Re: sex crimes

From: Dace (
Date: Sun 21 Mar 2004 - 20:21:35 GMT

  • Next message: Francesca S. Alcorn: "Re: Sex Crimes"

    > From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    > 3) Sociopathic tendencies. There is not a lot of hard research out
    > there on empathy, but IIRC it is supposed to develop around the age
    > of seven. The one kid I worked with who had no empathy floored me
    > until I realized that he *was* *really confused* about why people
    > wouldn't just let him do whatever he wanted to. People were
    > instruments of fulfillment or frustration and nothing else. The
    > definition of sociopath in the DSM-IV is not without it's critics.
    > The search for a neurological underpinning is difficult because at
    > this point it looks like it may actually be two different things
    > lumped together. Sociopaths who don't have violent impulses often
    > manage to avoid imprisonment/diagnosis (often synonymous) their whole
    > lives. So the diagnostic criteria which include violence may be
    > misleading. I think there's a genetic component - no known effective
    > therapy - the only thing that these kids seem to learn is to keep
    > their behavior "below the radar". Don't know what advantage it might
    > confer in the population unless it is like sickle-cell anemia - a
    > recessive trait that confers some advantage when paired with a
    > dominant gene, but which can be dangerous when it is paired with
    > another recessive.
    > Or maybe this represents the same dilemma which we faced with the kid
    > I worked with: we knew he was bad news, but you can't lock someone
    > up until he's done something bad enough to warrant it (and done it to
    > someone willing to press charges). Our own social prohibitions
    > against being "unfair" create the niche which sociopaths exploit. So
    > the $64,000 question is: will he be able to find some young thing he
    > can bully or manipulate into having sex with him before he ends up in
    > prison? Maybe sociopaths continue to exist because we haven't
    > figured out a good way to deal with them. They represent a threat to
    > the social fabric of a community because they create great stress and
    > destroy trust/group cohesiveness. But they continue to exist so long
    > as their number is small enough that they don't destroy the group.
    > Social parasites who continue to exist as long as they don't kill
    > their host. Maybe 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.

    A psychiatrist by the name of Eric Altschuler pointed out a few years back that the biblical hero, Samson, was a sociopath, at least according to the description of him in the Bible. Of the seven criteria for diagnosis, he fit six. Only three are required for diagnosis.

    Samson would have benefited his tribe as long as his violent tendencies were unleashed primarily on a different tribe, the Philistines. But eventually his behavior became intolerable, and his own people delivered him to the Philistines, who were more than happy to execute him. The sociopathic personality type is selected up to a point, beyond which it's more trouble than it's worth.

    I think we see a similar situation today in the case of large, predatory corporations. Part of the strength of the US is that it encourages sociopathic tendencies on a large scale. Every great corporation is a sort of institutional Samson, slaying the Philistines, lying and cheating, and taking no responsibility for its actions. What's striking about the DSM-IV criteria for "antisocial personality disorder" is how perfectly they describe large corporations:

    1) repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest 2) deceitfulness, repeated lying, use of aliases, conning others for profit 3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead 4) aggressiveness 5) reckless disregard for safety of self and others 6) consistent irresponsibility, repeated failure to honor obligations 7) lack of remorse, indifference to the suffering of others

    Corporations produce immense amounts of wealth for US society, and despite the horrific social and environmental costs, they are always rewarded for their efforts and rarely reprimanded. They break laws at will, routinely lie about their transgressions, never consider the future but remain fixed on current profitability, are extremely aggressive in the face of communities and other corporations, demonstrate no regard for the safety of their own workers, of consumers of their products, or of people living near their factories, feel no obligation to the communities that nurtured them in their early years, and always deny wrongdoing of any kind, fighting to the bitter end any lawsuit that would force them to pay a dime for the suffering they've caused. What's really interesting is the "use of aliases" in criterion two. A corporation is, in essence, an alias used by its directors to shield them from responsibility for their actions. This is the meaning of the term, "limited liability corporation." Commit a crime against nature, and it's your alias that pays the penalty.

    Corporations are treated as "natural persons" with the full array of rights enjoyed by actual persons. Yet they are not individuals. So how can they demonstrate, as groups, the same personality types displayed by individuals?

    Let's say a corporation is founded by a sociopath. The corporation is successful for the same reason the sociopath is successful. It lies, steals, cheats, and attacks at every opportunity. The outlook of the sociopath infects the people working for him. What is habitual for the individual becomes habitual for the group. The bridge between the sociopath and the corporation is the meme. An otherwise normal person becomes a virtual sociopath when he enters the executive suites. He abides by a normal set of memes on the outside and a pathological set of memes on the inside. Ultimately, this schism must give way. Either society banishes its Samsons, or it becomes them.

    The success of sociopaths is a measure of the pathology of society.


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