Psychopaths versus sociopaths part 2

“Psychopath. Successful Psychopath.” –

In some ways sociopaths and psychopaths are opposite ends of a spectrum, with psychopaths only adopting rules that are selfishly expedient, and changing them when expedient, whereas for a sociopath the rules are important, just not generally accepted rules, and those rules may outweigh all other considerations, even human life or the sociopaths own life.

A psychopath is driven by urges and what he deems expedient, a sociopath by what he believes is necessary.

A psychopath is only reliable to the degree his interests are temporarily in alignment, if he recognizes that fact and doesn’t have a stronger impulse.

I would be looking more for high functioning sociopaths.  The greatest heros and worst monsters have features of that type.

Sociopaths like rules and have disdain for rules that don’t agree, but that leaves it an open question whether their rules are good or bad, and if they are good, whether they are better.

Normal people mostly adopt what might be called the ambient morality around them, and that is not always good. 

If someone is raised in a racist, homophobic environment, the odds are overwhelming that he will be racist and homophobic.

That is, sometimes it is a good thing to oppose conventional morality and that there are people around that are missing the brain widget that results in uncritically accepting the conventional principles.

Sometimes you need someone that will start what is at the time the bloodiest war in history (Lincoln), or that risks martyrdom (Jesus), or who convinces masses to march on an enemy at great personal risk without fighting back (Gandhi).  You see some of the same features with the hero agent from WW2.  That level of commitment regardless of personal consequences is not psychopathy.

And the boundary between hero and monster is Robespierre, and on looking at the historical record, his initial campaign of eliminating oppressing classes was necessary, keeping around wounded, powerful adversaries would have resulted in inevitable failure.  If something is necessary there is no point in asking whether it ought to be done, the question is irrelevant.  We all owe Robespierre a debt, his victory was as important to the world we live in as the American revolution.

On the other side, the monsters, there are people like Hitler and the serial killer Pickton.  When a sociopath has absolute commitment to the worst principles he can do a lot of damage.


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