The Psychopath's Fallacy -- Why Emotions Are Important
Updated: Feb 14
Psychopaths, also known as sociopaths, are people who are incapable of feeling empathy for other human beings. While they can understand other people's emotional states, they do so intellectually and not through empathy. (Otherwise known as "Cognitive Empathy").
Because of their inability to empathize, I'd say that their understanding of the human world is lacking, no matter how smart they may be. In the absence of empathy, they seem to care about others' emotions only when it has something to do with them or when it is beneficial, in their eyes, to manipulate and deceive others.
In addition, it is possible, for some people, to become sociopaths, themselves. It depends on the capacity to become such, and whether or not that capacity will be fulfilled as they interact with the environment.
I didn't look up how many psychopaths there are in our world because I believe there are more of them than meets the eye. Psychopaths basically survive in our world through their attempts to pretend that they are not psychotic.
Doing so may earn them trust and respect from society, because following social norms may be more important than it might be to you and me. They only do it to survive, not to disguise themselves.
(According to this source, sociopathy and psychopathy are both terms for ASPD, a certain personality disorder).
Some autistic people may also hold masking in high regard. I do not, because the truth is very important to me, in both knowing it and admitting it. Even if it will hurt me, I prefer to be sincere than to deceive intentionally.
I think it's sad because society does not seem to be a good judge of character when it may choose to value psychopaths more than people who are more genuine in their approach when interacting.
Nonetheless, from my impressions of the world, we do seem to value the ability to have empathy, which is a contradiction. It's a serious contradiction, because we wouldn't be appreciating psychopaths if we genuinely preferred empathic people.
It was a mistake of mine throughout the years, to claim that empathy isn't important when it clearly is. I argued that empathy isn't important because it may inflict suffering on the individual when it is directed towards people who suffer themselves.
I also called that suffering unnecessary, which was also a mistake on my part. After better learning about empathy and after learning more of its rationality thanks to one of my readers, I now understand that empathy is important not only on the emotional level but also as an important tool to understand others. In addition, it also presents high emotional intelligence (or EQ).
Empathy is essentially the emotional ability to understand others by trying to put yourself in their shoes. It's different from sympathy, because sympathy is about showing good feelings to others even if you do not understand their struggles in life. While sympathy aims to support, empathy aims to both support and understand.
The world is a bit psychotic in the sense that it doesn't seem to care for your personal feelings. It may see the confession of personal feelings as unnecessary, unprofessional, and, to some, a mistake.
A person I was in love with, Chen, told me once on Valentine's Day that being honest about my feelings was an error. I don't know why it was, but I would not be surprised if I ever found out that she was also a psychopath who prefers deceiving and/or being deceived.
I am not a psychologist, and I do not wish to diagnose anyone when I cannot do so. I just think that when people do not care about personal feelings, they express a psychotic trait, because psychopaths themselves do not care about your thoughts and emotions unless it benefits them in any way.
Maybe the world is a bit psychotic in the sense that it does not care much about other human beings on a personal level. The term used by companies, "human resources," sounds a bit psychotic to me because the term implies that employees are no more than resources, used to generate capital.
A more empathic world would reconsider using this term. It's quite demoralizing to see others and/or oneself as a resource, a function, or a bolt in a machine.
I'd like to try and introduce a new concept I call "The Psychopath's Fallacy," which essentially means that it's incorrect that people can competently understand other people without empathy. Emotional empathy, yes? Not cognitive.
In the absence of (emotional) empathy, all one is left with is the intellectual attempt at doing so, which might not be even competent by itself, as intellect depends on knowledge, while empathy is more intristic, or natural.
Because a more natural way of understanding is easier than understanding through conscious effort that lacks naturalness and intuition, understanding other beings through intellect alone is insufficient. Wouldn't it be preferable, and cost-efficent, to understand emotion naturally, rather than with concious effort? And effort, as we may know, requires energy, and attention. It's not something we all have. Situation-specific, and in general.
Thus, the claim that one clearly understands other people while being partially-incapable of seeing themselves in another's shoes, is a bit pretentious, as it deludes one with knowledge they do not have.
They may claim that they have this knowledge, but as long as they aren't able to see things from another's perspective -- through emotion -- then I would claim that they are a bit delusional, knowing what they do not necessarily know.
I don't know how many psychopaths I have talked with in my life. I only know for certain that I talked with one, who was probably the evilest person I have ever come across. Having talked to him proved to me that human beings are more than capable of committing evil acts, even for the fun of it. It isn't to say that all humans are malicious; only some are, whether or not they hide their intentions.
There were some people whom I suspected to suffer from psychopathy, such as Chen, who thought exposing personal emotions was a mistake, and another person who rhetorically asked me, "Who cares about your emotions?". I felt humiliated.
However, since I am not a psychologist, I wish to avoid making diagnoses of others and of myself as well. If I want to be diagnosed, I will refer myself to psychologists and psychiatrists and not to people who think personal experience and a sense of being knowledgeable are sufficient. Unlike philosophizing, which I believe everyone is capable of, I believe diagnosing is a skill that not everyone possesses. That includes self-diagnosis.
Nonetheless, the point I'm trying to make is that emotions are important because they reflect our mental state and our personality as well. Ignoring someone's emotions completely is a fallacy I saw a lot of people make when they attempted to come across as knowledgeable.
(And they can easily turn such assesments of others into a strawman's fallacy).
In addition, if you happen to be an employer who does not care about your employees' mental state, you might risk them doing things you would not want them to do, such as quitting, trying to ruin your brand, or even committing suicide. Maybe some of you can unfortunately attest?
(After all, they have work to do! Maybe your employer doesn't have the time and/or energies for cognitive empathy, when they lack the emotional empathy, required to understand your distress?)
Thus, I think it should be more important that we try to care about others on a more personal level. I'm talking about myself as well. I will try to be more empathic myself as I wish to better understand the world; it's one of the reasons why I brand myself as a philosopher and philosophize.
I generally do not like psychopaths or sociopaths, but if you are one, I still welcome you to read my site because I do not wish to fall victim to generalizations. I prefer to try and see people as individuals and as beings that are more than one or more labels. For I have the empathy many do not!
Either way, I will let none stand in my way for the success of my empire.