Thursday, June 7, 2018

Do Psychopaths Feel Anything At All?


I Reader asks me the following question:

Hi Zhawq,
I came across your blog today and I would like to say that you indeed clear a lot of doubts in my head regarding psychopaths. 
I have always been interested in Psychology and I understand that Psychopaths are truly misunderstood. Therefore, to understand them better, I have a question which I am hoping, you will be able to answer.
So my question is, are psychopaths totally incapable of feeling emotions at all or do they, at a deep level, do feel emotions? Is it possible that they feel extreme of any emotion like anger or love or hatred like it’s either white or black with emotions. Either they feel it all on an extreme level or don’t feel anything at all?
Regards,
......

Far from all psychopaths are completely incapable of feelings or emotions.

- No, let me re phrase that: No psychopaths are completely incapable of having feelings or emotions.

I know the idea is a popular and common belief among people in general, but the truth is that there is no such thing as a human being without any feelings whatsoever.

That being said, there are psychopaths who are very close to not feeling anything. But if you look closer, you will find that in order to f.ex. eat you have to be able to feel hungry, right? And in order for these extreme psychopaths to perform very horrific sadistic crimes, putting other people through unbelievable torture (an example would be the acts committed by Leonard Lake and his "apprentice" Charles Ng(1*).


The matter is not whether psychopaths can experience feelings or have emotions, but what kind of feelings and emotions they can experience, and this is something we know a good deal about (psychopaths know, of course, but psychiatry is catching up).

The main type of emotion that psychopaths tend to lack - some lack it completely while others - such as myself - can experience it for a short while, particularly if and when I have a reason to want to do so. The emotion I'm talking about is Empathy.

Coupled with the absence of empathy is the other aspect that you bring up: The depth of emotion.


Psychopaths tend to have 'shallow emotions' or, phrased in correct psychological terminology, 'Shallow Affect'. This basically means that the depth of understanding of one's own emotions, and, as a natural consequence the understanding of other people's emotions, is lacking and superficial or even completely absent in psychopaths.

Some of the reason for this is that the feelings and emotions that we psychopaths do have tend to be superficial and 'flimsy', short lived, we may have a vague idea of what it means to be sad or to be seriously frightened or afraid, but since we have never experienced any of these emotions at any deep level ourselves, it is difficult for us to put ourselves in other people's shoes.

Add to this that other people's understanding of our lacking ability to feel as strongly and deeply as normal people do means there have never been anybody in our lives or during our upbringing who could explain these differences between ourselves and others.

In other words, we are expected to be - and treated as if we are - the same and feel the same way as normal people. This can understandably lead to the psychopathic youngster (and adult) believing that the strong display of emotions that we see take place around us is fake, a make-believe that is being staged with the purpose of manipulating particular reactions to occur in others.


A young psychopathic individual who has a sincere wish to be a just and helpful, truthful member of society, will conclude that society at large is rotten and untrustworthy, that everybody are looking after their own interests at the expense of others, and the psychopathic teen or young adult will often become a jaded, hardened and self serving person who is very good at doing what he believes everybody else have been doing all along: manipulating each other.

When he sees himself vilified because he is better at doing what everybody does anyway, he becomes resentful and may retire into a dark mindset where wish for revenge at a society that never understood, accepted or treated him just, rules his actions. Many young psychopaths develop a certain level of Antisocial Personality Disorder(2*)....But this is perhaps a subject best left for future article(3*).


The depth of ability to feel emotions differ of course in between psychopathic individuals, and it isn't possible to know precisely how much or how little psychopaths at each end of the spectrum can feel or not feel. At the end of the day there's a lot of grey areas not only within the spectrum but at the upper and lower ends as well, which is why it can at times be very difficult even for an expert to make a proper diagnosis.

.................................................................................
(1*) - The link will take you to a documentary which shows very graphic material, so viewer discretion is strongly advised. Do not watch if you don't feel confident that you have a touch stomach.

(3*) - Note that Antisocial Personality Disorder is not the same as Psychopathy - even though the two have been categorized under the same paragraph in DSM-V in spite of the plan to separate them. <-- Sorry, I couldn't avoid a Wikipedia link completely.

(3*) - I have touched on these matters before. In my earlier writings that date back from before I began studying psychopathy on a more serious level you will find a lot of antagonism in how I perceive the world.

6 comments:

North said...

Psychopaths tend to have 'shallow emotions' or, phrased in correct psychological terminology, 'Shallow Affect'. This basically means that the depth of understanding of one's own emotions, and, as a natural consequence the understanding of other people's emotions, is lacking and superficial or even completely absent in psychopaths.

Some of the reason for this is that the feelings and emotions that we psychopaths do have tend to be superficial and 'flimsy', short lived, we may have a vague idea of what it means to be sad or to be seriously frightened or afraid, but since we have never experienced any of these emotions at any deep level ourselves, it is difficult for us to put ourselves in other people's shoes.

Add to this that other people's understanding of our lacking ability to feel as strongly and deeply as normal people do means there have never been anybody in our lives or during our upbringing who could explain these differences between ourselves and others.

In other words, we are expected to be - and treated as if we are - the same and feel the same way as normal people. This can understandably lead to the psychopathic youngster (and adult) believing that the strong display of emotions that we see take place around us is fake, a make-believe that is being staged with the purpose of manipulating particular reactions to occur in others.


Really useful explanation of why psychopaths regard emotional behaviour as manipulative. **-*, the psychopath I have dated for a couple of years, has agreed to cope with my "hotness" because I cope with his coldness - I think he has learnt to be patient, but I know his first reaction is to think I'm manipulating him.

Anonymous said...

Hi North, if you want to learn more about psychopathy I recommend reading 'Jay Jones' on Quora. He is the expert in psychopathy and is a psychopath himself and has answers for every misconception and misunderstanding in psychopathy and he also answers the differences between 'primary psychopathy (psychopath) and secondary psychopathy (sociopath)'. Also on Quora a lot of the users who refer to themselves as "sociopaths" are actually psychopaths who don't differentiate between the terms well. Also another reason is lately there is a lot of bias going on in Quora in the psychopathy section and psychopaths aren't gaining self awareness due to misinformation and also inaccurate statements by some members of that section and thus some of the psychopaths end up referring to themselves as "sociopaths" or "borderline psychopaths". In reality they are Primary Psychopaths who just aren't getting the correct and necessary information in order to become self aware as psychopaths. Primary Psychopathy (Psychopathy) is the born type and Secondary Psychopathy (Sociopath) is the one made by negative affect due to environment. Jay Jones explains the differences in more detail in his Quora profile. Psychopathy is very common in the world and approximately 30% of the worlds population are neurological psychopaths (Primary Psychopaths). And also North if you want to learn more about psychopathy there's other blogs I recommend reading:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160420040722/http://psychopathyawareness.blogspot.com.au/ (by Jay)

http://sociodomain.blogspot.com/ (by ZKM) <- blog owner is a psychopath but uses the terms sociopath and psychopath interchangeably

And also read more articles on Psychopathic Writings by Zhawq it is an excellent website with so much information and insight about psychopathy and about psychopaths. And also a great website as it is very important that psychopaths gain self awareness and can learn more about psychopathy and themselves with the correct and proper information.

Anonymous said...

And also North, you should read these blogs as well by psychopaths to learn and understand more about psychopathy and psychopaths in addition to the blogs above as well.

http://psychogendered.com/2014/12/psychopaths-and-shallow-affect-some-emotion-not-none/ (by Jessica Kelly)

https://kiasherosjourney.wordpress.com/ (by Fran Nowve)

also read Sociopath World by M.E. Thomas as well (she is a psychopath not sociopath but she uses the terms interchangeably)

If you want to understand psychopathy and psychopaths fully read anything from Jay Jones (on Quora and the blog psychopathy awareness that I linked above from him) and Zhawq (Psychopathic Writings)

MMS said...

North:
"Some of the reason for this is that the feelings and emotions that we psychopaths do have tend to be superficial and 'flimsy', short lived, we may have a vague idea of what it means to be sad or to be seriously frightened or afraid, but since we have never experienced any of these emotions at any deep level ourselves, it is difficult for us to put ourselves in other people's shoes."

So is your relationship one of two psychopaths that have found mutual benefit in being together.?

MMS said...

Zhawq

Good to see you posting again. Hope your health problems are soon sorted out and you can at last move on with your life.

Marilyn (MMS)

whirleegig said...

The DSM kind of sucks actually and it particularly sucks on APD and psychopathy. The problem is that the diagnostic SHOULD define psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder as the same thing, possibly with subcategories. APD isn't really a great term for it anyway and leads people to picture individuals who hide out in closets instead of the charmers that they actually are. In general, I'm rarely impressed with psychiatry and psychiatrists and they're the dudes deciding what will or will not be included in the DSM. The United States is mostly unique in that mental illness requires a diagnosis for treatment that meets with these frankly stupid diagnostic parameters. Throw in that A. psychiatry cannot treat psychopathy (or APD) with the pharmaceuticals they like to throw at everybody with a problem and B. there is widespread concern that if psychopathy is defined as a mental illness, criminal defense attorneys will use the diagnosis to defend crimes in court. Uhhh...we could just create a law that Cluster B personality disorders do not absolve people of crimes they committed. I've always thought that the "well, they know right from wrong so they aren't mentally ill" school of thought was stupid. Most mentally ill people know right from wrong so this point is completely silly. Even schizophrenics typically know right from wrong though they have trouble distinguishing between reality and hallucinations. I do think that crime committed by a schizophrenic should receive special consideration that I don't think is appropriate for psychopaths. Psychopaths are dangerous to individuals and society even when they are not violent and are law-abiding. They do at least as much damage to other people as narcissists and borderlines do. Why would we allow this fuzzy, pointless DSM description that offers little help to anyone? Especially since there are so few resources for VICTIMS of psychopathic abuse! Let me tell you, that shit destroys people and they need real help!
Doesn't this sound like you? Except that it's missing features, right?
https://psychcentral.com/disorders/antisocial-personality-disorder/symptoms/

BTW, it isn't true that there is no effective treatment for psychopathy. It's a brain anomaly observable with EEG that correlates with identifiable genetic markers and is often exacerbated by unpleasant experiences growing up (because it's inheritable and the trait and abuse are often passed down to children). Because it's a brain problem, neurofeedback has shown promise as an effective treatment. https://www.realclearscience.com/journal_club/2015/03/25/a_new_treatment_for_psychopaths_109149.html
Because it's a behavior disorder, behavior modification techniques are helpful. https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2014/07/can_psychopaths_be_cured.html

But leave it to psychiatrists to call a condition untreatable when there isn't a pill for it. Psychiatry has its place and is helpful to some. In fact, I don't believe psychiatric meds should ever be prescribed by anyone but a psychiatrist (other MDs have no idea what they're doing and they're dangerous).

Thank you for this blog. The public has a dismally ignorant understanding of psychopathy. Dude shoots a whole bunch of people from a window in Las Vegas and the public is just mystified. Why would anyone do such a horrible thing? Because he was a psychopath with narcissistic features. Duh! Because his intrinsic reward system is very different from yours. More importantly, it would be great if the public finally recognized the psychopathic manipulation tactics that industry uses on us every day, brainwashing the public and usurping democracy. Wouldn't that be nice?

We make everybody take mathematics every single year throughout school and then most of us rarely use it in real life. On the other hand, nobody is forced to take psychology and it sure would help us in our daily lives if we did.