Why We Love Psychopaths


The Psychopaths creed: “Remorse is alien to me. I have a penchant for deceit. I am generally free of entangling and irrational emotions. I am strategic and canny, intelligent and confident, but I also struggle to react appropriately to other people’s confusing and emotion-driven social cues”.

There are unusual examples of violent crimes occurring from such disorders as episodic dyscontrol syndrome, sleep disorders
or dissociative conditions. Or even having a rail spike lodged in the frontal lobe.

However the majority of aggressive murderous conduct is found in psychopaths. There is evidence that this  anti social personality disorder has a bio genetic substrate, but it is has long been known that they can be nurtured that way as well.

The central defect is in morality and empathy. And even though there are biological variables those things are generally taught.

The obvious cause behind sociopathy might be growing up in a chaotic abusive dysfunctional family. Less well-known are those otherwise normal middle class parents who vicariously live out their own anti social tendencies through their children. This creates holes in the superego (lacunae) that allows for the expression of otherwise forbidden impulses. This might help to explain violent behaviours in young adults from outwardly stable loving homes.

In other cases cultural/societal factors need to be considered. I have previously mentioned Islam as a contemporary religious based culture that covertly or overtly encourages sociopathic conduct.

American culture has what could be termed a schizophrenic attitude towards violence. We all know that violence sells and the media (if it bleeds it leads) reports  on it sensationally. The culture as a whole simultaneously worships and condemns the anti heroes like Bonnie and Clyde or The Man with No Name in the old spaghetti westerns.

What we, who are blissfully trapped in the often boring bourgeois middle class envy and wish for is the sociopaths’ love of hedonistic freedom. What we might call the unbearable lightness of being. These people live in the moment, they are immediate oriented. They seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Any dysphoric affect is quickly repressed.

They are modern-day vikings-enjoying the spoils of  guilt free pillage, rape, murder, arson and mayhem.
Why we enjoy sociopathic exploits is because in part we can relate to it. Everyone has, at some point, felt hopeless, powerless, and at a disadvantage. Underdogs  pitted against something seemingly impossible to overtake, and therefore we undoubtedly feel hopeless, powerless and at a disadvantage. That plus our innate dislike of authority is  why the public is secretly rooting for the bad guys to elude capture as is the case with the recent NY prison escapees.

It is in part, the dark side of  the human psyche that has some cheering for the villains’ cause. Furthermore it is the innate evil with which everyone is born that has even the most good-hearted individuals smiling in response to a bad guy’s victory. Vicarious pleasure in other words. The dark side of the psyche never disappears, it is just repressed. Maybe these bad guys were once just as innocent as anyone else. Maybe they were turned by one regrettable choice, or maybe they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We try to rationalize aberrant conduct.

Human infants are born psychopaths. The job of parents is to socialize them if possible. Civilization requires repression of ego centric pleasure-seeking impulses. If not for that we would not have iPhones, toaster ovens or the space shuttle. The problem is that sometimes we just miss the callous joys of being Norsemen.

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