Psychopaths, atheists and agnostics

by Fernando 21 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Fernando
    Fernando

    A naughty attention grabbing heading I admit - I'm sorry, just couldn't resist. Obviously we all know atheists and agnostics have nothing in common with Psychopaths.

    In fact I would hold that atheists and agnostics generally have better functioning consciences than religionists. I would also hold that most religionists are not Psychopaths - although a higher percentage of Psychopaths likely concentrate in the leadership of religious groups.

    However as a lay person (not a Psychiatrist) I really am interested to understand how our atheist and agnostic friends on JWN reason about Psychopaths (persons with no conscience).

    A random list of questions come to mind:

    What is a conscience? Where does it come from? Is it normal to have one? Is it abnormal to not have one? By what standard is normal determined? Where does this standard come from? How could something as fundamental, useful and important as a conscience have arisen randomly? How is a conscience lost and why? Why does loss (or compromise) of conscience result in aberration, deviance, evil, crime, violence, inhumanity and dysfunction? Does such a complex, awesome and partly intangible (metaphysical) compass (a conscience) not require design by a designer, who intended humans to be semi-autonomous and self-directed within a complex, functional, healthy and sustainable system?

    (I remember reading that 50% of violent crimes are committed by Psychopaths).

    Love to read your thoughts.

  • I Want to Believe
    I Want to Believe

    Conscience is learned social behavior. It's basically just a realization of how your actions affect others, and society at large. If it was implanted (or complex and awesome, as you claim) than why is it completely lacking in children? Children will hit, steal, lie, and whatever else they can think of to get their own selfish desires satisfied--only through learned standards of societal norms does one aquire a conscience (or lack thereof).

  • Twitch
    Twitch
    Love to read your thoughts.

    Read this one....

  • talesin
    talesin

    ... obviously the viewpoint of a sociopath ..... ;)

    Actually, some children are like that .... others are unselfish, and very loving. Haven't been around many children, huh?

    t

  • Fernando
    Fernando

    Hey Twitch!

    Ya got me. Didn't see that one coming!

  • glenster
  • startingover
    startingover

    I Want To Believe

    Great post!!!

  • Perry
  • Perry
    Perry

    Great Topic Fernando.

    I think there is a soulish conscience and an intellectual or bodily conscience. Since man is constituted of both, they both have this feature. God puts the conscience in the soul. This is what people mean when they say something like, "deep down he really knows that is wrong".

    Generally, I believe we are born with a soulish conscience and the other one is learned.

  • Disillusioned Lost-Lamb
    Disillusioned Lost-Lamb

    I think that what we are, or are not, born with is inconsequential.

    We are shaped by every passing second of our lives and these moments change and mould us, so by the time we put a conscience into play it has already been shaped by outward stimuli.

    In other words we are what we experience regardless of what we're born with; this can be applied both positively and negatively.

  • Knowsnothing
    Knowsnothing

    I thought psychopathy is defined, in part, by a physiological abnormality in the brain. The brain doesn't have access to the "punishment/rememberance" area.

    Psychopaths are hard to train, because they don't remember pain. They seem to have little empathy for others, if at all.

  • ziddina
    ziddina
    "Psychopaths, atheists and agnostics..."

    You rang????

  • Fernando
    Fernando

    Hey Zid!

    Yup it was me. Hope you're doing fabulously. What's up in your neighbourhood?

  • ziddina
    ziddina
    "If it was implanted (or complex and awesome, as you claim) than why is it completely lacking in children? Children will hit, steal, lie, and whatever else they can think of to get their own selfish desires satisfied--only through learned standards of societal norms does one aquire a conscience (or lack thereof). ..." I want to believe, above

    Ah, well....

    Chimpanzees also have societal norms, with "offenders" being ostracised or disciplined in other ways...

    http://www.originsnet.org/Harrod%20ChRel%20Supporting%20Material%20SM1.pdf

    If one wanted to discern whether such social behaviors are totally learned, or are somewhat "instinctual", one would do best to observe or read upon the very tiny sampling of "wild" children - children raised in the woods with little to no human interaction.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Children-Found-Raised-By-Dogs&id=6183347

    And this piece:

    "Wild Human Children/Animals
    We need to discuss one extremely rare and harsh environment children grow up in-feral childhood. Feral Children are wild or untamed children who grow up without typical adult socialization influences. They are rare because most human newborns will not typically survive if they are not cared for by an older individual. One of the earliest documented sociological studies of an isolated feral child was reported on by Kingsley Davis in 1940. He discussed two similar cases of Anna and Isabelle. Anna was a five year old girl when she was discovered. She lived for years isolated in an attic and kept barely alive. Anna only learned a few basic life skills before she died at age 10. Isabelle was also isolated, but in her case she had the company of her deaf and mute mother. When Isabelle was discovered at age six she quickly learned the basic human social skills needed and was able to eventually attend school. Davis attributes the difference in outcome to nutrition and the fact that Isabelle had at least some social interaction with her mother. (See Davis, K. 1940 "Extreme Social Isolation of A Child" in The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Jan., 1940), pp. 554-565 Published by: The University of Chicago Press; Davis, K. 1949 "Human Society by McMillan Pub. New York; and Davis, K. (1993, "Final Note on a Case of extreme Isolation" Irvington Pub. CA.)
    In rare cases, human feral children have survived and documentation of their feral childhood is available. See Feral Children.com or http://www.feralchildren.com/en/index.php . This website discusses three categories of feral children: 1) Children raised in isolation; 2) children raised in confinement; and 3) children raised by animals (much less common). They also refute hoaxes of feral children which are not true. To grow up feral is perhaps the cruelest version of child abuse because the crucial primary socialization does not occur. This means that pubescent feral children lack a sense of self-concept; a pattern of multiple attachments and significant others; probable lack of awareness of self, others, groups, and society; and ultimately a void where socialization and acculturation should be. ..."

    From: http://freebooks.uvu.edu/SOC1010/index.php/socialization.html

    This doesn't indicate that 'feral' children grow up to "hit, steal, lie, and whatever else they can think of to get their own selfish desires satisfied..." Rather, that sort of behavior appears to come from other sources...

    And this site mentions 10 modern instances of "feral" children:

    http://listverse.com/2008/03/07/10-modern-cases-of-feral-children/

    Interestingly, none of these "feral" children appear to have characteristics that could be classified as "psychpathological", in my opinion...

  • Fernando
    Fernando

    Hey knowsnothing!

    Your description of a psychopath is very interesting and resonated with me. it also reminded me of a quote from Psychiatrist Morgan Scott Peck on evil persons:

    "Most evil people realize the evil deep within themselves but are unable to tolerate the pain of introspection or admit to themselves that they are evil. Thus, they constantly run away from their evil by putting themselves in a position of moral superiority and putting the focus of evil on others. Evil is an extreme form of what Scott Peck, in The Road Less Traveled, calls a character disorder." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Scott_Peck)

    That would seem to create an interesting inverse relationship between Psychopaths and evil persons, yet Psychopaths are evil? Unless Psychopaths are a subset of evil persons to whom the above does not apply?

  • Knowsnothing
    Knowsnothing

    Fernando, let's look at this medically first, shall we?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy

    According to some, there is little evidence of a cure or effective treatment for psychopathy; no medications can instill empathy, and psychopaths who undergo traditional talk therapy might become more adept at manipulating others and more likely to commit crime. [ 6 ] Others suggest that psychopaths may benefit as much as others from therapy. According to Hare, psychopathy stems from as yet unconfirmed genetic neurological predispositions and as yet unconfirmed social factors in upbringing. [ 7 ] A review published in 2008 indicated multiple causes, and variation in causes between individuals

    Another interesting site, and if you have a chance, read at least a portion of The Mask of Sanity.

    http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath.htm

  • rebel8
    rebel8

    Does such a complex, awesome and partly intangible (metaphysical) compass (a conscience) not require design by a designer, who intended humans to be semi-autonomous and self-directed within a complex, functional, healthy and sustainable system?

    Human beings are semi-autonomous and self-directed so that's evidence of a designer...seems a little convenient?

    Also, semi-autonomous? Why semi?

  • Fernando
    Fernando

    Hey rebel8!

    "Semi" because if left to our own devices we do unhelpful things like:

    • Develop a "Healthcare" system which is in reality a "Sickcare" system that bankrupts us and kills us. Now Americans have a 70% chance of getting AND dying from Chronic Disease. Australians a 90% chance. Home-grown tactical bio-terrorists in suits and ivory towers that silently and slowly kill far more than Al Qaeda ever could dream of.

    Just a few random examples and estimates. Maybe there are better examples of human irrationality and the propensity to shoot ourselves in the foot...

    Just say'n...

  • Twitch
    Twitch
    Just a few random examples and estimates. Maybe there are better examples of human irrationality and the propensity to shoot ourselves in the foot...

    The examples you cite are not psychological, in that neither address the individual mind, which is the subject. If you consider the group and it's motivations, this is now sociology, a related but different subject and one somewhat relevant to your first example at least. These are really more political than psychological issues anyways IMO.

    I really am interested to understand how our atheist and agnostic friends on JWN reason about Psychopaths (persons with no conscience).

    So am I but not nearly as much as how theists reason about psychopathy. Is it as simple as the Devil made me do it? Does god create people who are damaged? Is it just bad wiring in the membrane through no fault of our own? Is it our will? From where cometh evil?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

  • talesin
    talesin

    An interesting thesis examining 'good and evil', comes from Jean Vanier, a Canadian theologist. I've read some of his work. Check it out. Here is a link to get you started ...

    http://www.jean-vanier.org/info/en/the_man/short_biography

    tal

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