Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are You a Psychopath?

While "only about one in 100 people are psychopaths (there is a higher proportion in prisons and corporate boardrooms)" [and oval offices, cabinets, and pentagrams], the Grey Lady's Paul Bloom, in a review of a new book that "approvingly quotes experts who argue that psychopaths make 'the world go around,'" reminds us, "Despite their small numbers, they cause such chaos that they remold society — though not necessarily for the better" — I’m O.K., You’re a Psychopath.

And you or I may well be among them. But there's an easy way to find out:
    If you aren’t sure whether you are a psychopath, Ronson can help. He lists all the items on the standard diagnostic checklist, developed by the psychologist Robert Hare. You can score yourself on traits like “glibness/superficial charm,” “lack of remorse or guilt,” “promiscuous sexual behavior” and 17 other traits. As one psychologist tells Ronson, if you are bothered at the thought of scoring high, then don’t worry. You’re not a psychopath.
Also reviewed is a book which "offers an ambitious theory grounded in the concept of empathy, which [the author] defines as 'our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.'" Our Aspie friends need not worry:
    For Baron-Cohen, psychopaths are just one population lacking in empathy. There are also narcissists, who care only about themselves, and borderlines — individuals cursed with impulsivity, an inability to control their anger and an extreme fear of abandonment. Baron-Cohen calls these three groups “Zero-Negative” because there is “nothing positive to recommend them” and they are “unequivocally bad for the sufferer and those around them.” He provides a thoughtful discussion of the usual sad tangle of bad genes and bad environments that lead to the creation of these Zero-Negative individuals.

    People with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, Baron-Cohen argues, are also empathy-deficient, though he calls them “Zero-Positive.” They differ from psychopaths and the like because they possess a special gift for systemizing; they can “set aside the temporal dimension in order to see — in stark relief — the eternal repeating patterns in nature.” This capacity, he says, can lead to special abilities in domains like music, science and art. More controversially, he suggests, this systemizing impulse provides an alternative route for the development of a moral code — a strong desire to follow the rules and ensure they are applied fairly. Such individuals can thereby be moral without empathy, “through brute logic alone.”

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2 Comments:

OpenID danightman said...

It's interesting to see the media's attitudes about the psychopath. In many ways, I think the secular society's real religion molds people into that more than anything else, but in a way the Luciferian religion of the secular world sees these people as a kind of saint. At the very least, secular society imbues them with awe.

Perhaps it is because, like Lucifer himself, they are the living exemplars of non servum "I will not serve."

7:58 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Judging from pop culture, you're scarily right.

3:28 AM  

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