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Moral Disabilities

There are Psychopaths / Sociopaths / Severe Narcissists. The kind of people who end up being serial killers or child abusers (or World Leaders).

ISTM that these kind of conditions are like moral disabilities. Some people will never be able to fruitful members of society, and will only drain or kill. This troubles me on two main levels.

Firstly, what is the compassionate thing to do as society? Are we better off isolating them / locking people up before they hurt other people? Is there any hope for restoration and a 'normal' life? Can we spot and stop serial abusers and killers before they start to offend*? What should that intervention look like?

Secondly, theologically, what is our response? I guess this stuff touches on Original Sin (which isn't a theology I'm that keen on). But, there's a theoretical model of repentance -> salvation & sanctification, which supposes moral improvement. But if someone is fundamentally morally impaired, what does that mean in practice? Is there no hope for them? Are some people beyond salvation in this world? Should we welcome everyone into church, or are there some people who should just be avoided? What does that mean for people's souls, and their Creator, if they're that damaged that there is no hope for them, or is no-one beyond redemption?

* Profilers have a list of traits, warning signs of worse to come. Stuff like harming animals, domestic abuse, egocentric/narcissism, manipulative charm, lack of empathy and so on.
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Comments

  • Honestly, I think it boils down to practical issues. If they're an actual danger (physically) to others, they need restrictive conditions on where they can go and who they can meet. If they engage in fraudulent schemes involving money, the police can be involved. If they fuck up people's lives emotionally, then there's very little that can be officially done - it's up to the community to warn of and mitigate the effects of that behaviour.

    And in our fragmented, fluid communities, that's almost impossible.

    In a church setting, how do you know who is and who isn't a danger, except by spending time with them and getting to know them? It's never a good idea to offer roles and responsibilities (over and above making the tea or setting out chairs, as part of a team) to newcomers - I've seen people at my own shack who have arrived, and within a couple of months are helping with youth group, get on the preaching rota, and absolutely wreck the congregation, all because the leader has been taken in by them.
  • There is a major problem with this.
  • Thanks, Jengie, for bringing that up :) I was about to. I used that on another thread, a little while back. I heard a related radio piece, and IIRC a TED talk.

    Strange world.
  • Are these conditions innate, part of the genetic code of an individual? Or do they develop, because of what the individual goes through?
  • Or both?
  • Are these conditions innate, part of the genetic code of an individual? Or do they develop, because of what the individual goes through?

    If the article @Jengie Jon posted is correct (I highly suggest reading it), it's both.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    “I was loved, and that protected me,”
  • That’s an amazing article, @Jengie Jon, thanks for posting it. Food for thought.
  • Oh man, Jengie... that article is scary. I have quite a few of the same behaviors, especially the teasing, being a jerk bit and enjoying manipulation (I used to think I was a master at that, but I was fooling myself. Now I react heavily against it).

    My only comfort is that I am a massive hypochondriac. I have never seen a symptom I haven't developed.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    An Adlerian Psychologist used to say. Nature and Nurture only provide building blocks. What you do with them is your responsibility.

    Fallon has stated that he is not concerned and believes that his positive experiences in childhood negated any potential genetic vulnerabilities to violence and emotional issues. Therefore, while Dr. Fallon has some of the physical traits of pathology, he was able to overcome them, which Adler would say it proves his point that people strive for superiority.
  • I sometimes wonder if there's an moral equivalent of savant syndrome, and a upside-down counterpart. Maybe a person (as far as we can tell in this world) is very, very bad--does horrible things--and doesn't seem to care about anyone/anything else. But they might be good in one area: maybe art, science, doing occasional good works that they don't really understand, etc. Or another person could be the flip side of all that: mostly very, very good, but very, very bad in one area. E.g., abusers, people compelled to violence, totally ruthless business people.

    Sometimes, people who do very bad things are doing the very best they can.
  • Re Dr. Fallon:

    Except people around him were well aware of what he was, and had tried to tell him for years. So he did at least express some traits. But it's great that he isn't worse than that.
  • Jengie Jon wrote: »
    There is a major problem with this.
    I heard him talk about it in a BBC documentary about psychopaths last year, he put a lot of emphasis on the protection of his upbringing.

  • Dr Fallon sounds like an encouraging example. I asked my question because I was wondering what, if anything, could be done so that individuals don't reach this state. He sounds as though this is possible.
  • I’m guessing that, due to the genetic influences, many potential psychopaths don’t get the loving, protective environment needed to develop the strength of character to overcome the traits.
  • I’m guessing that, due to the genetic influences, many potential psychopaths don’t get the loving, protective environment needed to develop the strength of character to overcome the traits.

    Yeah, but they make terrific business leaders!
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Two thoughts, going back to the OP.

    1. This is only a hypothesis. That some psychiatrists, possibly retained by defence lawyers to try to keep their clients out of chokey, maintain this, does not mean that it is true. And

    2. Even if it were true, 'it's just my nature', or 'God made me that way' doesn't oblige you, me, or society as a whole to accept it as an excuse for ignoring the fundamentals of morals, ethics, scruples and what is expected of people as part of the price everybody has to pay to live in civil society.

    These issues underlay the discussions about Ben Field, the Maids Moreton murderer in the course of another recent thread.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    This is only a hypothesis.

    Can you elaborate, please? Which bits, that psychopaths etc. exist, or the specifics of our understanding of them?
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    An Adlerian Psychologist used to say. Nature and Nurture only provide building blocks. What you do with them is your responsibility.
    What one does is their responsibility, but that does not negate the responsibility of those that provide the nurture.
    Nor does it change that some people are very much screwed by nature, nurture or both.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    This is only a hypothesis.


    Can you elaborate, please? Which bits, that psychopaths etc. exist, or the specifics of our understanding of them?
    I'll try @goperryrevs. You may regard this as ceontious but I don't think it is. The nature of psychology as a discipline - as with economics - is that it's not like physics or chemistry. From outside the discipline one is often forced to accept much of its understandings as on a continuum from hypotheses that are quite widely accepted to hypotheses that are much less widely accepted. There are things that appear to be quite widely accepted but not authoritative in the way that, say, physics or chemistry are. There are other areas where it starts to look as though people choose which bits to accept according to what they'd like that bit to back them up on.

    So, with 'psychopath', it may well be quite a useful shorthand to describe a certain set of characteristics and behaviours that are often observed as occurring together (i.e. further to one side of the continuum), without that necessarily compelling you or me to accept the conclusions from that which a particular expert witness is trying to persuade us we are obliged to accept (i.e. well over to the other side of that continuum).
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    An Adlerian Psychologist used to say. Nature and Nurture only provide building blocks. What you do with them is your responsibility.
    What one does is their responsibility, but that does not negate the responsibility of those that provide the nurture.
    Nor does it change that some people are very much screwed by nature, nurture or both.

    The particular psychologist I had in mind when I wrote my comment grew up in a pretty rough situation. He lost his mother when he was quite young and was left with an alcoholic father. He ended up in foster homes when his father abandoned him. Yet he made it through and became a leading Adlerian.
  • For any given set of circumstances, one can find people who have overcome them. Bu it does not follow that any one can. The idea that any individual can rise above all challenge and succeed if they just will it is rubbish. The greater the challenges faced, the fewer who will surmount them.
  • Good post, lb.
  • seconded.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    For any given set of circumstances, one can find people who have overcome them. Bu it does not follow that any one can. The idea that any individual can rise above all challenge and succeed if they just will it is rubbish. The greater the challenges faced, the fewer who will surmount them.

    That suggests that everything is a mix. All success a combination of effort and good fortune, all failure a mix of circumstance and individual fault.

    It may well be true.

    But it follows that the oversimplified worldview in which success is deserved and the oversimplified worldview in which success is undeserved are both partly right and partly wrong.

    Is that something we can live by without lapsing into one or the other ?
  • There is often an excessive tendency to rely on individual responsibility and characteristics in explaining behaviour I think. It reinforces racism, particularly in countries with long histories of racism. It also maintains social order. Coming from a good family, ideas of social class. Perhaps the lessons of Shaw's Pygmalion (My Fair Lady, the musical) is merely entertainment.

    Disadvantaged groups have many things imposed on them. Higher rates of no finishing school, more single parenting, lower birth weights, fewer opportunities fueled by internalization of the messages of inferiority.

    Every decade or so, so fake science reaches popular attention, which says black people are more aggressive and have lower IQs, that Asians are better at math, that European genes make people smart. And we fill prisons with minorities.
  • AnteaterAnteater Shipmate
    goperryrevs:
    ISTM that these kind of conditions are like moral disabilities. Some people will never be able to fruitful members of society, and will only drain or kill.
    This raises several issues, all interesting and important.

    The question of whether a trait should be classified as a disability is really controversial. On the one hand you have those who are keen to claim disability, often to be treated fairly - as they see it - by society, and e.g. receiving disability allowances rather then be pressured into the workforce. On the other hand are those who are offended by the thought that they are disabled. So you get those who campaign against treatment for deafness as it implies that if you are deaf these is something wrong with you. Same is beginning to happen with autism. And I would question whether narcissism is a disability.

    This leads on to vagueness of definition resulting in poor classification. So what is narcissism? of psychopathy? And since I believe that both can be shown in such variable degrees, at what point does any variation from what is considered normal, become pronounced enough to be viewed as a disability? And that assumes that what society considers normal is not itself open to question. The idea of a society suffering something akin to mental disorder such that people are wrongly considered to be morally insane is well known.

    I think there are very few who will "only kill". I think there are quite a few who will not be able to contribute and require support (aka "only drain"). I assume these are really in view, since I find it hard to believe that you see a huge theological problem in the idea that "the strong must bear the weak".
  • 1 in 5 or about 20% use about 80% of the social and health services in my province of Canada. And the the issues are far more determined by the disadvantages of living situations than anything else for that usage.

    Personality and adjustment are not inherited the same way as superficial physical traits. A handful of genes determine things like eye colour and shade of skin. The brain involves thousands of genes and is indissolubly linked to experiences which turn genes on and off. Because of the intricate links between genes and experiences it can not be said that there are equal contributions from environment and biology. The question is actually meaningless because you cannot separate them.
  • lb--I think you misunderstood what I was saying. It is true that various groups have what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in their path; but the fact remains, some do rise above whatever obstacles they face. To say that a particular group cannot rise above their circumstances is--well, racist in itself. Adler was focused more on family dynamics than social problems; nevertheless, much of his theory can be applied to racial dynamics.

    Here is an article that discusses how Adlerian Theory can be applied to inherent racism.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    ...

    In a church setting, how do you know who is and who isn't a danger, except by spending time with them and getting to know them? It's never a good idea to offer roles and responsibilities (over and above making the tea or setting out chairs, as part of a team) to newcomers - I've seen people at my own shack who have arrived, and within a couple of months are helping with youth group, get on the preaching rota, and absolutely wreck the congregation, all because the leader has been taken in by them.

    We were recently advised by our church's insurer that we have to certify that no new church member/attender may be allowed to take up a position as a volunteer in any capacity within six months of becoming a regular attender. There was a lot of anguished discussion over that, but the wisdom in it soon became apparent.

    Regarding Jengie Jon's referenced article, we have what appears to be a clear case of exactly that condition in strikingly similar circumstances within our extended family.

  • Anteater wrote: »
    I think there are very few who will "only kill". I think there are quite a few who will not be able to contribute and require support (aka "only drain"). I assume these are really in view, since I find it hard to believe that you see a huge theological problem in the idea that "the strong must bear the weak".

    My theological problem isn't about the strong bearing the weak at all. And, although I've used the word disability, I guess that was to thought provoke, rather than draw too many parallels with genuine disabilities or people with ASD or learning difficulties needing extra support.

    My intention theologically (which is why I raised original sin) is about those very few that you mentioned. Because, even though they're very few, they still seem to exist and they still matter.

    I once asked a guy who was pretty senior in law enforcement how many people he'd met who were just plain evil - no redemption in them whatsoever. He said he'd only met one. He said the guy was dead behind the eyes. Every other criminal he'd met (and he'd obviously met a lot of 'bad' people), he could still see the humanity in them.

    My theological upbringing / assumption / hope wants to deny that anyone like that exists - that the spark of God is in everyone, even the worst of the worst. And that everyone has the capacity for redemption. I have no problem with God creating us with physical disabilities and limitations, or with neurological diversity. But if someone has something innate in their makeup which means that they have no capacity to be 'saved' (a loaded word, I know), then that puts a spanner in a lot of our salvation theologies, especially universalist ones like mine.

    @lilbuddha 's post was totally right. It reminds me that a lot of our individualism (culturally and theologically) is bullshit. We're responsible for each other, and we're answerable for each other's wellbeing and salvation. There is no personal salvation, because no-one is an island.

    According to James Fallon (thanks @Jengie Jon), if I understand correctly: there are 3 criteria that create a psycopathic killer. The relevant gene, an early overdose of serotonin, and a severely traumatic event before the age of 14. So I guess, if you take away any of those three, you don't get a psycopathic killer. For that reason (among many obvious others), society at large has a huge responsibility to care for children, because for under 14's, severely traumatic events should be few and far between, and the knock-on effect of allowing abuse to happen is evidently severe.

    @Enoch, that's interesting, and the idea of a spectrum of psychopathy is something I'd not thought of before. The whole area is something I know little about - hence this thread.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    There are things that appear to be quite widely accepted but not authoritative in the way that, say, physics or chemistry are. There are other areas where it starts to look as though people choose which bits to accept according to what they'd like that bit to back them up on.

    So, with 'psychopath', it may well be quite a useful shorthand to describe a certain set of characteristics and behaviours that are often observed as occurring together (i.e. further to one side of the continuum), without that necessarily compelling you or me to accept the conclusions from that which a particular expert witness is trying to persuade us we are obliged to accept (i.e. well over to the other side of that continuum).

    Just to add, this would not necessarily surprise me. A lot of 'science' like gun shot residue, ballistic fingerprinting, fibre analysis, hair analysis, bite mark patterns, etc., though used in courts for years has shown to be junk science. At the most, it can be used to confirm a negative (these hairs do not match), but the use to confirm positives (these hairs definitely match) is flat-out-wrong. Yet many people have been / are being convicted because of these dubious forensics.

    Part of the problem with that is that, outside of court experts (who have an agenda) the science just isn't done properly and objectively.

    However, isn't neuroscience a field of study wider than just courts? Surely there are enough people studying this stuff outside of the legal world that means that there's a bit more scientific rigour going on?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @goperryrevs in some ways that "neuroscience is a field of study wider than just courts" could be an argument for its being less rigorous rather than more. At least in the courts, dodgy experts might eventually get shown up, as in this well known case, where eventually the GMC struck off the offender. Other experts who don't have to defend the credibility of their expertise under cross-examination, can go on proclaiming their intellectual infallibility for years and get away with being accepted as authoritative by those who like what they say.

  • There's a pertinent episode* of "Criminal Minds" called "Normal". There've been some serial murders, and the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) is trying to track down the killer. I will just say that the person hadn't been abused, hadn't tortured animals, didn't have any of the (stereo)typical markers. They'd been "normal", until...

    It's a good episode, and may require a box of Kleenex.

    One thing I like about the series is that the BAU folks have and (when possible) try to show some understanding and compassion for the person(s) they're after.

    ***BTW***: the "Criminal Minds" series is ending **this week** here in the US. Two hours on Wed. night.


    *Ok, they're all pretty much pertinent.
  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    Admittedly my knowledge of this consists entirely in having read the article linked above, but as given there this just puts me in mind of 19th-century theories of criminal physiognomy. We all know that natural-born criminals have asymmetrical skulls and large ears, don't we! And now we will adduce additional factors to explain exceptions to the rule, to the point that we can throw the original claim out.

    I'm particularly underwhelmed by the astrology-like detection of psychopathic tendencies in the scientist himself. Well, okay, I might not have killed or raped anyone; but I can get VERY AGGRESSIVE in arguments!

    By that standard, who ISN'T a psychopath?
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    lb--I think you misunderstood what I was saying. It is true that various groups have what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in their path; but the fact remains, some do rise above whatever obstacles they face. To say that a particular group cannot rise above their circumstances is--well, racist in itself.
    Well, no. It is acknowledging the adversity faced due conditions imposed from the outside when we say "X" group has a lesser chance of success because of those conditions.
    So it is not saying that it is impossible for individuals to achieve greater, but that the group is inhibited from doing so.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    Admittedly my knowledge of this consists entirely in having read the article linked above, but as given there this just puts me in mind of 19th-century theories of criminal physiognomy. We all know that natural-born criminals have asymmetrical skulls and large ears, don't we! And now we will adduce additional factors to explain exceptions to the rule, to the point that we can throw the original claim out.

    I'm particularly underwhelmed by the astrology-like detection of psychopathic tendencies in the scientist himself. Well, okay, I might not have killed or raped anyone; but I can get VERY AGGRESSIVE in arguments!

    By that standard, who ISN'T a psychopath?
    Aggressiveness isn't the key factor in a psychopath, it is lack of conscience and empathy.
  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Aggressiveness isn't the key factor in a psychopath, it is lack of conscience and empathy.

    Well, I'm paraphrasing Dr. Fallon; I suggest you take it up with him.
  • Well Fallon cites 20 traits of psychopathy, one of which is aggressive narcissism. There is also a summary (in the Hare checklist), of "selfish, callous and remorseless use of others". So being aggressive in itself does not indicate psychopathy.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    No need to paraphrase when one can directly quote:
    I had all these high-risk alleles for aggression, violence and low empathy
    Bold mine.
  • The key factors in psychopathy have been established by statistical methods of the assessment of personal characteristics and life history. The factor analysis distils this into factors. The validity of the conceptualization is established quite clearly by the prediction of re-offending by violent offenders. It is used by Corrections Canada, and the National Parole Board, which both do masterful jobs of statistically predicting risk from people who've been previously convicted. Psychopathy isn't the only factor to predict the likelihood of harming others, but it is an important one. Wikipedia provides a summary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy

    Some of the terms used within psychopathy as I've read about this include: parasitic lifestyle which means basically leeching off of others, empathy failure which means that the psychopath focuses on themselves as an individual and looks at others as useful objects not people, remorseless and relentless use of other people, enjoyment of causing suffering to others as it boosts self esteem, conscience-free.

    Does everyone have some of these characteristics some of the time? Of course. The key issue is rigid and inflexible expression of these characteristics. Personality refers to predictable general tendencies, and one model of personality disorder is inflexibility in dealing with your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, social environment.
  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    Umm. Sure. And the three words immediately preceding the ones you put in bold?

    That said, have it your way. My larger point was that the whole enterprise seemed like a long-familiar form of pseudo-scientific silliness to me, so I'm disinclined to cavil over details.
  • caroline444caroline444 Shipmate
    That Wikipedia article was excellent - thank you!
  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    Ooops. Previous post was responding to @lilbuddha, evidently made while @NOprophet_NØprofit was writing. his more considered contribution.

  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    edited March 2
    I must say I was puzzled by the Wikipedia article. Psychologists and psychiatrists don't use the term, there's little agreement on definition, and it's got low inter-rater agreement in applied use. Yet somehow we can correlate this with brain structure and self-diagnose based on a tendency to like winning arguments.

    I must say, I'm less worried about the theological implications for free will, and more about the fact that various poor sods presumably have parole decisions depending on this.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    Umm. Sure. And the three words immediately preceding the ones you put in bold?

    That said, have it your way. My larger point was that the whole enterprise seemed like a long-familiar form of pseudo-scientific silliness to me, so I'm disinclined to cavil over details.
    Pseudo-scientific? The brain scans are bringing more science into the equation.
    As far as the three words, it is the low empathy that makes the other traits more dangerous. It is also the trait that makes non-violent psychopaths a problem.
  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    edited March 2
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Pseudo-scientific? The brain scans are bringing more science into the equation.

    It's a distinguishing mark of pseudo-science that it uses the same tools as science. That's what makes it pseudo-science and not, say, 'fiction' or 'religion'. The problem physiognomists like Lombroso and Galton had wasn't a lack of measuring devices or statistical tools. It was that the things they were claiming to measure and count - externally visible physical traits indicative of innate criminality - weren't there. And it was only the sheer proliferation of the scientific apparatus and the apparent social utility of employing it that made people think that they were.

    On the evidence cited, 'psychopathic brains' to my eye have all the same hallmarks of fatuity. To correlate x and y, let alone determine causation, both terms have to be well-defined. As a term 'psychopathy' fails this test, as the Wikipedia article clearly shows. Psychologists and psychiatrists don't use it as a diagnostic category, even within the controversially-wide ambit of DSM-V. The people who *do* use it are people making parole decisions: that is to say, the people who would most find it convenient for such a category to exist. Even there, there's not much agreement on definition or assessment; and one researcher has compared the effectiveness of parole decisions based on psychopathy assessments to 'flipping a coin'.
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    As far as the three words, it is the low empathy that makes the other traits more dangerous. It is also the trait that makes non-violent psychopaths a problem.

    Really, I think it's just the proximity of those three terms - 'aggression', 'violence', and 'low empathy' - that makes the topic seem of interest at all to anyone who's not sitting on a parole board. 'Psychopath', thanks to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Bret Easton Ellis, conjures up images of a deranged murderer; (pseudo-)scientific discourse, on the other hand, redefines it as 'low empathy'. Well, we can all easily instance times when we've suffered from that. The result is that we can then play a fun parlour game of asking whether we have a KILLER INSIDE US; or, for the fainter of heart, of how much that nasty boss/manipulative friend/cheating ex-boyfriend has in common with Charles Manson. It's generous of @lilbuddha to try to tease apart that conflation again. But the way Dr. Fallon cheerfully jumbles discussion of aggression together with petty behaviour towards his grandchildren and with Lizzie Borden suggests to my mind that really, he's playing the same parlour game.

    I've got nothing against parlour games or charlatans; they're entertaining. But I'm not going to get my knickers in a possibility-of-free-will twist over them.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited March 2
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Pseudo-scientific? The brain scans are bringing more science into the equation.

    It's a distinguishing mark of pseudo-science that it uses the same tools as science.
    Not so. Pseudo-science is 'a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.', not one using the same tools as science.
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    On the evidence cited, 'psychopathic brains' to my eye have all the same hallmarks of fatuity. To correlate x and y, let alone determine causation, both terms have to be well-defined. As a term 'psychopathy' fails this test, as the Wikipedia article clearly shows. Psychologists and psychiatrists don't use it as a diagnostic category, even within the controversially-wide ambit of DSM-V. The people who *do* use it are people making parole decisions: that is to say, the people who would most find it convenient for such a category to exist. Even there, there's not much agreement on definition or assessment; and one researcher has compared the effectiveness of parole decisions based on psychopathy assessments to 'flipping a coin'.
    That test, besides being tiny, is two-steps removed from determining psychopathy/sociopathy/anti-social personality disorder.
    Psychology is an inexact and evolving discipline, and there has been low moments of extreme projection (Looking at your Sigmund), but that doesn't invalidate the entire thing.
    Homoeopathy is pseudo-science. Psychology is a complex study where the subjective can cloud the objective, but that doesn't mean rigor cannot apply.

    Timo Pax wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    As far as the three words, it is the low empathy that makes the other traits more dangerous. It is also the trait that makes non-violent psychopaths a problem.

    Really, I think it's just the proximity of those three terms - 'aggression', 'violence', and 'low empathy' - that makes the topic seem of interest at all to anyone who's not sitting on a parole board. 'Psychopath', thanks to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Bret Easton Ellis, conjures up images of a deranged murderer; (pseudo-)scientific discourse, on the other hand, redefines it as 'low empathy'. Well, we can all easily instance times when we've suffered from that.
    That is not what low empathy means. It is not a point on a graph of feels, it is the general character of a person. A person with low empathy is not one who occasional feels selfish, but one who is selfish as a baseline with no peaks of empathy.
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    I've got nothing against parlour games or charlatans; they're entertaining. But I'm not going to get my knickers in a possibility-of-free-will twist over them.
    Not sure what you are on about here, but psychopathy does not invalidate free-will. But free will is a variable thing in itself.

  • Timo PaxTimo Pax Shipmate
    edited March 2
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    It's a distinguishing mark of pseudo-science that it uses the same tools as science.
    Not so. Pseudo-science is 'a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.', not one using the same tools as science.

    Sure. And using the same tools is a common reason for making that mistake, as in the case of e.g. Galton and Lombroso previously cited. My point was that the presence of medical imaging doth not a scientific case make.
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Psychology is an inexact and evolving discipline, and there has been low moments of extreme projection (Looking at your Sigmund), but that doesn't invalidate the entire thing.
    Homoeopathy is pseudo-science. Psychology is a complex study where the subjective can cloud the objective, but that doesn't mean rigor cannot apply.

    Sure; rigour can in principle apply. But that the replication crisis has hit psychology as hard as it has implies to my mind that the discipline as a whole needs to be much, much more rigorous than it generally is. And such rigour is surely not being applied here.
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    That is not what low empathy means. It is not a point on a graph of feels, it is the general character of a person. A person with low empathy is not one who occasional feels selfish, but one who is selfish as a baseline with no peaks of empathy.

    This does not seem to be the test Dr. Fallon is applying. The evidence he cites for his own 'psychopathy' is occasional instances of bad behaviour. Does he really, examining his conscience (even if such self-assessments were reliable), find that he has never once felt empathy for another being? The record does not say. And is this an assessment we could ever reliably make of anyone - that they had never once, in their life, felt empathy for another?

    It's an impossible test to apply. And it would ruin the game anyway.
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    I've got nothing against parlour games or charlatans; they're entertaining. But I'm not going to get my knickers in a possibility-of-free-will twist over them.
    Not sure what you are on about here, but psychopathy does not invalidate free-will. But free will is a variable thing in itself.

    Oh, just referring willy-nilly back up to the theological reflections that kicked this thread off. But I agree at least that psychopathy does not invalidate free will. The former seems an even more tenuous and ill-defined thing than the latter.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited March 2
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    Sure; rigour can in principle apply. But that the replication crisis has hit psychology as hard as it has implies to my mind that the discipline as a whole needs to be much, much more rigorous than it generally is. And such rigour is surely not being applied here.
    Rigor for a "soft" science is going to be different to one in a hard science. Not sure where the "here" that you are referencing is.
    Timo Pax wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    That is not what low empathy means. It is not a point on a graph of feels, it is the general character of a person. A person with low empathy is not one who occasional feels selfish, but one who is selfish as a baseline with no peaks of empathy.

    This does not seem to be the test Dr. Fallon is applying. The evidence he cites for his own 'psychopathy' is occasional instances of bad behaviour.
    Not what I read. He is using instances to illustrate patterns of behaviour. Psychology applied to patterns is more accurate than when applied to individuals. And that is where the problematic gap occurs.

    Fixed, I hope, broken quoting code. BroJames Purgatory Host
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