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Thread: If we discovered a "cure" for psychopathy, should it be used?

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    If we discovered a "cure" for psychopathy, should it be used?

    I think it would only be useful if it could be applied to everyone.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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    If we discovered a "cure" for psychopathy, should it be used?

    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I think it would only be useful if it could be applied to everyone.
    I’m not sure why you would think that.

    Additionally, I don’t think that what we call psychopathy is really a single condition, but rather a way we tend to describe people with some undesirable traits, which might arise for different reasons.


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    Are you asking whether it should be given to psychopaths, involuntarily?
    You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and I won't have it!

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    Yes. I doubt any would consent. It might even be administered in the womb. But there would be a kind of arms race involved; no one would want to be the first country to remove its psychpaths, because then the countries with psychopaths would have a military advantage.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I think it would only be useful if it could be applied to everyone.
    Psychopathy, like sociopathy, is not a recognized medical diagnosis. It's pop culture term used to cover a wide range of personality disorders and criminal motives, a catch-all for any anti-social urges.

    Without a clear psychological definition I do not think a blanket "cure" would be possible even if we could figure out what a "cured" condition would be like.

    As a mentally ill individual myself, the ethics of mental "cures" is problematic. After all, most mental "cures" have historically amounted to forcibly making an individual's behavior conform to social norms rather than a concern for mental health and personality.
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    Yes. The question seems founded on a faulty premise, that "psychopathy" is a well-defined, binary state, identifiable by some sort of "psychopath test". But:
    1) It's not a psychiatric diagnosis.
    2) It's a vague label for a spectrum of traits and behaviours.
    3) These traits and behaviours can change during a person's lifetime.
    4) Like pretty much everything in life, it is associated with both genetic and environmental factors.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Should it be used? A forever question with any illness or personality trait that seems to be a danger to the person or to others. Same with physical illnesses. The concept of being unfit for trial, raises the same questions for society as being in need of treatment. The answer has shifted, usually in a liberal direction through history. It seems a good thing that mental illness is now in the same category as physical illness, we got rid of demons, mostly, but treatments vary. Where harm is done, or judged likely, we can expect case by case decisions. In the UK the concept of coercive control has been included within domestic violence in the law. Is a person who becomes violent when challenged showing a psychopathic trait? Is a control freak mentally ill? Can either be treated? No general answer.
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    Fundamentally you can boil down psychopathy to a diminished capacity for empathy. If we could discover the mechanism for empathy, we might be able to readjust it before it develops into psychopathy.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Fundamentally you can boil down psychopathy to a diminished capacity for empathy. If we could discover the mechanism for empathy, we might be able to readjust it before it develops into psychopathy.
    Physically the Amygdala in the brain has some correlation. Studies found that small size correlates with lack of empathy ,lack of fear, and not recognising fear in others, while large size correlates with high empathy such as people who donate organs for strangers. Rare loss of the Amygdala through disease or trauma removes fear and is usually very bad for the person.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    But there would be a kind of arms race involved; no one would want to be the first country to remove its psychpaths, because then the countries with psychopaths would have a military advantage.
    I thought that you might be thinking that. I can’t imagine that a country would actually want to have “psychopaths” in its midst for military advantage? Would you? I certainly would not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Yes. I doubt any would consent. It might even be administered in the womb. But there would be a kind of arms race involved; no one would want to be the first country to remove its psychpaths, because then the countries with psychopaths would have a military advantage.
    Most militaries have various psych tests specifically to weed out the mentally ill or unstable.

    So-called psychopaths are in general, people who have a significant resistance to conforming to orders and discipline. Soldiers who are psychopaths are most likely to result in war crimes, endangering their fellow soldiers, and severe breaches of military codes of conduct and honor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Fundamentally you can boil down psychopathy to a diminished capacity for empathy.
    But you can't. Not remotely.
    If you look at the 20-point Hare checklist, a tool used to assess criminal behaviour that the courts would consider "psychopathic", there's a great deal more to it than that.

    Grant Hutchison

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    I'm not just talking about criminals. I'm talking about CEOs, law enforcement, journalism and any other profession in which psychopaths are overrepresented. Any one of them has the potential to harm the world in a significant way.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Yes. I doubt any would consent. It might even be administered in the womb. But there would be a kind of arms race involved; no one would want to be the first country to remove its psychpaths, because then the countries with psychopaths would have a military advantage.
    In addition to the objections noted, I'll add that I think that sounds pretty insulting to service members.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I'm not just talking about criminals. I'm talking about CEOs, law enforcement, journalism and any other profession in which psychopaths are overrepresented. Any one of them has the potential to harm the world in a significant way.
    But there are no diagnostic criteria for this entity, "psychopathy", outside the criminal justice system. It isn't listed as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or the International Classification of Disease. The closest diagnosis in the DSM is Antisocial Personality Disorder, but the diagnostic criteria for that don't include the lack of empathy that you've just fingered as a cardinal feature of psychopaths.
    So the Hare checklist I linked to is the definition of "psychopath".

    You'll find various psychiatrists and psychologists writing popsci articles about "psychopathic personality traits", but they're essentially just using a label that non-professionals both recognize and for some reason are oddly fascinated by. The word is basically so worn by misuse that it has little meaning outside the very limited applications in which the Hare checklist has been formally validated.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I'm not just talking about criminals. I'm talking about CEOs, law enforcement, journalism and any other profession in which psychopaths are overrepresented. Any one of them has the potential to harm the world in a significant way.
    Overrepresented? In what way? What metric are you using?

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    Overrepresented? In what way? What metric are you using?
    I'd also like to know what constitutes "harm(ing) the world".
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    Overrepresented? In what way? What metric are you using?
    It's a meme created by Kevin Dutton, based on a survey hosted on his personal website. After a few thousand responses, he published a list of professions that scored highest on his particular set of questions. The timing matched the publication of his book The Wisdom Of Psychopaths. Make of that what you will.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Yes. The question seems founded on a faulty premise, that "psychopathy" is a well-defined, binary state, identifiable by some sort of "psychopath test".
    But wouldn’t the hot guy come to her sister’s funeral? /s
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    It's a meme created by Kevin Dutton, based on a survey hosted on his personal website. After a few thousand responses, he published a list of professions that scored highest on his particular set of questions. The timing matched the publication of his book The Wisdom Of Psychopaths. Make of that what you will.

    Grant Hutchison
    So anybody could log in and answer the survey and completely make up stuff. Now, why would people do that? On the internet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    So anybody could log in and answer the survey and completely make up stuff. Now, why would people do that? On the internet?
    I don't know how he validated his data--my earlier link goes to a version of the tool used in the so-called Great British Psychopath Survey, but it doesn't collect any personal information.
    There's an article from The Atlantic here, written by someone who discussed the survey limitations with Dutton at the time. Their summary, "interesting observations, but not clinical diagnoses", certainly seems about the best one could say. Which takes us back to my original point--you can't find a cure for "interesting observations".

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Fundamentally you can boil down psychopathy to a diminished capacity for empathy. If we could discover the mechanism for empathy, we might be able to readjust it before it develops into psychopathy.
    Perhaps the resulting individuals would be too empathetic to experiment on strangers' brains against their will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I don't know how he validated his data--my earlier link goes to a version of the tool used in the so-called Great British Psychopath Survey, but it doesn't collect any personal information.
    The link took me to "The Psychopath Challenge" version and it didn't ask any demographic information of me, either. Further, it allowed me to take the quiz more than once. So, yeah. While it may be pop psychology at its 'finest', I sure wouldn't call its results solid data.
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    parallaxicality, what would you define as "cured"? What would be the qualities of an individual who has been "cured"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    In addition to the objections noted, I'll add that I think that sounds pretty insulting to service members.
    Hey, I wasn't the one who called the MAO-A aggression regulator the "warrior gene".

    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Century Schizoid Man View Post
    I'd also like to know what constitutes "harm(ing) the world".
    In 2017, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff was invited to a private resort to give a futurist lecture to a group of hedge fund kingpins. He thought he'd be asked about the application of blockchain, crispr or 3D printing. Instead all they wanted to know was how they, personally, could survive the coming climate crisis, including the feasability of putting shock collars on unwilling poor people to ensure their loyalty.

    These are the same people who are perfectly happy to let climate change misinformation spread in the population, if it ensures their fossil fuel stock options stay buoyant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    parallaxicality, what would you define as "cured"? What would be the qualities of an individual who has been "cured"?
    Someone who wouldn't think like that.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Hey, I wasn't the one who called the MAO-A aggression regulator the "warrior gene".
    And how does a gene with a poorly chosen popular name relate to what you said about psychopaths and the military?
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post

    Someone who wouldn't think like that.
    Who would be in charge of deciding how people should think?

    If humanity had the capacity to direct thoughts in such specific ways I think the most likely results would be disastrous. People just like the CEOs and politicians you describe would bend every effort to use those methods to their own benefit. They'd make Big Brother look like a freethinking hippie by comparison.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Hey, I wasn't the one who called the MAO-A aggression regulator the "warrior gene".
    No, it was a science journalist named Ann Gibbons.

    To quote Merriman & Cameron:
    Nevertheless, on the basis of one un-replicated experiment on only 45 animals, the MAO-A gene was (dubiously) termed the “warrior gene” at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists by a scientific journalist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    In 2017, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff was invited to a private resort to give a futurist lecture to a group of hedge fund kingpins. He thought he'd be asked about the application of blockchain, crispr or 3D printing. Instead all they wanted to know was how they, personally, could survive the coming climate crisis, including the feasability of putting shock collars on unwilling poor people to ensure their loyalty.

    These are the same people who are perfectly happy to let climate change misinformation spread in the population, if it ensures their fossil fuel stock options stay buoyant.
    I went ahead and read that story. It says that the interview was with five guys (yes, hedge fund guys) who were interested in survivalism and wanted to know how to survive some "crisis" that they see happening. But my impression is that even outside of people like that, there are lots of people in the US (well, mainly, but in other places as well) who are panicking about some future crisis and getting guns and fortifying their homes. So it seems that at least in that context, you don't necessarily need to be a "psychopath" to be worried about how to weather the coming Armageddon.
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    There are billions of psychopaths around. They are called computers! They do exactly what they are programmed to do.
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