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  •  They're not incapable of choosing a different path (5+ / 0-)

    they simply see no point in it.  It's like you being offered two drinks, one of which is far more pleasurable to drink.  You might drink the other simply for variety every so often, but barring any information that it provides some other benefit, you'll drink the better one most of the time.  They still have the choice in all of their actions, and in fact, if taken on an individual, logical basis, many of their actions make a lot of sense.  They're just sucky for the other people around them.

    Sociopaths are often quite intelligent, and unfortunately, often very 'Randian' in their outlook.  Me, me, me.

    •  Fair enough. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      belinda ridgewood, Darryl House

      Does that make them "evil people" or "people who do evil things"? Does it matter? Are they the same thing?

      To me, obviously, it does. It's the distinction I am trying to make in this diary.

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

      by Dragon5616 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 11:04:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about people who are more willing to do (4+ / 0-)

        evil things? (Where the definition is hurting others.)

        As you and others have noted, basically everyone does evil things and quite often.  It's next to impossible to avoid doing so, even for most saints.  Where I think a sociopath differs is in the saying 'no one thinks of themselves as a villain' - ie, people mostly are willing to rationalize that there is some purpose served by what they do, and that if what they do involves hurting others, somehow an external greater good is done.  It helps their family, their friends, their state, their nation, etc, etc.  They perform some mental balancing act, and determine that whatever harm is done is offset by some good.

        A sociopath won't bother to rationalize.  They'll know that what they're doing hurts others, benefits no one but themselves, and just plain doesn't care that whatever it does benefits only themselves and is willing to go ahead and hurt others to do whatever it is.  They're actually capable of making such decisions - indeed, they do so every time they decide not to do something because of the harm it might cause them.  They can tell 'right' from 'wrong' in the sense that they can distinguish if an action taken could potentially result in a harm occurring.  But unless that harm is going to bite them on the ass, it's simply written off.

        They're essentially stuck in the earliest stages of development, where they are the center of the universe, and everyone else merely exists or matters insomuch as they are of use.

        •  Are they hopeless then? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          belinda ridgewood, Darryl House

          Can they never be reasoned with or made aware of how they think?

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

          by Dragon5616 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 11:55:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They are aware of it. (4+ / 0-)

            And they're more amorally rational than anyone around them.  They're the stripped down essence of self-preservation, self-interest.

            They are well, they're corporations, really.  The only reason corporations don't act in such ways 100% of the time is that non-sociopath humans are involved in the decisions most of the time.

            If by hopeless you mean hopeless to change them, then yes.  We don't at this point in time know enough about how brains work, and what makes sociopaths sociopathic to alter them.  Maybe at some point in the future.

            •  I would argue (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              belinda ridgewood, Darryl House

              that if they are "amorally rational" then I could work with them and they are not hopeless. I could rationally show them how their philosophy is ultimately self-destructive.

              If their interest is solely in themselves, then show them how sociopathy doesn't work for them. I think all human actions are ultimately made in one's own self-interest. To me, it's whether you have really thought out what is ultimately in one's own self-interest.

              "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

              by Dragon5616 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:06:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good luck, but I don't think I've read of anyone (4+ / 0-)

                having any success with such an approach.  From what I've seen, they would only be interested in perfecting the art of putting that self-destruction off until they're likely to die anyway.  If people were immortal, you might have a chance of showing how philosophically they're better off working with society.  But plenty of them have been successful enough at putting self-destruction off until they die of old age, amassing power and fortunes by exploiting everyone and everything around them.

              •  ...well, that friend of mine who turned out... (3+ / 0-)

                ...to be a sociopath (hey, you have no idea until you've had one in your life...THEN you'll never, ever NOT see it in the future. Once you've had a sociopath in your life you'll NEVER have another)...this friend of my truly only could feel how HE was being affected. That was the only thing that existed for him. I'm not kidding.

                The only way he would do anything is if it was his decision. He never did anything other than what he wanted.

                So, I was able to "work with him" as you say only by he making every decision. So, if I could show him a way he could be even MORE diabolical and misleading and deceptive...he'd always go with that.

                By his own admission the most important thing to him was how he appeared to be...how he could get others to think about him. He had NO respect for people who are real and genuine. As a matter of fact, he saw that as a total character flaw.

                The only think he respected was faking it.  

                So, it was actually a little bit of game...because everything to him was a game. And the game was to exalt himself while simultaneously harming and diminishing others.

                Once I finally understood how he saw the world...and it is black and white...they if I could convince him that choosing an option he hadn't thought about would be MORE ego satisfying...he'd jump at it. Of course, he always believed everything he did was his idea.

                That's OK because, I didn't exist...

                Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

                by paradise50 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:17:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  ...it's become increasingly obvious... (3+ / 0-)

              ...that sociopaths are born sociopathic and show the signs at a very young age. It is also obvious that the environment in which they grow up has the ability to either increase or decrease their sociopathy.

              The system in the USA and Western Europe encourages sociopathic people who find themselves at the top of corporations or in the political arena. Their "take no prisoners" approach to life is rewarded.

              In many Eastern cultures that are based upon empathy and community, sociopathic people are blunted because they don't get rewarded for their self-centered uncaring ways...

              Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

              by paradise50 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:07:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  ...yes... (3+ / 0-)

            ...psychology knows there is nothing to be done for a sociopath. In England, if a person is ever found out to be a sociopath, they are locked away for life in mental institutions because there is no therapy to be done.

            Actually, it is well known that by attempting "therapy" with a sociopath only increases that in them. It's all a game to them...and the more experience they have with interactions with different things only makes them better and better sociopaths.

            Sociopaths cannot be reasoned with...they cannot be changed into becoming concerned about others. They only  get worse. Unless they are really rich or have some great power over lots of people...they typical sociopath gets worse and worse peaking around 55-65 years old...and then is basically alone. That is unless they've successfully gotten someone to enable them and stick around.

            But most finally find themselves alone late  in life because they've screwed everyone they had in their lives...and burned all their bridges...

            Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

            by paradise50 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:02:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              belinda ridgewood, Darryl House

              I'm skeptical of this:

              ...psychology knows there is nothing to be done for a sociopath. In England, if a person is ever found out to be a sociopath, they are locked away for life in mental institutions because there is no therapy to be done.

              Actually, it is well known that by attempting "therapy" with a sociopath only increases that in them. It's all a game to them...and the more experience they have with interactions with different things only makes them better and better sociopaths.

              Sociopaths cannot be reasoned with...they cannot be changed into becoming concerned about others. They only  get worse.

              According to the Mayo Clinic, it's called "antisocial personality disorder" and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it affects a very small percentage of people:
              Specific prevalence rates for borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder were estimated at 1.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
              The Mayo Clinic says it's difficult to treat but not impossible:
              Antisocial personality disorder is very difficult to treat. People with this disorder may not even want treatment or think they need it. But people with antisocial personality disorder need treatment and close follow-up over the long term.
              But does this disorder explain all "evil" people?

              "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

              by Dragon5616 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:31:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  ...I'll have to dig up the book... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dragon5616, Darryl House

                ...where I read about this guy. I spent quite some time learning about sociopaths after my personal experience.

                A sociopath will definitely be anti-social in terms of true connection, BUT sociopathic people are very engaged with people in the world. They need a constant stream of people to use then discard. This is what they do...this is their pattern.

                The statics I've seen state that 4% of Americans are sociopathic...1 out of every 25 people. There are degrees of sociopathy as well.

                Clearly you desire to argue for sociopaths as being redeemable for some reason.  Clearly you've never dealt with one in your personal life. Clearly you are talking from a theoretical point of view.

                I'm done. I won't continue a conversation any longer with a person that has one spec of "empathy for sociopaths" because you don't know what you are talking about...just theoretical stuff for you. I've never said that to you before...but you do not know what you're talking about.

                I hope you NEVER have a sociopath in your life because they will destroy you and enjoy it. They will eviscerate you emotionally and pshychologically.

                If you think a sociopath can be helped with therapy...you're totally full of crap. I'll did up the book eventually and let you know what it is.

                I have been permanently altered (including physically) as a consequence of the actions of a sociopath. The destruction of my life was immediate in real time and continues to this day.

                If you talk to anyone who has personally been involved with a sociopath then you will hear all about how utterly destructive they were.

                Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

                by paradise50 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 01:38:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I do not mean (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Darryl House

                  to upset you, p50.

                  I also do not pretend to be qualified to treat that disorder. But there are treatments.

                  If anitsocial personality disorder is, in fact, a disorder, then wouldn't we want to treat those folks and regard their disorder and them (not their sociopathic behavior) with compassion, as we do with other mental/behavioral disorders?

                  I do not doubt your statement that those suffering from the disorder are destructive and hurtful to others. I do not excuse their actions. But if you believe, as I do--and I think you do--that we are all human and all connected, and if you believe as you say you do that as long as someone is suffering from this disorder, they are incapable of controlling their destructive behavior, then why wouldn't one feel compassion? And search for treatments?

                  Here's the full text of the Mayo Clinic blurb on treatment:

                  Psychotherapy
                  Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is sometimes used to treat antisocial personality disorder. Psychotherapy is not always effective, especially if symptoms are severe and the person can't admit that he or she contributes to problems.

                  Psychotherapy may be provided in individual sessions, in group therapy, or in sessions that include family or even friends.

                  Medications
                  There are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat antisocial personality disorder. However, several types of psychiatric medications may help with certain conditions sometimes associated with antisocial personality disorder or with symptoms such as aggression. These medications may include antipsychotic, antidepressant or mood-stabilizing medications. They must be prescribed cautiously because some have the potential for misuse.

                  Skills for family members
                  If you have a loved one with antisocial personality disorder, it's critical that you also get help for yourself. Mental health professionals with experience managing this condition can teach you skills to learn how to set boundaries and help protect yourself from the aggression, violence and anger common to antisocial personality disorder. They can also recommend strategies for coping.

                  Ask the people on your loved one's treatment team for a referral. They may also be able to recommend support groups for families and friends affected by antisocial personality disorder.

                  This certainly reads like they think it is a disorder and at least somewhat treatable.

                  As to the percentage of population suffering from the disorder, I got that from the linked NIMH website.

                  Beyond this, I still wonder if everyone we call "evil" is suffering from this disorder?

                  "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

                  by Dragon5616 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 02:55:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Here's a link (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Darryl House

                  to an NPR interview with a self-confessed sociopath.

                  The link says in part:

                  Thomas admits that sociopaths can be dangerous; they're hungry for power, and they don't feel guilt or remorse. But they're not inherently evil, and some are highly productive members of society. Thomas herself is an attorney, law professor and Sunday school teacher. She founded the website SociopathWorld.com.

                  Emphasis added

                  The sociopath says this, which gives me hope that redemption is a possibility:
                  I had just lost a job. I had just lost several relationships. And it wasn't the first time that something like this had happened to me, where my life seemed to just fall apart. And I thought, 'Well, I can't keep doing this — every few years have my life just go kaput. And so I thought, 'What is the common denominator here? It's me. There must be something that I'm doing that's causing this.' So I started going to therapy, and therapy didn't really help that much. ... But I remembered through therapy a casual diagnosis that one of my co-workers had made years before. And I explained to her how I viewed the world and my ethical principles, and she said very nicely, 'You might consider the fact that you are a sociopath.' So I looked it up, and I saw the traits, and it made sense. And it made sense in a way that nothing really before had.
                  This seems to provide anecdotal evidence that talk might help.

                  "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

                  by Dragon5616 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 03:19:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  ...precisely!... (3+ / 0-)

          ...non-sociopaths can and do make decisions that do include thoughts of how an action they will take may affect others. Others are included because others are real too...as real as they themselves are.

          Sociopaths never take how their actions may affect others into account because how others may be affected is of no concern whatsoever to the sociopath...

          Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

          by paradise50 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 11:56:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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