Re: Confessions about love, relationships guilt and the world from a young sociopath.
I think your open minded approach to colder fishes like me is refreshing. I imagine you get a lot of questions from so called socio/psychopaths for precisely this reason. Also your definition is simple and clear (if a person lacks what is thought of as a conscience, you consider them psychopaths) which is nice for those of us who can’t put an affirmative checkmark next to every item on Hare’s famous list. And you don’t consider people like me to be evil incarnate, which is always a plus. :-) I think you’re doing just fine in the psychopath empathy category.
Thank you for taking my response to that picture at face value. Again, really noticing my lack of instinctive empathy is new to me, so for a while after that initial interaction, I looked up a variety of pictures and videos online of human and animal violence just to see if I could generate feelings of disgust or righteous indignation or sadness or fear, etc. I did find some of it intriguing to watch, but no, even the infamous 3 Guys 1 Hammer video didn’t stir any great feelings of sympathy within me, although I didn’t like the gurgling sounds the victim made. The closest I could come to something resembling pity was wishing they’d go ahead and finish it already.
So for you, seeing absolute aloneness lead to a growth in compassion, while for me it did not. Fascinating. I don’t think compassion is imaginary per se. It’s no more imaginary than any other emotion. If you feel it, you feel it. And in modern society, compassionate action is made easier. Even so, I think compassion, like so many other emotions normals report feeling, especially love, can be a blinder if one isn’t careful. I imagine that outside of the safeguards of modernity, compassionate and love inspired action can be maladaptive in an environment composed of other selfish individuals.
Speaking of, you asked in one of your previous comments if I’d experienced love. I know I don’t I have to make any arguments with you about the subjective nature of love and how the definitions of said emotion differ among various groups and blah, blah, blah. You obviously get all of that already. I could say yes I have loved, but I gather that my experience of love would seem rather paltry comparatively speaking. I mean, I have what I think of as affection for a few people, especially my nieces and nephews when they were young. (Once they became teenagers they also became tedious in all of their never ending, hormonally driven drama.) But I can hear about folks dying or being gravely ill and not feel a thing for instance, family included. I of course change my facial expression and tone of voice to mimic concern since I understand this greases the wheels of social interaction. In fact, my family and friends consider me to be one of the kindest and most understanding people they know. Only my niece has seen a truer version of myself in recent years. She’s in her late teens and seems to fit the profile for what they call Oppositional Defiance Disorder to a tee. Unfortunately for her, she wears her aggressive feelings on her sleeves, which makes life difficult for her and almost all who have to deal with her. Except me. She never gives me the problems she gives others because I understand her and she knows that. I am relatively honest with her in a way that I’m not with most other people. Does that mean I love her? (That question is half rhetorical, half not.)
I’m also being uncharacteristically honest here on these forums because it’s anonymous and it costs me nothing. Everyone else in my life interacts with a series of masks I’ve honed since I was a teenager myself. And recently I’ve increased my deception quotient considerably as I considered implementing several ideas I’ve been mulling over. Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting here that I’m planning anything violent or even illegal. I just figured it was time for certain folks in my life to serve me, so I used the lies they live their lives by to my advantage. They’ll give me what I want without them ever knowing it. You might even say that they’re using my lies as an excuse to generate happy feelings within themselves. It was all too easy, absurdly so even. Some of these people are members of my family. Do I love them, these people I’ve lied to? I’d like to think I care for my mother, even though she’s one of the people I’ve deceived. I do care for her. I’d also like to think that I’d be upset if she died. But do I love her? I could say yes since there is no objective definition of the term. Maybe that means love is whatever we want it to be, like any other nonsense term. But like I said, when I compare my experience with what other people report when they talk about loving someone, perhaps I don’t. Perhaps I’ve never actually loved anyone else. I don’t really know. How would I know?
How do you know when you love someone? I don’t just mean romantically either of course.