37
   

The Mind of a Sociopath

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 01:40 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
That's all I am asking for.


But it's quite a lot ebrown. People dedicate their lives to this, publishing thousands of words on it and you are asking a layman on a forum to write a forum post that teaches you a whole branch of psychiatry?

It's intellectually lazy, if you really want the information you need to expect to read more words than fit in a forum post or you are going to have to run into a very generous and very informed expert with a talent for being concise.

Otherwise RTFM kinda is appropriate.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 02:23 pm
@dlowan,
Pages ago, Dlowan made clear to me that I was conflating psychosis and psychopathy, with me calling the study of psychosis psychopathology and making the processes of psychosis = psychopathy. Just to acknowledge learning happening here. (Now to look up psychopathology...)
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 03:35 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:

... if you really want the information you need to expect to read more words than fit in a forum post or you are going to have to run into a very generous and very informed expert with a talent for being concise.


Yeah you are right... I am still hoping one will come along.

I did try RTFM, I have put time reading all the links posted here, as well as Dr. Hare's website, and googling up other sources... I did as much as I could in a couple of days.
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 04:43 pm
I find that over the last 30-40 years that has been a real change in the way Western society approaches the issue of mental health. There is now an attempt to understand that the mentally 'ill' are mostly just folks with a condition that may respond to organic (medication) or cognitive therapy (psy-chiatry/cology).

To Westerners anyone who manifests 'irrational' or 'abberant' behaviour is probably deliberately non-conformist and has been treated as such. The inability to 'get better' (ie conform) is then seen as proof or this and those people have often been treated as criminal - some of the interventions suggested and often carried out in the first 50-60 years of the 20th century were draconian.

I'd say that it was not the medical establishment that changed things. Doctors in the 60's could claim that Camels and Lucky Strike cigarettes were actually good for you - and not lose their licence! Civil rights that addressed the needs of handicapped and other illnesses and a whole new pharamacopeia made the real changes. There are still some lingering hold-outs, organisations with real agendas to cram an opinion or product down your throat often claim that psychitry is 'mind-rape' and medications are 'toxins and/or poisons'. Take your pick - in particualar there is a 'church' frequented by actors and entertainment types (any that's are career path that attracts the rational!) that wants to hold the monopoly on mind-rape and resents any competition.
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 04:58 pm
The point I am heading towards is that opinion it has swung too far. Instead of stigmatising mental illness, it is now trivialised. Everyone is a budding psychiatrist - everyone diagnoses and analyses those around them for what they think are signs of serious illness.

It's the 'Dr Phil' Syndrome. If see it on TV, you must be able to do it. No? I watched some bloke lay tiles and I can do that. You watch Dr Phil solve problems on a show? You are now a mental health professional. That quiet fellow in the corner at work? He's not shy or overworked - he must be an introverted, passive-agressive with OCD and a comorbid alcohol addiction problem. Let's study and gossip about him.

I think we throw out these 'tags' too quickly. It is too easy to see bad traits in people we don't like, and far too easy to explain away the ones in those that we do like. And always too, too easy to see when people aren't 'responding' the way we want them to. Yes, maybe they are blocking you out - maybe your incessant nagging and your alcohol problem that is adding to their grief. Change, real change, takes years and is not predicated on the idea that when the people around the patient are happy a 'cure' has been acheived.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 05:03 pm
@Mr Stillwater,
I wish we all did have tags, the way we tag threads here.
dlowan
 
  4  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 05:57 pm
@ebrown p,
Now you are behaving as you claim Hare to be behaving in your worst nightmares.

I, for instance accept those who we are currently defining as psychopaths as human beings. I doubt there is anyone seriously studying such folk who does not.

Hare, most certainly, is not attempting to take away people's rights based on a label....people who run away with a dim understanding of his work may well be attempting to do so. This does not make either a carefully considered label necessarily and in and of itself bad, nor does it make Hare a crackpot.

Nor does it imply, nor have I seen Hare saying, that such folk may not choose to treat people well...it DOES imply that empathy and altruism will not be part of that decision.

This is so, also, for some of the most deeply traumatized children I see...it does not make me, or anyone else I am aware of who has some understanding of them, see them as not human.

As for the question as to whether other folk are superior to psychopaths....that would depend on your values system.

Overall, I suspect that empathy and connectedness have worked well for humans as a social strategy, and that it is very easy to argue that people having regard for each other is a better way to go.


I think you are focussing a lot of stuff on Hare that more properly belongs to what appears to be many people's desire to dehumanize and deny their connection with people of whom they disapprove...we see it all the time in relation to criminals, people with whom the US is in conflict, people with whom radical Islamists are in conflict...


At one time I would likely have agreed with you more re labelling, and I still find much of it that goes on in poor psychiatric practice, for instance, utterly repellent.


BUT....I have lived to see labels that I saw as utterly useless, like Borderline personality disorder, conduct disorder (labels that have been hideously misused..especially BPD, which used to be a kind of "garbage bin" diagnosis) allow research that has led to a far better understanding of what the contributors are to such patterns of beliefs, feelings and behaviour and generated a series of interventions that seem to be genuinely helpful.



0 Replies
 
Joeblow
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 05:57 pm
@ebrown p,
No, we’re not really on the same page at all, although we agree that the PCL-R can’t address individuals in the boardroom. My position is: So What? It doesn’t do what it wasn’t designed to do (small maniacal laugh).

It isn’t intended to classify individuals in the boardroom.

Who claimed that it was?

0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 06:15 pm
@Setanta,
Yep....lots of stuff is in the realm of hypothesis....most of Freud, for instance....and it is alarminf to me to see how much psychiatrists (except the real "It's all brain and drugs folk") bandy it around as if it were fact.

Interestingly, some of the attachment early trauma research is supporting some key aspects of the old fella's theories, but that's by the bye.

You know, the "flavour of the month" thing is a damn worry. But...luckily for me, it's way more of a problem in the US than it is in Australia and the UK.

I am fascinated by this and why it is so....

It's shown up in a number of issues.

The Great ADHD Epidemic, for instance. (Which still continues, though we seem to have passed the worst of it.)

Percentage of kids drugged was much higher in the US than in Oz, though we spiked sharply, and we had a lot of doctors prescribing like lollies...the UK was relatively unmoved.

The Satanic Abuse Scare...

Big in the US.....certainly had some adherents here, but, I was expecting a stampede of parents who believed their kids had experienced this, based on no evidence, but only ever had one.

The Inadvertantly Carefully Coached Recovered Memory Intifada.

Again, caused some real problems in the US....seems to have created a ripple in Oz...I think you could count the possible cases in the UK on one hand.

I await the terrors of the Childhood Onset Bi-Polar Catastrophe here.



I suspect one reason is the you guys, speaking broadly, are just more interested in matters psychological than we in Oz and the UK?



dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 06:18 pm
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

Pages ago, Dlowan made clear to me that I was conflating psychosis and psychopathy, with me calling the study of psychosis psychopathology and making the processes of psychosis = psychopathy. Just to acknowledge learning happening here. (Now to look up psychopathology...)


Psychopathy is an alleged example of a psychopathology...as is psychosis.

I think people need to separate psychopathy very clearly from psychosis.

It seems to keep getting confused.



ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 06:41 pm
@dlowan,
Right.. nods.
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 07:22 pm
In reading everyones points of view it's truly difficult not to be torn. This is something I've been in a tug of war with myself since back when I did the endless research on ADHD.
Not talking ADHD here, but the same situation applies.
As I did in the past, I agree completely with ebrown because I'm a person who needs proof, but at the same time, there's no doubt that some people are extremely out of the norm to the point of being dangerous and/or deadly, so I wonder how we deal with them without calling it something.
The quick to diagnose I think is the biggest problem which causes the most damage.
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  -3  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 07:24 pm
Since it seems that Setanta feels compelled to comment on how some treat others, I'm thinking he may want to have a look see inside his own closet.

http://able2know.org/topic/128192-1
Setanta
 
  -3  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:20 pm
@Montana,
Apparently, although you have me "on ignore," you can't help peeking . . . how very, very silly of you.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:22 pm
@Mr Stillwater,
Quote:
Instead of stigmatising mental illness, it is now trivialised. Everyone is a budding psychiatrist - everyone diagnoses and analyses those around them for what they think are signs of serious illness.


Best point made in this thread so far.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:34 pm
@dlowan,
You know, i'm sure that Freud was a neurologist and neurosurgeon (although i don't know if he ever practiced neurosurgery. My brother's doctoral dissertation was on the extent to which it is reasonable to surmise that his theories of psychoanalysis were influenced by his study and practice of neurology. Freud's doctoral thesis was on the spinal cord in "lower" fish species.

***********************************************

I think a big problem in the United States is that people with absolutely no medical training, and simply a four-year degree in psychology are able to practice as mental health counsellors, including being able to prescribe drugs. The marketing ploys of big pharma can be seductive, and as i saw when i was in the army medical corps, young physicians and clinical specialists are easily seduced by the apparently (though not really) quick and easy management of personality disorders with drugs. So, i'd say the flavor of the month problem arises from a constant "on the boil" attitude among practitioners who are short on experience and education, but who have been influenced by pharma sales people and by the apparent ease of treating personality disorders with drugs--which, once again, is apparent as opposed to real. I was truly disgusted by it when i was in the army, and when i worked in hospitals for a while after i got out. Interestingly, a psych whom i really, truly disliked as a person, and didn't get along with well, was a freudian, and in my estimation, was quite successful with his patients, and according to the nursing staff, was very sparing of drugs, and perferred to use them only in extremis. I considered him a complete slime ball as a person, and a truly excellent and perceptive mental health professional. He not only was a freudian, he was an MD, as was required to practice psychiatry in that state in the early 1970s.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:39 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:
The Inadvertantly Carefully Coached Recovered Memory Intifada.


Ha . . . laughed my ass off . . . although, it wasn't at all funny for far too many people . . . grim humor, that . . .
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 08:34 am
@Setanta,
Right. And I think this goes straight to the point ebrown has been making. In the continuum of human behaviors there is no clear separation between the normal and the pathological (at least not at this time). All of us are "not quite right" to a certain degree and some are clearly pathological at the predator end of the spectrum.

Since there is no real separation between normal and pathological, there is no way to identify the extreme psychopath until such time as there are victims (usually dead bodies) of his/her behavior. I am NOT advocating for population testing/branding, nor do I think that the populace is qualified to play armchair psychiatrist. However, there are clearly folks who are a danger to those around them and it would be nice to be able to identify them before the roadway is lined with corpses. If there are true tell-tail signs of the psychopath then it isn't trivial to understand what they are.

If I'm reading ebrown correctly, his concern is with the premise that the psychopath (any psychopath) can be identified by a machine or subjective assessment and that such an assessment would be used on the general population to weed them out. That's a very dangerous line to cross and yet the very nature of the psychopath is an individual who is charming and appears trustworthy in the extreme. The predator psychopath vs the "sub-clinical" psychopath to use Dr Hare's terminology are two different groups. They both leave collateral damage in their wake (ebrown is welcome to address why that term bothered him) but the collateral damage of the predator psychopath is first one, then another, and more casualties until they eventually get caught.

The sociopath (again, separating the violent nature of the psychopath from the inability to understand the impact of one's actions on another) may steal, embezzle, manipulate, etc., and I suspect that his victims would have appreciated a scarlet letter of sorts. Society has little sympathy for the victims of nonviolent crime, perhaps rightly so (they should have been more careful). There are some who have little sympathy for the victim of the predator psychopath (she/he should have seen something in his behavior).

I find myself with the dilemma of agreeing with ebrown on the one hand but with great sympathy for the victims of both the psychopath and sociopath. I wonder how Dr Hare's assessment of the Enron leadership would turn out?
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 08:35 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
I think a big problem in the United States is that people with absolutely no medical training, and simply a four-year degree in psychology are able to practice as mental health counsellors, including being able to prescribe drugs.


They can?
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 08:51 am
@DrewDad,
hmmmm, can't bring myself to agree with this one. Hence, my dilemma.
 

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