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(BBC)   I could feel your pain, but I choose not to   ( divider line
    More: Interesting, University of Groningen, mirror neurons, clip shows, history of neuroimaging, neural networks, empathy, sociopaths  
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2027 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Jul 2013 at 12:58 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-07-26 01:26:24 PM  
1 vote:, our society, largely run in the upper ranks by psychopaths, now wishes to mandate that younger / less-aware psychopaths have their empathy switches turned permanently on...because they care. Hold up, I'm going to switch over to my logical centers of my brain, and get their response...yep, it's as I suspected, "bullshiat."

The real reason, obviously, is that, assuming malevolence (not guaranteed on the part of psychopaths, contrary to popular indoctrination) is that empathic people are a thousand times easier to manipulate. Empathic people are required to 'feel' the pain of another person...even when that person isn't feeling any pain, and is actually just playing them; happens all the time with teenage daughters and fathers. This would be, ultimately, an attempt to 'cut down on the competition,' which sounds great, until you realize that 1.) you will not get everyone, and 2.) those who are now free, are now undetectable by their 'kin.' Perhaps I lack the words to adequately explain why this scenario might lead to a more disastrous outcome than the naive belief of "derp, making them go away" is good, but I'd like to think that a more intelligent person that myself could put forth the proper, coherent argument why this would possibly result in a somewhat hazardous future.

Frankly, given the not subtle rise in narcissism across the board, I'd view any policies asking for large scale societal changes 'for the good of mankind' with increasing suspicion. It's not that it's not possible, it's simply that compared to the era of Feynman level of hard science, this stuff is somewhat less thought through, with fewer of the exceptions and ramifications labored over....which leads me to believe we are becoming intellectually lazy, decadent, and dishonest. This does not detract from those who are doing good work, but does highlight what might be a general trend.
2013-07-25 10:49:14 PM  
1 vote:
I suspect though that EVERYONE has this ability to varying degrees. After all, none of us has sold all our possessions and given the money to starving children in another part of the world. Most if not all of us would gladly take a hungry child off our doorstep into our home to feed them if they came to our doors pitiously begging for help. It would be almost impossible to turn away. Most of us would do it for a stray cat or dog even.

The more 'distance' something has from us, the less empathy we experience. And that's a necessity to survive. Otherwise we'd harm ourselves trying to help too many people. It wouldn't benefit us, and ultimately it wouldn't benefit others either. How big our empathy circle is varies person to person, and varies issue to issue. We DO care a lot about a crisis when it happens even when far away, many people still try to do what they can to help. We feel that in a crisis, many people doing small things ($10 donation) can make a huge difference, so we try. There's a great TED talk on how bad our inner math is at determining charity worth, how when the number of needy increases, our charity goes down disproportionately because of that sense of futility.

Anyhoo... this type of finding also makes sense because many psychopaths/sociopaths have people they have feelings for and empathize with, usually immediate family. This has generally been explained as an extention of self. They care about themselves, they see their wives/husbands/kids as extensions of self therefore they have some empathy even though they may still be abusive to those people.

It makes much more sense I think to look at it as empathy impairment. And that impairment varies. And all of us have the ability to dampen if not close off our empathy. Some people just have it auto-default to OFF, as the article I think stated.

It will be really interesting to see where psychology/neuroscience goes in the next decade or two.
2013-07-25 01:44:11 PM  
1 vote:
I'm immune to puppy dog eyes, especially where food is involved. I guess I have the switch.

Article basically states that psychopaths can chose to be sociopaths, but some how they managed to do that without ever using the word sociopath. It's almost like they were lumping the two meanings into one word.
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