From: Francesca S. Alcorn (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 21 Mar 2004 - 03:05:50 GMT
>I think the root of all of this is empathy with the other. The thing I
>said was going to sound silly is that I think we do fully model other
>people in our heads, and that if they are sufficiently sophisticated
>models we can genuinely 'feel their pain' because the models are made
>from the same fundamental mental stuff; i.e. internal, submemetic
Sorry it took so long to get back to you - mother-in-law was in for a visit....
If it's silly, then you are in good company, there is a whole field
of psychology devoted to this idea: phenomenological psychology - I
haven't read much about it since it is more philosophical-less
clinical. Heavy on the jargon - I felt like I was reading a legal
>Sociopaths, for whatever reason, don't have the facility to do this
Sociopaths can be very manipulative so they must have a reasonably
accurate working model (with a few key blind spots). But they are
incapable of showing concern for others. Autistic people are quite
capable of showing concern/distress when they see someone hurt - they
just don't have a good working model human social behavior. There's
a big difference. Autistics want to be accepted but don't know how.
Sociopaths could be accepted if they wanted, they just don't see a
profit in it.
>For the abused, there are two aspects: First, attempting to model an
>unpredictable abuser uses up all their 'spare' brain (iyswim), often
>resulting in someone who is very sharp and witty, and knows people well,
>but has little success in life and cannot study (a consequence of
>childhood study coming about 15th on the list of important things).
>These people are often simultaneously blinkered and dreamers -- they
>want out, they want life to be better, but they have a brain focused on
>predicting the behaviour of an unpredictable person and so find real
>planning difficult because they never did it; an effect that persists
>because their immensely flexible mind is optimised for one task.
I don't get your "no spare brain space" theory, because the brain is
so modular, but the trends you describe are interesting. Is this
based on someone's research?
>1) We model others as a predictive tool; importantly, if the model is
>good, we can even feel simulated emotion from them ("ooh such-and-such
>would really *hate* this"). It's a fundamental human thing (stand up
>EP), and possibly the reason we have such a big brain in the first place
>cos there's nothing like a good arms race to generate puzzling stuff.
Yeah, this makes perfect sense to me. De Waal talks about it in his
books. He observed monkeys who received fruit juice rewards and
saved the juice to give to another monkey back in the lab. So it's
not just a human thing.
>>this is something which makes more sense at a group level than it
>>does at any other level. Maybe *socio*path is a good name.
>The social parasite thing is interesting. Do artists fit too? ;)
They don't usually have quite the negative impact on the group that
sociopaths do. :)
>There is a solution though as i see it. The border between life-victim
>and 'genuine' batman-style criminal is fuzzy to say the least;
A couple of my kids made me question my "There's no such thing as an
evil person." stance. But the difference between most sociopaths and
a villain, is that the villain wants to take over the world (ala
Pinky and the Brain), but sociopaths just want you to get out of
their way. As long as they're getting what they want, they're not
too dangerous. It's only when they are thwarted or develop a taste
for human suffering that you have to worry. They don't see
themselves as evil, just misunderstood (which they are. It is easy
to project our own notions of evil onto them because they are so
"alien"). Villains always seem to be revelling in their villainy. Bwah hah hah hah hah.
>wouldn't want to explain away (and apparently thereby excuse) all crime
>(although I'm not sure you couldn't).
I'm not sure you couldn't either. And if you could, what then? It
changes from an issue of punishment to an issue of containment and
management. Not a bad shift, to my way of thinking. If we can't
blame them for what they do, then how can we justify hurting them
>treatment (cog therapy style remediation is all i think you could
>realistically do though),
strangely enough the only "cures" I have heard of were all in their
late 20's/thirties. They suddenly found "love" in the form of
someone whom they cared enough about to not want to jeopardize the
relationship/destroy trust. So they had to go about - for the first
time in their lives - learning how to be trustworthy. But this also
occurred after they were beginning to experience some dissatisfaction
with their life up until then - or at least that was the theory about
why it didn't happen earlier.
> and importantly, for research, but not
Preaching to the choir here.
>Is there a Mr Eric Blair in the house?
Who is Eric Blair?
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