I went to shul (Jewish church) this Shabbat and the rabbi started a debate about capital punishment, killing a criminal who has committed a horrible crime (instead of placing them in prison). Naturally the conversation turned to evil and people who commit evil crimes as the congregation debated the ethics of when it is okay to kill a criminal or if it is okay at all to kill. At one point, I was sitting with a mathematician, a doctor, and a psychologist/historian who mentioned psychopaths. She said that a psychopath is a person who is born without a conscience, therefore, they can’t help it that they commit evil crimes. God forbid I should have sympathy for the psychopaths of this world! I couldn’t stand it, so I swiftly corrected her that science does not support that statement. It is very much in debate whether psychopaths are born or taught (nature versus nurture). And then a strange thing happened – the conversation stalled.
In order to restart the debate, the group agreed that we would limit the discussion to a psychopath who commits evil crimes against other human beings because said psychopath was born without a conscience and the reason was from brain damage or something wrong in their DNA.
At that point, I opted out because I felt it was a useless debate. Does that hypothetical type of psychopath exist? Yes, they do – but please don’t let the rest of DAMAGED NARCISSISTS off the hook. Science cannot yet prove that they were born that way or that they are not responsible for their choices.
In the end, we agreed on the “Island Solution”: put all the psychopaths on an island and let them kill each other. Discussion about psychopaths usually ends in the Island Solution – because there is no cure! The best we can hope for is to protect ourselves from them until medical science can explain why they do the evil things that they do and why they enjoy hurting others.
The thing that disturbed me about the discussion was that even educated professionals seem to believe that psychopaths are born that way. Science does not support that. It seems to me that it is more comfortable for us to project our humanity and compassion onto the psychopath, the poor victim psychopath who was abused as a child, than to consider that some people choose evil.
“Public Perception of Psychopaths.” is copyright © 2015 by Poorkitteh. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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