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Thread: On Psychopathy

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    Post On Psychopathy

    This is a PM I sent to Vanessa through The Phora a while ago, I've recently become aware of how useful the idea/s in this are.

    I'm wondering... if being a psychopath is actually the natural state of humanity. Here's why: psychos feel physical pain. Guilt, shame etc. are socially conditioned - we get the idea that if we feel shame or guilt A) we've done something wrong, B) we're at a risk of losing. I've been re-reading Human Action by Ludwig von Mises (Austrian school economist, great guy) and from the axiom that man acts (act defined as goal directed behaviour), the means most appropriate to achieve the goal with the least investment - the most efficient means possible, in short - will be preferred over the other inefficient means. Simple logic. So, what if there's no difference between a psychopath and an unsocialised human (Romulus and Remus raised by wolves, sort of)? The unsocialised human knows by instinct that sticking his member in the right hole of a female of the same species is incredibly cool (), and we know that this results in offspring - but we're not hard-coded to know that if we have sex (in a relatively uncivilized cave man existence where the blessings of Teh Pill™ and condoms don't exist) then kids will pop out nine months later - the point of the instincts is that they predispose us towards certain experiences. It just happens that those experiences, plus the inborn means to achieve them (e.g. intelligence), and the inclination to do so (sex drive, violence, etc.), that are successful (meaning: they are passed on by reproduction) which we have in us serve the purpose of the will to self extension, or the will to power, and could be said to be 'purposeful instincts'. The psychopath is someone who guts himself of extraneous conditioning (shame, fear, etc.) and so 'No, I'm in touch with humanity' (Patrick Bateman, from American Psycho). I paid attention to American Psycho yesterday morning (I watched it while I was eating breakfast) and I noticed that every act of violence is either A) the overriding of the will to power against all resistence, clearing the lines for increasing power (e.g. when Evelyn calls Patrick Bateman while Jean is about to go out to dinner with him, and Bateman nearly cracks it), B) aesthetic violence, of sorts. Experience for the sake of experience, the apperance with a vacuum behind it, a 'lack of meaning', ritualised artistic pain. That 'vague yet deep' look of the psychopath (Vanessa's words) is the vacuum which reflects ourselves because the psychopath has absorbed nothing of the conditioning which has created us as units which can be dealt with in statistics, e.g. 'white male aged 18 net prospective inhertitence worth $770k status single brown hair blue eyes racial subtype keltic nordic IQ 144' etc., - has sunk into the psychopath, he is as a blank tablet made of teflon on to which all things may mark but nothing remains permanently, point being these things do not constitute his own self-reflective identity because the psychopath is literally man as natural man, the human predator prior to being regimented, organised, recorded, conditioned, into the pack animal to such a degree of refinement that the power structures, the inheritence of the human predator amongst other human predators, the overlapping, casting and positioning effect of overlapping wills to power, which has created a space for the genetic behavioural mutations which resulted in modern man - the man of conscience.
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Psychopathy is a perversion that is net harmful in a healthy society but net beneficial in a sick society. This is because it isolates its object from the group and he reverts to the basic level that you are trying to describe.

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Without the worst elements the best elements are left unhighlighted. Psychopathy is just part of the dual nature of humanity.
    Last edited by Northern Paladin; Sunday, June 19th, 2005 at 05:31 PM.

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Seen through the lens of game theory, psychopathy is a behavioural pattern that is advantageous to an individual, though disadvantageous to the group. Through deceit and other immoral behaviours, the psychopath may be able to increase the gains available to them through social interaction, even though such gains are at the expense of other participants in society. Of course, the psychopath can only increase his or her own gains if others remain honest (and therefore vulnerable to fraud and deceit). In so far as his behaviour reduces mutual trust amongst others, by teaching people that they cannot presume honest behaviour in others, this would tend to increase the transaction costs of social interaction and result in a sub-optimal level of social cooperation (i.e. generate a deadweight loss of potential available gains from cooperation).

    Psychopathy in an otherwise honest society is therefore a parasitical behaviour that produces gains for the psychopath at the direct expense of others, and which also reduces the net welfare of society. Furthermore, if everyone were to behave as a psychopath, the result would ultimately be a complete breakdown in social cooperation, and a net loss of the benefits available from it. It is therefore not surprising that both moral and legal codes in complex societies that rely on extremely deep and broad networks of social cooperation tend to strongly penalize the behaviours associated with psychopathy, in order to provide the psychopath with disincentives to follow their inclinations.

    At the same time, this analysis does tend to support the conclusion that psychopathy is the natural state of humanity, since absent moral or legal proscription it would be in the interests of every discrete individual to behave like a psychopath (even though it would not be in the collective interest).

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Quote Originally Posted by Telperion
    Seen through the lens of game theory, psychopathy is a behavioural pattern that is advantageous to an individual, though disadvantageous to the group. Through deceit and other immoral behaviours, the psychopath may be able to increase the gains available to them through social interaction, even though such gains are at the expense of other participants in society. Of course, the psychopath can only increase his or her own gains if others remain honest (and therefore vulnerable to fraud and deceit). In so far as his behaviour reduces mutual trust amongst others, by teaching people that they cannot presume honest behaviour in others, this would tend to increase the transaction costs of social interaction and result in a sub-optimal level of social cooperation (i.e. generate a deadweight loss of potential available gains from cooperation).

    Psychopathy in an otherwise honest society is therefore a parasitical behaviour that produces gains for the psychopath at the direct expense of others, and which also reduces the net welfare of society. Furthermore, if everyone were to behave as a psychopath, the result would ultimately be a complete breakdown in social cooperation, and a net loss of the benefits available from it. It is therefore not surprising that both moral and legal codes in complex societies that rely on extremely deep and broad networks of social cooperation tend to strongly penalize the behaviours associated with psychopathy, in order to provide the psychopath with disincentives to follow their inclinations.
    Agreed. Though I think it is of note that there is no person in the world who can be purely parasitic. More times than not in order to find help or "use someone" we have to offer them an incentive. And usually even a man of average intellect is persepetive enough to realize when they are blatantly being taken advantadge of.

    Per se Psychopathy doesn't describe the complexity of human behavior.To me it doesn't make sense to put people in such narrow catagories. That seems to me fatalistic.

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Paladin
    Agreed. Though I think it is of note that there is no person in the world who can be purely parasitic. More times than not in order to find help or "use someone" we have to offer them an incentive. And usually even a man of average intellect is persepetive enough to realize when they are blatantly being taken advantadge of.

    Per se Psychopathy doesn't describe the complexity of human behavior.To me it doesn't make sense to put people in such narrow catagories. That seems to me fatalistic.
    Psychopathy actually involves many categories. It is an entire range of mental illnesses. A Psychopath usually refers to a specific type of individual and although it is used commonly and frequently in society, it is not even a Psychological diagnosis or category. Generally "psychopath" refers to individuals who have Anti-social Personality Disorder.

    I will post more on this later, and have been wanting to since I first read this thread. I have just been busy finishing a quarter in school and writing a paper, so I have been needing my "down time."
    "I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    Psychopathy actually involves many categories. It is an entire range of mental illnesses. A Psychopath usually refers to a specific type of individual and although it is used commonly and frequently in society, it is not even a Psychological diagnosis or category. Generally "psychopath" refers to individuals who have Anti-social Personality Disorder.

    I will post more on this later, and have been wanting to since I first read this thread. I have just been busy finishing a quarter in school and writing a paper, so I have been needing my "down time."
    Here's a good site about Psychopathy http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal...3.html?sect=19

    "Without remorse, psychopaths charm and exploit others for their own gain. They lack empathy and a sense of responsibility, and they manipulate, lie and con others with no regard for anyone's feelings."



    The category Psychopathy tends to appear over generalized/simplified. Lack of empathy,emotion,disregard for others, is not neccearly confined to a group of people it is more or less the human condition. It's part of the multi-faceted Spectrum of human behavior. It's within all of us.

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Paladin
    Here's a good site about Psychopathy http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal...3.html?sect=19

    "Without remorse, psychopaths charm and exploit others for their own gain. They lack empathy and a sense of responsibility, and they manipulate, lie and con others with no regard for anyone's feelings."



    The category Psychopathy tends to appear over generalized/simplified. Lack of empathy,emotion,disregard for others, is not neccearly confined to a group of people it is more or less the human condition. It's part of the multi-faceted Spectrum of human behavior. It's within all of us.
    Thanks for the link. It does have a lot of good things to say about it, like what I already mentioned about Antisocial Personality Disorder.

    In 1952, the word "psychopath" was officially replaced in psychiatric nomenclatures with "sociopathic personality," and these labels eventually came to be used interchangeably under the heading of "personality disorder." Then with the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) in 1968, "sociopathic personality" yielded to "personality disorder, antisocial type."
    I must say that I slightly disagree with him on the usage of the MMPI, but of course, I am familiar with the MMPI-2, which he does not mention. I find it to be one of my favorite clinical personality measures. Scoring it is quite fun.


    The DSM-IV Manual With some adjustments, these criteria were continued over the next two decades in the DSM-III-R and the DSM-IV. Accordingly, clinicians who use these manuals look for symptoms in people over 18 and not otherwise psychotic who since age 15 have shown a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. Among these behaviors, the person has done at least three of the following:



    • failure to conform to lawful social norms
    • deceitfulness
    • impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
    • irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
    • reckless disregard for safety of self or others
    • consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
    • lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent about having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

    So while there was now a list of explicit criteria for clinicians to use, APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) proved to be unworkable for those who were researching psychopathy. Hare points out, "In forensic populations, diagnoses of APD have far less utility with respect to treatment outcome, institutional adjustment, and predictions of post-release behavior than do careful assessments of psychopathy based on the traditional use of both behaviors and inferred personality traits."
    I agree with this in a number of ways. If you notice, Hare is also making differentiation between "forensic populations" and "clinical (psychological) populations. What he is saying is absolutely true about treatment outcomes, institutional adjustment, and predictions on post release behavior. For the most part, these days, the term psychopath is a "legal" term and as earlier stated in this article, no longer used at all in Psychology as a diagnosis. Hare is trying to make a distiction between the two, "psychopath" and "anti-social p.d.", and in doing so, he is also broadening the boundaries of what constitutes a "psychopath" to where it includes anyone who "exploits people and leaves them depleted and much worse for the encounter." He includes CEO's, entrepeneurs, and politicians in this relm.
    Refocusing the idea of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy is characterized by such traits as
    • lack of remorse or empathy
    • shallow emotions
    • manipulativeness
    • lying
    • egocentricity
    • glibness
    • low frustration tolerance
    • episodic relationships
    • parasitic lifestyle
    • persistent violation of social norms
    There is a good section on the brain in the article.

    Hare believes that developing a good treatment plan is a new frontier of studying the psychopath. Based on the fact that psychopaths do change their behaviors somewhat as they get older, there could be a way to devise an intervention to enact these changes at an earlier stage.

    To this point, the received wisdom on the subject is that psychopaths not only do not improve with treatment, but they may actually get worse. In treatment, they learn better ways to manipulate the system to their advantage and to play "head games" with the clinicians.
    This is very true. It is said that the only cure for Antisocial P.D. is old age. If you remember back when Hare mentioned about treatment outcomes, etc. This is what it refers to. There are prisons that actually screen out those who fit the criteria and then do not offer treatment. I know of one Federal Prison in Texas that admittedly does this. Hare, has a more optimistic view. He believes that Psychopaths can be treated, and that there is just currently no treatment available that works. He and his colleagues are apparently in the process of designing, and testing treatment programs in Canada.


    While he has no outcome data yet from programs specifically designed for psychopaths, this is a new arena for researchers. Hare and his colleague, Dr. Steven Wong, Correctional Service of Canada, believe there's hope.
    "There may be biological bases for these changes. For example, as testosterone levels go down with age, aggressiveness may also decrease. We can take features that change with age and use interventions to speed up the process. We know we're not going to instill in psychopaths a sense of empathy or a strengthened conscience, but we can probably work with characteristics related to their antisocial behavior, such as impulsivity, stimulation-seeking, and irresponsibility."
    Anyhow, thanks again for the link. I summarized some of it here, and maybe I will write more about Antisocial Personality Disorder in another thread or in this one. At present, realize what this article says and what I said, that Psychopath is not an actual Psychological diagnosis. It once was, but has been changed to Antisocial Personality Disorder approximately 40 years ago. It is still widely used in the public and legal realm. What Dr. Hare is trying to do is distinguish between Antisocial P.D. and "Psychopath" and seperate the two from each other. He is doing this for several reasons and one reason is because of his optimism in treating these individuals. Another reason is because he doesn't feel that all people who are Antisocial P.D. fit into his definition of "Psychopath" and vice versa. Obviously, his research and work has been going on for a very long time and will continue to go on. Dr. Hare's study is, I'm sure, a longitudinal study and may not have results for many many years to come. Prematurely publishing results could result in a Type I or Type II statistical error. I'll see if anything is out there in the literature yet, nonetheless.
    "I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Paladin
    Agreed. Though I think it is of note that there is no person in the world who can be purely parasitic. More times than not in order to find help or "use someone" we have to offer them an incentive. And usually even a man of average intellect is persepetive enough to realize when they are blatantly being taken advantadge of.
    Well, if for instance a person defrauds someone, I'd define that as a parasitic behaviour. If person A expects to get X from an exchange with person B, and is willing to give them Y in return, and person B led them to expect they would get X from the exchange, but was deliberately misleading them the entire time and never intended to deliver X, yet took delivery of Y from them anyway, then person B enriched themsleves at person A's expense.

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    Post Re: On Psychopathy

    Quote Originally Posted by Telperion
    Well, if for instance a person defrauds someone, I'd define that as a parasitic behaviour. If person A expects to get X from an exchange with person B, and is willing to give them Y in return, and person B led them to expect they would get X from the exchange, but was deliberately misleading them the entire time and never intended to deliver X, yet took delivery of Y from them anyway, then person B enriched themsleves at person A's expense.
    Well yeah even if everyone was super intelligent deception would be possible though harder.

    But the net gain of the "predator" always difuses they will still pass their gains on to someone else. Relatives,Friends,associates,the economy...ect.

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