Psychopaths and Loners

Wow, I haven’t written for a month and a half. Back then I was writing Jared Loughner’s shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and others.

Most people have characterized Loughner as a psychopathic loner and I think they’re absolutely correct. I’m going to pose this question: Are people like him loners because they’re psychopaths, or psychopaths because they’re loners? Which comes first?

I want to explore the latter possibility, that being a loner could cause some (by no means all, certainly) people to become psychopathic. Perhaps a person doesn’t have good social skills or good social connections, and this would cause them to have a less-than-average number of good experiences with people and a greater-than-average number of bad experiences with people. Possibly enough bad experiences might trigger something latent in the right person to turn them into another Jared Loughner.

If this could be the case, how does this reflect on the way that we have treated people? Have we ever treated them in a below-average way? Do we have a small part in turning people into psychopaths?

This is somewhat speculative, yes, but definitely food for thought.

3 thoughts on “Psychopaths and Loners

  1. Leonardo C

    Psychologists tend to make distinction between psychopathy(innate) and sociopathy(acquired), if that’s what happened to Loughner then he would be a sociopath.

    About loners. Apparently, statistically most violent people are not loners(not much surprise there, it makes sense considering loners are a minority in absolute terms).
    I was thinking about that the other day, maybe few loners are dangerous, but most or all genious are loners too, the people who changed our world, time and again. Imagine that people kept pushing Einstein, Mozart, the guy who invented bittorrent or that other guy who proved the Fermat Theorem to be more sociable? I think that would have probably damaged their abilities. Not to mention writers, I know a few published writers who write 12 hours a day, I don’t know how they can stand it.
    Also, many criminals are people who appeared completely fit.

    What I mean is, things are far from black and white I think.

  2. pswfps

    It seems reasonable to me that some “psychopaths” begin as normal empathic people but have their empathy destroyed by the abusive –and arguably psychopathic– society into which they find themselves. They simply close off to conform in some way and in the process become psychopathic by necessity.

    It also seems reasonable that some humans are born –for reasons of genetic makeup– incapable of human empathy from the start.

    Therefore, I suggest that psychopathy in general is partly genetic and partly social in origin. Ie, one might be born normally empathic but become a socially triggered psychopath, a genetically born psychopath or neither. Most of us are neither. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  3. pswfps

    A little more rambling from me. I hope you don’t mind — I find the subject fascinating:-

    I believe the archetypal psychopath is unlikely to be found as a loner. These individuals are characterised and empowered by their verbally facile and socially amiable fa├žade. Chameleon like: They are the life of the party, the friendly companion, the tough but fair executive, the perfect lover, the helpless victim, and the witty speaker — they will appear as whatever it takes to win your trust. Consequently most normal and empathic people are initially drawn to the “predator of humanity” because they confuse them with the exact sort of person they like or seek.
    The confusion is of course born of deliberate deception and is almost always perfectly executed by the psychopath. This type I believe is the “natural born” psychopath. A product of nature and the worst possible enemy of human society.

    The other type of “psychopath” I mentioned is the socially engineered and subjugated kind. These were born as normally empathic humans but unfortunately for them, experienced their childhood in an abusive, hostile and cold-hearted environment. They learnt to survive by being emotionally insensitive and detached, which in extreme cases can lead to an individual showing many symptoms ostensibly similar to those of the natural born psychopath. Sadly these weakened empathic people are actually prime targets for the natural born psychopaths; who would think nothing of exploiting their emotional weakness for egocentric delight.

    I think it’s these subjugated empathic humans which are much more likely to be encountered as loners. After all, avoidance of society has become their primary mode of survival — the exact opposite of the parasitic natural psychopath who manipulates society into doing everything for them.

    So in summary, I think the probability of a loner being a true natural psychopath is far less than that of an averageably sociable person. In fact, you are more likely to encounter the true psychopath in politics, business and any position of authority/power since that is what they always seek. The life of the loner does not fit their particular pathology.

    Food for thought. Hope it helps.


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