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Monday, October 20, 2014

Channeling your inner psychopath

Got an interesting comment Saturday on the James Traficant post from a "Senator Tombstone," who said: 

I enjoyed reading Kevin Dutton's "The Wisdom of Psychopaths." I learned that many psychopaths actually have positive traits, which can be useful in moderation. Sometimes I have to speak with angry customers and tell them news they don't like. When doing this, I try to channel my inner-psychopath and not get emotionally entangled in the delicate matter

I replied:

No question, sociopaths can perform useful roles in society. Some of the best --and most fearless -- soldiers are sociopaths. (Of course, these are also the guys who most likely to commit "friendly fire" types of crimes, and also wartime atrocities.)

Sociopaths can make inspiring leaders, and uninhibitedly passionate orators. (Of course, they are also the most likely to become corrupt, despotic, and genocidal as well.)

I like the idea of non sociopaths channeling their inner sociopath to gain courage and calm. I also like the concept of non sociopaths "out-sociopathing" a sociopath, because it represents a sort of poetic justice. (I'm referring to returning their coldness with an even frostier coldness, of lying to them, and of out-maneuvering and out-manipulating them in various ways.)

I suppose we'd have to watch out that we don't turn into sociopaths ourselves while doing this (that psychological transformation would actually be impossible). But there are definitely times when channeling an inner sociopath would come in handy. Like when we want to close a sale. When we want to intimidate. When we need the nerve to do something that normally scares us. Or when we want to seduce someone.

I wouldn't go so far as Senator Tombstone in saying that sociopaths have "positive" traits. But they definitely have useful ones.

It's just too bad those traits are generally unavailable to the nonsociopathic population. Those useful weapons simply ended up in the wrong hands, the hands of the bad guys. 


Anonymous said...

My understanding was it was impossible to out maneuver a sociopath. While non-sociopaths are wasting brain energy on moral decision making, feelings of guilt and having a conscience sociopaths do not waste thought on such things. This would give them more mental energy to make a calculated move?


John Craig said...

Andrew --
You're correct. But if one is armed with the knowledge that one is dealing with a sociopath, one can take that into account and act accordingly. (By counting on them to do the wrong thing. And also by appealing to their egos.)

You can also dispense with your own moral qualms, I suppose, if dealing with one of them. The catch there is that a sociopath will take revenge in a particularly ruthless way, if he can.

Anonymous said...

You can appeal to a narcissists ego, this is the best way (and probably only way) to deal with them.

A sociopath is different they enjoy the the "dance" and seeing their victim in pain.

I think they cannot be beaten. There is nothing "inside" to beat. You can avoid being a victim, only when you know they are a sociopath which is usually when you become the victim ha ha

John Craig said...

Andrew (?) --
What you say is true.

You're not going to beat a sociopath in the sense of hurting their feelings, though you can enrage them by wounding their pride. (And all sociopaths are also narcissists, so they can be led by the ego as well.) But basically the best way to beat them is to alert others to their presence. Sorta like, why, watch out, there's a black widow spider in that corner.

Anonymous said...

Ha yep,

True, they love to be adored, pitied and feel they have manipulated. So hurting pride will work as would supplying the ego.

It is funny though, if I say 'hey John, Jane's a sociopath" most people would reply "but she seems real nice... I once saw her buy a homeless person a warm pie"

So it is difficult. This is actually pretty close to a real life example for me.

I personally would give the homeless person money to buy cigarettes and alcohol, I'm pretty sure they don't want a damn pie.


John Craig said...

Andrew --
Once again, you're right. Just saying someone is a sociopath doesn't really convey anything except one's own opinion, so you have to provide evidence. Coincidentally, a friend just said to me a couple days ago that the quickest way to discredit someone is to provide evidence of their hypocrisy, since most people abhor hypocrisy. A sociopath's life and words will inevitably be filled with hypocrisy, and if you spend enough time around them, you'll see it. Then all you have to do is tell others about it.

This is, by the way, why public figures are often easier to spot as sociopaths than people you've met personally. The people you know you'll only see a small snapshot of, the snapshot they want to give you. A public figure's life is an open book, so we get to see them in their entirety -- in some cases, in their full hypocritical splendor.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever feel occasional envy of sociopaths, John? I'm a 'beta male', so I get glimpses of jealousy where I wish I had the sheer nerve that sociopaths do. But then I remember how sociopaths invariably end up ruining their own lives, and conclude that it's probably best that I'm not one. Still, to have that boundless confidence would be pretty cool...

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Very much so. At a certain level, I'd love to be a "sociopath for a day." I wish I had their nerve, their bravado, their glibness, and their lack of performance anxiety. So, yes, all true.

But also keep in mind, they never have peace of mind. (I wrote about this a little while ago in a post called "Why you should never envy a sociopath." The worm of discontent constantly churns in their stomachs, they never know love, and they never know peace of mind. So keep that in mind too.

Good to heard from you btw, it's been a while.