A Psychopath’s Emotions

Do I feel too much?

emotionAs a psychopath, I am considered deficient in the ability to experience emotions the way NTs do. That having been said, we can’t really know if what we mean by the word “emotion” is the same thing an NT means by the same word.

What are emotions? Googling brought me:

Emotion
Subjective, conscious experience characterised primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states.
Emotion is any conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a certain degree of pleasure or displeasure. Scientific discourse has drifted to other meanings and there is no consensus on… wikipedia.org

emothersornotHmm… Subjective? Oxford defines it as “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions: ‘his views are highly subjective.’” So it’s defined in terms of feelings but what if you don’t know what feelings are? Wikipedia defines feelings as a physical experience. Emotions are “Psychophysiological.” Of the mind and the body. I’m getting that emotions are an experience of the body associated with a mental experience.

Furthermore, the experience of emotions involve pleasure and/or displeasure. Wikipedia defines pleasure this way:

Pleasure
is a broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria.

pleasure_and_pain_by_blue_14-d5h58uhOK. Pleasure is a feeling that subjectively is experienced as positive. Displeasure the subjective opposite of pleasure. I don’t know why psychopaths should have any trouble experiencing any of the above. We have bodies and minds. We experience pain and pleasure. Surely, we can detach ourselves and, thereby have the subjective experience under more control than perhaps an NT can.


The Brain

128px-Amigdale1The part of the brain involved with emotions is the amygdala. Strangely enough, men usually have a larger amygdala (In the adult human brain, the male amygdala is significantly larger than the female amygdala, even when total brain size is taken into account) than women although psychopaths are said to have smaller amygdalae than NTs. Also, conservatives have larger right-hemosphere which controls fear. Psychopaths have less fear than NTs. The amygdala processes memory, decision making as well as emotion. It is divided into several parts, notably a left and right side. The left side of the amygdala plays a role in the reward system which is more primary in psychopaths than NTs.


Pleasure-PainExperience

The neurology of psychopathy is something even experts are just coming to grips with so I hardly expect to draw many conclusions with my lay-level of knowledge. I’m more comfortable discussion the linguistic and experiential aspects of emotion. The most obvious dividing point between psychopaths and NTs is in the pleasure/pain aspect. Although everyone has a body and a mind, psychopaths tend to be more detached than NTs in our relationship to feelings. We are more strongly driven by reward than fear.

empathyEmotions that connect us with other people are the ones we are said to lack. The difference that seems to concern NTs the most is empathy. Wikipedia says, “Empathy has many definitions that encompass a broad range of emotional states, including caring for other people and having a desire to help them; experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions…” Closely connected with empathy is the so-called conscience. Oxford calls it “an detachmentinner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.” There’s no mention of empathy as such in their definition but it seems implicit in the way people talk about it that empathy gives people the capacity to pass moral judgement on our own behavior based on how it affects others. Yet psychopaths seem able to understand moral concepts. We can know something we did was wrong in a moral sense but we don’t care as much as NTs would like us to. Here we come back to the issue of detachment.

freeJudgement seems to cause emotional reaction as much as it is caused by empathetic understanding of other people’s feelings. Psychopaths have less hate than NTs, probably because we have less judgement. Personally, I feel incensed by injustice when I perceive it. But I can also let go of my anger and even my judgements more easily than the average person. It isn’t moral judgement so much as attachment to moral judgement that interferes with that sublime indifference which NTs sometimes identify as monstrous or even evil. But perhaps the reason we have less anxiety and depression is that very freedom from attachment.

lovetreeLove is another emotion psychopaths are said to lack. But I have experienced love, both romantic love and nurturing love (for a pet). NTs can say my “love” isn’t the real thing. Only they know what that is like. There is no way their claim can be proven or disproven. Everyone’s experience is hir own. But I have had my heart broken. That’s supposed to be the real thing, isn’t it? I mean, psychopaths are supposed to be these ice-cold humanoids who just move on after it’s over which happens pretty soon since we don’t have long-term relationships. Right? I was with Jack for two brokenheartyears. That was, up until then, my longest lasting relationship. I’ve been with Vicki 46 years. Each great love was radically different from the others. But all three stand out in my life from the mundane, everyday experience of living. In Blank Space, Taylor Swift sings, “We’re young and reckless. We’ll take this way too far. It’ll leave you breathless or with a nasty scar.” Each of these relationships was more wreckless the earlier in my life it occurred and more wholesome, more “sane,” the later is life it occurred. That’s good. At, my age, it’s helpful to settle down with someone who is not only a lover, but also a friend. Great passion is more suitable for the young. I hate to accept the fact that I’m aging. I want to be able to have great adventures, go bungee jumping, swim with sharks, whatever but my body can’t always cover checks my spirit wants to write. But living the twilight years and preparing for death could just turn out to be my greatest adventure. I think that’s the attitude to take.


jackAs I read back over this blog post, I see I have reached no real conclusions. Oh well. To quote a slogan which I really hate, “It is what it is.” I probably feel more than other paths. A friend (also a psychopath) suggested I’m really a borderline. Yes, I have had my heart broken by a lover. But broken hearts mend and I didn’t feel a thing when my parents died, nor when my best friend died. I even didn’t react when Jack (the heartbreaker) died. Death happens. So does heartbreak. I happened too. I was born and lived my life. I have sometimes felt a lot of passion. I also have detachment when I need it. Peace out.

9 thoughts on “A Psychopath’s Emotions

  1. It seems that opinions about the “right” or “healthy” ways to experience and express emotions are highly subjective (generally depending on how one feels about one’s own emotionality). In regard to “detachment”, one common feature of some spiritual practices or disciplines is non-attachment. Hmmm – its all quite a puzzle.

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  2. Why do you say, “Psychopaths have less hate than NT”? I disagree. I don’t hate. Even the people who have treated me unkind. I actually feel bad for them but I don’t hate them. My opinion, take it or leave it, is the difference lies in whether or not your desires/wants trump anything else. If your actions would hurt another but it’s something you really want to do, would you still choose to do it? Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling or could feel. Connecting to that and making decisions based on those feelings. Love to me is being selfless, considering someone else in every decision you make, and working together to make it work together, even through tough times.

    You don’t seem like a psychopath to me either. You seem to have much more connection to your emotions.

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  3. Why did I say “Psychopaths have less hate than NTs?” Based on my experience with other psychopaths as well as myself. I only truly hate two people and I have never met either one as they are public figures. One is Ronald Reagan and the other is Ajit Pai who is trying to destroy net neutrality. That would end the party for all of us. I don’t hate anyone in my personal life.

    I agree with you that “the difference lies in whether or not (one’s) desires/wants trump anything else.” I would say “yes” to that question. By your definition of “love,” I guess I don’t have any. “Selflessness” gives me the icks! My love(s) have always been selfISH. Although I don’t like to quote Ayn Rand too much, I agree with her statement that in order to say “I love you,” one must first be able to say “I.”

    About your suggestion that I can’t be a psychopath and feel as much emotion as I feel, believe me, I have wondered about that myself. But the PCL-R only mentions the lack of certain kinds of emotions as defining characteristics of psychopathy. Some psychopaths are very unemotional. Others very emotional. Think about Diane Downs, the woman who shot her kids in a vain attempt to hold on to her lover. The book, “Small Sacrifices,” is about her life and crimes. Farrah Fawcett played her in the movie. The psychological assessment of her included “histrionic personality” as well as psychopathy. I think I’m pretty histrionic as well. I’ve discussed that elsewhere in this blog.

    Anyway, keep those comments coming. I love to hear from my readers!

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    1. You can’t hate ol’ Ronnie. Haha. That was funny to me because everyone loves Ronald Reagan.

      I will. I followed you at least a year ago and will continue commenting for sure. I believe the more people learn about each other and our differences the better the world will be. I also think there is so much more to personality disorders than anyone has figured out, even those who have been diagnosed. I also think there is much movement is those diagnosed. It’s not static. There are many factor that come into play, most notably time. As we age, relate, move, experience different things our brains change and so do our emotions. It’s all quite interesting to me.

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      1. I hate him! He started the dismantling of the New Deal. The fact that he was popular with some people only makes me hate him more. I hate everything about him, especially his sunny disposition.

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      2. Yes, yes, you do seem to hate him but there’s no way you can hate that sunny disposition. Come on! Haha. My favorite person ever in the White House has to be Laura Bush. She should run for president 🙂.

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  4. I can’t hate his sunny disposition? Oh, yes I can. He smiled cheerfully while he hurt the people. You want Laura Bush to run for president? She’s a Republican. I guess we have very different politics. I’m for Bernie. And since the GOP has been in control, I think the party has proven itself a died in the wool enemy of the working class. I think it needs to go the way of the Whigs. Laura Bush seems to be a nice person. If she ran as a Democrat and espoused a progressive agenda, I would vote for her.

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