Sunday, March 6, 2011
Do Psychopaths Laugh?
On the Topic of... Laughter and Laughing.
We focus on all the dark and grim traits pertaining to psychopathy when we think about such people. Rarely do we wonder if they ever laugh, even though we may take for granted that they find suffering and tough luck for others funny.
But how is it really with that?
Do psychopaths laugh? And if they do, what kind of things make them laugh? Do psychopaths have humor?
Well I can't say that much about how it is with this for other psychopaths, but I can attempt to share a little bit about how it is for me. - First of all I will emphasize that I am talking about Psychopaths! ...Not Sociopaths, and not people with Antisocial Personality Disorder, but those in the DSM-IV Antisocial Personality Disorder group that are distinguishable by their special traits pertaining to Shallow Affect, or Flat Affect, a trait which in these people are predominantly inherent genetic more than a result of nurture (though obviously both aspects have to present at least in some degree).
Since I have been diagnosed as a Psychopath, and since - despite my reluctance - I have been forced to agree that there seems to be a great deal of evidence that this diagnosis is not entirely inaccurate (though I do believe I am more somewhere in the middle, meaning I am perhaps 50% classical psychopath - something which apparently is rare enough in itself - and 50% an Antisocial and thus a result of nurturing) - I will speak on my own behalf as representing a person who is officially a psychopath.
Okay, so let's get on with it...
Do I laugh? And if I laugh, do I laugh a natural, heart felt laughter?
The answer is ... yes, sometimes. But it is a rare occurrence. Mostly I don't laugh with others. I'll go as far as to say that I never really laugh with others, I only laugh with myself. And that happens rarely.
When I do laugh, really, truly laugh, I almost always do so when I'm alone. I think some of the reason for this is that when I laugh, that which I find funny is of such an obscure and "personal", twisted nature, that only I can possibly understand what it is that I find so funny.
On such occasions I will often get a regular laughing fit where I laugh so hard I can hardly contain myself. I've had fits of laughter where I ended up literally rolling on the floor laughing, just as it is supposed to say in the abbreviation: ROFLMAO: Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off.
As I said, the occurence of these laughing fits are very rare and it can be months or even years in between it happens, but there have been cases where I had laughing fits with a few weeks in between. But the things that make me laugh in this manner are perhaps what is really strange ... or perhaps not, I wouldn't know since it happens when I'm alone, or if others are around they don't have a clue why I'm laughing or what I'm laughing at (some think I'm laughing at them, but that is almost never the case).
What can make me laugh is such little things as how something is being said or pronounced. Suddenly I can just find some expression so incredibly fun that I give into laughing at it, and the image of that which made me laugh at first entices me to build another image of it in my mind, an image where that which I found funny is being enhanced further, and maybe applied to another sentence or situation which - to me - makes it even funnier. Then one image is followed by the next, and the successive results are rarely anywhere near anything you might think of as realistic. It is blown completely out of proportion.
I remember a few times - twice, actually - during my early teens and my childhood, having tried to include others in my fun by telling or explaining to them what I was laughing at and what it was that I thought was so funny, but nobody understood me and no one thought it was funny. I don't know why, maybe it was simply too "overly done".
And that last sentence is somewhat peculiar to me, because the things that most people find funny, like comedians and comedies, various jokes and stand-up comedians, etc.. I find them to be too "overly done". I can easily see 'why' they're funny, I just don't think they are!
I rarely find anything truly funny that others find funny. If I'm in the process of making someone like me, establishing some form of relationship, be it romantic or business-wise or just gaining some new ground and territory in a new area, I always make sure to "share" the other person's or persons' sense of fun and humor, and I do it well. I can even come up with my own and with new angles to jokes and topics in the area of their particular sense of fun and I'm not rarely seen as one of the 'fun' guys in that respect.
The clinical psychologists and the psychiatrists who have assessed me report that I do not appear to have much, or any, sense of irony. They say that irony goes completely over my head and that I often don't see it if others around me are being ironic.
Much to my dismay I have to say that this is probably not a completely wrong statement. I say not 'completely wrong', because I do think I'm not quite as hopeless as that. But my lack in being able to tell whether and when someone is being ironic, has caused me to make a few wrong decisions, and I've reacted with harshness or even hostility that turned out to be rather uncalled for. - I think it has to do with my sometimes lacking ability to determine people's facial expressions. Especially if I'm not focusing on an individual, and I'm catching up on an expression in passing, I can make some grim mistakes.
Now the next question could be: How am I with laughing or finding things funny that other psychopaths laugh at and/or find funny as well?
In my personal experience other psychopaths have the same sense of humor that I do. They understand my subtle expressions of humor, those which others just don't get, and which I generally express (f.ex. in writing and in comments on blogs and in fora, ie.) for my own amusement but also for the case that there are others like myself out there and who might understand.
When that happens, the connection I make with the others is as subtle as can be, close to non-existent, you might say, but nevertheless undeniably there and both of us know it. But there is no laughing, it's more like a perhaps a nod and something tenting towards a smile, just enough to show we both know.
In that sense I'd say that psychopaths are not the very 'laughing' kind. It takes a lot ot make us laugh, and even so it's very dependent upon us having a hand in making the scene take place which we find funny.
So yes, we - Psychopaths - may have a sense of humor, I'd say we definitely do. But it's a very special sense of humor! And it's a very different kind or sense of humor than what you find in most people, different from humor in all other groups and minorities of people in society.
Ours is a 'Black Humor', yes.
- But it's also more than that! And it's very hard to describe really for other people - people who are not themselves like us, who are not psychopaths - what our humor is about.
We ourselves know! We know very well what our humor is about, how it works and how we exercise it!... - But we can't easily convey the nature of it all to others.
- I'd say the best way to get an understanding about our humor, what it is about and how we exercise it, will be to spend a lot of time with someone of our kind (a psychopath).
In that regard I don't know ... it may be possible to arrange with someone for them to allow you to be near and to follow them around for a period. And make sure that you know, understand and are willing to comply to whichever their demands may be.
This is the best way of getting to know us beyond the image we project unto our surroundings, and which our surroundings project and further enhance via the media.