"The Empress Is Naked"
@Whisper That would mean that psychopathy evolved recently, over the last 5K, or max 10K years. This is highly improbable. Psychopathy probably evolved even before the hominid line. It most probably exists in scores of other species.
It probably has been found most "useful" in extended societies, in the sense that you describe. But that's like feathers: first they evolved (for insulation), then they were better used (for flying, which is another trait, for which they were coincidentally found most useful). That doesn't mean that their initial reason for evolution, namely insulation, ceased to be. Just as psychopathy, which has never ceased being parasitic for its own in-group.
@adam-l clearly you've never seen my moves
Women trying to make theory is like nerds trying to dance.
@adam-l just because an adaptation and/or mutation survives doesn't mean it provides any particular advantage; it only means that it didn't die out.
I'm sure many neurotypicals can do that, no problem. You don't need psychopaths for that.
This is not the case.
Note that in this case, I do not say "I think you are incorrect." or "I disagree." I am willing to be more dogmatic. The facts are in on this one. The historical evidence is there, the research is there. For a full overview, I refer to you to Grossman's classic work, "On Killing", particularly chapter 3, "Why Can't Johnny Kill?"
Of course, I do not subscribe to the false belief that everything in the human genome is adaptive, or that the presence of a trait in the human genome is sufficient evidence that it serves a useful purpose.
However, in the case of psychopathy, or the "warrior personality", I do, making the following observations:
Having the ability to wage war and kill the enemy is demonstrably profitable, and sometimes vitally necessary, for cultures and tribal groups.
Allow me to present you with the default neurotypical response even to the socially sanctioned and legally justified killing of another human being:
Also consider the sheer level of effort that societies have gone to psychologically condition their members out of empathy for an enemy society... elaborate dehumanization propaganda doesn't exist for funsies. It exists as a way of combating the default reaction of human being towards other human beings, which is empathy.
The closer the proximity, the greater the visibility and audibility, and the greater the similarity to oneself, the more difficult it is for neurotypical human beings to kill a target.
This is precisely what is both so dangerous and so useful about psychopaths... the ability to go from zero to kill without the need to nerve themselves up first, or dehumanize the target. A psychopath is capable of killing another human being while remaining fully aware of this victim's humanity, and of his fear and pain. This is also how we know that history's greatest atrocities and genocides were not committed by psychopaths. The nazis, for example, were self-evidently not an organization of psychopaths, because they needed years of elaborate propaganda convincing them the jews were evil and subhuman before they were willing to get around to killing them (and even then there was a great deal of resistance).
The saying goes that anyone who make you believe an absurdity can make you commit an atrocity, and for certain atrocities this is true. However, psychopaths do not need to believe an absurdity, or indeed anything at all, before killing. They simply need to believe that it is in their best interests to do so, and that they will be relatively safe from repercussion. For state-sanctioned, or tribe-sanctioned, killing, this is obviously the case.
Of course, none of this is conclusive. It is known that only psychopaths are readily willing to kill, and that state-sanctioned killing can benefit a society. It is also known that evolution has not rooted out the psychopath.
But A, then B is not the same as A causes B.
However, it this case, I believe that A causes B, and even though it is not completely proven, it is still a reasonable alternative hypothesis to the suggestion that psychopathy is selected for via social parasitism benefiting the individual at the expense of the group.
This is especially so since pre-human groups appear to have existed in groups of Dunbar's number or less, and psychopathic hucksters, grifters, and parasites appear to need the anonymity of larger groups to work their schemes most effectively. When there's only about 150 people in your social universe, it's very difficult for such a person to remain undetected. Much easier to thrive when your distinguishing traits serve a purpose that is acknowledged to valuable.Read More
tribes and hominid groups need members who can bash an enemy's skull in, and be able to sleep soundly at night afterwards.
I'm sure many neurotypicals can do that, no problem. You don't need psychopaths for that.
Then, maybe you need them for the extra-rationality? Not really, bacause you have Aspies, who do that more consistently.
Does nature "need" them for something else? No, not really, because nature doesn't "need" anything.
It's quite obvious, though, that psychopathy has flourished in extended societies, and these societies have taken over the world and we live in them right now.
My view is that psychopathy is a parasitic mode, evolved on the one hand because it favored survival in extreme conditions and on the other as pure parasitism (there is obviously a niche for that in groups of organisms).
There's no question that psychopathy that manages to remain functional is "adaptive" in today's society. Another way to say that is that our society is psychopathic. No wonder female parasitism has flourished, also.
Then, the degree one perceives psychopathy as "positive" must be correlated with the degree he thinks he "owns" society. Thus, for lower-middle class men, psychopathy and the institutiona that facilitate it is a thing to fight against. E.g. we need stricter penalties for scamming CEOs, abolition of alimony, introduction of timeouts to break positive reinforcement for pupils with conduct disorder in schools, etc.Read More
Well, I'm just spitballing ideas, here. There's little to no empirical evidence.
As for a "weak ego"... that seems to me to be such a vague phrase that I'm not even really properly able to figure out what she might mean by that. One of the flaws in Freudian theory is that it treats ego like a homunculus, a sort of black box of consciousness or an unexamined "self", with the superego and id floating over its shoulders sporting halo or pitchfork.
My idea feels more concrete: a low level of function of the neurology makes humans feel a sense of connection and belonging (mirror neurology). And this prevents them from internalizing things like social mores and cultural beliefs.
Here's what I mean:
"Sociopaths definitely don’t have emotional empathy. They do have the cognitive empathy. They are able to do a thought experiment, a hypothetical. What would the typical person feel like in this situation, or what would I feel like in this situation, or what is the likely result emotionally of doing this particular action? And they say people with Asperger syndrome are the opposite. They have emotional empathy—they’ll cry when someone else cries—but they are not able to cognitively understand the worlds of others. Normal people have both types of empathy."
This is quite an insight. I have to think about ot for a few days.
The idea was that psychopaths have a structural defecit. M.E. Thomas, who wrote Confessions of a Psychopath, concluded that they have a "weak ego". But she is a woman, so she has a weak ego anyway. Clever too, but not super-intelligent.
I'd be among the first to stipulate that my use of the term "mirror neurons" here is handwaving of the highest order.
Just what exactly is a "mirror" neuron? Does it differ structurally or chemically from other neurons? Or is it merely connected differently, leading it to fire on different occasions?
The fact that we have label something a "mirror neuron" predisposes us to assume it's of a different type, but this may not be the case.
What we do know is that some brain activity is the same when we do or experience a thing, AND when we see someone else do or experience a thing.
This is a brain phenomenon that I believe partially leads to such vaguely-defined behaviour-level concepts such as "guilt", "empathy", "conscience", etc.
However, it's not the only phenomenon that gives rise to these things. There's another idea for that, which I talk about here:
In short, I think that psychopaths partially or fully lack mirroring in brain activity, and this "un-anchors" them from the influence of other human beings. This, in turn, leads them to experience moral teaching not as "learning what is right", but as "learning what others want me to do".
In other words, it externalizes the superego.
Since the super-ego is defined as the internalization of cultural or parental rules, and guilt is caused by having violated these rules, psychopaths have greatly diminished susceptibility to guilt, because when they violate a social more, they don't think "I have done something bad", they think "I have done something others do not wish me to do".
(In a twist that is almost like irony, the psychopath is actually correct, here.)
How the psychopath behaves, as a result of this externalization of the super-ego, is greatly dependent on intelligence, specifically the kind of intelligence that links actions to consequences.
And this is the important part to understand, because we can't understand psychopaths just by looking at psychopaths.
Why not? Because our sample of psychopaths has a huge selection bias. We only identify someone as a psychopath when we see them acting in an obviously anti-social way. So high-functioning psychopaths are massively underrepresented in any kind of sample we could study.
So how does ability to anticipate consequences affect psychopath behaviour?
I believe it's because guilt isn't solely, or even primarily, responsible for morally-aligned behaviour. It's a whole host of things... desire to fit in, desire to make friends, fear of punishment, fear of embarrassment, desire to feel superior, desire to connect, etc, etc.
So, while guilt, or fear of guilt, doesn't really impact psychopath behaviour, a lot of these other things can.... but only in those with certain levels of ability to connect actions with consequences.
So psychopaths are very different based on whether they are smart enough to have certain realizations. Some of these are simple, and only the dumbest of psychopaths fail to grasp them. Others are more difficult. I'll give some examples:
Thus, psychopaths can be as different as the habitual jailbird who puts his fist through a store window, in full view of the public, to steal something he sees and wants, to the master manipulator whose social circle consists of people who admire him and genuinely enjoy his presence, unaware that they are essentially being kept as pets.Read More