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Question about a lack of conscience

I have a question: does it ever happen that someone has no conscience but at the same time doesn't experience any "dark desires" to kill, harm, pester or deceive; he or she is just like any ordinary person in this very respect, just lacking a conscience? Can it be so? And if it is so, can it be that it isn't followed by any personality disorders; it's just like that someone was born with such an abnormality that they don't feel bad after doing something really bad and this is the only difference between such a person and otehrs?

Re: Question about a lack of conscience

How would you know you don't have a conscience unless you have done something "wrong" and not felt guilty or deeply remorseful about it?

Not having a recognizable conscience is apparently a very big deal to them, so yeah, if that's the only difference between you and most other people, that's still a significant variation.


Re: Question about a lack of conscience

But I wasn't talking about myself because I do have a conscience, maybe malfunctioning when compared with ordinary people and I lacked it even more when I was younger but I do have it. I was asking about this issue in general, out of pure curiosity. Is it possible?

Re: Question about a lack of conscience

Ah, I see. My bad for assuming. Can't seem to break that habit.

Ok then, as a matter of speculation and nothing more, I "assume" that most psychological schools of thought would hold that being conscienceless is an expression of some kind of personality disorder. Maybe they'd go with schizoid if there is no alleged intent to harm.

I don't buy it though. Being without a conscience is just a variation on the human personality theme. It's different but different doesn't necessarily equal pathological.

Re: Question about a lack of conscience

When I was trying to think of any examples of disorders where there can be exhibited a lack of conscience according to psychologists, I was thinking about Aspergers and schizoid PD but I meant any hypothetical situations when someone like that doesn't meet any criteria for anything and their only trait that makes them different is a lack of conscience and apart from this this hypothetical person would be normal. Maybe Dr Robert will reply in this thread? :)

Re: Question about a lack of conscience

You answered your own question. If they don't meet any of the criteria that some psychologists use to diagnose a personality disorder then they don't have a personality disorder. If they don't have a personality disorder then they are just human. Then again, people with "so called" personality disorders are just human too.

And that is the answer to your hypothetical. People are just people, with and without consciences. What psychologists say or don't say is ultimately irrelevant until you decide to make it so by believing their words are gospel. Normal isn't a real state of being. It's in the eye of the beholder.

Re: Question about a lack of conscience

But I'd like to know if it happens often - because EVERY time I'm reading about a lack of conscience, it's ONLY about psychopaths and I was curious if there are any ordinary folks who share only this one feature with them. I never before heard about someone with no conscience but not showing any other psychopathic traits.

Re: Question about a lack of conscience


A psychological "disorder" is not really analogous to a physical disorder, although the use of the same word, "disorder," confuses this issue. A physical disorder has certain fixed symptoms which can be discovered by means of blood tests, MRIs, etc. For example, you either have measles or not, and a blood test will determine that fact. A psychological disorder, on the other hand, normally has no absolute parameters which can be determined by testing, but is a matter of definition and opinion.

If a patient presents to two different physicians with, for example, a high fever and headaches, and one physician diagnoses dengue fever, and another malaria, simple tests can determine which is correct. However, if a patient presents to two different psychologists with an overwhelming need for constant attention, one psychologist could see this as a feature of narcissisic personality disorder, while another sees histrionic personality disorder, and the so-called "differential diagnosis"(deciding which) will be a matter more of interpretation than of fact, particularly since the criteria set for both of those so-called "disorders" was created as a matter of opinion and definition to begin with, and will be changed and modified as time goes on, perhaps even disappearing from the list of "disorders," as homosexuality has.

As I have written often, I consider a lack of conscience--which in many ways really means a lack of the need to conform to cultural definitions of so-called "right and wrong"--to be a normal human personailty variant. I have much evidence for this view which I will not adduce here. Psychopath is simply a label which is used to indicate a certain set of personality and behavioral features--and not everyone agrees what these are. Given this disagreement and the arbitrary nature of the definition, it is more useful in my view to dispense with the diagnosis, and simply deal with the factual situation. For example, I am currently seeing a person who is completely self-centered, cares not one whit for anyone besides herself, uses sex or whatever else she can command in order to manipulate others, and has caused lots of harm to lots of people in her short life. Frankly, I don't care if she is a narcissist or a sociopath--for me, the treatment is the same: listen, understand, and communicate my understanding to her.

I hope this helps.