Do I feel too much?
As 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:
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
Hmm… 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:
OK. 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 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.
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.
Emotions 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 inner 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.
Judgement 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.
Love 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 years. 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.
As 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.