Dr. George Simon wrote an article entitled Is Psychopathy Genetic? Under the article was a long discussion by anyone who wanted to comment. One, in particular, caught my eye.
“Al” was referring to psychopaths…
A few days ago, President Trump made his notorious tweet about four freshmen congress women “of color” (as the media calls them)
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,”
This tweet aroused outrage from practically everyone who wasn’t a fan of Trump. His tweets were denounced as racist. I concur. However, what I wonder about is why racism is (rightfully) denounced while another group seems to be free game for anyone with a vicious tongue in his head. I’m speaking, of course, about the person with the user-name “Al.” Psychopathy is generally considered a “personality disorder” although not listed in the DSM in favor of “Anti-Social Personality Disorder” included under Cluster B, is frequently considered an extreme subset of same. It’s not considered nice to speak ill of people with a “psychiatric condition” but people who would blanch at the thought attacking someone for his/her race think nothing of making a remark such as the one quoted above about psychopaths. Interestingly enough, this forum is moderated and “provocative” comments edited. So the suggestion that we be “treated” with “a bullet in the head” isn’t “provocative” enough to be edited.
Dr. Simon, himself, says in his article, “Some have suggested that psychopaths might rightfully be considered a different species because they’re so different with respect to the critical attributes that most of us think define us ‘human.'” But continues, “there’s certainly no solid scientific foundation for that notion.”
I don’t know why the status of “being human” is considered such an honor. As a species, homo sapiens have a blood spattered record of cruelty and exploitation of other life-forms with which we share the planet. It’s popular to call psychopaths “predators.” Yet the human species is as predatory as they come. We eat other animals, perform scientific experiments on them (including giving them cancer), make them work for us and perform genocide on those species designated as “pests.”
Yet kindness is considered “humane.” We consider kindness to other humans humanity. Human life is so exalted (in theory anyway) that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill” humans. Trouble is our history on this planet is full of acts in inhumanity by humans to humans. No act is too heinous to have been visited by people against their fellow human beings. Slavery and genocide have been practiced on each other since it all began. The United States was founded upon both of these atrocities. But our history books have sanitized it. I know. I was educated in a public school. We still call some people “monsters” as we do to the Nazis. Yet rip children (the purest of the pure) from the arms of their mothers and throw them into concentration camps (excuse me, detention centers). The same people who consider abortion murder are okay with atrocities performed on the innocent children of non-citizens.
How do we handle the cognitive dissonance of inhumane humans? One favorite way is by only handling acts of other countries by a standard that would label them as inhumane. Hmmm… haven’t I seen “externalization of blame” listed as a trait of psychopaths? The same acts performed by inhumane others are practically non-existent when done by us. Nazis performed genocide on the Jews. But Americans love Indians. Sad that they died out but not our fault. And when an act we can’t deny like enslaving Africans we have another explanation. The devil made me do it. We worship God who is all good. The bad comes from a fallen angel. God created him too but it’s not His fault he turned evil. God also created human beings. But humans are all sinful. It says so in the Bible. “For the heart is desperately wicked.” And “All have sinned. All have come short of the glory of God.” A perfect, omnipotent and good God created Satan and sinful humans. But He loves us humans despite our flaws (with which He created us). But, since we are sinners, He will damn anyone who doesn’t worship Him with the right name.
Enough with this cognitive dissonance! Humans are exalted above all other life forms on Earth. We do evil but at least we have a conscience and feel bad about the evil we have done. Whole libraries of books have been written about human evil. We know we do wrong but we humble ourselves before our God and beg forgiveness. We forgive ourselves and consider ourselves “good” people (who can’t help sinning). Yes, a small minority of us humans are really evil. They are “monsters.” We emotionally dis-fellow them from the human race. Just as God and Satan exist, good people and monsters exist. Just tow the line of acceptable behavior, and you may be amongst the sheep instead of the goats.
Such is life in a morally dualistic universe. Some religions, Hinduism, for example, worship gods who are capable of both good and evil. The Goddess, Kali, for example, is both creator and destroyer, as is her consort, Shiva. Perhaps Hindus feel differently about themselves than do Christians and Jews. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t raised in a Hindu culture. And I’m a psychopath so I already consider myself beyond good and evil. I’ve done things I consider ethically wrong. I just don’t tear my hair out about it. Would I really be a better person if I felt guilty for it? People say I don’t feel guilt because I don’t feel empathy. Those who feel empathy consider empathy a great goodness. Yet empathy tends to be very selective. I know vegans whose empathy for animals doesn’t allow them to eat meat. Yet these same empathic vegans can be enormously callous to those who don’t live up to their moral code. Trump supporters apparently don’t have much empathy for “illegal aliens” or even their children. Evangelicals, who are a big part of Trump’s base, felt empathy for aborted fetuses. They even go into detail about the suffering of those fetuses. Yet children taken from their parents, made to live in filth, must not suffer in a way that fetuses suffer. How many Zionists empathize with Palestinians? They are good people and Palestinians’ suffering doesn’t signify since they are terrorists.
Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom debunks the self-congratulatory smugness of empaths. Empathy is an emotion some people feel. Do emotions make people better? Or is emotion a form of indulgence? Everyone wants to feel good. Don’t people who main moral guide is empathy indulge their feel-good emotions? It’s easier to empathize with a cute little kitten than a hideous leper. But who suffers more? A leper or a kitten stuck up a tree? Add to that emotional or moral ugliness, empathy is even harder to come by. I once argued with someone who defended the detention of “illegal aliens” by pointing out that they had broken the law. They were criminals.
Society has been striving to become kinder, more compassionate and fairer for years. While once it was accepted without question that other races and other cultures were not as important and deserving of empathy as our own, most of us have come to a point where racism is considered the moral leprosy that it is. While psychotic people were excluded from the group of people we could identify with, it is now considered bad form to look down on the mentally ill. While many people admit all kinds of humans deserve compassion, some of us want to extend the compassion to animals as well.
Excluded from most people’s decision to treat with humanity, are people who are still demonized, those who are considered morally bad. Those monsters include psychopaths, pedophiles and those who defend things most people consider evil. I can understand the thinking. Evil is that which shouldn’t even exist. Our minds try to construct a universe that makes sense. Whatever exists in “our” universe that doesn’t make sense is EVIL. We want to make a universe that makes sense. But, as Charlie Manson (whom most people call a psychopath) says, “no sense makes sense.” We are all here and, short of genocide, we have to put up with the presence of the Other whose presence doesn’t make any sense. But, as Khrushchev used to say, CO-EXIST.
Only treatment is a bullet in the head. That’s how the inuit used to deal with them. They are not human.