Consensus

ConsensusDo We Need It?

Those who have been following my blog (and my Soapbox blog as well) know that I have spent a lot of time fulminating against consensus which I often call dogmatism. Isn’t scientific consensus an oxymoron? Let’s list some of the issues in which I have found consensus problematic:

  • Diabetes. The medical consensus would have it that diabetes is an incurable condition. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it forever. It’s a fact that doctors are grossly under-educated about nutrition. Of course, given the state of the field of “nutrition,” perhaps it’s a good thing that doctors aren’t taught too much since, in my (not so) humble opinion, nutritionists are fonts of ignorance. They are taught to promote the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is responsible for a population ridden Raw-Food-Dietwith cancer and other diseases that are  preventable. Cut to the chase: I had diabetes. I cured myself with diet. My diet was a simple vegan diet. The “guru” who guided me in my quest was Dr. Neal Barnard who wrote Reverse Diabetes Now. I am a firm believer in a raw, vegan diet. It worked for me. As it says in The Book of the Law, “Let success be thy proof.”
  • Raw Food. While I didn’t resort to a raw diet to heal my diabetes, I once did eat a raw, vegan diet for six years. During that time, I kept the effects of Hepatitis C at bay. My doctors had been on the verge of putting me on Interferon, a medication that kills the Hep C virus but causes a lot of nasty side effects. I figured if I have to norman_walker_become_youngergo through this cure, I will be too sick to enjoy eating my favorite foods anyway so I had nothing to lose by embracing this austere diet. The doctors scheduled a liver biopsy for me in three months. After three months on that diet, the biopsy showed I no longer needed to take Interferon. Recently, I took new newly discovered drug (Harvoni) and got rid of the virus entirely.
    I already believed in the raw, vegan diet ever since I read Become Younger by Norman A. Walker. I had just recovered from pneumonia and I determined I would never go through that again. That time, I was true to my diet for two years. During that time, I weighed about 100 pounds and had perfect health. I didn’t stick it out because I missed other food.
  • Vaccination. Although I get regular flu shots, I was born before the “miracle” of the Andy-Wakefield-quote-800pixelsMMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine. I got measles and, despite current propaganda, did not die of the disease. Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield spoke out about the dangers of the MMR vaccine. For his trouble, he was exiled from Britain and stripped of his medical credentials. I won’t get into the debate here. I have already discussed it elsewhere. I will only mention that I have encountered an unbelievable wall of fanaticism on the part of those who believe in that vaccine and vaccination in general.
  • Legalization of all Drugs. What is considered the harm caused by unregulated use war-on-drugs-PINof certain demonized substances is really, again, in my not-so-humble opinion, is caused by the regulations themselves, and the attempts to enforce said regulations, in other words, the “war on drugs.” I have believed this for years and years. I have a blog, Drug Heresies, where I make my case.
    The way most people seem to feel about it is a lot like the way they feel about the importance, nay, the necessity of conscience. The thinking is that people can only be good if they have a conscience. Interesting how, back in the days of theocracy, most people believed it was necessary to believe in God to be a good person. As great a mind as that of Dostoevsky held this belief. The root idea is that people will only be good if they are forced. The corollary is that bad behavior is much more alluring and rewarding. Only fear of punishment can keep us from doing wrong.
  • transTransgenderism.We can want to be either gender. We can take hormones and undergo surgery to look more like the gender we want to be. That don’t make it so. People who support the Tranny Movement are as fanatical and intolerant as those who support vaccination. It’s scary how powerful and far-reaching this movement has become. I have spoken out against that opinion if only because of the tremendous pressure exerted to force everyone to support it.

As anyone can see, I’m very opinionated. I have argued in favor of my opinions as rationally as I know how. I have also deplored the absolutism of the scientific consensus that surrounds those views with which I disagree. I have not included my opinions are religion or morality which I consider too subjective to be worthy of rational debate. There’s the notion that all religion deserves equal respect. I prefer to give it equal disrespect. But that’s another discussion.

While I have eloquently attacked consensus in science, there is another side that deserves to be looked at. Of course, forced consensus is, by it’s very nature, unscientific. The hallmark of science is untrammeled freedom of thought. One of my favorite professors in college, Dr. Sidney Hook, used to say, “Don’t agree with me unless you just can’t help yourselves.” I find it troublesome that there is so much conformity among people who consider themselves scientists.

cartoon-settled-science-consensusOn the other hand, what would science be without consensus? If there were no consensus about anything, what authority would science have? Christian fundamentalists are trying to destroy consensus in areas of science that conflict with their biblical fundamentalism. For example, people are arguing scientifically against the theory of evolution. Global warming is another area of science which is hotly contested What do the words psychopathy and sociopathy mean? There is no consensus although many thinkers say the former is an inborn, neurological condition while the latter is caused by the environment. Nature vs. nurture is a longstanding debate. Science has a history of changing positions every 20 years or so.

I consider consensus a very important resting place for attempts to define objective truth. We need to stay on our feet intellectually. We need to question whatever is currently our consensus, not only in science, but it everything. But we also need consensus in building an edifice of truth. We can knock down that edifice but, without an edifice to begin with, we have nothing but chaos.

cliff-clipart-cliparti1_cliff-clipart_02The quest for truth can be likened to mountain climbing. We manage to scramble up to a ledge or plateau. From there, we can aspire to greater heights. We can also abandon that plateau if we find it is a dead end. But we need to have the plateau as a structure to work with. Without bones, are arms would be unable to function. We don’t want to let the bones calcify which would make our arms too rigid to function. But we do need some kind of form with which to work. Political correctness, now demonized these days, comes from people with similar political opinions seeking to find a consensus among themselves. I have known people who struggled in marathon meetings, going on all night at times, seeking a consensus that might be overthrown sometime in the future.

There will always be a tension between structure and fluidity. Both have a place in commitment to finding Truth.


Links

The Bee Hive

beehive.jpg“We’re all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey day and night. Aren’t we, honey?” — All About Eve

 

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bee Margot Channing — Borderline
bee Eve Harrison — ASPD
bee Addison deWitt —  Narcissist
bee Everyone. They’re all in show biz, right?

FAKE

Somebody asked on Quora, “Why are there so many fake psychopaths on Quora?”

pointingfingersAnyone who publicly declares hirself a psychopath or even a sociopath can practically be guaranteed that s/he will be called a fake at some point along the line. It’s funny. I’ve never heard of anyone being called a fake borderline or a fake histrionic. As for narcissists, people are more likely to be called a narcissist or a narc especially if they identity as a path.

iamgreatIt’s as if calling oneself a path is a form of bragging. We have always occupied a dual role of monster and glamorous celebrity. It’s really about the confusion between loving and hating the forbidden. Sin, forbidden fruit, breaking society’s rules has always had an allure for people. As I said in my first post, “People with Cluster B ‘personality disorders’ are often considered evil, incurable and generally bad news. But some of the most interesting people in the world are in that Cluster. You shun the Psychopath and yet are so fascinated, you keep flocking to movies about us. Face it. We lift you up from your mundane lives and provide some excitement.”

Because of the glamor associated with psychopathy, people like to challenge any claim to the condition. It is our grandiosity that is really being challenged.


danbaxter

Dan Baxter, answering the above question on Quora, made an interesting comment on the subject:

paradoxThere are no fake psychopaths, anyone faking being a psychopath is actually a real psychopath but the individual probably doesn’t know that he or she is actually a psychopath but wants to be a psychopath so they pretend to be a psychopath going by whatever traits people say are psychopathic.

The only way you could “fake” being a psychopath is if your actually one but don’t realise it and you try to copy whatever behaviour or style that psychopaths are doing. Basically psychopaths can act and believe what ever they want to. This is why it is very important for psychopaths to gain self awareness emotionally so they don’t have to “fake it”.

If anyone here who wants to be a psychopath or thinks they are one you probably already are, just keep reading all the psychopath users on quora and eventually it will sink in emotionally. I recommend reading these users who are psychopaths themselves if you want to know more about psychopathy.

Robert_D_Hare_PhDI would disagree with the absolute nature of that statement. There can be fake psychopaths. There can be fake anything. I usually take peoples’ word for it unless there is clear reason to doubt it. The funny thing is that despite the voluminous discussions on whether a self-proclaimed psychopath or sociopath is “fake” or not, none of us is really qualified to express an expert opinion. Only professionals have the “right” to give a diagnosis. And those professionals can only legitimately make a diagnosis after studying the individual in person. That hasn’t stopped masses of professionals from declaring Trump to be either a psychopath or a narcissist. Much as I don’t like Trump, I object to this misuse of psychology. (Or, perhaps, I just don’t like being antisocial_personality_disorder_by_marispider-dbf2pxu.pngpart of a group to which he belongs.) Thanks to the American Psychiatric Association and the DSM, psychopathy has been partially relegated to the realm of mythology. I couldn’t even get any professional to measure me on the PCL-R. Instead, I got a dx of ASPD, like many other have received as well. Whether that’s “really” psychopathy or not is left in the air. Then there’s the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. The former is born that way and has a differently wired brain. To know whether I’m really a psychopath or a sociopath, I would have to get a brain scan. Nobody seems interested enough in the answer to subject me to such a test. I certainly can’t afford one. I dare say, many of us are in the same boat.

So maybe we’re all “full of shit,” starting with those who point a finger and yell “fake.” Anyone can become an authority on Quora. It’s up to the questioner to decide whether that person knows what s/he’s talking about. There are some really credible people giving answers about psychopathy on Quora. Each and every one of those people has been called a “fake” at one time or another. Who gives a shit?

Where Does the Shoe Pinch?

Reblogging my article in Soapbox to Cluster B

My Soapbox

evahanssachsIn Richard Wagner’s music drama (opera to the uninitiated), Die Meistersinger, Wagner appears in two characters, the wise older man, Hans Sachs, a shoemaker and master singer, and Walther von Stolzing, the revolutionary brilliant but impetuous genius. Of course, the former represented the mature Wagner while the latter represented his younger self. The heroine is complaining about the shoes Hans Sachs made for her but she’s really complaining about how Sachs has interfered in her life by preventing her from eloping prematurely with Walther. In the course of their conversation, Eva lashes out, “Ah! Master! Should you know better than I where the shoe pinches? (Ach, Meister! Wüßtet Ihr beser als ich, wo der Shuh mich drückt?)”

marx-lenin-2Karl Marx is one of the most influential thinkers of the past century. In his name, the social/political/economic system known as Communism was installed. Marx taught that class was the…

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REBLOG: This Is How Normal Life Feels as a Psychopath

I liked this so much, I reblogged it.

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Everyday, nonviolent psychopaths say they’re nothing like the psychopath we see on our movie screens

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Illustration by Jessica Siao

 

Not so long ago, a woman was sitting on a plane, minding her own business, when the man next to her made several attempts at conversation. Jane, let’s call her, assumed the man was drunk, so she didn’t bother being friendly or making any effort with him. But her unfiltered behavior didn’t go unnoticed, and at the end of the flight, the man politely suggested she might be a psychopath.

That comment resonated enough with Jane that she looked up the term “psychopathy” when she got home. She recognized herself in the descriptions and tried to talk to her sister about it, but her sister seemed hurt and offended. So Jane took it back and said she wasn’t a psychopath and that she didn’t mean it.

That reaction isn’t surprising, says M.E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath. “What are the implications of someone you know being a sociopath? Maybe that they don’t love you after all, at least not in the way that you thought they did,” Thomas says. “Maybe that they’ve had bad thoughts about you. Maybe that they’ve manipulated you or hurt you in ways that you weren’t even aware of at the time. Maybe you go back through your interactions with them and doubt their intentions or their feelings for you.”

In recent years, the violent, manipulative psychopath has become so pervasive in popular culture that it’s hard to find a Netflix series about anything else. After watching 400 movies made between 1915 and 2010 to identify “realistically” portrayed psychopaths, Belgian psychiatry professor Samuel Leistedt concluded, “It appears that psychopathy in the cinema, despite a real clinical evolution, remains fictional…Most of the psychopathic villains in popular fiction resemble international and universal bogeyman, almost as ‘villain archetypes.’”

Away from our screens, however, psychopathy is not a monolithic disorder with clearly defined behaviors. It’s nuanced and widely misunderstood, according to James Fallon, a neuroscientist who incidentally discovered his own psychopathic traits when examining his PET scan as part of an unrelated research project.

“The only thing really accepted is antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which is a subpart of psychopathy,” Fallon says. The latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines ASPD as a “pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.” Psychopaths are considered to have a severe form of ASPD.

“I don’t like the assumption that because these four letters exist next to my name in my medical notes — ASPD — I should be treated with a great deal of suspicion.”

Scientists estimate that the prevalence of psychopathy in society varies between around 0.2 and 2 percent, and research suggests that those with psychopathic traits are more violent than those without. But experts, also acknowledge that not everyone with a diagnosis is violent, including Fallon.

“I’d never hurt the people I know. I’ve put people in dangerous situations, but I’ll do it with them. I like the thrill, so for me it’s just fun, but most people can’t go there. They still hang around with me but just won’t fall for any traps,” Fallon says. “They’re looking for me to pull a prank on them, but I’ve never manipulated a stranger. They’re very safe around me. I have a rich life with lots of friends, so why lie and put people in true danger?”

Thomas, an attorney and law professor whose book details her life as a self-described nonviolent sociopath, says there is truth to the questions people might ask themselves in Jane’s family’s position, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In the process of being open with people about her own diagnosis, Thomas lost one friend and many professional opportunities, but most of her friends eventually came around.

It would be much easier if people didn’t have misconceptions around psychopathy, she says. In her book, Thomas writes that he calls herself a “sociopath” instead of “psychopath” because of the negative connotations of “psycho” in popular culture — even though psychosis is not a characteristic of psychopathy. For those with an ASPD diagnosis, these popular misconceptions can have serious consequences.

Scout Bolton calls herself a nonviolent, high-functioning sociopath. She was diagnosed with ASPD nine years ago at the age of 20, while under the care of a mental health team for bipolar disorder. Bolton had been getting into fights, dealing amphetamines, and had even been arrested. But today she has a stable life with good friends, a supportive fiancée, and her first child on the way. She blogs about how to turn antisocial traits into positives.

“They’re very safe around me. I have a rich life with lots of friends, so why lie and put people in true danger?”

Because of her diagnosis, Bolton explains, people interpret her positive traits negatively, assuming her confidence is narcissism and her social skills are manipulation — medical professionals included. “Doctors will write you off and believe everything you say is a manipulation,” she says. “I don’t like the assumption that because these four letters exist next to my name in my medical notes — ASPD — I should be treated with a great deal of suspicion.”

Bolton is so affected by the public perception of psychopaths that she often stays indoors to avoid interacting with people. “My life is colored by how hidden I feel, and sometimes it makes me quite contemptuous, to a point where I don’t want to leave the house,” she says. “It’s not aggression or depression. I’m not worried anything bad is going to happen, but I just don’t want to interact with anyone, because I know I’ll go into an overdrive of resentment and a feeling of injustice, so I stay home, lay low, and stay isolated.”

This judgement toward people with ASPD is particularly unfair, Fallon argues, because they’re not responsible for thinking the way they do. “People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) get obsessions and rituals, but they know they’re irrational,” he says. “Someone with a personality disorder has similar thoughts as someone with OCD, but they think their behaviors are good and true.”

Another unfortunate consequence of pop-culture psychopathy is the fetishization of its dangerous side, which, Bolton says, is a particular problem for women. “We’re here to bring exquisite fire and fury into the lives of the terminally bored, whether we made that decision or not,” she says. “But when people get in relationships with us, they quickly find that all the things they found irresistible about us were a fantasy, and when we fail to live up to that masturbatory illusion, we’re demonized.”

Sexual fantasies aside, the growing public fascination with psychopaths interferes with the lives of nonviolent psychopaths in strange ways. This is something 38-year-old Becky, who also has ASPD, found when she signed up for Facebook to talk to others about her diagnosis. The popularization of psychopathy, she says, has roused people — usually young men who haven’t been diagnosed with a personality disorder — to request membership to the Facebook group she runs for psychopaths. She says people often open with the question, “Have you killed anyone?”

Some psychopathic traits can be attributed to being abused as a child, research has found. Bolton was diagnosed with conduct disorder as a child, which is defined as the display of aggressive and antisocial behavior in children to the extent that it interferes with them leading a normal life, according to the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. Conduct disorder often leads to a diagnosis of ASPD later in life.

Bolton argues that the link between ASPD and childhood trauma makes it even harder to justify the judgements against people with the diagnosis. “If you’re a child going through a hard time at home and you’re reacting with impulsive, tearaway behaviors, you’re written off,” she says. “You’ve become the problem. But what child decides to become a sociopath, just for a laugh?”

Fallon, who attributes his nonviolent nature to his happy upbringing, says he has a series of genes called “warrior genes,” which are thought to be a risk for aggression, violence, and low empathy, but only in those raised in an abusive environment. Being raised in a positive environment can offset some of the genes’ negative effects. “I grew up really good-looking, really athletic, and I got everything I wanted all the time. I don’t know what I’d do if life was bad, because it’s never been bad,” Fallon says.

While the damaging stereotype of the psychopath has far-reaching consequences, Fallon, who helps writers in Hollywood gain a realistic idea of psychopathy, says things are improving. “We’re no longer seeing much of this idea of the psycho, somebody out of their minds, growling and sneering like a mad dog,” he says. “This doesn’t describe a lot of people with psychopathy.”

While Bolton feels unfairly judged because of how psychopaths have been portrayed, she doesn’t want to see the disorder completely censored. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to portray real psychopathy,” she says, citing Netflix’s Mindhunter as “a really good portrayal of psychopathy.”

“I like how what seems like benign, and even positive ASPD, seems reflected back in the show’s protagonist,” she says. “I’d like to see more of that.”

Go to the profile of Jessica Brown

written by

Jessica Brown

Writer. www.jessicaebrown.com

What is Boredom?

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Boredom is the psychopath’s nemesis. I often fight it by writing in my blog. So I’m bored now. What do I write about? Boredom, I suppose. But it’s so BORING! A lot has been written about our boredom. What can I say that’s new and conducive to expanding our understanding of this phenomena?

blackholeTwice in my life, I had the experience of being on the edge of an infinite void. Once, when I was a child. I just felt I could fall into something so empty and strange I could lose myself. The second time I experienced this was on my first acid trip. It was accompanied by a feeling of tiredness. So tired! I could just slide into chaos.

WIKIPEDIA says something interesting about emptiness:

Emptiness as a human condition is a sense of generalized boredom, social alienation and apathy. Feelings of emptiness often accompany dysthymia,[1]depression, loneliness, anhedonia, despair, or other mental/emotional disorders, including schizoid personality disorder, post trauma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. A sense of emptiness is also part of a natural process of grief, as resulting of separation, death of a loved one, or other significant changes. However, the particular meanings of “emptiness” vary with the particular context and the religious or cultural tradition in which it is used.[2]

While Christianity and Western sociologists and psychologists view a state of emptiness as a negative, unwanted condition, in some Eastern philosophies such as Buddhist philosophy and Taoism, emptiness (Śūnyatā) represents seeing through the illusion of independent self-nature.

Loneliness will fall on you
Emptiness will see you through

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Well, it’s a human condition. So I’m not a total freak. And it encompasses boredom, social alienation and apathy, all experiences I am well familiar with. But “emptiness” is frowned upon in Western culture. My friend, Lucky Otter says, of psychopaths, “there’s nothing inside them except an vast and endless black void of nothingness….Behind the twinkle, the eyes are still reptilian and dead.” Is this the same void I had experienced? (Well, not “experienced” because I didn’t go over the edge. I was only threatened by the void.) She’s not the only person who has said this about us. The “victim’s” blog, Psychopaths and Love, lists similar descriptions of our eyes:

  • eye1I have noticed that sometimes his eyes looked completely without expression, like glass
  • I couldn’t even look him in his eyes because I felt a shiver running through me. I thought it was because I was in love.
  • My nickname for him was Devil Eyes
  • As the relationship progressed I saw his eyes change to evil, soulless tools and it was frightening and perplexing.
  • I saw that serpent look in the eyes
  • I saw a picture of me and him the first day we hung out. It was like staring at the eyes of the devil
  • Once you look into those cold, dead eyes, you aren’t the same.
  • I have one very eerie photo taken on a holiday where he is looking directly at me eye2through the lens. His eyes appear to be flashing with hatred and contempt.
  • My two year anniversary is Sunday and I looked at our wedding pictures, just to see if his eyes were as dead then as they are now. I was horrified. They were.
  • “Pod Person,” that’s what I call him. The lifelessness, lack of light or soul behind his eyes is chilling. His eyeballs appear as if they are made of stones.
  • It’s eerie indeed, as I recall my psychopath’s lifeless expressions, lizard eyes…
  • I have not a doubt that I was hypnotized by him and I believe I know when. And it was when he told me to “look into my eyes” which I did and his response was, “I love when you look into my eyes.” By the next day, I woke up and thought about him immediately and couldn’t stop
  • My psychopath had a lined face but the eyes were bright and he tended to act as if he was in his twenties (going on 60 in physical terms!). It can be a very sexy eye3combination.
  • Sometimes during sex, mine would stare directly into my eyes for up to twenty minutes at a time. His eyes would not waver…
  • I remember thinking how his eyes were like that of a lizard, alive but somehow dead, at odds with the rest of his face.

Of course, it’s easy for these people to dehumanize us. And a lot of it is laughable. But I wonder if there’s something to it and whether this has something to do with our boredom. If so, perhaps the mistake is embracing the Western/Christian view of nothingness over the Eastern/Buddhist view of the Void as the ultimate consciousness. Doesn’t it seem as if there’s something our eyes see that terrifies the rest of the (western) world? I already know the value of being present, in the moment. Maybe meditation can by my next antidote to boredom.

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Something or nothing. A toggle switch. Being or non-being. To be or not to be. Somehow there has to be something larger that encompasses these two apparent opposites.


Links

 

Our Moral Transgressions

Blaming the Psychopath?

maze_dsm5_wg_webUnderstanding the ethical issues involved in moral transgressions on the part of psychopaths is an area rich in labyrinthine byways of analysis and discovery. Since most experts agree that psychopathy is a psychological disorder, the immediate question is whether the law can blame and punish a sick person for having symptoms. Sounds kind of heartless to blame a sick person for his sickness. Justin Caouette, writing in AJOB Neuroscience, explores the subject matter in his essay, Moral Responsibility and Psychopathy: Why We Do Not Have Special Obligations To The Psychopath. officerkrumpkeHe is responding specifically to an article by Grant Gillett and Flora Huang called What We Owe the Psychopath: A Neuroethical Analysis, from the same publication, AJOB Neuroscience. Dr. Caouette never named the article (I always name what I am refuting as well as linking to it) he is rebutting but I found the abstract to the article. AJOB restricts it’s access but doesn’t state what the criteria are for access. I could buy the article for $42.50. I don’t believe in selling ideas. I don’t charge for my ideas and neither should they.

The abstract of the forbidden article reads:

Psychopaths are often regarded as a scourge of contemporary society and, as such, are the focus of much public vilification and outrage. But, arguably, psychopaths are scapegoatboth sinned against as well as sinners. If that is true, then their status as the victims of abusive subcultures partially mitigates their moral responsibility for the harms they cause. We argue, from the neuroethics of psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), that communities have a moral obligation to psychopaths as well as a case against them. A reflection on the genesis and developmental epidemiology of psychopathy reveals an individualist, attribution-type error evident in much Western psychological and legal thinking—an error that obscures important moral truths about psychopaths. The resulting analysis makes us reconsider the distinction between disorders and moral failings and the ethical significance of the biological or neurocognitive mechanisms underpinning psychopathy. We claim that casting aside the deficit model (based on the presupposition that psychopaths are intrinsically unlike the rest of us) in favor of a relational and holistic view of personality potentiates a more informed and inclusive set of ethical, forensic, and therapeutic attitudes.

"I lived next door to him for years and didn't think he'd harm a fly!"

So the gist of it seems to be that psychopaths are victims of abuse which should mitigate the blame that their acts would otherwise place on them. I don’t think this idea is all that unique. I’ve come across it before (without paying $42.50). On the face of it, I disagree. Everyone is what he/she is due to heredity and environment. If our behavior is caused, that doesn’t absolve us of moral responsibility. Dr. Caouette seems to have the same opinion.


There is another article on this subject by John Danaher called  Psychopaths and Moral Blame (reblogged here as Psychopaths and Moral Blame). Dr. Danaher says, “What is to MayFox-1024x653be done about this state of affairs? Empirical studies seem to suggest that psychopaths lack important moral capacities (such as the capacity for empathy). And some philosophers use this empirical evidence to suggest that psychopaths fail to meet the basic conditions for moral blameworthiness.” His article focuses on an article by Marion Godman and Anneli Jefferson, On Blaming and Punishing Psychopaths.

notguiltyThe person must have the ability to choose whether to perform an action and s/he must understand that it is morally wrong. For example, if someone has an epileptic seizure and his convulsing body inadvertently pushes another person off a cliff, for example, he is not to blame because he had no control over what his body was doing. If someone stabs another person in the heart, he is not to blame if he is psychotic and either doesn’t know what he’s doing or is acting under a delusion such as the belief that the other person was about to kill an innocent person. To the best of this person’s knowledge, his actions are based on moral principles even though they were objectively unethical.

mansonA criminal or “wrongdoer” is also blameless if he truly didn’t understand what had been wrong with having stabbed that person. Does the “inability” to understand why an act is morally wrong also absolve the actor from moral responsibility? It doesn’t absolve hir from legal responsibility. The defendant can speak loudly and clearly that s/he doesn’t think what s/he did was “wrong.” The judge will simply reply that it is “wrong” in the eyes of the law. If we are to regard criminal justice as primarily a deterrent to crime, rather than the fulfillment of “justice,” the system is right to punish psychopaths. In fact, if we don’t punish ourselves with guilt, since we don’t have a conscience, the only deterrent is the psychopathtestpossibility of consequences.   Psychologists have recently found that they have more success in “rehabilitating” a criminal psychopath by getting hir to understand that s/he can have a better life on the “right side of the law” than through crime. The approach to criminal psychopathy that absolves psychopaths of responsibility for crime by seeing him as incapable of making a moral choice as a schizophrenic is not something that I, as a psychopath, would embrace. The novel, The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson, spells out very clearly the disadvantage of being treated as mentally unable to be legally responsible for crime. mentalpatientA convict has to  do hir time and knows when s/he can walk free. Of course, parole can shorten the sentence and a diagnosis of psychopathy can work against hir with the parole board since they consider the probability of the candidate reoffending and psychopathy is considered a factor making reoffense likely. But parole is a privilege, not a right. Civil commitment, on the other hand, doesn’t recognize the rights of the prisoner. In fact, absolving someone from criminal liability also removes that person’s civil rights. Jon Ronson’s (anti?)hero committed an offense which wasn’t considered all that serious in the eyes of the law. Faking insanity got him out of jail and into a mental hospital. He ended up “serving” a much longer “sentence” than he would have for his offense.

Marion Goodman and Anneli Jefferson say,

SONY DSCHowever, this line of argument has been cast into doubt by recent empirical and philosophical work. On the empirical side, recent studies on psychopaths and the
moral/conventional distinction have not reproduced Blair’s original results. Aharoni et al.
 
(2012) tested psychopaths’ ability to distinguish between moral and conventional transgressions in a forced choice setting, telling the participants that half of the transgressions described were moral and the other half, conventional.
James Renard wrote an interesting paper about the difference between “moral” and “conventional” rules and, although he is a psychopath, he seems to understand the distinction very well in A Psychopath’s Take on Morality. James explains that he has his own system of morality. However,

trollyAn example of the former is that I am, for all intents and purposes, a utilitarian: the action which has the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people is the correct (or “morally right”) action to take. This gels very well with my logical mind; in every day life I decide what to do based on a cost-benefit analysis. When the benefit is there, using utilitarianism as a moral compass to live as easy as possible is very useful indeed. When the cost is more significant (for example when utility would demand a very great sacrifice on my part for the overall benefit of others), utilitarianism can be abandoned for something altogether more selfish.


sociopath2This paper began with Justin Caouette asking a very important and, to me, a provocative question. “Why don’t ‘we’ have special obligation to the psychopath?” “We” represents society, of course. I love the way people feel so comfortable speaking for society. Society does own psychopaths the same considerations it owes everyone else. In other words, we should not be discriminated against. Everyone should have basic rights. If we break the law, we can and should be punished the same way as anyone else who is caught doing crime. It’s the price we pay for living in a democracy where citizens have civil rights. Those unfortunates who are unable to be responsible for their actions are also unable to function as citizens with the rights of citizens. They do have some moral rights. They should be treated kindly and given medical care that they need. But they are perpetually children in the system.
mindofpsychopathWe psychopaths are not children. We are adults and we make moral decisions. If we are not deterred from an action by our conscience, we still have to bear in mind what can happen if the long arm of the law gets hold of us. The penile system assumes that conscience isn’t enough of a deterrent of crime. They those who created that system knew people would still create crime. Many criminals are not psychopaths. They have a conscience and they probably feel guilty. But that didn’t stop them from breaking the law. I don’t see why we psychopaths should be treated any differently than anyone else. If we do the crime, we have to do the time (if we are caught, of course). Not all psychopaths are even criminals. Our lack of conscience is our personal business (except for silly people like me who public admit what we are).
At one time, it was common to think only people who believed in God could be moral. Now that there are so many “good” atheists, most people know better. Perhaps, some day, the public will know the same thing about psychopaths.

Links

What is human?

The Art of Scapegoating

I have discussed the way we psychopaths are stripped of our humanity.

Quite a list and it’s only partial. But dehumanizing a scapegoat is hardly limited to psychopaths. It can be done to any group that is noticeably different from the majority (or powerful minority). Ethnic groups are dandy targets. We have Jews, Blacks, “Indians,” Muslims, “Spics,” and now, Immigrants. Then there are those who lose their humanity by dint of their beliefs. Atheists are a good example. I mean, even God damns atheists. They are going to burn in Hell, anyway. Why should “we” care about them while they are alive? And “libtards” are only snowflakes. They will melt soon anyway. Empaths, NTs don’t have to care about people who are not human by definition.

I guess not “caring” can be liberating to those who feel the weight of the world. Probably, because it’s so liberating, it’s forbidden fruit. People have to find a way to prove scapegoats really deserve to be removed from the circle of those who they are required to “care about.” Some distinctions are easy. Everyone in the species called Homo Sapiens has the right to be treated with benevolence. Animals are fair game. But there are people who are fighting to get animals included in the circle of concern.

Our fellow humans can become more troublesome than other species. “We” must find something really wrong with a human being to be free of the burden of caring about him. Fortunately for empathic haters, there are plenty of ways humans can fall beyond the pale. Even babies.

melantoinette


Links

  • Moral Responsibility and Psychopathy: Why We Do Not have Special Obligations to The Psychopath. Justin Caouette My comment: Is this scapegoating? No. This is logical. Society has the same obligations to psychopaths as it has to anyone else. It doesn’t have “special obligations.” If psychopaths are not to be help responsible for what we do, nobody else should either. Everything has a cause. The fact that something is caused does not prove pure determinism. In other words, we still have free will. On the other hand, if someone commits a crime while psychotic and doesn’t know what he’s doing (because he’s crazy), then, such a person is not responsible. Also, someone who really can’t help himself, someone under true compulsion, isn’t responsible. Psychopaths are sane and free. We are responsible. It is better for us that way. Only responsible people have civil rights.
  • Are Psychopaths Morally Responsible. This could be my reply to the above.