No True Psychopath

It was inevitable. You give an English person a mouthpiece and an audience, and he will use it to rip on the Scots.

I was recently talking to somebody about being psychopath (as you do) and he asked me if I can feel happiness. I responded in the affirmative, because who on this planet is actually incapable of feeling happy? When he pressed me for an example of something that makes me happy, I said I like music. I hope we’re all in agreement that although they are undoubtedly some weirdos who hate music, the vast majority of humans do like it and that it is not inconceivable that even some of the more antisocial members of the species find something to appreciate about it.

However, I also admit there are some good reasons to (wrongly) believe that no psychopath likes music. “Their brains are completely different from ours” and “if they can’t empathise, how can they care about slushy love songs?” are two possible Very Good Reasons Indeed to believe psychopaths can’t like music. They’re wrong, but they are at least reasonable. However our little friend (we haven’t yet given him a name, which I feel is very unhelpful for us gossiping about him like this. Let’s give him some really horrible, revolting name that makes you want to vomit blood, and rams home the idea that he’s the villain of the story) did not have such a good reason. No, our little friend Gabe had a very poor, ill-thought-out reason to believe that psychopaths are incapable of liking music. Gabe said, and I quote:

“How can you enjoy music then?? If you have no emotions??!! Wtf”

Sigh. But didn’t I just say that I am capable of feeling happy. Therefore that must mean I do have some emotions? Gabe’s response:

“Real psychopaths do not feel happy, in order to feel happiness you must first feel pain so you can distinguish between the two emotions. So go away and and dont act like you are a psychopath. Idiot”

Gotta love it when somebody who can’t spell or reason logically gets off on calling other people idiots! And what about that reasoning? Aside from the fact that pain had not already been mentioned so it had not been established whether or not psychopaths can feel pain (and we know they can, don’t we?), what I’m really interested in here is his opening words. “Real psychopaths do not feel happy”.

If you know about philosophy or logic, or if you have that one annoying friend who’s always telling you why your logic sucks (or maybe you are that annoying friend), you will have heard of the No True Scotsman fallacy. The basic narrative of the fallacy is a Scotsman, McDoogle, proudly declaring to his friend McClutterbuck that no Scotsman sugars his porridge. But McClutterbuck disagrees: “I am a Scotsman. I’m from Auchtermuchty, born and raised, like you. I always sugar my porridge, och aye”. McDoogle then watches on in horror as McClutterbuck proceeds to tip the bag of sugar over his bowl of porridge and begin to devour his breakfast like a starving man. “Well”, he fumes, enraged like a true Scot by being proven wrong, “no true Scotsman sugars his porridge!”

What does all this mean? In order to defend his claim that no Scotsmen put sugar in their porridge, McDougle has resorted to redefining what it means to be a Scotsman. He has rejected McClutterbuck’s evidence that some Scotsmen do sugar their porridge by denying him his Scotmanship (what a lovely word). In the same way, in order to save face against my assertion that psychopaths can be happy and listen to music, Gabe has in effect moved the goalposts to make it impossible for me to contradict him, because no matter what I say, if it doesn’t fit within his changeable definition of a ‘true psychopath’, he won’t accept it.

“Great”, you might be thinking, “So I have just read 600 words of a butthurt little pussy trying to prove a stranger wrong days after the fact.” And wouldn’t that suck? Fortunately, there is a point to all this. You see, Gabe’s little brainfart is just one of many recent examples I’ve seen of people attempting to control what is and is not possible within psychopathy by invoking the No True Scotsman fallacy. Many of these people’s ideas are based on the assumption that psychopaths have no emotion whatsoever. Maybe that’s our own fault for faking emotions, but it’s still retarded to think that any human can be completely emotionless without being seriously, utterly, irreversibly goo-coming-out-your-ears level of brain-damaged. Anyone who dares to suggest that psychopaths may be capable of some level of emotional depth will, at some point, be subjected to a brain fart saying “no true psychopath experiences emotion”. Go ahead and look at the comments for The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath, they’ll be there. Even more absurd is the common reaction, usually on some kind of Q&A forum, to threads such as “Am I a psychopath?” or “I think I’m a sociopath, can anyone advise?”.  There will always be one of Gabe’s cerebrally-flatulent friends in the thread asserting that the “OP can’t possibly be a psychopath because true psychopaths don’t know they’re one” Uh huh, go and tell that to that to James Fallon, or to M.E. Thomas, or to one of the many psychopathic blog authors out there.

So there you have it folks. Stop going into discussions with too many pre-conceived ideas. Listen. Be prepared to get it wrong. And for god’s sake, read up on the No True Scotsman fallacy and don’t keep unwittingly using it just because you can’t bear being wrong.

With that request in mind, I will of course very humbly accept any comments or criticisms you have. I would especially love to hear from somebody who thinks everything I just wrote is utter shit. So what are you waiting for?

Annoyed that the name of the fallacy isn’t No True Irishman, because I would have so put this song up top:

Seriously, you guys, please do take a moment to leave a comment. If you don’t, you’ll only have me thinking I explained everything perfectly, and that will play havoc with my ego.

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