Sociopaths a product of evolution?
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16-07-2015, 06:07 AM
RE: Sociopaths a product of evolution?
Some general thoughts
1. When we examine a phenomenon we should first ask whether it is real. Questioning whether or not there is a genetic basis for psychopathy is legitimate enough and should be responded to with evidence rather than ridicule
2. When we find a genetic anomaly it is also legitimate to question whether or not it is adaptive. Mutation and genetic drift explain a significant amount of diversity. Anomalous traits may well be random rather than having been selected for.
3. With all that said the idea that psychopathy could be selected for is an interesting one. The difficult question is how would we tell the difference between this hypothesis being correct versus it being a random occurrence.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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16-07-2015, 07:23 AM
RE: Sociopaths a product of evolution?
Domesticated psychopaths thrive in high stress environments that would destroy most normal people, such as emergency first responders. And yes, CEOs and COOs, political leaders, etc. This isn't merely because they're a bunch of greedy bastards driven to seek out such positions, it's because the nature of the world has made it all but impossible for people with a typical, healthy emotional response to take the confusing, often self contradicting nature of all the arbitrary rules, standards, and political agendas and have a chance in hell of making sense of it all, constructing a plan, and coming out ahead.

Random stories: I'm gonna go on a bit of a tangent and probably stray from the topic, so feel free to skip over it...
I often describe myself, half jokingly and half seriously, as schizoid with psychopathic traits. As a kid, fitting in was a mystery to me, and for the most part I never really gave a shit. If normal people experience emotions on a scale of 1 to 100, I tend to experience them on a scale of about 47 to 53. The first time I really felt anything significant was during an incident in which I essentially ambushed some typical high school dumb shits. I was a freshman, and one that stood out as being the quiet weird guy. They were new seniors, looking to establish their superiority by grabbing freshmen in the bathroom, roughing them up a bit, sticking their heads in the toilet, and giving them the old whirlie. Like I said, typical high school bull shit. Except I knew they were planning on doing it, so I intentionally lead them into a bathroom with a thin, somewhat long entry to the urinal between the wall and the stalls, creating an ideal choke point. As I entered, and before they'd entered after me, I slipped my math book out of my bag, dropped the bag behind me as I approached the urinal to create a minor obstacle, and walked up to it as if I were going to go pee.

Now, I always enjoyed hunting during my stepfather's frequent trips to Alaska, and as mentioned before I'd been doing it since I was around 10. But here I was back in Washington (civilization, so to speak), and in my mind I was dealing with a bunch of undisciplined, dumbass city kids. Standing there, knowing they were approaching me, knowing shit was about to go down, and knowing they didn't know they were going to be on the wrong end of that shit, the adrenaline started pumping, and a feeling came over me like nothing I could have previously described. I felt like a wolf being stalked by rabbits, and it was no longer a matter of defending myself against people whom I knew were trying to pick a fight. I couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces when I sprang my attack. And as they formed a line to fit in my choke point, and the first of them put himself off balance to step over my bag, I turned around rammed my math book into his jaw so hard he was unconscious before he hit the ground, and the kids behind him had to back up to make room for him to fall. I had anticipated having to make a hasty retreat out of the bathroom while they took a second to collect themselves, but the other ones were just standing their with their mouths gaping like bumbling idiots. Seeing these guys who, mere seconds before, thought they were the predators, now completely incapacitated out of fear, despite every one of them being older and outweighing me significantly, just added to the feeling. I picked up my bag, dropped my book back inside, and calmly exited the restroom. I guess they'd told a few people what they were about to do, because a small crowd of grinning spectators were waiting anxiously outside the door. Me walking out of there unscathed was probably not what they expected to see and, again, it only added to what up to this point was the single greatest feeling I'd ever had before.
I've had issues with social interaction for a long time and, in true Dexter like fashion, I've learned through trial and error to deal with people over the years since, unlike with most people, it simply didn't come naturally. But deception is the only choice I've got in that manner. I can't act naturally, because I wasn't given any instincts to go off of. Everything I do in most social situations is a learned action designed to elicit a certain response, not the result of a genuine feeling. Normal people would criticize this, but let me emphasize that I wasn't given any more choice in the matter than someone who was born with autism or down syndrome. I'm just doing what I've learned to do, with the instincts and the drive I was given, so to speak, in order to make my way in this world and achieve goals that I consider to be worth achieving.

Now, I don't consider myself a true psychopath because, although I do have many traits defined as psychopathic in nature, and although other people might consider me to be one if I weren't doing a damn good job of hiding behind an image I've created for myself, I do experience empathy. It's more of a whisper than a strong emotion, but I genuinely feel good when I help people I feel deserve it, and I genuinely feel bad when I see bad things happen to people. But I've got a strong predatory instinct that drowns it out and, fortunately, I've found ways to satisfy that instinct that are (arguably) beneficial to society. And from my experiences, I'm not that uncommon. The thing is that most of "us" don't end up as serial killers, at least not in the illegal sense.

As far as being manipulative and coercive in order to achieve one's goals... For those who criticize this trait among sociopaths and/or psychopaths, may I ask what the alternative is? I've always viewed the world as something of a giant chess game. Every person is driven by something unique, whether it's a healthy sense of empathy or the desire to take their place as a predator. Some take actions that hinder me in the achievement of my own goals, and I may very well take an action to oppose that action, if I find it to be strategically viable. But judge someone for being what they are? Right or wrong, why bother? We're mostly atheists here, right? There isn't a soul in us being tested on whether it's good or bad. There are a bunch of biological impulses that got set off on a chain reaction long before we had any say in the matter.

If someone is detrimental to your own goals because they are a sociopath and/or psychopath and you aren't comfortable with that, by all means, try to learn how to spot them and keep them out of your life. But don't dwell on what ass holes they are, because it's not going to change anything. They are what they are.

'Murican Canadian
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