’t Stink

I hadn’t planned to write yet another post about how we are demonized but this post by Donna Anderson of Lovefraud pisses me off to the point of once more putting virtual pen beautiful sexy woman in black leather dress masquerade mask withto virtual paper and sounding off. The article was called A sociopath explains how she loves. The article quotes two emails from a self-identified sociopath who explained what love means to her. Her email is courteous and complimentary to Donna and her website. And yet, Donna’s reaction totally lacks the willingness to meet the author of the email even part way. She concludes “sociopaths may not always be lying when they say, ‘I love you.’ Sociopaths may think they do love you. They simply don’t know what the word means.” Good grief! How condescending! We don’t know what the word “love” means although Donna certainly implies that she, unlike us ‘paths, does know. Maybe nobody ever explained to Donna that there are many forms of love. No. There is only one kind that counts with her. From her lips to god’s ears, here is the straight dope:

Three parts to love

donna_andersenWhat exactly is love? Poets, playwrights and songwriters over the ages have struggled to describe the sensation of falling in love, and the pain of losing love. No matter how beautiful the language,  words are often inadequate. We just know love when we feel it.

Scientists have also tried to explain love. Philip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer wrote a paper called A Behavioral Systems Approach to Romantic Love Relationships: Attachment, Caregiving, and Sex. Their explanation of love is useful for us because it illustrates why sociopaths can appear to be in love, when they really aren’t.

Shaver and Mikulincer say there are three distinct components to romantic love:

  1. Attachment you want to be around and spend time with the person you love.
  2. Sex you want to have physical relations with the person you love.
  3. Caregiving you want to take care of the person you love. You are concerned about his or her health, wellbeing and growth.

Real love has all three of these components. Sociopath, however, only experience two of them.

caregivingThe “component” of love we are deficient in, it turns out, is the third: caregiving. Our overtures of love are fraudulent because “sociopaths are not capable of true caregiving.” She explains why she didn’t bother to show the simple courtesy of replying to the sociopath‘s (please note, she is never even identified with a name) email. “I never replied to author of the above email there is no point in engaging a sociopath.” Is this an example of how loving, how caring, the empathic folks are compared to us nasty ‘paths? Not that it is they who are deficient. It’s because we are such terrible people, we don’t deserve acknowledgement. (Thanks for the warning, Donna. I’ll never try to communicate with you.)

DAndersen_smile_headshot_140x140But the nameless sociopath didn’t give up so easily. Since she never received the courtesy of a response from Donna, she emailed her again. She wrote…

Do you think that just because I’m different from you that I deserve to be ignored? It isn’t my fault that I was born a certain way. You could have just as easily been born a psycho. Would you ignore normal people because you think you’re better than them? I don’t. I know that both types of people—and we are both people, I hope you aren’t so deep in your own world as to think we aren’t—have their merits, strengths, weaknesses, and perspectives that are worth considering. Don’t you agree?

Charming Donna replied, “Actually I don’t agree. Yes, it’s sad that sociopaths are born with the genetics for the disorder, and often grow up in difficult, even abusive, talk-to-donna-300x250_Fenvironments. But when someone says she’s a sociopath, and sounds like a sociopath, I have a choice on how to respond. I’ll play it safe and stay away.” She is “playing it safe.” One can almost feel sorry for such a fainthearted soul. I understand the concept and reasoning of going “no contact.” When a relationship has become unproductive; when there is more pain than joy to be had, I see the point of no contact. But going no contact with someone just because s/he is a sociopath strikes me as mean-spirited, not to mention narcissistic. She is so much better than we are. She knows what love is but we don’t. La dee da, la la… This from a woman who is so caring and empathic that she markets advice to our “victims” rather than simply giving them her pearls of wisdom.

Sticks and Stones

reputationNobody is as impervious to other people’s opinions than a psychopath. Good for us since we have one of the worst reputations in the world. When someone wants to disparage somebody else, s/he often calls that person a “psychopath” as if that’s the worst thing s/he can call hir. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never harm me,” the saying goes. But sometimes names can harm us. Being labeled a psychopath in the criminal “justice” system can lead to longer prison time independently of how a convict has actually behaved while serving a sentence.

One of the oldest and most toxic forms of stigmatization is the one directed at racial groups. This has been energetically condemned with the word racism. Most people vigorously deny being racists although, since Trump has been president, those who acclaim it have been very emboldened. But decency seems to be prevailing.

caitlynjennerLet’s face it. People spend enormous stretches of time discussing each other. Then, there is the special kind of person called a celebrity who is talked about obsessively. Like who the hell are the Kardashians? I am always hearing that name but I have no idea what they have done to be spending so much time in the spotlight. Perhaps it is because Americans deliberately established a republic with no royalty that “we” jazzneed to set up this pseudo royalty in its place. Bruce Jenner was some sort of athlete until s/he decided to transition to a woman and had hir image splashed over the media. Because s/he is related to the Kardashians, this event seems to have somehow made transgenderism more acceptable to the American public. But some achieved fame all on their own. Jazz Jennings (similar last name a coincidence) was a boy who identified as a girl since the age of three, had understanding parents to enabled the whole transformation, hormones, surgery and all. S/he has hir own reality show on TLC where hir life has been documented for years.


aerieWe live in a mass culture where we are very accessible to each other through the mass media. Perhaps this is the reason why public opinion and treatment of others is subject to so much scrutiny. People have their prejudices. But idealists believe it is important to remake society by erasing stigma wherever it exists. I just came across a quest to de-stigmatize ostomy bags. For those who don’t know, these are bags that are surgically attached to people who are unable to poop or pee normally. An article How the Aerie Real Campaign Is Helping Shatter the Stigma Around Ostomy Bags features a woman named Aerie who is doing for people with this handicap what Jazz is doing for the transgendered. She says, “Personally, I have always felt proud of and grateful for my ostomy – never really ashamed of it. After all, it saved me from a life of constant pain and suffering. I know it’s not gross.” Wearing a bag of shit on your body isn’t gross? If you say so.

Psychopaths

 

'I let my conscience be my guide, and it turned out to be a sociopath.'
‘I let my conscience be my guide, and it turned out to be a sociopath.’

While physical disabilities may arouse pity and transgenderism may be seen as a civil rights issue, stigma around personality is a horse of a different color. Psychopathy is so powerfully linked in the public mind with evil, those who are ashamed to badmouth other stigmatized groups seem to feel no compunctions about letting the shit fly at us. An article in Psychology Today called It Takes a Psychopath to Like a Psychopath has some real zingers. Psychopathy is considered, says the author, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, “one of the least desirable traits a person can have.” She admits our “traits” are “fascinating” but also “repulsive.” Repulsive? susankraussDon’t hold anything back, Hon. She continues, “The idea that you could show anything but revulsion for a psychopath may seem impossible even to entertain.” She goes on to say, “There’s an assumption in the public mind that these individuals have chosen their personalities, and for this reason, they should be treated with ostracism and contempt.” I never did understand why the question of choice is so important. The gay liberation movement has insisted that gays don’t choose to be gay. They are born that way. Transsexuals (the “T” added to “LBG”) are also supposedly born in the wrong body. Psychopaths are now said to have been “born that way” but it doesn’t seem to matter much. I don’t see why it should, frankly. However we “got that way,” are are that way, take it or leave it. Everyone still has the choice to act on proclivities or not. I am not one of those people who think psychopaths should get away with crimes because of “mental illness.” If we can’t help ourselves, we are not responsible. We also don’t have the civil rights of adults. Not having a conscience makes me free. Freedom is responsibility.

Responsible or not, we are still stigmatized.