“Budding Psychopaths or Immature Characters?” Comments, Page 1

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7 Comments (3 Discussion Threads) on “Budding Psychopaths or Immature Characters?”

  1. I’m SO glad you took up this topic, Dr. Simon. I hope parents and other caring adults don’t give up the ship because of the perception that some kids are just fated to be “bad seeds.”

    1. Thanks so much, Katherine. We do an awful lot of “writing off” these days because of the amount of work and investment is inherent in some of our most important obligations. And instilling character in our children has to be at the forefront.

  2. Dr. Simon,

    Interesting coming across this today as I just came across your old interview on O’Reilly’s show recently. I was happy to see that he had you on when I saw it since I always like to see this topic get more publicity. And I was similarly happy to see this piece. I am very aware of the Karen Klein incident and had hoped it might spark some consideration of the role of personality disorders and psychopathy. So I’m glad you did that here.

    I wonder are you aware of the field of Ponerology? I’ve linked to a rather in-depth page I’ve put together on the subject. I think Ponerology is the scientific discipline that we are really missing in our society that would be dedicated to objective study of the full spectrum regarding how malicious, harmful (or perhaps, you might call it, evil) behavior and circumstances come about and should be dealt with. I would love to see those who study these topics as you do, from a variety of disciplines, come together under the rubric of Ponerology.

    One thing you don’t mention here, which is worth considering, is how not only our society encourages psychopathy and other empathy-reducing disorders, but whether, simultaneously, those disorders played a role in the emergence of the society. The ponerology page I link to is part of a series. I also have a page in that series on psychopathy and in that page I talk a lot about the evolutionary roots of psychopathy and how it, and related disorders, may actually have helped lead to the society we have, not just been symptoms of it.

    Thanks for your work. I hope you and perhaps some of your readers find my pages on the topic interesting. And I especially hope to publicize the idea of Ponerology.

    1. Thanks for the comments. I do address the issues of which you speak at some length in my book “Character Disturbance. And although I’m not familiar with the school of thought you mention, I’m aware that many clinicians and researchers have begun to see almost all dimensions of human functioning as lying on various spectra, getting away from the notion that we can neatly categorize discrete types of dysfunction and realizing that there’s a continuum of personality characteristics that can negatively impact our overall well-being.

  3. Dr. Simon,

    I have just come across your articles today, and though I’ve done my rounds on sociopathy literature in the past, am finding new concepts in your writing. Much of the literature I have seen before is very black and white, likely for the solace of the survivor and to encourage them at all costs to get out of what is often a life-threatening situation.

    The idea that a cure for sociopathy might be possible is a new concept from what I’ve seen, and a promising one… though I doubt many sociopaths would actually be interested in it, especially the longer it serves them.

    That said, I have seen little indication that sociopathy is on the “rise”, so to say – merely, as you’ve said in other articles, more likely to be accurately identified (and perhaps over-identified).

    When I categorize people I know who were likely sociopaths, despite knowing far more people of my own Millenial generation, there are two categories in which I see the most empathy-deficient and sadistic individuals.

    The first is generations of my maternal mother’s side which, strangely enough, tends to run in the female side rather than the male. Two out of three Baby Boomer siblings (my mother, who has a female fraternal twin, and their brother) are either likely or most certainly sociopaths. Their grandmother by all accounts was a sociopath and child molester who killed beloved pets for a thrill – just like my mother, who was also once caught in the process of smothering my eldest brother (and she found a way to make my father look like the villain!). Three children before me died, at least one of them from “SIDS” – and my relationship with her was a literal Stockholm Syndrome situation of being mainly confined to one room and disallowed from outside contact, even in adulthood.

    Between the four of my generation, one cousin is a sociopath, and surprisingly enough, my brother checks every box for a Histrionic personality disorder and is parasitic in nature, though is most likely not sociopathic.

    While outside of my family I’ve likely met more sociopaths of my own demographic, I suspect that has more to do with working with and dating people of a similar age than a generational character deficit. I still remember the abusive now 50-60-something supervisor who had bought a human skeleton at an auction and stored it at work where co-workers at ages beginning at 14 were bound to see it, who by his other actions clearly thought of us as trash in life and decorations in death.

    In conclusion, I do not think there is a generational gap in this chilling type of personality. That said, I do think my generation (and the upcoming generation) have been deprived of many key empathy-developing moments due to the amount that the average parent must work or fulfill other obligations in a society that never sleeps. While people who don’t receive that certainly aren’t lost causes, I’m glad your children have grandparents to help fill that gap.

    1. Some interesting and well thought out comments. Much appreciate. But for clarification sake, I do not suggest in any of the articles that “sociopathy” per se is on the rise but rather that character disturbance in all of its manifestations and degrees of intensity are more prevalent a problem coming to the attention of mental health professionals as opposed to pathological levels of “neurosis.” I also make the point that insofar as intervention and the effectiveness of intervention is concerned, a lot depends on where a person falls along the “continuum” of character disturbance (both in quality and degree). What we’re coming to realize is that many disturbances we once thought neatly categorizable actually fall along various spectra. And the biggest reason for the failure of many interventions to successfully mediate various character disturbances is that by design they were meant to treat pathological levels of neuroses and don’t have efficacy when it comes to dealing with character disturbance.

      Again, thanks for your comments.

  4. The problem with trying to teach someone empathy is that they know what it is like to experience life without it. If you know how personally useless empathy is then there is no incentive.

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