Psychopathy remains a poorly understood condition. While narcissists appear to lack
empathic concern for others, psychopath primarily lack emotional empathy: the ability
to read the emotions of others.
Here, Athena Walker and Dr Natalie Engelbrecht present their findings of the latest
research on the subject, on quora.com.
“What relationship do psychopaths have towards morality?”
Athena Walker talks about morality and ethics.
Lack of emotional depth is, without a doubt, part of the psychopathic hallmarks.
We literally lack the wiring for deep experience and expression of emotion. It’s
simply physically impossible.
As for a sense of justice, most of us do have something called a code of conduct.
It is based off what we ourselves have decided is wrong. For instance, I never cheat.
It violates my trust if a partner did it to me, trust is exceptionally important
to me, therefore if I expect it, I must decide to give it.
A good number of us decide the code of conduct based on what we consider weak action.
What qualifies for me would be taking advantage of someone that has no adequate defense.
A child, someone elderly for example. If you have to stoop to the level of victimizing
people that are incapable of mounting a defense against you, you are not skilled,
and that makes you weak.
We don’t have disrespect for the law, we just think that laws are arbitrary and often
pointless. If they are in our way, and it doesn’t violate our code of conduct, they
are able to be disregarded. They’re great for everyone else though. Bang up job,
Morals are a choice. We have our own. I call mine a code of conduct. They are things
that I consider unacceptable behavior.
We have a strong sense of justice. Granted, it is our own justice, but it is still
something that is part of a hard wiring. There are different things that are on the
no list for each of us. Some do not have a slice of sympathy for animal abuse, despite
what Hareiots would have you believe. For others it's sexual abuse of a child, that
would be one of mine.
It could be a lot of different things. These decisions aren't based on the moral
implication of the act for me. Instead it is how I view the person that would do
something like that and what it says about them in terms of character and trustworthiness.
If you find a child sexual in any way and are willing to act on it, I don't see how
I would ever be able to trust your judgement. You show that you have a need to prey
on the weak, which makes you far weaker than your victims. Pathetic indeed.
Morals, if anything, should be a decision you make because you can see what about
an action is good or is bad. What reasoning you ascribe to the meaning of good or
bad might change. I have a distinct lack of empathy. Born that way, and nothing that
I say or do will change it. However, I have a code of conduct. Not cheating would
be on it. It is not the worst thing, nor the lightest thing on it, but it’s relatable.
So, cheating. I don’t like it. I will not accept it from my partner. It’s a deal
breaker. If I don’t like it and won’t accept that from my partner, I cannot logically
allow it for myself. That’s part of my code. Some people call that a moral, for me
it’s a logical choice. I can make those based on what I think of as acceptable behavior.
Really, if we think about what makes up the morals of some people, it is pretty obvious
that they don’t put a modicum of thought into them. If I had a dollar for how many
times I heard something along these lines I would be a wealthy woman.
What prevents an atheist from raping and murdering everyone that they know. Without
God there is no morality. If you aren’t afraid of hell then you can do whatever you
Insert psychopath where atheist is and I have heard that plenty of times as well.
So, in other words, if they didn’t believe in God and have the bible, they would
feel the urge to rape and murder everyone they know. Not only that, that apparently
is what they want to do and the fear of hell is all that keeps them inline. Nice,
Morals are a decision, and one that is easily reached through the careful consideration
of a situation and you as a person with measured thought and logic. Emotions really
have little to do with it. Logically, if you don’t want to be murdered in your sleep,
don’t murder people in their’s. Simple.
If you are competing with anyone other than yourself, you have already surrendered
Q. Athena, I identify three basic moral principles in your answer (as well as others):
justice, the Golden Rule, and reciprocity. (Would you agree?) Reciprocity is a “personal”
principle, in that we can only reciprocate in person. But justice and the Golden
Rule are more abstract. Do you feel that these two apply to strangers as well as
people you deal with personally?
A. Indeed I do. I think these aspects apply to strangers. They are important pieces
to a functioning society.
Q. Hi Athena. What do you think about the much-talked-about "grandiosity" in psychopaths?
A. I think that they mean that we don’t have self doubt. That’s all I can figure.
I know what I am capable of, and I am not going to be needlessly humble. However,
I know what I suck at as well, and I am not going to needlessly make myself sound
better than I am. I think it is the first part that that trait is created from.
Athena demonstrates that emotional empathy (recognising others’ emotions) is not
necessary for a fully-functioning and fully satisfactory system of ethics. Justice
is “hard-wired”, based as it is in the relativity of natural selection (“survival
of the fittest?” “might is right?” “no.”).
Other-directed fairness (“I want the best for myself, and I also want the best for
you”) is only seen in humans, and can only have evolved as a present-day instinct
within the uniquely human context of obligatory interdependence: “if I lose so that
you can win, we all win, because we are all working towards the same goal; therefore,
I win too.”
Athena shows us that the Golden rule can be grounded in: 1) the pressure to thrive,
and consequently, the kind of person one needs to be to thrive and to help others
to thrive; 2) the moral justice of comparing two reciprocal actions; 3) the Categorical
Imperative, or the positive effect that behaving this way on a large scale must logically
have on society.
Athena’s ethical system reminds us of a military code of honour, the “Rock”. The
moral bridge to the empathic ethical world the rest of us are familiar with consists
in the Golden Rule and Justice (fairness). Reciprocity is fairness in exchanges.
Some life lessons from psychopaths
don't be egotistical – it's a weakness
keep cool under pressure
code of conduct – honour (i.e. high standards), courage, stoicism
Confusion between psychopaths and toxic narcissists
I believe that Mick Philpott and Adolf Hitler would be better described as toxic
narcissists with zero empathic concern, since they both strongly show(ed) self-directed,
egocentric emotions (i.e. emotions about their own interests).
Dennis Nilsen could well be a narcissist with schizoid and borderline adaptations.