Holding back the tide.

A reader asked:

“Do you think a psychopath could see the benefit of utilizing cognitive empathy……since we all live in this planet? Our governments and corporations are run by psychopaths and the abuse is rampant and detrimental to the species since trauma shrinks the brain and in all honesty those who lack empathy are a special kind of stupid. Why can they not see that it is to their advantage to give a shit about others even if it’s for the selfish reason of reducing the bullshit they get from people in the long term. Plus it would increase the average IQ and improve everyone’s living conditions. Why wouldn’t a psychopath want that? Can’t you learn to use your abilities for good?”

Thanks, ‘bunny foo foo’ (http://en.gravatar.com/hsousse), you’re right. Some of us are intelligent enough to realise this, and modify our behaviour accordingly.

However, sometimes old habits die hard, and we are only human. I have recently done some stuff which definitely wasn’t part of the plan to “be good” and in the longer run has proved destructive for myself as well as others; at the time, though, it was just fun to let loose and cause a bit of destruction. Yes, fun.

What you have to understand is the majority of psychopaths have, to a greater or lesser degree, a sadistic streak, and all crave regular stimulation and excitement. So, unfortunately, conflict is inevitable, even with psychopaths who have a desire to be more conscientious.

I’m not saying it’s not my fault. I still have a free will and the ability to make rational decisions, but when making decisions that are in the interests of everyone, I am fighting against my instincts and genetic programming.

If you want to understand what that’s like, try to imagine yourself doing something which you think immoral, say kicking a puppy while wearing heavy boots, or deliberately saying something to make your mother cry. If you have any sort of imagination, you can probably feel some sort of discomfort just at the thought, as though your body and mind are already resisting the actions which don’t come naturally to you. It’s difficult attempting to be something you’re not, even for a while.

None of this is an attempt to excuse past or present misdeeds, this is just a way of improving understanding, and breaking the empathy barrier that exists between you, dear reader, and me.

Perhaps you can recall a time when you tried to act in a way contrary to your nature, and found it more difficult than you thought. If you ever have, let us know in the comments. We might find common ground on which cognitive empathy can grow and flourish.

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