Thursday, December 20, 2012

Relationship between psychopathy and Autism/Aspergers



Somebody said: "Not everyone has empathy. Psychopaths don't have it. Autism/Asperger's have less empathy which may be part of the reason for the tendency to be socially isolated, unable to grasp social cues and so on. What is the difference and similarity between psychopathy and autism spectrum disorders."

Those concepts are no good -- the assumption is that genes have a causal role, which is false.

When psychologists refer to someone as having a "psychopathy", what's really going on is that that person has evil ideas, ideas that he uses to kill and hurt innocent people. And I guess the psychologists assume that having those evil ideas *must* be due to a physical illness, but that's false. Horrible experiences during childhood (plus his understanding about them, i.e. his choices) is sufficient to causing one to have evil ideas.

When psychologists refer to someone as having "Autism/Asperger's", what's really going on is that that person has ideas that are not socially accepted, ideas that he uses while playing and talking to people and whatever else. And the psychologist is assuming that having these socially unaccepted ideas *must* be due to a physical illness, but that's false.

Regarding similarities, having evil ideas about killing and hurting innocent people (aka "psychopathy") is a special case of having ideas that are socially unacceptable (aka "Autism/Asperger's"). But, a few hundred years ago, it was socially accepted to kill people who had socially unacceptable ideas (referring to the killing of "witches"). Would you call those witch-killers psychopaths? If so, how do you explain why there were so many more psychopaths per capita back then than compared to today?



On a side note: You're wrong that people labeled with "Autism/Aspergers" are *unable* to grasp social cues. They can learn it if they want to, i.e. if they consider that important. And, if they start to learn these social cues long after most everyone else does, then those other people shun them (analogous to witch-killers killing "witches"), thereby making it harder for them to learn social cues. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy.


But before we condemn people for not knowing social cues, lets question whether or not its good to seek social acceptance in the first place?

Also, what if the asocial way is better? Consider this guy who was diagnosed Aspergers when he was young.

12 comments:

  1. I don't think Asperger's kids have a huge disadvantage. In fact, in my own personal diagnosis, over the years I came to not even think of it as a thing anymore. I'm not even sure I believe in it!

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    1. Well, what I've been explaining implies that there is no Autism/Aspergers. Its a label, not a disease. The label is used for social control. Regarding the "disadvantage", I disagree. If one's goal is to mimic the social vibrations of most people, then yes people who don't know how to read facial expressions well are at a disadvantage. But lets question the *goal* itself. Why is that a good goal? Its not. I reject it. Its immoral. And that is my right to reject it. Why should society impose its will against my will by labeling me and forcing me to do things I don't want to do? I thought we live in a free society!!!

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    2. I do think as a parent a person might want their child to have an easier life by being able to fit in to social norms better, and particularly if the child finds it frustrating not to fit in, then helping them do so might be within their own will. But coercing somebody to "fit in" when they do not wish to do so would be immoral, absolutely. So I see your point and agree with that! In my case, although I frequently don't care about fitting in, it did make life a lot easier for me when I learned some basic skills I didn't even know I was lacking, so I was able to enjoy social interaction when I wanted to, but that is a lot different from being coerced into it against one's will, which is very frequently the case.

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    3. But, why does anybody want to "fit in"? -- why do they crave other people's approval? -- why do they want to be accepted by a group? Instead of having a goal of social acceptance, why don't they instead have a goal of living morally? One might say that he can have both goals, but he'd be wrong.

      Either he seeks to do the right thing, or he seeks to do what other's will accept. Sometimes these two goals don't conflict, in which case there's no problem, and seeking acceptance was unnecessary. But what about when these goals do conflict? How should one choose which goal matters? Should he choose (1) the right thing that won't be accepted by the group, or (2) the wrong thing that will be accepted by the group? If he chooses (1), then the group is immoral and he shouldn't want acceptance from immoral people. If he chooses (2), then he's choosing immorality, and to make matter's worse he's fueling the group's immorality.

      So why should anyone want to be socially accepted?

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    4. Indeed, I do believe moral living is more important than social acceptance by far, and some of the greatest humans of all time were not socially accepted at all, even tortured and executed. However, it would be immoral of me to refuse someone their free will if they wish to seek social acceptance. So if I had a child who was sad because he had no friends, I would do what I could to try to facilitate his with to have friends. I would never advise him to violate his integrity, but I would try to help him learn the basics of human interaction that he might be lacking, such as paying attention to people's eyes and watching for subtle queues in their movements that can alert one to their internal state, and to focus carefully on their internal state and be responsive to that. It is wrong to subjugate one's integrity to the wishes of others of course, but it is right to be concerned with their feelings and sensitive to their inner state, and a child with trouble making friends may often discover that by training himself in these skills, he needs not sacrifice his integrity at all in order to find lasting and rich friendships. That has certainly been the case with me. I still don't care for what may be called "social acceptance" in general. But I do value being part of my community, of enjoying the affection of others, and being the focus of their concern when I am in need. So friendships have vastly improved my life, and I am so thankful to the teachers and loved ones who helped me improve my skills and taught me to train carefully on those queues that, in my childhood, I was not naturally attuned to notice as easily as others might.

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    5. But, if a parent has a child who was sad and the child says its because he has no friends, one thing that should be discussed is whether or not he's happy while alone. Since everybody is alone sometimes, everybody should learn how to enjoy that time alone. And then, when the child learns to have fun while alone, he may not be sad that he doesn't have friends. But, if he's still sad about that, the parent can help. But, focusing on social vibrations shouldn't be the goal because that relies on assuming what people are thinking without them actually saying what they're thinking. Instead, the child should learn how to interact with people with discussion. Two people having a discussion using the English language can be much more accurate about each other's preferences than two people reading each other's facial expressions, assuming that both people are willing to discuss and that both are not assuming that the other person should be reading his facial expressions. These social vibrations do not have the sophistication to be able to learn each other's preferences -- only the use of a written language can do that. And if people don't know each other's preferences, then that is how they hurt each other, because they trample over each other's preferences without knowing that they are trampling. One might say that thats what social vibrations are for, to tell others what they don't approve of, but consider this: If I do X, and a friend of mine frowns right after I did it, that means he's telling me that he doesn't like something about X. But which part? How am I supposed to know which part about X he doesn't like if he doesn't tell me in a language that could explain it? A frown doesn't provide enough detail to know what his preference is.

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  2. Strangely, I seem to have come into very close and regular contact with a number of 'Aspies' over the last 2 years. I have lived with them, dated them, worked with or under them... at least a half dozen. At least half of those I would absolutely think of as 'psychopaths'. Manipulative, devoid of empathy, ruthless, enjoys power over others, etc... By no means are all aspies dangerous. Not at all. But in my personal experience, they have inflicted some incredibly serious damage to me, and I don't believe I will ever fully trust one or want to get close to one again.

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    1. So your understanding of 'psychopath' is having the following characteristics: manipulative, devoid of empathy, ruthless, enjoys power over others. But these things have nothing to do with physical illness -- they are about ideas. Also, manipulating others is something that lots of "non-psychpaths" do, even highly "empathetic" people. Actually, they use "empathy" in order to manipulate people, e.g. a parent says to her child "I know you hate X, but I want you to do X because I love you," which means that not doing X will cause her to stop loving her child. So empathy and manipulation are not mutually exclusive.

      Lets consider the idea of being ruthless. Do you think that a mother who uses empathy to coerce her child is not acting ruthlessly? She is hurting her child and justifying her actions by the threat of withholding her love. And she's doing this without considering that the child should not be coerced to do things against his will. Her coercion is partially the cause of his negative emotions and she is ruthlessly ignoring this fact. So ruthlessness and empathy are not mutually exclusive.

      Lets consider the idea of enjoying power over others. Do you think that a mother who uses her power of controlling her child with the threat of withholding her love is enjoying her power? Maybe not. Maybe she dislikes using her power. But is this any better than another person who enjoys using his power over others? I think no. The end result is the same: coercion and psychological hurt.

      So, lots of 'non-psychopaths' have the characteristics that you describe as one's that indicate 'psychopathy'.

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  3. Lord this is such a ridiculous notion; I can see you don't know what either of the illnesses are or what they entail. You describe these illnesses as if they were lifestyle choices made by persons suffering with them when there is clear empirical evidence to show both a genetic factor and a neurological one for both illnesses. The idea that they are simply labels is utterly ludicrous and can be seen very clearly when interacting with sufferers or when looking at brain scans of sufferers. Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) have nothing to do with whether a person has "ideas that are not socially accepted" but in fact manifests in a fundamental inability to process certain types of information; fluid information is where an ASD sufferer fails to be able to cope hence there dislike of change and social ineptitude despite high intelligence and often prolific ability at scientific and mathematical subjects. A psychopath is a person who fails to develop the "normal" capacity for morality and is in no way necessarily inclusive of someone who "has evil ideas, ideas that he uses to kill and hurt innocent people". They will often be very impulsive and have an inability to retain stability within there lifestyle. A psychopaths complete inability to empathise is very different to ASD in that while someone with autism or aspergers is unlikely to be able to identify that they are causing stress to someone due to an inability to read social cues whereas a psychopath is often extremely proficient at recognising the emotions of others but ignores them for selfish reasons. Furthermore the idea that psychopathy is a type of aspergers is ridiculous the two illnesses are literally (and I mean literally literally here and not as an emphatic substitute for figuratively) mutually exclusive one cannot have both. Someone with apergers will very typically display extreme remorse and regrets at the frequent mistakes they make in society and will often suffer anxiety due to their not 'fitting in' whereas one of the defining characteristics of a psychopath is a complete lack of remorse and guilt reflexes

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    1. Finwe,

      Re "clear empirical evidence" -- before you can collect evidence, first you must hypothesize a testable theory. So what is the testable theory, and what experiments were done to try to rule them out? If you don't know the answer to this question, then why do you think there is "clear empirical evidence"?

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  4. It's very difficult to learn social cues when many people lie and cover up possibly shameful behaviour. I think many symptoms of aspergers and apparent lack of empathy are symptoms of being confused by body language not matching the words people use, and coping mechanisms for dealing with being bullied and treated as outsiders. Empathy is hard work when people lie to themselves and each other about how they feel.

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    1. gp gp

      judging from your reply, i think you'd enjoy this discussion group: http://fallibleideas.com/discussion

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