Do Psychopaths Have Conscience, Morality Narcissists

Uploaded 6/10/2022, approx. 27 minute read

Can psychopaths have a conscience? Can narcissists be moral? Can psychopaths do the right thing because they feel guilt or shame or adhere to social mores and conventions like all of us? All of you.

Can narcissists act ethically?

Twenty years ago, I coined the phrase communal narcissist or pro-social narcissist, and I described a narcissist who is invested emotionally in being morally superior.

But that's not the same thing. Even psychopaths can be pro-social and communal. Actually, I have a video on this channel which describes communal and pro-social psychopaths.

Psychopaths who work for the greater good are pillars of the community and benefit humanity. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm asking whether psychopaths can have this internal small voice, this overriding introject that tells them what you're doing is wrong. Don't do it. It's not okay. It shouldn't be this way. You don't have to do this. This voice is known as conscience, and it's the outcome of a processing childhood, known and adolescence known as socialization.

Parents are agents of socialization. They bring to the child the values of society, and then the child internalizes these values and they become his.

So can we find psychopaths who have this small flickering voice, keeps telling them, don't do this. It's wrong.

Can we find narcissists who have this introject that inhibits their actions, limits activities to socially commendable and condoned to the socially acceptable, sublimates their actions? Are there such things?

To be pro-social, to be communal, is to act in society in ways which are beneficial to others, but there's no inner conviction. The communal and pro-social narcissists and psychopaths don't have anything inside. They're empty anyhow. They don't have anything inside that compels them to act this way.

They act this way because, I don't know, of appearances, because they want narcissistic supply, because they are afraid because these are all ulterior motivations. These are all the wrong reasons to act in ways which are altruistic and charitable and loving and caring.

Wrong reasons. You can do the right things for the wrong reasons.

Conscience is the right reason. Conscience is the voice of society inside you, your upbringing, your childhood environment that had conditioned you or shaped you into someone who doesn't harm others.

Shockingly, the answer to the question, do psychopaths have a conscience, is not decided and not clear.

Today, I'm going to take you on a grand tour with the Vaknin daily dose of philosophy, psychology, history, and I'm doing all this to demonstrate how smart I am. Not because I care about you.

Conscience? What on earth is this?

Okay, Shoshani, my name is Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, and I'm a professor of psychology in various universities where suffering students are subjected to my entire primes in dogmatic indoctrination, also known as higher education.

Okay, let's get to business and get serious.

Before I go there, service announcement, I'm going to be in Romania, July 1st to July 11th.

If you want to organize an event, questions and answers, I will do it free of charge.

Just get in touch with me, assemble 20, 30 people, find a venue, and I will be there. Also I'm available for one-on-one in-person counseling in Bucharest. I'm going to be in touch with you.

Okay, there was a psychologist, there is a psychologist, and he was Elio Turriello, and he discovered that young children don't react the same to situations which involve morality.

So when one child hits another child, he reacts one way, and when he wears pajamas to school, he reacts another way.

So Turriello made the distinction between morality that involves harm, not harming other people, not beating them up, not, you know, morality that involves injustice and violation of right, and so conventional morality versus regular morality.

So we have moral transgressions and conventional transgressions. Conventional transgressions is not behaving according to societal and cultural expectations. As I said, we're in pajamas to school.

Moral transgression is harming other people, violating their rights and causing them injustice.

Now this, Turriello's work with children, unleashed a hillstorm of studies, analysis, arguments, debates, philosophers entered the fray, and they asked questions about the impact of culture on what constitutes a moral transgression.

In some cultures, behaving against moral, against society's conventions is a moral transgression. Richard Schweder and Jonathan Haidt, they argued that Turriello's distinction between conventional transgressions and moral transgressions is not universal, because there are cultures, especially non-Western cultures, which regard a much wider range of behaviors as moral. They define many behaviors as misbehaviors. And because they're misbehaviors, they're immoral.

So this sparked a huge debate about moral cognition in various cultures.

And so at some point, people said, okay, we can debate this till doomsday comes. Let's do some empirical work. Let's go to ground. Let's go to seed. Let's see what's happening in reality with flesh and blood people.

Is there really a distinction between moral and conventional transgression? Is there an internalized version of conscience? What is the moral responsibility of it?

And so they decided to study psychopaths.

When someone judges that an action is morally right or morally required thing to do, usually they go into it. Like if you tell yourself, I ought to do this. This is what I should do. This is the right thing to do.

In the majority of cases, you would go on, you would proceed to do it.

Now that's not always true. For example, majority of people say that cheating in romantic relationships, adultery, extramarital affairs are wrong. And yet huge portions of the population, some at the very least 40%, if not 60%, go on to cheat.

But with the exception, with a few radical or extreme exceptions, in daily life, normal pedestrian traffic, meeting people and so on, you are likely to follow the edicts and mores and morality which are embedded in your mind.

If you say this is morally right, this is the morally required thing to do, you're likely to follow it.

But then why? It raises the question why.

So there are two versions of why, the two answers to this question.

First answer is internalism. It's the belief that motivation is internal to moral judgment. Moral judgment itself motivates. All you need to have is moral judgment and then the moral judgment will act. It doesn't need to be mediated through will or through desire. It's enough just to have moral judgment.

This is internalism. Externalism says that moral motivation happens when a moral judgment combines with will and desire. The content of the judgment is related to the content of the desire.

So we rationalize the action. In other words, internalism says you have morality, it's embedded in your mind, and it tells you how to act. Externalism says you want to act in certain ways and you use moral judgment to rationalize your actions, to justify them somehow.

Internalism, externalism.

And so Rossati wrote this. She says, debates between internalists and externalists are often centered on the figure of the amoralist, the person without morality, the person who apparently makes moral judgments while remaining wholly unmoved to comply with them.

Can we find such a person? Someone who is aware of morality, knows to tell right from wrong, realizes that he should act in certain ways in order to not harm others, and then just doesn't care.

Of course we can. It's called the psychopath or a narcissist.

So internalists insist that the amoralist doesn't exist.

Shockingly, by the way, in my view, there are all groups of very, very venerable and respectable philosophers and psychologists who say that there is no such thing as an amoral person, the amoralist.

Robert Hare, strangely, wrote the following.

The person who appears to be making a moral judgment while remaining unmoved must really be speaking insincerely. She or he judges and act right only in inverted commas.

So Robert Hare says, psychopaths and narcissists are faking moral judgment. They don't really have it. They're just imitating. They're just emulating. They're just copying other people. They're copycats.

I beg to differ, as I usually beg to differ with Robert Hare. I think his experience was so extremely and severely limited. He spent all of his professional career in prisons, and I don't think he has a real grasp of life.

I'm terribly sorry. I would prefer Martha Stout, for example, and Hervick Leckman to Robert Hare.

Anyhow, some philosophers believe that psychopaths provide a prima facie challenge to this claim.

Some philosophers say there are people who do have moral judgment and then just don't care enough to act on these moral judgments.

Now, psychopaths, ironically, are diagnosed mostly using a test designed by Robert Hare in 1991, the PC-R test.

Psychopaths are individuals who appear to be cognitively totally normal, as distinct from the narcissist.

Psychopaths don't have many or at all cognitive distortions. Narcissism is a fantasy defense, so it is based on falsifying reality and falsifying your self-image and self-perception via grandiosity. Narcissism is a massive cognitive distortion, while psychopaths are actually cognitively normal.

Psychopaths don't have impaired reasoning abilities, which many narcissists do.

Narcissists' ability to reason and to analyze cogently and rationally and so is damaged.

It has a problem with this, not so.

Psychopaths are aware of and seem able to comprehend moral rules, social rules, social cues, etc. They're actually very astute. They have the narcissist's cold empathy without the narcissist impediments to acting on his cold empathy, without cognitive biases, cognitive distortions, lack of reasoning, and so on.

Narcissists are far inferior to psychopaths in their ability to function, actually, which causes a lot of confusion, especially online, among self-styled experts.

Okay, but again, as distinct from narcissists, psychopaths often engage in antisocial behavior. Few narcissists act antisocially. Few narcissists act against other people, and for the simple reason that narcissists depend on other people.

For narcissistic supply, the psychopath doesn't, so he doesn't care about other people. He has no guilt. He has no remorse, and his behavior is usually morally aberrant, morally deviant.

That's the psychopath.

Psychopaths apparently can and often do make moral judgments. They are great.

Some of them are moralists, like they know moral theory and moral history, history of morality, and so on, but they're not motivated to follow up. They don't comply with the moral judgment.

The moral judgment is a piece of austere, sterile knowledge, which is not connected to their emotions, motivations, and so on.

It remained like reading about the composition of the sun, or I don't know, a history of the 14th century.

It's like irrelevant. They have moral judgment, but it's just a text, and it's an overt text with no hidden text, in the sense that it doesn't motivate the psychopath to modify his behavior, and this presents a massive problem for internalism.

As internalism says, if you have moral judgment, you're going to act. It's almost robotic, almost automatic, and here we have psychopaths.

They have moral judgment, and they definitely do not act.

Roskis in 2003 said that psychopaths appear to be walking counter-examples to internalism, so there was a paper published by the psychologist James Blair in 1995.

He took the experiments of Turiel with children, the moral conventional distinction, the moral conventional task, and he applied these tests, which were originally designed for children. He so he selected psychopaths who were in prison, and they had average intelligence, and then he selected the control group of same offenses but non-psychopathic offenders.

All of these were charged by the way with murder or manslaughter, so serious offenders. So he had two groups, one of them psychopaths, one of them not, and he administered the Turiel test of moral conventional tasking to these two groups.

The non-psychopathic offenders reacted in a way which social domain theories had predicted. In other words, they reacted like normal adults, even though these people were charged with murder, manslaughter, and other very nice behaviors.

When they were confronted with moral dilemmas and with non-conventional behavior, they recoiled. They said no, they put a boundary, they put a border, they modified their behavior. They reacted totally normally like normal people.

That's the non-psychopathic offenders.

The psychopathic offenders were notably different. They responded in the same way to moral transgressions and to conventional transgressions. They saw no difference, for example, between killing someone and getting a parking ticket. For them, both these were wrong, but wrong just, you know, cognitively. They just labeled it. They say, yeah, it's wrong, but there was no emotional reaction, definitely no intention to modify behavior. They just labeled the thing wrong.

There were similar results where children were compared directly with conduct disorder. Children with psychopathic tendencies were compared to non-psychopathic children. These non-psychopathic children, they had behavioral and emotional problems, but they didn't have conduct disorder. They were not children psychopaths.

And it was again Blair in 1997, and he compared these two groups of children, and the results were more or less the same.

So some authors said, okay, psychopaths do not have normal moral concepts. Their moral concepts are impaired.

I refer you to literature, articles by Prince in 2007, Shredder and Worski and Nichols in 2010, Nichols in 2004, etc.

Everyone was saying, because psychopaths react differently to other offenders, because psychopathic children react differently to non-psychopathic children, it must mean that something is wrong with their morality. Otherwise, they would have reacted the same.

And so Kenneth and Fran in 2007 summed it up and said, they do not mean what the rest of us mean when we are using moral terms, when we're using moral language.

So when they say the word wrong, when psychopaths and narcissists use the word wrong, they actually mean something different. They don't use the word wrong the way normal people do, healthy people do, socialized people do, the way non-psychopaths and non-narcissists do.

Narcissists and psychopaths give different meaning to right and wrong, moral, immoral, should and ought. It's a different vocabulary, different dictionary.

If this is right, then psychopaths do not really have moral judgment, and they do not make moral judgment.

And so there's no problem with internalism, because internalism says, moral judgment leads to moral action.

And then if psychopaths have moral judgment, and they don't act morally, then internalism is defunct, is wrong.

But if psychopaths don't have moral judgment, because they misinterpret and mislabel morality, they don't understand the word right the same way you do, they don't understand the word wrong the same way you do, so they don't have moral judgment, then internalism is okay.

Because psychopaths and narcissists don't have moral judgment, they don't act morally, specifically okay.

But then in 2016, Kumal argued that Blair's results were either misinterpreted or over interpreted. He said, the studies of Blair indicate that psychopaths don't have a full grasp of moral concepts.

That much is right.

But Kumal said, these studies didn't show that psychopaths completely fail, completely fail to grasp moral concepts.

So what Kumal said is, it's not that they mislabel or misinterpret moral concepts. It's that they have partial moral concepts.

Psychopaths don't make full fledged moral judgments. They do make proto moral judgments, primitive, basic moral judgments.

And so Kumal says that the implications of research on psychopaths is, these implications are less straightforward than we had assumed.

We need to be more subtle, more discerning, and more discriminate, said Kumal.

Woskin in 2007 largely agreed. He argued that studies of psychopaths do not establish that they lack moral concepts or an adequate understanding of them, I'm quoting him, or that they are incapable of anything but moral judgments in an inverted common sense.

He said, no way, the Blair experiments are not showing this.

Neil Levy argued that psychopaths ought to be excused moral responsibility for their wrongdoing because their failure to grasp the moral conventional distinction indicates that they do not understand what makes a moral norm moral. That was in 2007 as well.

As you see, the debate was raging. People didn't know how to interpret the fact that psychopaths were using words like right and wrong, should and ought, you know, on the one hand, and on the other hand, they were acting not in accordance to what they were saying.

So there are two possibilities. Either they don't know what they're saying, or they know what they're saying and they don't care.

Psychopaths know that their actions are widely perceived to be wrong. They know, well, you know, when you murder someone, in most cases, you know, when you murder someone that, you know, everyone thinks it's wrong.

But psychopaths are unable to grasp the distinctive nature, the essence, the significance of the wrongness of these actions. In other words, they know that something, they're doing something, they're acting in some way. They're being defined or reckless or they harm someone, or they defraud someone, they con someone, you know, they do bad things to people. And they know that almost all of humanity would regard this as wrong.

But then when they try to interpret to themselves, first of all, why is it wrong? What is the distinctive nature of this act that renders it wrong? And what is the significance of an act being wrong?

They come up short. They say, when I harm other people, it's wrong because it's against the rules. In other words, harming other people is not wrong because it's wrong to harm other people. It's bad, you shouldn't do it. They say it's bad because you shouldn't do it. They don't say it's bad. End of story. They say it's bad only because you shouldn't do it.

In other words, breaking the rules is what makes an action wrong. For example, if there were no rule, if there were no law that says that you shouldn't murder people, then murdering people would not be wrong according to a psychopath. According to a psychopath, only breaking the rules makes an action, an act, wrong. If there's no rule or law, then the act is not inherently wrong.

So the psychopath doesn't recognize that there are choices, decisions, actions, acts, courses of action, which are inherently wrong. You don't need to be told that they're wrong. There doesn't have to be a rule or a law that says that they're wrong. It doesn't have to be actionable. You don't have to be persecuted in court. You don't have to. You just know that it's wrong. You don't do that.

A psychopath doesn't understand that. He says, wait a minute, let me see what society says. Oh, society says it's wrong. For example, there's a law in the books or there's a rule spoken or unspoken. Society says it's wrong, then probably it's wrong. It has to look to others to derive the wrongness of his actions.

For them, the psychopath, to steal from someone, to kill someone, to hurt someone, is not more wrong than double parking or line jumping or going nude in the street. It's not more wrong. They're all equally wrong. Why they're all equally wrong? Because all of them violate the rules of society.

And even then, it's wrong for society because the narcissist and the psychopath, they are a law unto themselves. It's my way or the highway. I make my own rules.

So yes, it's wrong, but it's wrong for society. Society says it's wrong. The kind and degree of wrongness, the blame that attaches to the infringement of rules, is very different than the much less significant kind and degree attaching to moral wrongs.

In other words, the psychopath monitors is their blame, is their guilt, is their possibility for punishment. He monitors this and he doesn't care a thing almost, whether what he's doing is morally wrong.

The psychopaths, all offenses are conventional, never moral. That's the too real distinction.

Psychopaths see everything as conventional. I repeat, the kind and degree of wrongness and therefore blame that attaches to infringement of the rules is very different and usually much less significant than the kind and degree attaching to moral wrongs because there are no moral wrongs, only conventional wrongs.

There's only breaking the rules, not whether breaking the rules is wrong. Breaking the rules is wrong, but not whether the action that broke the rules is wrong. The action is neutral. Whatever the psychopath does is morally neutral.

Only when society frowns upon it, criticizes the psychopath and punishes him, only then he would admit that in the eyes of society, what he had done is wrong. Nothing at all is serious, not even murder. The degree's responsibility is smaller, much smaller than for a normal agent.

If a normal person kills someone and if a psychopath kills someone, theoretically, we should hold the psychopath less accountable because he's incapable of perceiving moral wrongs. He's capable of perceiving only conventional wrongs. He's capable of reacting like a domesticated or tamed or broken animal, reacting to reinforcements, positive and negative. He's very primitive. He's a binary machine.

So if it's not his fault, if he's incapable of morality, in effect, I mean, why are we punishing him?

And there are grounds for excusing psychopaths from morality altogether, said Levy in 2007. Levy, L-E-V-Y. Back to finding Kenneth. Finding Kenneth actually reached a very similar conclusion. They said, while psychopathic offenders certainly appear to know what acts are prohibited by society or the law and therefore know that their transgressions are legally wrong, they do not appear to have the capacity to judge an act to be morally wrong. We would argue that psychopathic offenders who fail to understand the distinction between moral wrongs and conventional wrongs cannot be considered to be moral agents. Now, that doesn't mean that psychopaths should not go to prison. They should because they know that they had done something illegal. They had broken the law, but they don't have a corresponding reaction to the violation of a moral obligation. That's why they don't feel shame or guilt or remorse. Since Levy, Fine and Kenneth and others, they took moral responsibility to be necessary for criminal responsibility. They said that psychopaths are not criminally responsible. I beg to disagree because the psychopath knows that what he's doing is punishable, is actionable. Society will punish him for this. He realizes this in advance.

So the terms of the social contract are utterly clear and the law is in the books.

The psychopath chooses to defy society and to break the law. And so he should definitely be punishable. That he doesn't internalize this, that he has no guilt, no shame and no remorse, has nothing to do with the legal aspect. Criminal responsibility has nothing to do with how you feel about it.

So I disagree strongly with his scholars and many others do.

Maybaum, for example, in 2008, Vargas and Nichols in 2007, they noted that despite the apparent inability to distinguish moral from conventional transgressions, psychopaths are sensitive to the fact that their norms prohibiting a wide range of behaviors and that violating these norms can lead to sanctions. So why shouldn't they be sanctioned? Maybaum said that this awareness is enough to establish both moral and criminal responsibility.

Vargas and Nichols noted that, I'm quoting, we do think it is appropriate to blame and punish transgressors of conventional rules, end of story, whether they're psychopaths or not.

Why they ask, is this not enough to blame and punish psychopaths in their right, 2007.

David Schumacher, in 2011, was very skeptical generally about drawing any conclusions about the moral and criminal responsibility of psychopaths based on the studies of Blair. He drew attention to critiques of the work of Turiel and his tradition by Nissen, in 1987, Haid and Kollek and Diaz, 1993, Kelly and others in 2007, and so on.

There's a whole debate about the Turiel work. Schumacher said that judgments about the seriousness of a transgression, they play a central role in Blair's version of the moral-conventional task.

He challenges, Schumacher challenges the assumption that moral transgressions are judged to be more serious than conventional transgressions. He said that some conventional transgressions can be actually so serious that they're even more serious than moral transgressions, and there are many moral transgressions which are minor.

He said, Blair said that all moral transgressions are more serious than conventional transgressions.

To remind you, conventional transgressions mean breaking the expectations and rules and mores of society. So Blair said that they are inferior, they're less serious than moral transgressions, and Schumacher notes correctly that it depends.

Schumacher makes reference to a study by Elizabeth Fittonand Daucker, and these two controlled for seriousness. They rated the seriousness of the moral transgressions and the conventional transgressions, and they found, and I'm quoting, when the so-called conventional transgressions matched the so-called moral transgressions in perceived seriousness, normal children failed to differentiate the domains in terms of rule contingency, perceived obligations, and the justifications used. These children tended to judge that the conventional behaviors were more obligatory than the moral behaviors, which is pretty interesting.

In other words, when seriousness or ranking of seriousness was introduced, even normal children reacted as psychopaths do. They considered conventional transgressions to be more important than moral ones.

Take into account that children and adolescents value peer pressure and peer input and peer feedback more than parental input, more than morality.

Here we see a situation where what their peers have to say, what society as represented by the peer group has to say, matters to children and adolescents and renders them clinically psychopaths because they are more reactive to conventions than to morality.

They consider obeying conventions, following conventions, much more important than following morality.

And so there was a paper that Schumacher presented in 2002, as early as 2002, in the Mosaic conference in Liverpool of all places, titled Qualitative and Quantitative Dimensions of Domain Differentiation, a delightful read with your morning coffee.

Back to Schumacher, his skepticism about the philosophical importance of Blair's findings was reinforced a year later by work by Aharoni and colleagues in Israel. They undertook a conceptual replication of Blair's prisoner study. They used a modified version of the moral conventional task test and they focused on authority independence. They also used a forced choice format to minimize strategic responding or manipulative responses.

So the study was very interesting, the constructional study was very interesting. Aharoni and his associates, they selected 109 incarcerated criminal offenders.

Mind you, in Blair's original work, there were only 10 psychopathic participants and 10 non psychopaths. In Aharoni's studies, there were 109.

And to assess the level of psychopathy for each inmate participant, they used how else hairs revised PCL-R, revised psychopathy checklist.

But they also applied two other measures, two other tests.

The crucial finding was that total psychopathy score did not predict performance on the moral conventional task.

So they have demolished Blair and his work.

Aharoni concludes, Aharoni and his allies concluded that contrary to earlier claims, which is a polite way of saying, you know, Blair was talking nonsense.

Contrary to earlier claims, insufficient data exists to infer that psychopathic individuals cannot know what is morally wrong.

Today, we tend to think that psychopaths know them well, what is morally wrong, know what is conventionally wrong, and they just don't care. They're confemations, they hate authority. It's my way of the highway. I make my own rules as I go along.

So it seems the psychopaths do have moral judgment, and don't act on it, that invalidates completely the internalism approach.

The moral and conventional tool, Turiel's tool, is not the only one that psychologists have, and not the only one that psychologists have used to explore deficits in moral reasoning.

There's a survey of literature by Borg and Sinason Armstrong, 2013, and they reviewed the findings of studies with psychopaths using the moral conventional task and five other tools.

And the conclusion is problematic. It's not clear. The studies support a tentative and qualified conclusion.

If psychopaths have any deficits or abnormalities in their moral judgments, these deficits are very subtle, much more subtle than what could be expected or inferred from their blatantly antisocial abnormal behavior.

In other words, if you just observe psychopaths, psychopaths in the wild, psychopaths in prison, if you just observe them, they behave as if they have no clue what is morality. They kill, they steal, they defraud, you name it. They don't care. It's like they have no moral judgment.

But when you test them using Blair's own methodologies and Turiel's own tests and five other measures, when you test them, you discover that they're actually pretty nuanced.

Psychopaths are pretty nuanced, pretty subtle when it comes to morality.

They do have moral judgments.

The deficits or abnormalities in their moral judgment is difficult to discern, difficult to find out. It suggests that, I'm quoting, psychopaths might not have any specific deficits in moral cognition, despite their differences in moral action, moral emotion, and empathy.

So what do we make of all this?

It seems that the problem is not a lack of moral judgment, but a lack of empathy.

If you have only moral judgment and no empathy, you're not motivated to act on your moral judgment.

The internalists were wrong about this.

You need will and desire.

Externalism is 100% right.

Internalism is 100% wrong.

But where internalism perhaps got it right, partly, is that it's all an internal process.

Moral judgment is mediated to the will and desire. It becomes a motivation, a moral motivation via empathy.

There are many different versions of morality and of moral tasks. It's difficult to compare all of them.

But we can say that the moral cognition of children and psychopaths, two comparable groups and two very similar groups, is such that as their empathy evolves, their moral cognition, moral judgment, would tend to translate into action. And they would wish to act this way, they would have a will and desire to act this way.

And since children do evolve empathy, but psychopaths don't, we see this breakdown, this divorce in the case of psychopaths.

Their moral judgment is intact, in my view, fully. The moral cognition is perfect.

But they have no empathy. So it cannot be mediated, cannot be transmitted to the outside. It doesn't generate a will and desire to act morally.

So they don't, no empathy means they don't regard other people as people, but as production units, instruments, tools.

The lack of empathy means they cannot develop a theory of mind. They cannot conceptualize other people's separate existence.

And consequently, morality is meaningless to them. It's just an exercise in futility, intellectual futility.

Because if there's nobody out there, if everyone around you is just a 2D cardboard cutout or an avatar or a tool or an instrument or an extension, then morality loses its meaning because morality is about recognizing the separate existence of the other, the similarity of the other to you, and the fact that therefore you should not cause harm, do no harm.

It's the essence of moral cognition and moral judgment.

But do no harm to who? says the psychopath. There's nobody out there.

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Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.

Mass Shooters: Mentally Ill or Show-off?

Mass shooters are typically young, white males who engage in mass shootings as a spectacle and a way to gain immortality and control. They often have a strong presence on social media and are driven by grandiosity, negative emotions, and perceived grievances. The psychology of mass shooters differs from that of terrorists, as they are not ideologically motivated. Preventing mass shootings requires threat assessment, intervention, and addressing the issue of gun control.

Good People Ignore Abuse and Torture: Why?

Good people often overlook abuse and neglect because it is difficult to tell the abuser and victim apart. The word abuse is ill-defined and open to interpretation, leading to a lack of clear definition. People also tend to avoid unpleasant situations and institutions that deal with anomalies, pain, death, and illness. Abuse is a coping strategy employed by the abuser to reassert control over their life and regain self-confidence. Abuse is a catharsis, and even good people channel their negative emotions onto the victim.

Mental Illness: No Excuse for Abuse

Psychopaths and narcissists often use alloplastic and autoplastic defenses to mask their immoral and antisocial behavior. Autoplastic defenses involve blaming oneself for the consequences of one's own choices and decisions, while alloplastic defenses involve blaming others for the outcomes of one's own choices and decisions. These defenses often coexist and interact with each other, and individuals may use them to preserve cognitive distortions and reframe reality in a way that does not cause them undue trauma. The need to deny victimhood and maintain a sense of control can also contribute to the use of these defenses.

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