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The Mind of a Sociopath

 
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 08:06 am
@Phoenix32890,
Being a psychopath is basically a birth defect like Down syndrome, although you'd fifty times rather have a kid with Down syndrome. Best book on the topic is Robert Hare's "Without Conscience". Hare notes that there are real brainwave differences between psychopaths and ordinary people and he once had a paper rejected by a scientific journal when an editor noticed several encephalograph charts and told him they weren't human.

The thing which kills empathy in psychos is a missing ability to model other people and that also effects the ability to model sequences of events (consequences), so that psychos will more often than not go on doing stupid things after you or I would have figured out there was a problem and stopped. Porking teenage interns more than once or twice would be one example....
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 08:21 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:

Psychopath and sociopath (the link provided by Montana) are often used interchangeably.


But probably shouldn't be.

Quote:
As Robert Hare had indicated in an article written in 1996, “The distinction between psychopathy and anti-social personality disorders is of considerable significance to the mental health and criminal justice systems. Unfortunately, it is a distinction that is often blurred, not only in the minds of many clinicians but in the latest edition of DSM-IV.”

The DSM-IV has both disorders; psychopath and sociopath lumped together under 301.7: Antisocial Personality.

There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since the age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more of the following:

1-failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest

2-deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure

3-impulsivity or failure to plan ahead

4-irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults

5-reckless disregard for safety of self or others

6-consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations

While the DSM’s diagnostic criteria are accurate and valid to the extent that they apply to both psychopathy and sociopathy, the failure to not provide additional criteria that would enable the clinician to more clearly distinguish between the two has unfortunate treatment implications. more
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 08:32 am
The tendency to cubby-hole people makes me uncomfortable. I will begin my objection with two points.

1. A murderer is someone who commits a murder. They are not born a murderer (no matter what alleged genetic traits they have). In order to become a murderer, they need to make the conscious choice to kill someone and then carry this out. It's very simple. No act of murder... no murderer.

I would expand this to say someone is not evil until they choose to do evil.

2. I suspect that probably one or two people (out of 6 billion) have all of the items on this comprehensive list of personality traits. I also suspect that all of us have at least a couple of these traits to some degree.

Can someone who is less narcissistic than I be more evil than I am? Probably (I am not that evil).

I understand the need to identify people as dangerous so you can protect yourself-- and sure, trust your instincts.

But humans are very complex animals. Personalities are made up of a multitude parts each of which is a spectrum. Each of us is a completely unique combination of them all.

Sure it is comforting to put people into neatly labeled boxes. I am very dubious that is has any real value (other than to make us feel better).

JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 08:37 am
@ebrown p,
I was just going to reference narcissism as yet another sub-category.

I agree that labeling people (putting them into a cubby hole) is done too often and with too little consideration. As labels, they are just that. As medical diagnoses, they are intended to help the clinician come up with viable and effective treatment options. Blurring the cubby-holes makes that more difficult.

Narcissism vs pyschopaths -
Quote:
Psychopaths really do not need other people while narcissists are addicted to narcissistic supply (the admiration, attention, and envy of others).

Millon and Davis (supra) add (p. 299-300):

"When the egocentricity, lack of empathy, and sense of superiority of the narcissist cross-fertilize with the impulsivity, deceitfulness, and criminal tendencies of the antisocial, the result is a psychopath, an individual who seeks the gratification of selfish impulses through any means without emp
athy or remorse." source
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 08:50 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
The tendency to cubby-hole people makes me uncomfortable.

When you've had to deal with a psychopath, or someone with a lot of those traits, you'll welcome the chance to comprehend what's going on.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 08:56 am
@DrewDad,
indeed
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:04 am
@Montana,
Montana wrote:
I think it would be great with your background if you could share some information here, Dlowan.


Both Dlowan and Lola (if she shows up) can give good input on this because of their professional knowledge. There are problems with categorizing people but for a professional, the DSM categories are very useful.

(I once joked with Lola that the specific disorder that spendius exhibits has not yet been classified in the DSM. But I was only joking.)
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:40 am
@DrewDad,


Quote:
you'll welcome the chance to comprehend what's going on.


This is a false statement. I am saying that the label is misleading. The good feeling labels help you comprehend anything is a lie.


I highly doubt the label "psychopath" has any value to helping you comprehend what's going on.

First of all, the label is just a value judgment. I wonder if you let professionals study 100o people, if they will even agree among themselves which are the "psychopaths". Certainly you and I picking out traits would disagree. (Let's start a thread asking if Cheney is a psychopath (I vote yes)).

Second, even people labeled "psychopath" are unique individuals. Some may be dangerous, some not. The label has no way of encompassing the entire range of human traits.

Third, these traits aren't predictive of anything. People who are very self confident, even who say they are on a mission from God, even who say they hear voices, have done great things and are respected in history.

There are dangers to the term "psychopath".

The first is that by attaching this label to someone you will cause harm; either to them by unnecessarily treating the unfairly, or to you if you unfounded fear cheats you out of an relationship that may be otherwise fulfilling.

The real danger is that as a society, we tend to confuse "odd" (i.e. people who act out of the norm) with the "dangerous". This is to my mind a very bad thing. If we are going to have a free and open society, we need to protect the right to be "odd" in any way that is legal and doesn't harm others.

I don't see any benefit to the label (but then again I don't see any benefit to taking my shoes off in the airport or those stupid terror alert colors either).

The world is a complex, sometimes dangerous place. Putting simplistic "labels" on people does nothing to change that. It only offers a false sense of security.... at a cost.
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:41 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:

1. A murderer is someone who commits a murder. They are not born a murderer (no matter what alleged genetic traits they have). ...


True, however....

Hare notes that the movie "Bad Seed" was pretty close to real life, and expresses the view that there is no such thing as a parent of a psychopathic child who would not happily hand the kid over to government agents at the age of six or seven, i.e. that in full blown cases at least, the thing is pretty obvious from the get go.

You are dealing with what amounts to a birth defect and nobody really knows what sort of a physical cause there might be for it, if any, as of yet.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:44 am
The fact that you consider the label "simplistic" makes me suspect that you don't understand it well enough. There is nothing simplistic about the behavior of a psychopath.

I will give your opinion all of the consideration it merits.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:54 am
More on narcissism --

Quote:
Symptoms

Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:

* Believing that you're better than others
* Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
* Exaggerating your achievements or talents
* Expecting constant praise and admiration
* Believing that you're special
* Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
* Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
* Taking advantage of others
* Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
* Being jealous of others
* Believing that others are jealous of you
* Trouble keeping healthy relationships
* Setting unrealistic goals
* Being easily hurt and rejected
* Having a fragile self-esteem
* Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.

When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don't receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may also seek out others you think have the same special talents, power and qualities " people you see as equals. You may insist on having "the best" of everything " the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.

But underneath all this grandiosity often lies a very fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better. source


0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  4  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:57 am
In my opinion, the labels are useful to psychology professionals and are probably applied carefully by these professionals. This type of labeling would only be a problem if freely used by non-professionals.
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:25 am
@wandeljw,
Wandel, I think you are making another very important point...
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:39 am
@DrewDad,
Quote:
The fact that you consider the label "simplistic" makes me suspect that you don't understand it well enough. There is nothing simplistic about the behavior of a psychopath.

I will give your opinion all of the consideration it merits.


Simply brilliant DrewDad, in three sentences... you display five of JPB's traits for Narcissistic Personality disorder...

* Believing that you're better than others
* Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
* Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
* Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
* Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

Not that I am ready to make a diagnosis Wink
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:43 am
@ebrown p,
Good lord. You got all that from a post on the Internet, eh?

Perhaps you need to worry more about how you label people, and less about how I label people.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:49 am
Rightly or wrongly, I've always thought of psychopathology a medical word for the study of psychoses, and psychopathy as the spectrum of psychotic disorders.
I've thought of sociopathy as a non psychiatric term that covers a spectrum of some human behaviors with the commonality of something a little hard to pin down involving using people without remorse, a general lack of societal concern, perhaps even a total lack of any such feelings.

What experts would include under the term sociopathy, how strict the criteria are and whether all of us occasionally fit some of the criteria.. I've no idea.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:04 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad... you missed my point, my intention was not a personal attack (and I apologize if my last post was inappropriate).

Remember, I am on the side of skepticism. My last post was intended as ironic joke. For the record I don't think you are a Narcissist.

I was merely trying to use humor to show that the process of labeling casual acquaintances can go awry.

ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:07 am
@ossobuco,
One thing that is interesting about psychopathy is that it has a built in stigma.

If someone has these traits, but is able to live a law-abiding fulfilling life, is she still a psychopath. What if some of these traits have a positive effect on her life?

Compare Psychopathy with Autism. Autism can be debilitating, but many people learn to live with Autism and have quite accomplished lives.

If psychopaths are people with a social/mental disorder, why shouldn't we treat them with the same courtesy and understanding?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:28 am
First, in her post #3545439, Montana wrote:

Quote:
Most psychotic people look like normal every day people


Then, in her post #3545536, she wrote:

Quote:
I actually haven't known many personally, but most of the ones that I did know looked perfectly normal.



Then, in her post #3545552, she wrote:

Quote:
I knew he was psychotic just by looking at him, but others at work didn't see it.


Montana, do you not see the contradictions in this series of statements? Your first statement, making a global statement about the appearance of sociopaths, implies that you know a great many sociopaths, enough to make such a generalization. Taken to an extreme, one could argue that you claim to know a majority of sociopaths, or a least enough of them to make such a statement. But, leaving aside the quixotic nature of such a statement, it does imply that you know quite a few sociopaths. Your second statement, however, begins with an admission that you don't know many sociopaths--which contradicts the implications of your first statement. However, when you say "most of the ones that i did know," you imply that you have known enough sociopaths to make a distinction between "most," or "a few," or "just one," or "none at all." You destroy your own credibility with such a sequence of statements.

In the third statement, you state that you knew this guy was "psychotic" by looking at him, and that after having asserted that such people look "perfectly normal." You're all over the road. There is little reason for people to take you seriously when you make a string of statements such as that.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:34 am
@JPB,
Thanks, JPB--i rather thought it was wrong to blur that distinction, but can't claim any expertise to support such a contention on my own. It is good to see that someone with expertise in this matter makes the distinction.
0 Replies
 
 

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