Friday, June 24, 2011

What Do Psychopaths Feel?

As a child I quickly learned that most of the time, in most situations - be they common interaction or situations where I had been caught for doing something wrong and was questioned about my motives - it was never a good idea to show how I really felt. One had to put a lot of effort into displaying the right kind of emotions, the ones I saw expressed by others again and again.

Come to think of it, "to show how I really felt" in most cases is not exactly the right way to say it, for most of the time I don't know what my real emotions were. I do recall times where I know exactly what my emotions were, of course. Those are situations where I felt angry (oh, so angry!), wronged, misunderstood, frustrated, annoyed and irritated, and sheer rage. There were also times where I felt pride, I felt superior, and there was a lot of contempt too. There were times where I had a lot of fun, there was excitement, and curiosity, lots of curiosity. A few times I would admire something that somebody could do, I don't quite recall who or what, but I know it happened. Maybe I'll recall later.

So I've had plenty of emotions, but there're a number of emotions that either were never there, or that were there only in a more fleeting and not very dramatic manner. These were usually the emotions that my surroundings expected me to show much, much more of. And I did learn to do exactly that, express exaggerated emotionality.

I use the word 'exaggerated' because that is how it's always seemed to me. And throughout my childhood and youth - and I guess, into my adulthood too - I was convinced that all the dramatic displays of emotions I see around me were exaggerations, that they were people showing off as if saying: "Look how emotional I am! I am good and right!".

To be honest, I still think this is what people do, and this is why they do it, to be sure their surroundings think well of them. I used to feel a lot of contempt toward people who seemed to be very emotional, because I knew I could do it much better than they did. Even as a young teen I was better at displaying emotionality in a convincing manner than most adults I saw, and I scoffed at their lack of insight and skill, that they couldn't do better than me, a mere child.

However, I did eventually learn that some people really are that emotional, and I also found that those were the people I could best... how to say it, best... uhm, impress, intimidate, dominate and control, and... yes, sometimes even abuse.

A paradox, to find you do best among the very people you have contempt for, is it not?

But I don't always have contempt for them. It seems that when I get to know these people intimately, my contempt will grow, but another feeling will come in as well: I begin to find them cute! - Yes, that means I actually like them!... And there have been times where I actually thought it was really sad that it had to be them that I would exploit, because in many ways I thought they were real nice people, and I would've liked them to be just as happy as me!...

Ergo: Exit the idea that Zhawq can't feel empathy!...

I wonder if my Readers agree?

I still frequently experience the emotions I've listed here. And while they're also rather representative for the emotions that I've recognized in other psychopathy diagnosed people, as well as found described - expressively or indirectly - in books about psychopathy, it does seems to me that it's quite a nice long list of emotions for someone who's supposed to be shallow and have flat affect.

Feel free to comment, I value your opinions.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't disagree that you can feel empathy in relationship to the shorter list of emotions you do genuinely experience. I'd be curious to what extent if any you believe your contempt towards emotional people may be based off jealousy in not being able to experience if those emotions too if you were to choose to.

Anonymous said...

I think the "contempt" happens because one might see another holding on to a useless emotion longer than necessary.

Being "a step ahead of the program" comes to mind

redserendipity said...

This post really hit home for me. I have recently been exploring various ideas concerning lies. I have to agree with you about people using their emotions to make sure people will think well of them. I have put so much energy into appearing normal. Until recently, I never even stopped to ask myself why it is so hard for me to behave the way most people do. Now that I have begun to explore that question, I have brought up the next inevitable question. How many of the people I know or meet are just pretending also?

Anonymous said...

But I don't always have contempt for them. It seems that when I get to know these people intimately, my contempt will grow, but another feeling will come in as well: I begin to find them cute! - Yes, that means I actually like them! And there have been times where I actually thought it was really sad that it had to be them that I would exploit, because in many ways I thought they were real nice people, and I would've liked them to be just as happy as me!...

Ergo: Exit the idea that Zhawq can't feel empathy!

Zhawq,

Much of what you have stated in this post makes sense to me. It certainly reflects my childhood experience. Diagnostically, I have been characterized as exhibiting low empathy. I find emotionality in most people to exaggerated, fake, or possibly an attempt to manipulate me, but I also come to like certain people a great deal. Emotionality in these people can be frustrating, but I try to understand the source of the problem and it matters to me. Despite some commonalities in our thinking, I wasn’t sure that your description or mine would sound like empathy to an empath, so I asked.

I was told empaths do not have a stage of contempt for the other prior to liking the other or (generally) feel irritation with the other’s emotional issues. They also do not feel an egotistical sense of separation or superiority (such as finding the other “cute”) toward the other. They do not consider whether the situation will be exploitative as they rarely do harm to ones they like. In general, they don’t question the other’s motives and they develop mutual trust. My empathic friend described empathy as this: “Subverting one’s own ego and putting the emotions of the other in the forefront of your own experience.” Empaths, she says, experience tend to share the same basic emotion (example: one feels the sadness of the other) while one helps the other (example: listens, soothes) leading to emotional relief for both, among other things.

Are you stating: contempt + liking someone + thinking it’s sad that you must exploit that nice person + wishing that person was as happy as you = empathy? It’s all about you.

How is that different from: contempt + enjoying someone + exploiting someone + being grandiose, except for the high level of insight?

Siyah Orkide

Zhawq said...

Anon 5:30,

It's nice to get the appreciation that I do actually have emotions. It's such a common misunderstanding that someone like me shouldn't have emotions.

Your question is certainly a good topic. I've given it some thought and have decided it is worth a little more space than I can give it in a comment. I'll be publishing an article about this in one or two days.


Siyah,

What you say about Empaths is interesting. I didn't know about this. Everything you say in the second phrase surprises me. I would've thought perhaps they had a little of it all, differing from situation to situation and person to person.

Will you tell me where you heard these things?

"Are you stating: contempt + liking someone + thinking it’s sad that you must exploit that nice person + wishing that person was as happy as you = empathy? It’s all about you."

I hadn't quite deciphered it like that. It does happen in situations where I was going to exploit someone and found they were nice folks, yes. And I don't think that's how cold, callous people usually think.

"How is that different from: contempt + enjoying someone + exploiting someone + being grandiose, except for the high level of insight?"

The difference lies in the insight and that the insight changes how I think about the person. It represents the potential for me to change my decision and do something differently because it changed the overall picture.

One more thing: I think all our feelings are about ourselves in one way or another. Wanting others to be happy is about you wanting them to be happy, because you would like it to be so. It's about you, but it's also about the other person. And that is totally fine in my opinion.


Thanks for your inputs, everybody!... '^L^,

Anonymous said...

Zhawq,

Thank you for your response.

My comments regarding how empaths experience empathy in the post above were taken from a conversation with a friend who is empathic. However, my therapist has made similar comments. The subject arises when I try to describe empathy and I am told that I am describing sympathy or a self-centered version of empathy.

Empaths also seem to find empathy to be related to altruism which may also be in opposition to your last statement. They share feelings (bond over sadness) and one wants to decrease the other’s sadness, being altruistic, which pleases them. I believe each one gains something from the situation and that is ok.

I do believe their level of empathy varies per situation and, if so, this makes me very curious about where the line is. If I exhibit low empathy and an empath has a low empathy situations, are there times when my experience is equally empathic?

Siyah Orkide

Zhawq said...

Siyah
If I exhibit low empathy and an empath has a low empathy situations, are there times when my experience is equally empathic?

I've no doubt that there are such situations where you experience the same level of empathy as normal people do in low empathy situations. After all, you do occasionally experience the feeling, and obviously there're a multitude of degrees of empathy at both ends of the scale.

My statement: "Exit the idea that Zhawq can't feel empathy!" is most of all a statement of opposition. There is not such thing as zero empathy or zero emotions.

Anonymous said...

Zhawq,
"It's nice to get the appreciation that I do actually have emotions. It's a common misunderstanding that someone like me shouldn't have emotions" -Zhawq

I've got a funny for ya:
Recently, my ex (incarcerated for what will be the remainder of his life) made a few statements to our son via a letter. This was the statement (and I quote):

"Fuck these correctional dept shrinks and their psycopath diagnosis. Don't get brainwashed by their BS. I have emotions and feelings. I am not shallow. In fact, I'm too complex for their feeble minds. They should only know how many emotions I have.

Read up on this matter for me, will ya? Not sure what it means, just knowing they're tryin to pin something else on me or to me and from what I'm gatherin in here, that term aint soundin like a good thing. Get my back, kay?

By the way son, I'm FEELING awful hungry round this here cage at night. Any chance you can send me one of them packages with coffee and snacks? or fund my commisary account? I'd sure LOVE it if you could. Afterall, I AM still your dad."

True story.
***Epic Fail***

Yeah, after decades of firsthand experience, I have to say I agree with the dx, but notsomuch with his belief in his capacity to feel genuine emotions, lol.

You wrote this statement, Zhawq:
"And there have been times where I actually thought it was really sad that it had to be them that I would exploit, because in many ways I thought they were real nice people, and I would've liked them to be just as happy as me!..."

- uh-hem, it DIDN"T HAVE TO BE THEM you exploited. You made it so. And what do you mean by you 'would have' liked them to be just as happy as you? How? As if being exploited could make someone happy? I mean really? wtf?

This is why I like to read this stuff. Familiarity with the known. I kinda miss his quirky way of looking at life. Not really, but it is refreshing to me nowadays to understand that he was NOT an alien after all! There ARE others who actually think like he does. Seems incarceration has taken quite the toll on his subtle manipulative abilities and he's just been outright blatant in desperate attempts to get needs met.

I would disengage from arguments/discussions with this man and think to myself (head spinning at times) "does he even HEAR what comes out of his mouth? Makes absolutely no sense with his diversions and contradictions. Yet, he adamently believes his own spoonfuls of pure bullshit?

How do you react when someone 'gets it' when you talk in circles or with overt contradictions and calls you on it? f.x. my ex would just disengage, pretend being frustrated that the other person was just too ignorant to keep up with his explanations and see the point he was making (which was either no point at all, or a diverted attempt away from being called on something) with some lame statement such as:

"whatever"
or
"you listen to me, but you are not HEARING me"
or
"If that's what you think, I'm not going to waste my time trying to change your mind"
or
"what do you want me to say?"
or
"I'm done now. I can't try to be rational with someone who is irrational"

lmao
yeahhhhhh. Gotta love you guys :)
Okay, not really (not anymore, lol), but someone has to.

Amazing how your self portrayel is as if written exactly about the one I know? I'd say great minds think alike, but his wasn't. (You know, the saying about being oblivious to the rope on the neck?)

You are not in prison right now, so there's a plus that you guys (and gals) CAN become more self aware, heh? This site is a good thing. Gives us insight so we can understand better. Hopefully, gives you something productive to do, where your voice is heard and that keeps you out of jail at the same time?

Fascinating.
Thank you for your efforts here and best of luck always :)

Kenmeer livermaile said...

"I use the word 'exaggerated' because that is how it's always seemed to me. And throughout my childhood and youth - and I guess, into my adulthood too - I was convinced that all the dramatic displays of emotions I see around me were exaggerations, that they were people showing off as if saying: "Look how emotional I am! I am good and right!"."

I am certainly not a psycho/socio-path. (The diagnoses don't even begin to fit, and I am richly emotional and compassionate.) Yet I and many other more or less neurotypicals very much relate to the feeling of exaggeration based on the desire for what I'll call 'moral approval', the idea that the emotionality and empathy common to people in that broad spectrum called neurotypical are THE qualities 'good people' must have.

While I cherish tender considerations of other people, and likewise value similar qualities, I find that many people express superficial emulations or enactments of this in a way that sounds a lot like socio/psychs describe: faking it. Put on a smiley face.

Classic example: the requisite social encounter question: How *ARE you? asked with little if any intent to listen to any genuine answer. One is supposed to say, 'Fine, good, great!', then ask in reply, and hear the same.

On grumpy days, I've wanted to reply, 'None of your business', but that causes too much turbulence. I do, howver, say, 'Good' without asking the question in kind. When I ask someone how they're doing, I'm prepared to spend at least a few minutes listening and trying to relate or if necessary, act conerned and epmathetic. This is "sincere" insomuch as I relly do want to give them the pleasure of knowing I care. I really do want to help relive their pain if they're hurting.

But I'm also aware that at least part of my doing so is selfish: I want to be perceived as a Good Kind Just Man, and I'm also aware that this in turn derives from my feelings of insecurity.

I think socio/psychs and neurotypicals have much to learn from and teach each other, even as I sometimes think that the alleged disproportionately high % of socio/psychs in Wall Street and Congress means that the future of humanity depends on us learning to identify and eradicate socio/psychs via eugenics/conditioning/pharmacology/future emerging brain reconfiguration tech...

...but even as I think the latter Final Solution notion, I know it would most likely backfire via the Law of Unintended Consequences, that neurotypicals have a gift for creating situations where their vaunted compassion and empathy would subside under more self-serving emotions/impulses, and that our claim to moral supremacy (for that IS the turf claimed by the mainstream norm) is tenuous a best and specious at worst.

It probably would be wise and good for all if society learned how to use socio/psychs. Ooh! Being 'used'! That's gotta sound good to an s/p, eh?;) But that's how society serves its members best, and none of us can survive without society. S/p's would excel at certain assessments of human beings and how best to implement various needful changes in how humanity takes care of itself.

S/p's have a capacity for understanding neuro-t behavior patterns in ways that are often much more accurate than we can understand ourselves, who are busy convincing each other What Good People We Are without admitting we're doing this, while s/p's know this is exactly what they're doing.

well, I could go on forever, but I need to be compassionate and show mercy.;) Plus, I'm awful sick with a head cold and am burning out. I suspect the latter is the major cause for me shutting up.

Kenmeer livermaile said...

"I was told empaths do not have a stage of contempt for the other prior to liking the other or (generally) feel irritation with the other’s emotional issues. They also do not feel an egotistical sense of separation or superiority (such as finding the other “cute”) toward the other."

Do you mean doing these things reflexively? As a pre-established prejudice? If so, I think that many people who have ample empathy and compassion, who cry to see suffering inflicted upon sensitive beings, carry all kinds of contemptuous prejudice that must be somehow set aside before they will allow their empathy to engage.

Ironically, one of these prejudices is feeling negative toward persons with flat affects They're called cold fish, and dismissed as incomplete/less than.

I think perhaps what is true in relation to 'empaths'/neuro-t's in this regard is that we feel compelled to first act nice and grant people unwarranted initial approval even when we feel otherwise. We act nice because... too many reasons to cite here. Let's just 'go along to get along' for now.

HOWever, biofeedback is a powerful thing, and acting nice toward someone can be indistinguishable, or minimally distinguishable, from genuinely feeling nice about that person. So there is an introductory lag between our genuine impression toward someone and our genuinely registered feeling toward them, and those true feelings tend to form and predominate after we've left their presence. Away from them, we open up to our true feelings about them, which often aren't very nice even though they may have done nothing mean or harmful.

Further, we typically look to others to confirm and endorse our feelings: 'I it just me or is X kinda (insert negative attribute)?'

If we don't receive corroboration, we tend to question our opinion and think we're bad for not liking the person.

giggle: here I am giving deeply nuanced insight into how normal people represent themselves to each other, even con each other, to a person professing to be diagnosed as someone who would rather manipulate people by their emotions and simulations thereof than engage with those emotions for their best mutual interests. But then, if I were an s/p, I'd often be terrified of being discovered as an 'alien'. Being terrified doesn't jibe with the s/p profile of minimal emotions including the fearful spectrum, but cognitive rather than emotional terror is still terror. *Knowing* that you;re probably fucked if people recognize you for what you are, knowing how the group tends to ostracize, expel, and punish perceived outsiders, surely creates awareness in s/p's that they are in many ways in peril that neuro-t's are not.

And it seems to me that the more comfortable they feel in understanding neuro-t's, the more comfortable they will feel about their place in society and not feel so much need for POWER, which so often leads to their and society's undoing.

Kenmeer livermaile said...

Furthermore, I strongly feel that reducing anxiety-based exploitation by s/p's is not the only strong benefit mutual understanding wold provide, nor is it neurot's who need the effectively objective mirror that s/p's can provide. I think s/p's need to be able to learn from neuro-t's the benefits of altruism, to see what is good about empathy which is great but highly overrated in some ways by neuro-t's who tend to romanticize and sanctify a quality that can also do great harm to self and others.

I do not see why cognitive empathy can't provide an empathetic function that's good enough/close enough as felt empathy, just as I don't see why felt detachment can't provide an objective detachment function that's good enough/close enough to 'unfelt' objective detachment.

My impression of some of the earnestly practicing Buddhists I've met is thet their formula for increased happiness and reduced suffering involves a thorough integration of compassion and detachment.

OK. I:m not gonna read another word. it just gets me to thinking and then the blabbing commences.

Anonymous said...

^^
Good stuff :)

RE:
"If so, I think that many people who have ample empathy and compassion, who cry to see suffering inflicted upon sensitive beings, carry all kinds of contemptuous prejudice that must be somehow set aside before they will allow their empathy to engage"

At first read, initial reaction was "Uh, no?"

But then I took the time to think this through thoroughly. "OMG" I realized "this IS true in some instances". Drats! I agree that yes, some empaths like myself DO, at times, try to reconstruct our reactions to innermost feelings to fit more in line with that wish we set expectations for our life's existence. Example: I cannot help at times, but have an initial emotion that was 'bred' in me (for lack of a better term) by my parents when my psychological being was developing. Even as a very young child, I would watch their behaviors often with a sense of disgust and humiliation. As I grew older, and as I learned alternative ways of reacting to those availed experiences in a more positive fashion, I 'naturally' gravitated towards those. I learned how much calmer, peaceful, pleasant, and rewarding existing could be when not always 'in someone's face' or being a 'right fighter' can be. Don't get me wrong, I sure got the beJesus smacked outta me on more than a couple occasions when, after witnessing an altercation one of my parents instigated, I would later remark "was that really necessary?". lol

So while I agree that in my youth, I may have had to set initial emotion of X aside, so that I could 'allow' emotion Y to kick in - that was only because I was young and maybe previously had not yet learned HOW to feel an emotion other than X at the get go. My mother was a stay at home mom, so I was never all that socialized prior to grade K. All I knew is what I knew from available exposure.

As I was availed of opportunity to socialize at greater levels with age, I learned. I matured.

Anonymous said...

continued . .

Now, since I have spent so many years consciously aware to STOP, THINK, then REACT, I suppose I have re-trained those parts of my brain that formulate initial emotion responses. Therefore, I believe most (most, not all) of my initial and secondary emotions are genuine - not demonstrated in order to appease others into a false sense of who I really am. Some reactions (like the jerking described above), are also genuine. While they often cause me a small degree of embarrassment, I'm okay with that.

Maturity to me, also encapsulates the very idea that I am who I am and take it or leave it. I know I have many a fault and confident that I do NOT TRY to behave in a manner such that I am trying to manipulate another's view of me as a 'good' person. At least, not often. In fact, when I am going to say or do something that I know may offend another, I am known for prefacing the act with "Look, I understand you may not get this, agree or understand, but .......". I am well known by those who do know me for being me and putting it out there: good and bad. I think I am fairly confident in myself and yet, maybe so because I am always willing to learn and change. I actually kinda like constructive criticism. Even though I may consider myself generally confident, I DO introspect often just to check myself. Hey, I'm human. That said, I apologize often too. lol, they say that's a result of being brought up Catholic?

Therefore, I think that the common everyday events (that spur emotions) occur without my having to 'manage' them any longer. However, for those infrequent events experienced, such as interfacing with what I might determine as a 'cold fish', I probably do a quick adjustment to an initial emotion, through heightened awareness skills. I prefer productive outcomes and therefore, strive to manage my emotions in order to meet that goal.

Is it not the point that the emotion is not as relevant as the reaction it elicits? The better one is at managing emotions (if one has them), the better opportunity at a rewarding life?

I totally agree that the more NT's can learn from s/p's ability to 'cut to the logic', the better off we'll be. I admire their ability to route reactions through logistics. That is the primary reason I visit this site: concrete inside information.

*** Side note:
Specifically, I am raising two boys that (according to numerous professional sources) may well be on the path to being a path. The more I am able to understand what they might be postulating, the more equipped I am at assisting them as they grow into adult men. My hope is to guide them in such a way as to understand no matter who a person is, there ARE ways to have a successful and rewarding life without (too much *fingers crossed*) damage to either themselves or others. The trick is giving them options that will allow them to achieve what they want, using the executive reasoning skills they posses, with a better concept of consequences (positive as well as negative). One can hope, right?

Anonymous said...

. . . . .continued

Now, since I have spent so many years consciously aware to STOP, THINK, then REACT, I suppose I have re-trained those parts of my brain that formulate initial emotion responses. Therefore, I believe most (most, not all) of my initial and secondary emotions are genuine - not demonstrated in order to appease others into a false sense of who I really am. Some reactions (like the jerking described above), are also genuine. While they often cause me a small degree of embarrassment, I'm okay with that.

Maturity to me, also encapsulates the very idea that I am who I am and take it or leave it. I know I have many a fault and confident that I do NOT TRY to behave in a manner such that I am trying to manipulate another's view of me as a 'good' person. At least, not often. In fact, when I am going to say or do something that I know may offend another, I am known for prefacing the act with "Look, I understand you may not get this, agree or understand, but .......". I am well known by those who do know me for being me and putting it out there: good and bad. I think I am fairly confident in myself and yet, maybe so because I am always willing to learn and change. I actually kinda like constructive criticism. Even though I may consider myself generally confident, I DO introspect often just to check myself. Hey, I'm human. That said, I apologize often too. lol, they say that's a result of being brought up Catholic?

Therefore, I think that the common everyday events (that spur emotions) occur without my having to 'manage' them any longer. However, for those infrequent events experienced, such as interfacing with what I might determine as a 'cold fish', I probably do a quick adjustment to an initial emotion, through heightened awareness skills. I prefer productive outcomes and therefore, strive to manage my emotions in order to meet that goal.

Is it not the point that the emotion is not as relevant as the reaction it elicits? The better one is at managing emotions (if one has them), the better opportunity at a rewarding life?

I totally agree that the more NT's can learn from s/p's ability to 'cut to the logic', the better off we'll be. I admire their ability to route reactions through logistics. That is the primary reason I visit this site: concrete inside information.

*** Side note:
Specifically, I am raising two boys that (according to numerous professional sources) may well be on the path to being a path. The more I am able to understand what they might be postulating, the more equipped I am at assisting them as they grow into adult men. My hope is to guide them in such a way as to understand no matter who a person is, there ARE ways to have a successful and rewarding life without (too much *fingers crossed*) damage to either themselves or others. The trick is giving them options that will allow them to achieve what they want, using the executive reasoning skills they posses, with a better concept of consequences (positive as well as negative). One can hope, right?

Anonymous said...

Feel free to comment, I value your opinions.

OMG <.<

lele said...

Zhawq, your description of your feelings towards emotional people does not fit the definition of empathy, but that of sympathy.

Empathy means relating to other people by feeling their same emotions, albeit with a lower intensity, because of course we are not experiencing such emotions first hand. Empathizing is a kind of mirroring "inside".

lele said...

Moreover, even "neurotypicals" - a term used by a previous commenter - are not always able to empathize, because they could be distracted, tired, etc.

As an heavily (I think) emphatic person, I think that true empathy is rare, and more likely people feel sympathy, and a willingness to help hurt people.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of exaggerated emotions: I'm female (not a psychopath, but not a strong empath either), and I've always thought that women *must* be faking it when they act all terrified over a bug, or helpless when it comes to programming electronics, or naive and prudish, as so many do. I've always assumed that they're doing this because it's the role society expects them to play, and thus they get very tangible rewards for playing along. I've seen women who have had at least 20 sexual partners suddenly get all coy about sex and plead "gross" about things they've told me straight up that they've done and enjoyed. I've seen "normal" women swim in shark infested oceans and laugh, but then shriek about a frog in a pool (when a male audience is present, of course...) Most displays of female "weakness" and "fragility" are put on to stroke male egos and thereby manipulate them. I tend not to play that game unless I absolutely have to, as I find it cheap and distasteful.

I suspect that the essential difference between empaths and non-empaths is that empaths haven't figured out yet that most of what they do is put on for social approval. Think about it: how "nice" and "good" are empaths, if you look at their actual behavior and not their professed feelings? I've seen empaths who make huge displays of emotionality and empathy turn around and backstab like you wouldn't believe. Cold-blooded behavior, just not quite so calculated as a psychopath's. I've seen them, under the guise of "sympathy", spread slanderous lies that have ruined peoples' lives. I might not make ostentatious displays of emotionality, but I don't generally create social melodrama and conflict, either, because I have no need to. I get what I want without it, usually.

Sometimes I think that the shock and horror NTs feel when they encounter people who don't play by society's "rules" is really a form of denial. They don't want to see that deep down they're the same, that it's only a thin veneer of social respectability between them and their own more destructive impulses. That the roles we're expected to play just barely contain the irrational animal underneath. It's easier for them to point and say, see, look, over there's the evil. Right here, I'm good. Because I crave social approval enough to color within the lines.

NTs surely get their own form of stimulation, a sort of NT buzz, from playing traditional, socially-sanctioned roles. If they didn't, they wouldn't do it.

No one's good. We just get buzzes from different things. Our self-interests are aligned different. We play the same endgame by different rules.

Kenmeer livermaile said...

I like the cut of your jib, anonymous. Sometimes maybe I'll share my perspective (from a highly empathic background) of the same thing. right now, I am whacked on pain meds.

Anonymous said...

I understand what some of you are saying about people showing exaggerated emotions for social approval, but what about when no one is even around to witness it? Why do I cry when I see the sponsor a child thing with images of starving children on television? No one is even in my home at the time to witness this, so how would I get anything out of it? I don't. I truly feel terrible for these children, because I care about other human beings. Also, I can actually put myself in their shoes, not only to imagine (but feel) how horrible it would be to actually be that child suffering in such a poor environment. That is empathy. Most humans are connected in this way. There is a human bond.

This is why most people are incapable of brutal crimes. We just don't have it in us to want to destroy, torture, rape, murder, decapitate, hack others into pieces, or whatever. Can any of us be pushed far enough to murder someone? Yes. Is there a difference between hunting, planning, and then murdering another just for the rush you get from doing it; as opposed to, murdering someone for raping your young daughter? Yes.

Kenmeer livermaile said...

The fact that empaths can exaggerate compassionate emotions for public display doesn't take away that they can privately feel them. Sociopaths don't have a monopoly on wearing a mask in public.

Anonymous-J said...

To the last anonymous person - The fact that you cry during the commercials for aid whilst others are not around, could be because of the fact that by crying you make yourself feel better about yourself, thinking “oh, I’m such a nice person for feeling sorry for them” and therefore are feeling sadness for another to benefit your own needs and not theirs.
Also the fact that you feel as though you must tell people that you feel empathy and that you cry over the commercials for aid supports the fact that you do it for a self need and not because you feel empathy.
If you give money to the charity this also does not mean that you feel empathy for the other person you may give money to make yourself feel better about yourself by making yourself feel like a good person who cares for others.

Anonymous said...

Zhawq's article rang so true . It seems to me there are two hurdles stopping atypical people from understanding how say - zhawq could feel bad that they are the one's he has to hurt because he likes them. As one commenter writes, its all about you.

Well yes, and that will always be our perspective. It isn't wrong and it doesn't exclude us from having feelings. We are the center of our universes, we know it. That atypicals try to argue or judge this I find bemusing and intellectually dumbfounding.

The other thing getting in the road is people are not aware of their cultural perspective- and as such are completely blind to their own cultural delusions. Assuming what is good or right, and judging/value adding other people and their behaviour always has a huge subjective bent on it - it will always be, is by nature.
I find people who have a good grounding in understanding the subjectiveness of their own life and experience have little problem with P's and their feelings towards us are only a slight wariness , with which I can empathise completely, cos that's exactly how I feel towards most other P's.

Most literature on P's lack of empathy and shallow/flat effect really miss the mark as of yet. As far as I am aware there is no scientific way to measure empathy yet. For me personally, the biggest difference is my ability to turn off any shred of empathy, not my lacking it in any real sense.

Anonymous said...

The pure fact is this. You, apparently, from what you've shared with everyone here, don't give a rat's ass about anyone except for yourself. It's quite obvious given the fact that you've executed a blog about yourself. That being said, I must say that I actually feel sorry for you. But, you want me to and that makes me even sorrier for you because somewhere in the deep recesses of your wandering mind...there lies the answer to all of your wonderings...it's called the emotion turn on and off switch...yours is out of whack. So, I must concur that yes...you're a bit nutty but extremely intelligent...manipulative...cunning, insightful...etc. Of course, psychopathy is all about all those things minus the emotional part. Do I feel you have emotions...from what you've written here...if any...very little. You refer to people, as "cute." But you don't give us any indication as to HOW you feel toward another being...cute isn't an emotion by the way. One can not simply "turn off" empathy...you either have it or you don't. It's that simple really. Ask any Psychiatrist or Neurobehaviorist. Also, I don't feel "wary" of psychopaths...my son is one and I have him over a barrel...simply meaning...I know his game. I know WHY and HOW...I know WHAT...and I know WHERE...basically that pisses him off...He's supposedly all mysterious but a mother knows...even the darkest deepest caverns of the mind of her son or daughter...this gives me a great understanding of those who THINK I don't know their game...If I met you on the street...I would know in one second if you were a psychopath...in fact, I can stand in line at the Starbucks and listen in conversations, watch body language, facial twitches..and such and tell whether or not I'm standing next to one...most though are your typical sociopaths...1 out of 100 are so every now and then I can spot one...so, coming here and educating us is really neat, but no need to bother...most people have psychopaths under a barrel these days...I do wish you the best of luck in your "endeavors" whatever they may be (especially if they involve going to some kind of therapist and getting your brain scans to see if you have a tumor on your frontal lobe or some other malformed thing...) of course your being a "psychopath" and all would most likely preclude you from doing so because..."nothing is really wrong with you, right." God Bless You...You need him more than you think or know in your case.

Laura Potter said...

I have a rather nagging question.
You,as a psychopath, seems to often feel contempt for others?
But why is that so?

Anonymous said...

Greeting everyone.

First of all, i want to congratulate you Zhawq for sharing your personal thoughts and views on psychopathy. Psychopathy is a topic that generally garners a great deal of demonization, mainly by media and those with little knowledge of Pschology/Psychiatry.

I have spent a great deal of my life wondering why i was different from others. I have manipulated people since i was at primary school, using sympathy tactics to garner special treatment and escape trouble i used to get into. I wasn't a troublemaker to begin with. I resorted to it to fit in with the crowd but i started to develop my own methods of tormenting teachers etc.

My manipulation and lying continued from then to the present. I found that looking back, i truthfully had little relationships. I never had a girlfriend through high school, i spend my time with my "drug" friends, whom i did Ecstacy with and other stupid things.

I often found myself feeling like i didn't know how to be a friend, so i mimicked others around me. It ended when my high school friends discovered my deception and i ended up a loner for a good year. I went through stages of shoplifting, stealing, vandalism and other things.I contemplated killing someone once, something i am not proud of and filled a pill tub with nail polish remover. I passed it off as poppers (amyl nitrate) but they sniffed it a little and said it smelled off so they threw it down. He had gave me a dodgy batch of Ecstacy tablets so i felt it was payback at the time but i was young (13 years old).

The other aspect is my present day relationships rarely last and it seems the common theme is i become paranoid, i demand a lot of them, i use guilt and attempt to control aspects of them. I have also done things on impulse, like sending sexual messages to people i know or trying to seduce people with partners. I usually do it in a sly manner.

Now i have kept myself away from relationships as i know i need to address myself before i get close to someone else.I'm not dangerous by any means, i have self control now compared to my youth.

I do, however feel emotion. I cry at sad films. I feel guilt when i do something wrong. I feel other emotions too. Is it possible i have Antisocial Personality Disorder? Or another personality disorder?

Zhawq said...

"Most literature on P's lack of empathy and shallow/flat effect really miss the mark as of yet. As far as I am aware there is no scientific way to measure empathy yet. For me personally, the biggest difference is my ability to turn off any shred of empathy, not my lacking it in any real sense.

This is all true, I have noticed the same thing. I was puzzled by the 'can't feel empathy' notion for a long time, but I do notice my empathy is very fleeting and can easily switch off if my attention turns to something else.

The more capable professionals have begun to understand these things.

Zhawq said...

Anon 1:11 PM:

"You, apparently, from what you've shared with everyone here, don't give a rat's ass about anyone except for yourself.

Nor did I ever attempt to convince you otherwise. On the contrary, I have made a point of exlpaining this very fact, which you will see as you read through the pages.

" I must say that I actually feel sorry for you"

Like most proud and self sufficient people I am not much for having others feel sorry for me. You should feel angry for yourselves, that'd be a far better investment of your energy and your emotions because you don't get reated as well by your fellow normal people as you think you do. We're all in this together, like it or not, and the world will remain a victimizing soulless place until we, each of us, do something to change it, meaning until we stop allowing ourselves to become victims.

"But, you want me to"

I see you have misunderstood me more than I first thought. I need not waste my time anymore with this, then.

"you're a bit nutty but extremely intelligent...manipulative...cunning, insightful...etc. Of course, psychopathy is all about all those things minus the emotional part."

You should read my newest article, it addresses exactly this kind of one track thinking which I hope to help change.

"Do I feel you have emotions... ...if any...very little."

When you see something that is different from yourself you see what is not there, but you don't see what IS there. You're not alone in this, most of the professionals do the same.

"But you don't give us any indication as to HOW you feel toward another being...cute isn't an emotion by the way"

I'll admit I don't know what to say to this. But then I always find normal people have difficulty describing love when I ask them HOW love feels. I can sometimes feel very angry towards a person, I can't describe how anger feels except for some physical effects it has on my body, only that if it gets too strong I must act on it or leave.

"One can not simply "turn off" empathy."
Sympathy would be a better word. I can certainly turn that off at will.

Kenmeer livermaile said...

Typical self-righteous Xtian revealing that the ability to turn off, or at least subdue, empathy/sympathy is not reserved for psychopaths alone.

Yes, we all are in this together. Smart psychos recognize that what influential psychos like the ones in charge of Congress and industry damage psychos as well as norms.

Zhawq said...

Anon 1:11 PM ...continued:

"my son is [a psychopath] and I have him over a barrel...simply meaning...I know his game. I know WHY and HOW... WHAT... I know WHERE...basically that pisses him off"

Ma'am, it's a good thing that you have made the effort of getting to know not only your son personaly, but about this in his personality that makes him different from the norm. In my opinion it is crucial that society in general learns about what we've chosen to call psychopathy. But I would ask you: Do you - or do you plan to - educate him about himself as well, or do you cater to the school that thinks the more you can keep a psychopath in the dark the better? I truly hope not.

"...a mother knows...even the darkest deepest caverns of the mind of her son or daughter"

Mine didn't. I have known plenty of psychopaths who's truly loving parents had no idea about what went on inside their son's head, though some were aware their son was a psychopath, mainly in the cases where he was diagnosed early on (at age 18, sometimes earlier off record). It is your high intelligence, your comittedness and your love, as well as likely some very good social skills, that enables you to understand your son to such length as you describe, it's not because you know all about psychopaths and can spot any of them. And psychopaths are individuals too.

"...every now and then I can spot [a psychopath]"

Every now and then, yes, perhaps. But do not believe for a second that you can spot any psychopath or even most psychopaths, you can't. As a matter of fact some of us are good enough to fool other psychopaths - I can and have done so, and I've been fooled myself too when I was younger. You know about Robert Hare, he too says it just isn't possible to spot a psychopath like you knipse your fingers, indeed he says he himself gets fooled still even now after all those years of studying us up close.

I'll tell you why you mostly won't be able to spot a psychopath: It's because most of the time we behave like every normal person would. That's the so called secret, we really are very good at appearing normal. It is over time you begin to notice little things that don't seem quite right, and then slowly you put it together until you have enough to make a full picture that shows this person is a psychopath.

".I do wish you the best of luck in your "endeavors" whatever they may be (especially if they involve going to some kind of therapist and getting your brain scans to see if you have a tumor on your frontal lobe or some other malformed thing...)"

Thank you, ma'am. And you made me laugh here and that was nice. :)

"of course your being a "psychopath" and all would most likely preclude you from doing so because..."nothing is really wrong with you, right."

Nobody is perfect, and whereas I don't feel there's something wrong with me in the sense that I need treatment or am evil or something like that, I certainly aknowledge there's a lot to learn and I reckon there will be for as long as I live. How poor would life be if we were all perfect and knew everything about everything. Luckily I don't think such a scenario is possible, not because we can't find out all there is to know about the world as we know it, but because I believe both we and the world as we know changes and always will change. That is the definition of life: Change, movement. For the same reason I tend to think of those who always want things to remain the same as protagonists of death.

"God Bless You"

Thank you, ma'am, and may your god bless you and your son too.

"...You need him more than you think or know in your case."

I have no way of knowing, for I don't know Christ - I know about Him, but I am not of Him. So perhaps you're right, hopefully time will tell.

Thank you commenting, your input is much appreciated.