I thought this topic approprate since Osama Bin Laden is confirmed dead. Sociopath? Most likely. I finished the fascinating book on sociopaths while soaking up the sun poolside in Miami. I have a decent tan and a lot of food for thought.
Definitiong of sociopath: Person without a consciense. Oh, the person KNOWS what right and wrong is according to what he/she has LEARNED, but instinctively and naturally, he person never feels guilt, shame, horror, a sense of duty or responsibility to others, or any form of love.
According to the book, 1 out of every 25 people in America qualify as a sociopath. Yes, 4% of Americans fit this category. Interesting, because there are far LESS in other countries (like the entire Asian continent) and there seems to be a correlation between cultures and good development grounds for sociopaths.
Sociopaths appear as normal as any one, but life is literally a game to them. The book went through several different “types” of sociopaths. Basically sociopaths play the game at a level their intelligence allows, whether they are only smart enough to be a petty malcontent causing suburbian drama, or the head of a corporate company wrecking lives for their personal amusement.
The case studies the author illustrated were truly unsettling.
However, it was the question she (the author) asked halfway through the book that gave me the most food for thought in glitzy, over priced, image based Miami. If you had the choice to have a conscience (which often means putting others first to your own detriment) or not (meaning you could literally do whatever you wanted emotionally consequence free) which would you choose and why?
The author went on to answer that those who are the “opposite” of sociopaths, the “over empathetic” people in the world include Mother Teresa and the Dali Llama. The link between serving others, putting everyone above yourself, living your life as selflessly as possible, and self contentment/happiness is overwhelming. People are “happier” -with all the emotional, psychological, and biological implications attached- when giving of them selves to others.
I wanted to say, well Duh! I mean, I saw that coming from three miles away…but then as I was walking across the park to get to the outdoor shops I realized on a very personal level how it is easy to say “well duh” and another thing to put it into real life context.
I started getting whistles and comments from guys as I was walking to the shops and I won’t lie that the uneasiness of gaining anyone’s attention (I usually avoid it) was off set equally by how much I enjoyed the affirmation that I was pretty. Seems shallow, right? But it is SO true. I am a physically vain person, I like to know I look good, and it is a constant struggle for me to set the line between being confident in my own skin and turning in to a shallow bimbo more worried about turning heads than using her own. Ok, so maybe I’m really not that close to turning into a shallow bimbo (at least I hope not) but the point I’m trying to make is I can see how EASY it would be for me to fall into that seductive little trap. Living for my own vanity, my own pleasure, and wrapping my whole world on the attention I get from others instead of giving others my attention. Oh, I try and couch it in different ways “Well being pretty could open certain doors otherwise closed” or even as basic as “Free is always better so it wouldn’t be horrible if I got someone else to buy my meals…” but the truth of the matter is I’m trying to make it just SEEM like I have a “higher cause”, I’m just making excuses for my own vanity, because that small pleasure that hits when someone thinks I’m pretty has an addictive quality to it. Selfishness is insinuating.
I brought my head down to earth pretty quickly when I realized that that is ALL sociopaths have to live for. Unable to love, unable to connect with people, their entire life is made up of cheap thrills. Ugh! I don’t ever want to throw away my conscience just because a few tipsy cubans appreciate any female in high heels, and I feel that when we live self absorbed and Me First (incidentally, the culture America prides itself on) we are living contrary to our consciences and basically striving towards being a sociopath. Yuck! Maybe that seems like a stretch to some people, but think about your bossess and your bossess bossess, think about all those “succesful” people in rehabs, now think about those “succesful” people who spend more resources on doing good than pampering themselves, which ones seem happier to you? Which would YOU rather be?
When you examine the implications of sociopathy through a spiritual lens it becomes even more intriguing. I don’t have enough coherency to even BEGIN to put my convoluted thoughts into words, so I’ll end with this for now.