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Why people feel the need to do this...
In my time writing there has been a concerted effort to defang psychopathy and make it into something that it isn’t. Much like the last post that I wrote where I addressed an entire article making the claim that if you just give us enough huggles we will be magically cured. This is a very common thing. I get it in my comments all the time, I see articles written about it, and even some clinicians have postulated this.
This post isn’t about how that is all nonsense, because, of course, that’s what it is. Instead, it is about the need to do this. What drives people to think this way?
I have taken a lot of time to think about it. I have thought in the past that this could be because they don’t like the power and prestige that psychopaths seem to get in many places. It’s true that people tend to be fascinated by psychopathy and psychopaths, so I thought, perhaps that is the root of it. However, I don’t know that’s it, or maybe it’s not all of it.
I think that it may have to do with the motivations for doing things in the world. In a lot of these articles and claims the people are adamant that psychopaths are the way we are because they had something terrible happen to us in childhood. That is why we lack empathy and have lowered emotions. Also, that we don’t actually lack empathy, and that we feel everything the same way that neurotypicals do, we just deny that to ourselves and the world. No matter that our literal brain scans show that we don’t have emotional empathy and lowered emotions, not to mention that our brains are literally structured differently. None of that makes a bit of difference. No sir, we are just protecting ourselves from the terrible truth.
We have covered ad nauseum how psychopathy is only studied in prisons and that the conclusions drawn regarding it are drawn based on people that have done some pretty terrible things. I think that this is playing into the notion of how people perceive how we function, much to everyone’s detriment.
If a psychopath commits a crime, no matter how heinous, they did so because that was what they wanted to do. For whatever reason, they didn’t act out emotionally. The crime was committed because that is what the person that is psychopathic intended to do. I get it, that’s scary. However, there are plenty of horrific things that neurotypicals commit and they do so for a variety of reasons. A lot of them, however, are based in their emotions.
Emotions drive people to do awful things when properly motivated. How many murders happened because of jealousy, revenge, heartbreak, rage, greed, sadness, humiliation, or sadism? You could go through a list of crimes that will make your skin crawl with how terrible they are and at the root is nearly always one of these that is the root cause.
There is a fascination with true crime in this world. For me, I find stories interesting. I am not particular about the genre, so long as it is a good story. True crime is no different. If it’s interesting, I will listen to it. However, I have found that these stories have a different pull for other people. I think that a lot of that is people trying to understand why people do bad things. It gives them perspective on the world. I think one of the reasons that females in particular are drawn to true crime is because it is a primer for safety. Where did the victim get themselves in trouble? Did they miss red flags, did they make a bad decision about who to meet, to help, to let in, to speak to, did they not report their abusive ex, and so on?
I think part of the allure for a lot of these is to try and understand the motivations of the criminal, and as I mentioned above, they are often largely emotional in nature. I think that a lot of neurotypicals process these things through their own understanding of whatever emotion that might be.
“This person killed their significant other in a jealous rage after that partner cheated on them. I have felt jealousy and betrayal in the past. Could I imagine doing something like that?”
Usually, the answer is no, but it might be yes, depending on the emotional state at the time. If they have been through a similarly emotional event. That is the understanding that the crime is processed through, and also the ability to see the consequences that came with that decision. Obviously, you are hearing about a solved case, so you know the consequences were negative. It places things into perspective. Either the internal dialogue says, “I could never do that”, or, “I wouldn’t do that, but I can understand it”, or, “Served them right”, or some other variation of this is what is concluded. It’s at least something that can be placed into context, whether or not you agree with it.
That isn’t the case with psychopaths. Psychopaths decide to do what they do because they think whatever that thing is is interesting at that moment. There isn’t an emotion that is so strong that it’s a driving force that carries them away. It is a cold calculated choice, provided that they aren’t a low-functioning psychopath that acts on impulse without the willingness or ability to think through their choices past that moment.
When you can’t understand the motivation for action, then you can’t comprehend that person. We are a mystery, and one that can’t be cracked with the safe codes that you have lived with all your lives. It also means that terrible things can be done without that strong emotion and that might bring up some very uncomfortable questions.
How many times have heard about a case that was absolutely shocking and seemed to have no motive behind it? No emotional connection that could be found. It was just an evil person doing an evil thing. Many people are drawn to these things and the fact that they can’t figure out the why makes it both absolutely compelling and absolutely bone chilling at the same time. What bothers them more is when they find out that the criminal doesn’t have anything wrong with them. They are just like everyone else.
How could they do that? What could cause a person to do something like that? It’s a fair question, and one I don’t have an answer for. I think that this uncomfortable place that exists between the remorseless ‘A-Lister’ psychopath that did whatever they did because why not, and the person that acted in a blind fit of emotion is why people feel the need to believe that psychopaths are just like them.
If this so-called “normal” person could do something like that there has to be a reason. In a desperate search for that reason, because it is terribly unpleasant to not be able to predict the actions of your fellow humans, there is a negotiation that takes place. They were bullied or they were abused, there has to be something. There is this need to see the actions through the eyes that orient you to the world. If they could do something awful and need no motivator like emotional pain or a charged state that they lacked control in, then what are you capable of? What darkness lies in your soul?
It is easier to try to fit the square peg into the round hole than it is to recognize that there are dangerous people in this world, and the things that they do aren’t easy to understand.
Where does the assumption that psychopaths are like neurotypicals but they are hiding it come in? Right about here. If you can’t understand why a person that is wired like you would do something awful, how can you understand why someone wired totally differently than you would do so? It is the unknowable monster that cannot be explained.
In the last post that I wrote, the authors spent a great deal of time trying to convince the world that psychopaths are wounded birds wrapped in fur and claws. That they can be loved and fixed back to normal. I said this is a dangerous lie. Psychopaths that are inclined to do damage are no more understandable to me than they are to you. I don’t fear them, but I also don’t understand them. I don’t pretend to. I am okay with not knowing what makes them tick. I know that bad things happen, and evil actions exist. People choose how they are going to be in the world, and that’s as much understanding as I need to have.
I think that articles like the one my last post addressed come about because people want to believe that just because you do not see the emotion, it must be there. It makes incomprehensible actions comprehensible, even when it’s a lie. I think that the need to feel like everyone is similar even if they don’t show it is the person’s brain trying to paint a world where there is a rhyme and reason to everything. It makes it less scary.
I think people are trying to make the world fit into a box that it simply cannot. It makes it more palatable and comfortable. You aren’t going to understand everyone around you. You likely don’t understand the people that you know nearly as well as you think you do. That isn’t to say that you have a den of serial killers surrounding you, but there are a lot of reasons and thought processes that would not make a bit of sense to you if you understood that they are present.
Those that want to believe that psychopaths are just in need of the harmony hut to be normalized are those that can’t feel comfortable without the belief that everything makes sense. If there is chaos that can’t be contained, they aren’t safe. If they aren’t safe, they will be miserable. So, instead of coming to terms with the idea that there are a lot of things in this world that they will never understand, they try to force everything to fit their understanding. Thus, defanging psychopaths.
There was actually a study that was done specifically to try to attempt defanging psychopaths in a nearly literal sense. It involved LSD and tying naked people together. Let me know if you guys want to hear about it. It’s kind of a wild ride.