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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Are sociopaths happy?

This blog recently discussed the Gethin's question of whether sociopaths ever suffer from depression.

An equivalent question is, are sociopaths happy?

The best answer I can think of is: are great white sharks happy? Just as it's hard to imagine a great white shark getting depressed, it's also hard to imagine them feeling peacefully contented. They must get a feeling of satisfaction from grabbing a seal in their jaws, shaking it, and ripping the flesh off it. But it's a temporary feeling, and great white sharks have to keep moving, or they die.

These sharks are always ravenous, never quite sated, and remain on a sort of psychic autopilot. They are not inward-looking, introspective creatures. And they never stop to worry about whether what they're doing is "right."

In fact, even in the womb, they'll devour their own siblings.

And they spend the rest of their lives looking of their next victim.

Sociopaths are much the same. They always want more, and will do anything to get it.

Sociopaths feel physical pleasure every bit as much as the next person. In fact, because of their low level of inhibitions, they find physical pleasure hard to resist.

And sociopaths enjoy the feeling of schadenfreude even more than the rest of us; they are connoisseurs of it.

Although sociopaths can counterfeit love, affection, gratitude, and loyalty so well that to the naive they appear to be walking repositories of those emotions, they never actually feel them. So they never feel the warmth of those emotions can bring.

And sociopaths never feel the quiet satisfaction to be had from a good book, or a crossword puzzle, or a subtle turn of phrase. They need to be out and about, actively manipulating people and gaining their admiration, and, if there's anything to be gained, screwing them over.

Sociopaths also get a certain glee from fooling people -- sport lying -- but it's a very temporary satisfaction, then it's on to the next one.

Similarly, for "affect-hungry" sociopaths, like the one described in the previous post, who have a bottomless need for others' affection and sympathy and admiration -- and who will lie in order to receive such -- no amount of attention is ever enough. So they must tell more people that they have cancer, or that they were Navy SEALs, or whatever other lies it takes to get their undivided attention.

There's no rest for the scary.


Anonymous said...

They're black holes. I once saw a large black cloud in front of a sociopath's abdomen (this was before I knew he was a sociopath). I have questioned if I was seeing his chakra. Anyway, on a spiritual level, they are amiss, chaotic.

- birdie

Anonymous said...

I had a sociopath tell me once that he wasn't happy. To me, their whole inner being is out of order, so it's impossible to be consistently happy.

- birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Sociopaths ARE black clouds, metaphorically, though I've never seen that visually. And while none of us can be consistently happy, we can have relative peace of mind, which is something that seems to be beyond a sociopath's ability to experience.

Also, keep in mind that when sociopath tells you he isn't happy, that's less an expression of his actual emotional state than it is a maneuver to extract something from you.

Anonymous said...

It's been called the most pleasant mental disorder. Have you ever heard a sociopath (or at least a primary sociopath) say "man I wish I were normal, being a sociopath makes me feel miserable"? Sociopaths have some of the most abnormally low anxiety levels that could be found.

That means being worried you might be a sociopath, or mistakenly believing you are but wish you weren't is usually proof you aren't one. That is exactly why it is a character defect that is who the person is inside, unlike a more organic condition where a person can wish they were normal or hate having the condition meaning something else is inside. A sociopath, at least a primary sociopath, has nothing else inside.


John Craig said...

Ga --
Good point, and that's something I've told plenty of people in the past: if you're worried that you're a sociopath, odds are overwhelmingly that you're not one. I'm not sure I'd call it the "most pleasant" mental disorder, but yes, there are definitely some unpleasant downsides that are avoided, like anxiety, as well as guilt and embarrassment and shame.

You're also right that sociopaths don't feel bad about being sociopaths (that would be an oxymoron). They're far more likely to think things like: there are two kinds of people in the world, wolves and sheep -- and I'm happy to be a wolf.

As I said, the best thing I can equate it to is being a great white shark. Would you want to be one of those?

Anonymous said...

Trust me, he was expressing his emotional state. They are constantly trying to feed their ego (which would be tiresome).

- birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
If h was expressing his emotional state, then the feeling he was describing was more likely one most of us would probably describe as frustration, rather than, say, sadness, or loneliness, or depression, or regret.

Smallberries Worldwide said...

So what causes sociopathy? Is it predictable from upbringing or some kind of childhood trauma? Or is it just the way some people are. It seems like you have written about this many times but I haven't seen a discussion on why it occurs.

John Craig said...

Smallberries --
It's my impression that the primary cause is simply the lack of a strong bond between a baby and a caregiver (usually the mother) in the first year of life. If you don't receive love, you're not going to be able to give love, either. This is why you see so many sociopaths from orphanages, or who had mothers who were emotionally absent for one reason or another (because they were alcoholic, or drug-addicted, or maybe sociopathic themselves). And, yeah, a little abuse can certainly help a budding sociopath bloom. (Mere neglect can sometimes result in just an ordinary narcissistic personality.)

There's also the school of thought that people who's forebrains have been damaged in some way are going to be more predisposed toward sociopathy. I agree with that, too, although I think that's only the primary cause in a small percentage of cases. (But I'm not an expert on the physiognomy of the brain, so I can't really offer an intelligent opinion there; all I can do is recognize behavior patterns.)

Anonymous said...

I hate to disagree with Mister Craig, but, to serve the higher goal JOINT GROUP EXCELLENCE here on the nice blog, IT MUST BE DONE.

SOCIOPATHS ARE ALWAYS HAPPY. Not extremely happy, but, moderately happy. There is a generalized emotional deadness, but also a consistent workmanlike pleasure in all activities, like that experienced by crossword puzzle hobbyists with a new puzzle and the skills to solve it.

The mistake you are making, dear Mister Craig, is that what makes the sociopath happy is not what makes YOU happy, so you think that they are unhappy. The sociopath is process-oriented, he does not stay to eat the pie THAT YOU WOULD ENJOY EATING, he is into the hunt-for-the-next-pie. But that's a happy thing. The sociopath doesn't hate pie or enjoy pie, he is in a different industry altogether.

(I am a big Brian Eno buff, there was an interview with him somewhere, they asked him his definition of happiness (I am botching the quote here, this may be inaccurate, the reason I bring it up is to shed light on psychopaths and not to pin false quotes on Eno, heehee)...Eno said "Always new enemies, and well-selected weapons to use against them." (again, poorly quoted).

That is the psychopath's kind of happiness.)

(Don't hate me for arguing with you, dear Mister Craig, "correction" is a sign of approval for your project, in my view, heehee)


John Craig said...

What you say rings true, at a certain level, but I'm not sure you're entirely disagreeing with me. I basically said they're neither happy nor depressed, but don't really enjoy peace of mind. (Do you think Ken Boyer, the guy with Munchausen's described in the previous post, was "happy?") I suppose you could say that he regarded each of those woman as a puzzle to be solved, or as quarry which fits with what you're saying. But even if the things that would bother other people didn't trouble him, would you say that he had peace of mind?

I've been around two sociopaths on an extended basis. The first would fit your description; she mimicked a lot of the normal emotions, including sadness, but, in retrospect, didn't feel any of them. I'd say she was never really unhappy though. The second was often in a bad mood. He was like Lady MacBeth, in a way, constantly plotting, constantly worrying that someone else might be getting ahead of him, constantly brimming over with resentment and anger. He was a very "cool" guy, when I first met him -- and before I fully realized that he was a sociopath -- I was amazed at his nerve in various situations. But his emotional repertoire seemed to go from resentment to anger to jealousy to hatred to self-satisfaction at how "great" he was to glee at others' misfortunes. I wouldn't describe the first four emotions as happy ones. In a way, the difference between the two sociopaths I knew best was sort of like the difference between Bill and Hillary Clinton: Bill is more happy-go-lucky type of sociopath, always seeming to emote in an actorly sort of way, but never really in a bad mood, whereas Hillary seemed to be more the Lady MacBeth-type of sociopath, frequently in a foul mood and frequently throwing fits, at least in private. Both were tough, seasoned survivors, but was Hillary happy? I wouldn't describe her that way.

I suppose one piece of proof that you're right, though, were those posts I wrote about serial killer's facial expressions when on trial for their lives:


Now, I'll admit, those pictures were culled for effect; but they certainly make your point. (I had written that post to show how completely unashamed and unembarrassed those serial killers were; but they do look happy in those photos, in a way that no non sociopath could possibly be under those circumstances.)

Another philosophical point: none of us can really know whether or not another person is "happy" unless we've actually been inside that person's mind, which of course completely disqualifies me from being able to make the judgment I have in this post. And you, according to what you've said before, are more qualified to weigh in on this topic, given that you're closer to actually "being" those I'm discussing.

Then again, I'm not even sure I'm qualified to render a judgment on whether *I'M* happy, since I have no idea how my emotional equilibrium point compares to others'. I know when I'm in a relatively good mood or bad mood compared to other moods I get into, but that's about it.

Anyway, a lot of this is a roundabout, long-winded way of saying that I'm going have to defer to you on this topic. But I will leave you with two questions: do you think Hillary Clinton is a sociopath? (I did a sociopath alert on her once, if you recall.) And would you describe her as happy?

Anonymous said...

I think some of the disagreement you two have is not 100% real disagreement but comes from having your own definition of the term "happy". The word "happy" has changed in meaning and nuance over thousands of years and even to this day it can mean many things. The Ancient Greeks considered happiness "being lucky" the medieval people "blessed", now it is more abstract but means something leans towards the opposite of "unpositive" sensations.

On a related note:
When the founding fathers of the USA wrote that man had a right to pursue "happiness", what did they mean? You would have to know the kind of English of the 18th century, the kind used in politics, to know. Should the constitution be revised or changed? That is a different argument, but should a version in 21st century English be available to avoid confusion? That would be hard to do since none of us were there 200 years ago and history and linguistics are almost the polar opposite of math and science, you won't find a clear answer like 2+2=4.


Anonymous said...

Someone did come up with a made up language that attempts to have zero ambiguity.

Of course just a look at it reveals it is unlearnable by any human.


John Craig said...

Ga --
Yes, "happiness" is a highly inexact term it's easy to interpret in different ways. I suppose in this post I was leaning more towards the "contented" definition as opposed to the "in a gleeful/joyous mood" end of the spectrum. Is it Buddhism or Hinduism that emphasizes the "contented" aspect of things? (I forget.)

Anyway, yes, FAKE BABA made some good points but I didn't feel we were diametrically opposed.

The Founding Fathers? I think their emphasis was on the free-and-unfettered-by-a-tyrannical-government aspect of happiness. At least that was my take from having read the Constitution (for the first time in my life, a couple years ago).

John Craig said...

Ga --
Took a look; it's beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Why have "I, you, he, she, it, us, they" when you could have a thousand ways to say it.

Instead of saying boring old "we" you would say seuwo,' from "s-euw-o+(falling intonation)" which roughly means

"I, a single entity, you a single entity without any other group affliated with yourself, and they but not as a single group but multiple separate groups, some are inanimate objects, others are people, who are being acted benefactively by another party which hasn't been specified by the rest of the sentence or discourse so far but needs to be added now"

This is actually a basic form, there is another way to form the word I found used when referring back to the same "us" to specify that the same group is being mentioned again and not another one metaphorical one which requires different rules on organizing all the endings and parts.

I wonder what was going through the mind of whoever created this language. Was laughing his ass off thinking someone would take this seriously or thought he was being some intellectual trying to create a experiment of the human experience of communication, or perhaps just bored and did it for fun?

This is the perfect language for autistic people, no ambiguity or misunderstandings. If you are being sarcastic you have to add in a bunch more endings to state how sarcastic you are and your intention behind the sarcasm.


Fled The Undertow said...

Hey John,

Your post reminds me of that lady who became known as the 9-11 hoaxer, Tania Head.

Also, I've been trying to get an estimate of how many known sociopaths were labeled with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or similar conduct disorders as kids, as well as how many OBD kids (not otherwise diagnosed with autism spectrum) also suffer from encopresis.

My best friend has twin 13-y.o. boys, and one of them is a compulsive liar, has huge issues with authority, deliberately annoys people, and has never had a time when he was completely toilet trained. He constantly shits his pants, and the doctors say it's not caused by a physical problem.

I'm worried that he's a budding sociopath.

John Craig said...

Fled --
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I just had to Google both "Tania Head" and "encopresis." I'm surprised I hadn't heard of Head, but yes, she is a classic sociopath with Munchausen's.

I had always thought that Oppositional Defiant Disorder was more likely to be an offshoot of Aspergers (I know an Aspie who acts sort of like that, whereas I think most sociopaths would be a lot slyer about their opposition, by agreeing to whatever is suggested, and then just not doing it). But I can see how a young sociopath could be that way. (But that's just pure speculation on my part, I have very little personal experience with ODD.)

Surprising that the twins are so different. Every now and then you hear about that, the evil twin and the good one, but I've never seen it personally. They say the fatal triumvirate of early behaviors that a lot of serial killers show is (1) torturing animals as child, (2), fascination with fire, and (3), late stage bedwetting. I hadn't heard of encopresis as a sign though. (I feel so smart now throwing that word around.) I'm afraid you may be right though that he's a budding sociopath; the compulsive lying is almost always a sure indicator.

Anonymous said...

John, just a question,
Are you familiar with the real (soon to be old) meaning of the term "social justice"?
I google it a while ago and found out it's not exactly the same thing going on with a social justice warrior. Like the "egg" in "eggplant", human language is complicated.
It's a shame a person can't speak of social justice without connotations being brought up.
It sucks how a many words or terms that would be so useful have been lost because of changes in meaning. Normally this is alright as a new term is created to replace it, but for social justice, social justice warriors wan't to keep it to themselves, it is no accident. I've only seen social justice used in the sense I mean in a Catholic forum, unsurprising as a Jesuit was one of the first to talk about the importance of social justice.

A funny thing I want to write:
The following is a sentence I've comprised that I think is acceptable and not at all vulgar if you go back enough decades:
"I am feeling gay today, the weather is quite queer as well, nevertheless, I think I pulled a boner last night in the YMCA when trying to pass the ball to the guys in the basketball match, one was very sexy because he was thinking about his girl, shame, I felt so much gayer the day before yesterday when I beat off several of those guys in the practice match."

Considering your age John, were you alive when you could say this and not have anyone look at you with a little mild discomfort? Or are you not THAT old?


John Craig said...

Ga --
No, I hadn't been familiar with the old definition of "social justice," but just looked it up. It's a vague enough phrase -- both "social" and "justice" have multiple meanings -- that I can see how it could incorporate all sorts of meanings, from "frontier justice" to "one's social comeuppance."

And yes, I'm afraid I'm THAT old -- old enough to remember when "gay" only meant joyous. "Boner" and "queer" have always had double meanings though. And even if you told that story back in the 1960's people would have wondered if a hidden message was intended.

Anonymous said...


I truly love your pieces on sociopaths. it's a subject hat has always interested me. I've learned quite a bit reading your site. Do you watch the UFC, and are you familiar with Jon "Bones" Jones? If so, I'd like to know what your opinion of that guy is. I'd love for you to do a piece on him if you followed his career. I think he's the classic sociopath.


John Craig said...

Spartan --
Thank you very much.

I used to be a huge UFC fan, back in the 90's when it was al new and interesting and it was seeming to be finally settling the question of which style of fighting was best. (Back then it appeared to be ju jitsu, but the Gracies hand picked opponents they knew they could beat, and since then, as you know, it's become obvious you have to be an all around fighter.)

I'll still watch it occasionally, but am no longer an avid fan. I saw Jon "Bones" Jones fight early in his career and was impressed with his abilities. And I know he's gotten into various sorts of trouble since, including drug violations and leaving the scene of an accident or something like that. I can't say I know enough about him to have an opinion about whether he's a sociopath, but it was my vague impression that he's just sorta the type of criminal who has few inhibitions, and little self control, but doesn't really have enough poison in his psyche or enough phoniness (pretending to be someone he isn't) to reach the level of being a sociopath. I wrote about how there's a certain type of black criminal whose wantonness would usually spell sociopathy in a white, but with the black, all it means is that he has a very low level of inhibition, in this post:

Again, I don't know enough about Jones to say, but that's my impression.

Anonymous said...

Social justice was mentioned back in the very early days, some of the first people to speak about it were from religious groups such as the Catholic Church, a pope from the 19th century spoke about the importance of it as did many Jesuits. In Islam there is Zakat or almsgiving, in Judaism they spoke of the ethics of responsibility, in Hinduism there are plenty of reform movements to provide for the lower classes.

It is blind like justice, it is not a singling out a single race or sex, but applies to all humans. It was mostly about class in the past. A peasant family shouldn't starve because a king taxed too much grain from them. No matter the reason whether straight or gay, white or black, male or female, people should not trodden over and should have food, water, education, a fair trial, and shelter. There should be charity for the poor and weak. You will see plenty of Catholics still say "social justice".

The term "social justice warrior" I suspect started as a sarcastic slur, which they have taken as their own and "social justice warriors" now really believe they are social justice warriors.

I would propose renaming it to "societal/society justice" to prevent confusion. It sucks no one can say "I am a big supporter of social justice" without someone, at least under the age of 30, assuming they are a SJW.


High Arka said...

You've really treated great white sharks unfairly in this one, Mr. Craig. They can be sated for a time, the requirement to "keep moving" and compete with siblings is found in all sharks and many other kinds of animals, and it's mostly human fear and bias that causes us to ascribe our version of negative emotional states to their struggle to survive.

Carry on ;)

John Craig said...

High Arka --
I suppose that's true. And I could add to your list that great white sharks don't pretend to be what they're not, and neither do they lay claim to emotions they do not feel.

On the other hand, some varieties of shark actually don't have to keep moving (I looked it up to make sure I wasn't making a mistake).

But anyway, yeah, I was anthropomorphizing big time. (Impressed by my big word?)

Anonymous said...

I ate shark fin soup several times in the past before knowing how f-ed up it is.
If they are gonna harvest them, why the hell do they cut off the fins and throw the shark alive back into the water. How hard is it to just stab it in the head so it is dead at least?
Since sharks fin is so highly esteemed, we can expect more jellyfish to rule the sea until they all die out and nothing is left off the coast of China. It's the one food I refuse to eat. I do eat Foie Gras occasionally, I never seek it out, but I did some research and found it's nowhere near as cruel as they say, even the Asian meat industry treats our pigs and chickens 100x worse than a French goose farmer. You can disagree with me John though, I won't be offended.


Anonymous said...

to answer your question in re Hillary Clinton being a psychopath, dear Mister Craig...(and a well-chosen question it was, heehee)...I want to fall into the NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy:

and say "WELL SHE IS A PSYCHOPATH BUT NOT A VERY GOOD ONE" or alternately say "no, she is just an awful cunt who wants stuff" (and forgive me for swearing using misogynistic terms, but, there has to be one bad woman who deserves traditional misogynistic abuse, right?)..."true psychopaths" don't really want stuff, they are just more into the dance, and you can tell because they risk all the stuff from time to time for no good reason except for the love of the dance...Hillary doesn't show me GOOD PSYCHOPATH STYLE POINTS like that, she's just grabby, she is not inspiring, not an "artiste," she doesn't do anything shiny...she is a vulgar ooze and bad for the industry

so basically Mister Craig, my answer to your question is terrible, yes-and-no, I would rather not utter such a stupid answer but I didn't want to seem to ignore your question

sorry to fail...she is just an ugly case to rule upon...realistically in the future there will be medical advances to determine different types of psychopaths based on their exact genes and brains, all the terms we use now are wrong-sized because they don't explain on the level of actual function but merely "narratively describe" (I know, that's a cop-out, but it's still probably true, heehee)


John Craig said...

Ga --
You bring up three separate issues. One is the practice of eating animals which are endangered, second is eating animals in a wasteful fashion (i.e., throwing the rest of it away), third is whether farmed food animals are treated humanely. I agree we shouldn't eat endangered species, and that we shouldn't just eat a small portion of the animal and let the rest of it go to waste. As far as treating farm animals humanely, I suppose that's better, but I'll admit, I've never paid much attention to whether the chicken I eat was free range or not, and I'm just as happy to eat farmed salmon as the wild variety. And, having said that, I also have to admit, if someone set down a bowl of shark fin soup in front of me, and I knew it would go to waste otherwise, I'd try it. I've never had shark fin soup, or any concoction made out of rhinoceros horn, or black bear gallbladder, or the like. But if the animals were already dead, and someone gave me some, my curiosity might get the better of me.

I admire your principles though. And I agree, there are a lot of double standards when it comes to food animals.

John Craig said...

Okay, as far as the No True Scotsman parallel, I admit, Hillary didn't strike me as a sociopath back in 1992 simply because she didn't have her husband's ability to charm and beguile. But after learning more about her, especially her behavior behind the scenes, and her duplicity, and near constant dishonesty, I changed my mind. I agree, though, that charm and a certain skillful con artistry/natural acting ability are a usual part of a sociopath's repertoire, and she seems to lack then entirely.

And yeah, I purposely gave you a difficult case.

But the larger question is still, are sociopaths happy? And while there is a certain style of sociopathy which is not only guilt-free but also carefree, I've personally witnessed a style which is almost the opposite of carefree. This sociopath never suffered from guilt or shame or embarrassment, but he was constantly fretting that others might be getting ahead of him, or making more money than him, and he was constantly angry and lashing out at people (usually behind their backs), and constantly seemed to be brimming over with resentment. He had his moments, but I wouldn't describe him as "happy" overall. As a matter of fact, I remember him once doing an imitation of a women we knew who was always in a good mood, and then muttering afterward, "Hey, life's not that good!" And this was a guy who, unlike Hillary Clinton, you'd have been proud to have in your ranks. He was handsome (had worked as a model), intelligent (an Ivy grad), and steel-nerved (when we had a genuine fire emergency once, and could smell smoke coming up to the 26th floor, and the line in the stairwells weren't moving, and people were panicking, he calmly joked about how the black fire marshall who showed up didn't know what he was doing).

But, to the point of this post, I wouldn't say he was "happy," and even more to the point of this post, I wouldn't say he had peace of mind. I certainly wouldn't describe him as depressed, either, and he did experience glee, especially of the schadenfreude variety. But quiet contentment seemed beyond him.

Anonymous said...

Sharks fin is good. The soup itself it made from boiling a whole chicken, a whole leg of jinhua (like the chinese version of parma ham) and a whole shoulder of pork gently until it is golden in color. The fin is incredibly processed, but the point is not the taste but the gelatinous texture from within the fin that is very hard to replicate, the soup is almost crystal clear and super thick but not gluey or starchy at all. Why they don't just extract the compound from the fin and make it into a powder, I don't know, maybe the technology to do that is so hard or nonexistant, they have fake shark fin soup made from vegetable collagens and gelatine combinations, but no company can really approach it. If someone gives you a bowl, eat it, but I recommend not ordering an entire pot the next time you go into a Chinese restaurant, unless it is your first and last. I just can't wrap my head around why they cut off the fins without killing the shark first (and they keep doing that), just stick a harpoon in it's skull.

There is pragmatic reason for being against animal cruelty in the farming industry. It makes it taste bad. The pain and stress literally affect the quality of the meat itself. You don't have to be a compassionate tree hugger to have a good reason for not wanting animals to be mistreated. If they just let people know this, the free market would demand more better treated animals for the sake of quality in their meat.

Which reminds me of something I pondered. I have mentioned I am the type of guy who likes to think of doing something for the sake of results as long as it is within reason. Smoking costs the USA 300 billion USD in healthcare related costs, that is more than the 245 billion used for autistic people, nearly as much as the military budget. It's not as high as diabetes at 800 billion, but the causes of that could be from poor food habits which I will get too.

Whenever I see the campaigns to stop smoking try to guilt a person, portraying smoking as some evil bad guy in a cartoon, or talk about the health effects that may not strike for decades, it seems inefficient. Same with junk food, the attempts at "healthier food" in US high schools also makes me shake my head (if you go to a European country, this is an area where they seem less leftist, they don't serve "health food" like Michelle Obama pushed, you rarely see "health food" products. The cafeterias in school and supermarkets there just sell food, you will get roast chicken, potatoes, vegetables, salad, fruit, fine cheese, fresh baked real bread, and a small real dessert even in a high school in reasonable portions. Not a low fat, low sugar ice cream bar filled with fillers or an atkins/south beach protein bar or "health" cereal or weight loss pills).

If the campaigns decided to focus on something that will get the intended result such as lowered smoking rates and lower obesity, such as the suggestion that smoking is expensive and eating too much food or spending money on snacks is bad for your budget, maybe more people would stop. Signs saying "you can save enough money for a new computer in a year if you stop smoking" could be more efficient and get the intended result.

But this removes the sentimental aspect of being a warrior during your life against the "evils" of smoking so many in the movements have, and since there are negative health effects, the cigarette lobby can turn it around and say the anti smoking groups are using manipulation. But aside from those details, maybe saying smoking or eating too much junk food is expensive which is why you should stop would have actual results. Would it be dishonest or wrong to go about it this way since it has more concern for achieving results than playing out the fantasy of having this moral need to warn people of the evils?


John Craig said...

Ga --
I'd never *order* shark fin soup. I was just using the hypothetical example of, if someone set down a bowl in front of me (unlikely, of course, unless I DID order it, but I just wanted to give myself a minimal moral excuse there).

You bring up a lot of good points about how to market health campaigns. Yes, saving money might resonate with people more than future health risks which might now show for a decade or more. I've always thought that vanity would be a better way to appeal to people. Talking teenagers that smoking will cause cancer when they're 55 effectively asks them to think way, way far in advance. But if you tell them that if they smoke, by the time they're 30, they'll look 40 may be a little scarier to them.

And even better than that, I think people -- guys in particular -- could be dissuaded from some unhealthy habits by having it explained to them that whatever bad habit they're indulging in will lower their testosterone levels, and effectively, partially caponize them. I don't understand why marketing campaigns don't use that angle.