Paramoralism-watch. Lord Black’s ‘expression of regret’

Oh dear. Once again current events compel me to interupt my three-part series on psychopaths and lying in order to show what may be precisely what I have been describing at work.

Former media mogul, Lord Conrad Black, 63, has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. He was found guilty of one count of obstructing justice and three counts of defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc. The sentence is at the low end of federal guidelines.

Black was also fined $125,000, and ordered to forfeit $6.1m – the amount a pre-trial report said he stole to fund a lavish lifestyle. (Prosecutors put the amount at about $31m.)

According a selection of three news outlets,
here’s what happened at the sentencing.

First RTE News:

Black told the judge before she passed sentence that he wanted to ‘express very profound regret and sadness’ to Hollinger shareholders for the evaporation of $1.85bn in value.

Here’s CTV Canada:

He complimented the judge on her handling of the trial, and said he regretted the loss suffered by Hollinger International shareholders.

How about TheStar.com:

“I have never once uttered one disrespectful word about this court, your honour, the jurors or the process.”
He thanked the judge for her openmindedness, considering that he came in with an “almost universal presumption of guilt.”
The former newspaper executive also apologized to shareholders of the defunct Hollinger International newspaper group, the company he was convicted of defrauding.

Respectuful, grateful, apologetic – what more could one ask?

It all sounds quite proper and dignified.
The old boy has behaved well, acknowledged his guilt, and expressed remorse. But let’s look a little more closely at what he actually said. (And then wonder about what the above reporters had stuffed in their ears that stopped them hearing it.)

According to Andrew Clark of the Guardian newspaper, Black said:

“I do wish to express very profound regret and sadness at the severe hardship inflicted on many shareholders at the evaporation of $1.85bn of value under the management of my successors,” said the 63 year old peer, speaking in a husky yet confident voice.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence as long as 20 years, citing his lack of remorse and his disdain the US judicial system – which included describing prosecutors as “Nazis” and “pygmies”.

“We have the verdicts we have and we cannot re-try this case,” said Black. “I would say, however, very emphatically, that I have never uttered one disrespectful word about this court, your honour yourself or the jury.”

Ah, so not so remorseful and respectful after all.

Let’s get this straight.
This not an apology; it’s not an admisison of guilt; it’s not an expression of regret. It may be a classic paramoralism – designed to win dignity, sympathy, and the chance of an appeal and to make the judge, jury, and his successors feel bad. Yet again, I won!

It may be, of course, that he is innocent, in which case it would be unreasonable to expect feeling of guilt. But there is something about the statement that causes pause.

At this moment of greatest shame, if not guilt – a unanimous public sentence for stealing millions from those who trusted him, only to fritter the money on parties, planes, etc. – at this very moment he chooses to make this statement of regret. Or at least that what his tone and vocabulary suggest.

His expresison of “very profound regret and sadness at the severe hardship inflicted on the shareholders” sounds good until – oops – it’s not for the millions he’s stolen; how does he feel about that?

Don’t be angry with me. I’m innocent. The company lost money because of this debacle of a charge against me – for that I’m sorry. It’s my accusers, they’re the real baddies.

He reminds the judge that he’s never said “one disrespectful word” about the court, the judge, or the jury. He had, however, described prosecutors as ‘Nazis’ and ‘pygmies’!

A classic sleight of hand?.
Let’s say he is guilty (he was found guilty, let’s not forget). Then, in cold print, his words are pathetic in their manipulation, fake-honorableness, and deflection of culpability.

Interestingly, the reporter notices what? – “The 63 year old peer, speaking in a husky yet confident voice”. This may just prove my point. It’s not that one has to be silver-tongued to mislead. One’s words may be poor excuses for argumentation and still persuade. It depends on ones’ manner, one’s brazeness, attacks, and reversals that can bamboozle even seasoned journos.

It may be that there are two doing this tango: a manipulating mogul leads the dance and manipulated reporters allow themselves to be led.

Incidentally, in case you are tempted to think it is only the Canadian media which is seeing Black through rose-tinted glasses (he is Canadian-born), here is R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr of the New York Sun. Notice how detailed his account is without saying anything about lack of remorse, etc. (I reiterate – Black had been found guilty):

Judge St. Eve asked Black if he cared to say anything. Coming forward, his fingers pressed together, palms apart, eyes set on the judge, Black said he could add nothing more than “what has already been said.” He mentioned his “profound regret and sadness at the severe hardship inflicted on all the shareholders” by these proceedings. He expressed his respect for Judge St. Eve, who, he said, had taken up the case after “an unbroken presumption of guilt,” presumably in the press, especially the British tabloids, who have been in a state of ecstasy over the downfall of one of their greatest competitors.

——————-
*A paramoralism is a psuedo-moral statement designed to get what one wants and to undermine the moral thinking of others. Paramoralisms, we have seen, are the stock-in-trade of the psychopath.

Reader, let me have examples of paramoralisms you encounter and I’ll write about real beauts.

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37 Responses

  1. Have you read much of the CB blog at the torontolife site? It’s been a very interesting blog and it’s amazing how dedicated the bloggers are to continued posting.
    This blog is interesting, I needed a new blog.

  2. I have found the best way to avoid a speeding ticket is to admit up front that I was speeding. But there might be a little bit of paramoralism involved here also. One must not be too specific when admitting to speeding.

    In answer to the question of how fast one was going in a 55mph zone, it won’t work to say you were going 85. That’s just too blatant an admission for an officer to pass over. It is always better to say something like, “Well, I’m not sure but I was probably going too fast.”

    You have not exactly lied, at least not so anyone can prove it, but you haven’t denied your guilt either. The officer is not insulted as he or she would be if you flat out lied to their face, and your chances of avoiding the ticket are greatly enhanced.

    Also, unknown to you, the cop may have a problem with proving your speed because of some glitch in the radar. It happens. If you admit to a certain speed he no longer needs the radar. You’ve solved his problem for him though you’ll never know it. So the dance must be performed, moral or not.

    Conrad Black may have been doing a more sophisticated version of this. He didn’t want to admit his guilt outright and foreclose any possible sympathy from the public or a future appellate court, but he also didn’t want to anger the judge. The parallel to the traffic cop’s faulty radar gun are possible appealable errors in the trial which defense counsel has not yet fully identified. The trial transcript must be carefully studied. Hence, Black performed the dance.

    It probably made little difference what he said at that time and place. The judge more than likely made a firm sentencing decision long before coming on the bench that day. He was really talking to future listeners and readers, in the public and on the appellate bench.

    This was not without risk. If Dr. Steve happens to be a Canadian appellate court judge, is related to one, or if Canadian Judges are reading here, Black may be screwed.

    By the way, is paramoral the same as amoral? Is paramoralism a way to duck a swinging fist, perhaps with the hope that it hit someone else?

  3. I think this raises an interesting question about ‘formality’. The easiest way to think of this is as a caricature of a Japapnese or English Victorian. There are forms that should be observed.

    When it is known that it is a form being observed then hypocrisy doesn’t apply – everyone knows that this is being done for ‘the sake of form’ – but does paramoralism?

  4. flash – You ask: “Is paramoral the same as amoral?”
    1. My Concise Oxford says:
    Amoral = “Unconcerned with, out of the sphere of, morals, non-moral”
    Immoral = “Opposed to morality; morally evil; viscious, dissolute”
    And one of the meanings of moral = “The power of distunguishing right & wrong”.
    The psychopath is all of these, again, for the underlying purpose of power over.
    2. Which leads me to this: lying, finessing, telling half-truths, etc. are what all people do (except autistics – I want to write about that soon). What makes something a paramoralism is the additional intention to damage, corrupt, etc. the other. If I finesse things to avoid a trafiic ticket and at the same time enable the cop to save face – that’s not a paramoralism. But if I cause him to feel implicated in doing something wrong, it is.
    (Back to the dictionary:
    para = 1. beside, beyond, wrong, irregular
    para = 2. ward off, shelter)
    3. You ask: “Is paramoralism a way to duck a swinging fist, perhaps with the hope that it hit someone else?” This briliantly gets at that extra bit – the intention to down the other down. If it’s OK I might cite it (without the ‘perhaps’).

  5. My first response to “paramoralism” was that it’s very common and exemplified in every country music song where there is a “triangle,” and the refrain is something like “don’t let me cross over love’s cheatin’ line,” or “Please help me, I’m fallin . . . .” Another example came to me: a group back in seventies (I think) had pop song called “Dawn, go away, I’m no good for you . . . ,” a rather neat invitation to victimage. And then there is the stereotyped Jewish mother: “Don’t you feel sorry for how badly you’ve treated me?”

    All of these involve a moral ploy with control as its object, but are they all paramoral in character? How conscious need a moral ploy be to qualify as paramoralism?

    Or, stated differently, is the undermining of another’s moral thinking consciously intended–which seems to me almost satanic–or, simply a consequence of collaborating with the paramoralist’s control effort?

  6. evan – Right. Having good manners could be seen as not true, therefore phony (adolescents often argue like this) – but that doesn’t bear much scrutiny. Things are done for form’s sake, as you say.
    To count as a paramoralism the intention is all important. If I stand when the judge enters the court when in fact I don’t feel any respect, that’s playing by the rules. But let’s go the Conrad Black scenario. Apparantly he had a 5,000 word statement planned, but chose to say the few things he did. So clearly he wasn’t following an established protocol. With what motive I can’t say. But I can put myself in the shoes of the victims of the fraud, say. They would have wanted remorse about the theft, i.e. “I stole the money which then meant the company lost money; sorry”. Instead he said in effect “I feel bad for you losing money but it was nothing to do with me”. Even if this is the truth – it seems like a a poke in the eye at that moment.
    What about mentioning that the company lost the big money “under the management of my successors”. This clearly blames them, right? It’s the irrelevant and unnecessary insult he adds to the injury which makes me wonder about this being a paramoralism.
    Thanks for the clarification about formality.

  7. dumaurier-smith – Nice examples. How about the wife-beater: “Why do you make me do this!?” And one I saw in a TV show recently: “Why are you so angry with me about this. Compared to the other things I’ve done this doesn’t even make the Top 10.”
    My view is that if the intention is domination (this includes doing the other down) then its a paramorialism.
    Now, if any person can, and sometimes does, use a paramoralism, that’s clearly not sufficient to call someone a psychopath. Or to use your phrase, “paramoral in character”. I’m with Nancy McWilliams on this. She’s a psychoanalyst who proposes that there are several character types and each of us belongs to one. She’s a depressive personality, for example. This doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily depressed, but that she has a certain pessimistic/realistic way of looking at the world, etc. It also doesn’t mean that someone with, say a masochistic personality can’t use some depressive ‘tools’ now and then. Similarly, paramoralisms can be employed by anyone (they have the potential to feel guilt and shame about it, though), but it is the stock in trade of the psychopath.
    Conscious/unconscious probably doesn’t throw much light here, I think. Good will/bad will is more helpful.
    Finally, the effort to morally undermine the other is a crucial part of the paramoralism. (Isn this what people do when they try to persuade someone politically, incidntally?)
    Your word “satanic” is interesting. Again from TV: X tries to convince Y – who’s trying to give up alcohol – to have a drink. X “Who are you, Satan?”
    I’m going to write the issue of evil – something we can talk about with resorting to religious terms at all. (Not that a religious explanation might not be right – rather that evil can be clarified psychologically.)

  8. Dr. Steve:
    You may be right that good will/bad will is more useful than conscious/unconscious motivation.

    Still, it seems to me that someone out to undermine another’s moral thinking–as opposed to gaining egocentric control–is engaging in rather abstract behavior that would require a relatively conscious intention and focused behavior.

    Which brings us to the satanic, I had in mind a story by Arthur Machen, called either the “The White People,” or “The Terrible White People” where he presents an interesting view of evil as very rare. Most people, he argues, don’t have the character necessary for true evil, which would be doing evil for its own sake–essentially, doing gratuitous harm for the enjoyment of it. Most thieves, cut-throats, etc., are merely self-absorbed social nuisances. The truly evil person may never break a law, and live like a stoic monk.

    That might be too “exalted” for the real world. I’ve always thought C. S. Lewis had it in mind as an illustration of evil when in Perelandra Ransom tracks Weston by finding small Venusian aninals with their hoppers pulled off and discarded.

    Evil as gratuitious acts of violence to pass the time? Seems right to me. And no metaphysics necessary.

    Arthur Machen is a great read, by the way. First, he can write, and second, his ability with mood and setting is phenomenal, as it must be for his purpose.

  9. dumaurier-smith – Thanks for the references; I’ll follow them up. For very different view of evil have you seen Mailer’s last novel? – ‘The castle in the forest’, I think. Quite ingenious.

  10. jade_lee – I came across the CB blog on torontolife when researching the Conrad Black sentencing.
    Glad to have you on board here!

  11. Dr. Steve–the swinging fist–it’s yours. Go for it.

  12. flash – Ta!

  13. I had trouble following this because my understanding (based on Mark Steyn’s coverage of the trial) is that Black was tried on trumped-up charges. If that’s true, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be conflicted about what to say. So the example doesn’t really work for me.

  14. sarah – I guess that Black may be innocent or firmly believe he’s innocent. I would certainly not want to start bandying around the word ‘psychopath’ just based on this episode. Nevertheless, there is still something distinctly non-kosher going on. The more I think about it the bit that raises my eyebrows is this:
    “the evaporation of $1.85bn of value under the management of my successors”.
    Why, when he’s on trial for stealing money, does he use this opportunity to put the boot into his successors?

  15. Dr. Steve,
    I never enjoyed Mailer after Naked and the Dead, and I gave up on him some years ago–after Advertisements for Myself, I think. But I’ll take a look at Castle in the Forest.

  16. Dr. Steve, and anyone interested:

    You can find “The White People online ; it may be difficult to find it in print, but Machen has his devotees.

    http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/whtpeopl.htm

  17. dumaurier-smith –
    1. A Mailer-aversion is a hard thing to overcome, they say.
    2. Thanks a lot for attaching the Machen story! I’ll give it a read.

  18. Dr. Steve, I realize that you were just using this as an example of a larger point. But since you have followed up, I’ll do so as well. What it sounds like to me is that, in the course of expressing some regret, which he probably had been advised to do to try to get a lighter sentence, he couldn’t help but mention that the charges were unfair (because he was convicted for something that actually happened under the watch of his successors). It was probably a mistake to mention this at the time he did (it makes him sound less remorseful), but it sounds like normal behavior to me. Hope springs eternal… he was hoping they would care.

  19. sarah – You provide a good antidote. I need to watch out for what the psychologists call confirmatory bias – the tendency to find exactly what one’s looking for.

  20. Don’t we all!?! Thanks for the gracious reply.

  21. Have you looked at the concept of ruthlessness? There’s an interesting book called “Thick Face, Black Heart” that examines ruthlessness, as the willingness to do damage in pursuit of an objective. It suggests that there is ethically or spiritually “low” ruthlessness which only serves the actor and “high” ruthlessness for the greater good.

    I can’t help but quibble with the idea that psychopaths are primarily interested in domination. I think they are primarily interested in getting what they want. Domination is a means, not an end. (However, habitual and chronic it may become as a tactic.)

    The other thing about psychopaths, in my experience, is that they are very driven by feelings, which relate to their prospects of getting what they want. Which leads me to believe that even getting what they want is a tactic, like a drug addiction is a tactic for relieving pain which is likely not articulated and understood at at the conscious level.

    I agree about the idea of splitting, but the problem with this whole line of theory is that is brings up the fact that virtually everyone is splitting in the same way. Psychopaths are just more dramatically split, to the point where their ability to sense relationship has been almost completely suppressed. They’re like the opposite of borderline personality types who create synthetic “safety” by mandatory attachment to a key relationship. Psychopaths create synthetic safety by mandatory denial that relationships exist, so they have no vulnerability to relationship risk at all. Both are responses to early maternal separation disasters, in my view, that result affective disorders.

    With no recognition of relationship or trust in mutual support, sociopath’s see other people as more or less useful props in their effort to organize life so they can work their way through the heirarchy of need. The problem, of course, is that their inability to view others as “human” results in endless self-sabotage.

    Even the so-called ideal professions for a sociopath eventually dead-end when a person has no social network except people who are afraid of them, people who despise them, or people who want vengeance. Look at Shakespeare’s plays for endless examples.

    The exceptions are positions of absolute power where they can get what they want and relieve (or act out) their emotional pain. Which is why, I think, we find so many sociopaths jumping from one position of petty tyranny to another as they are chased off by people who’ve had enough.

    Lack of empathy is a perfectly good and necessary emotional response to certain situations. The problem with sociopaths is they’ve locked themselves in. That’s one definition of personality disorder, over-dependence on one emotional response tactic at the expense of others.

    The problem in relating to or attempting to treat sociopaths is that their choice of tactic is to not trust, to be defensively and reflexively self-contained. I’ve also never known someone I consider a sociopath or psychopath who doesn’t have significant sensory issues, like limitations in smell or inability to feel certain physical sensations. I don’t think this is a coincidence, when they have forcibly shut down part of the spectrum of emotional response.

    If you imagine the splitting of a psychopath to be the locking away of the vulnerable child’s to keep it safe from disappointment, and the cultivation of the logical, uncaring, goal-oriented automaton, you get something like Signorey Weaver in Aliens, fighting the alien monster inside her big metal superstructure.

    Who’s driving the psychopath’s bus? It’s a question that I think would give a lot of insight into how to handle them in a therapeutic setting. The buried child has been insulated from virtually all contact with “real” life since the decision was made to abandon relationship risk. So it’s still operating at some infantile level of botched separation from the great good. And external shell is this badly coordinated, posturing, make-believe grown-up trying to survive — and usually with great ingenuity, despite its lack of connected feeling — in a completely untrustworthy and uncaring world.

    If I sound like I feel sorry for them, I do. It doesn’t mean that I want to marry one or work for one, or be vulnerable to one in any way. Nor do I think that any casual or feeling-based intervention is going to make a great deal of difference in getting them to behave in a more civilized fashion. There is a useful book about treating narcissistics called, I believe, “Humanizing the Narcissistic Affect.” It makes the point that integrating narcissists isn’t an option, because the lost half was buried for reasons that are unlikely to have changed. Surfacing it is just a formula for reopening unbearable pain, and possibly destroying what limited functionality this person has.

    I think that if we were serious about treating these people, it would be possible to create specialized institutions where they gradually learned that failure to trust is a dead-end life tactic. I don’t think it would be a quick cure, but I think it could be done.

  22. khatalyst – Such a full comment deserves a full response. Great stuff!
    1. Thanks for the reference. (Have you read the psychoanlyst Winnicott on his notion of ‘pre-ruth’?) It’s true that we need to talk about different levels of ruthlessness, etc. My thought is that these distinctions will only make sense with regular folks. With psychopaths it will be pretend levels resting on a bed of malevolent ruthlessness.
    2. You say: “I can’t help but quibble with the idea that psychopaths are primarily interested in domination. I think they are primarily interested in getting what they want. Domination is a means, not an end. (However, habitual and chronic it may become as a tactic.)”
    I don’t know how I’d go about proving this but, as you know, for me it’s the other way round. It’s the difference between greed (I want more/it all) and envy (I want to spoil it for you).
    3. Even though we differ in this way, I would say that your third paragraph gets to something I feel is true. The behaviour and motives…are themselves a cover story for something that will never see the light of day. That something is unconscious despair.
    4. Interesting view of reverse borderline. I think of it as reverse autism! But we’re circling the same maternal deficit, you and I. (Plus a genetic predisposition, probably.)
    5. A crucial difference between the psychopath and others is not others aren’t wicked, etc., but the psychopath can’t not be ruthless.
    6. Wow! I’ve never heard the sensory problem issue. It makes a lot of sense.
    (See my email.)

  23. DrSteve, apologies for not responding to you more quickly. I had a bit of a drama here in the mountains, when my guest cottage burned down. It had a tenant, who was not here when it happened thankfully, but you can imagine the rolling opera that followed.

    Regarding your comments, one thing that I’d debate with you is the matter of autism. Celiac syndrome is all over my family. My son’s been diagnosed Asperger. I’m an anxiety-driven superachiever, while my siblings have been anxiety driven chemical addicts. All of this improved, including the family anxious-depressive tendencies when we elminated gluten from our diet. (My sister, in fact, quit drinking in three weeks after many decades of boozing — it turned out she had an allergic-addictive thing going with the barley in beer). The selective carbohydrate diet did a great deal more.

    The whole premise of the SCD diet is that leaky gut syndrome and bacterial overgrowth contribute to a lot of health problems, as well as serious effect on brain chemistry. (As a celiac, I know if I’ve been “gluten’d” in minutes, because I get depressed, anxious and teary.) The SCD diet is designed to starve those bacteria by not feeding them carbohydrates that are processed in the lower intestine.

    If you think about the way babies are fed and doctored — in terms of antibiotic use and early feeding of grain-based cereals, biscuits, etc. — you may start to see what I do about the cause of the autism and Asperger epidemic. (Which runs right next to the diabetes, childhood obesity, childhood depression and bi-polar, etc. epidemics.) It doesn’t help that the genetic tendency toward celiac alone, another leaky gut syndrome, is probably found in upwards of ten percent of the population. They actually test elementary school children for it in many European countries, including Italy — home of wheat pasta, focaccio, tiramisu, etc.

    This doesn’t change the importance of trauma-based tracks laid down in the brain, which affect emotional reaction, intellectual structure and behavior. (Check out the neurobiology of Stockholm Syndrome for some interesting writing on that, as well as some of the writing about the impact of growing up in cults).

    I think that “unconscious despair” is like splitting and in fact it may be the same issue. As a culture. We’re simply very bad at grieving. When the loss to be grieved happens to a small child in the care of a person who has unconscious despair from his or her own ungrieved childhood losses, the cycle just continues.

    The concept of self-soothing is related to that. Once you’ve been forced to deal with a trauma in a way that doesn’t include a full grief cycle, the pattern of non-self-soothing is established. And this could be another definition for unconscious despair.

    Which brings us back, again, to not-good-enough mothering, and a failed separation process. Theoretically, any integrity-shock trauma later in life could also trigger a similarly ragged, unready separation from some matrix of belief. But if a good foundation of emotional confidence and self-management is laid down in the early years, there’s at least a precedent of success to work with in processing through the trauma.

    But to get specific about sociopaths, in my experience with them in mutually dependent relationships, they have an always surprising personality affect that they exhibit when they run out of options to avoid abandonment or disengagement. And that is the little child. The characteristic of this child is, for want of a better word, piteous. Needy. My theory about this — other than thinking it’s just a last-ditch manipulative offering of whatever will work to get them what they want, which is probably also true — is that this lost and hungry baby is the piece of them they’ve stuffed.

    Dependency naturally coexists with trust. Clearly both dependent and independent types have difficulties with getting what they need from people they can’t or don’t trust. Dependent types solve this issue by just blindly trusting they’ll get what they need, no matter what the evidence to the contrary. Sociopaths project need in order manage the situation. If a sociopath’s target doesn’t respond to that need, the sociopath will move on.

    And as odd as this might sound, given the premise of the dominance drive of sociopaths, if you check through the various postings at LoveFraud, I think you’ll find this confirmed. The great feeling of offense with people who’ve been intimately involved with socipaths is that we take it for granted that our response to their obvious need is going to be returned. The failure in the great codependent circle of “I’ll take care of you if you’ll take care of me” is the cause for our outrage (or whatever hurt feelings and never-trust-again we have to go through to get to that outrage).

    Two books by Stephen M. Johnson have influenced my thinking. One is “Humanizing the Narcissistic Affect,” which is his explanation of a theurapeutic approach that can work with narcissistic. The other is “Characterological Transformation: The Hard-Work Miracle,” which I know is controversial, but his thoughts on the origin of personality disorders matched what I intuitively surmised.

  24. khatalyst – Once again, there’s so much to comment on here! Thanks. I’ll just say one or two things now – the rest I’ll need to think on.

    I do know about the gut problems of autism and how helpful diet can be – spectacular! (I have a colleague trained in RDI – you’re familiar with this?)

    When I called autistics reverse-autistics I was referring only to the lack of malevolence of people on the autistic-spectrum. Even when raging, an autistic is overwhelmed by anxiety and trying to change something.

    Johnson is good, isn’t he? I’m pessimistic about treating psychopaths like narcissists, though, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

    Perhaps some of the folks you see as ‘sociopaths’ I’d see as narcissists? For me a psychopath would rather die – I mean that literally – than admit to the kind of weakness you notice (unless they were trying to bluff, of course).

  25. I just like pointing out that whenever someone’s convicted of fraud, almost always the money was used to “fund a lavish lifestyle”!!

    Anyway, I’m not sure the reporters always really allow themselves to be led. I think a lot of times reporters assume the contradictions are obvious, so they don’t feel the need to point them out. Besides, wouldn’t that be editorial for them to do so, and therefore unethical in a news article?

    (Not that I’m defending reporters, mind you. hah.)

    Take a look at this article:
    http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18512090&BRD=2185&PAG=461&dept_id=415898&rfi=6

    This man detailed in the article uses many… well I don’t even think he rates paramoralism. But the attempts are there. The contradictions are BREATHTAKING.

    I particularlly like the quote: “We are a $25 million business,” he declared. “Anyone our size will have lawsuits, and I’m not going to pay for unjustifiable charges. Everyone who deserves to get paid will be paid.””
    utsy. But that last sentence is telling, isn’t it? Who decides the deserves?
    He loves that word, it’s used in another quote mentioned in the article: “I pay people when they deserve to be paid.”

    The reporter never actually states that this man is a liar, a con artist, or a sociopath, though I’m certain the reporter thinks those things. It’s all above board, and only states actual things that he’s been formally accused of, and included quotes of accusations that other people have said. But yet it borders on the editorial. I don’t think a bigger newspaper would allow it, frankly. It’s rather sensationalistic. (Though from all accounts true, and only the tip of the iceberg.)
    Last I heard he was in jail and issued a 30 page manifesto to various parties, naming names of everyone else whose fault it is that this has happened to him, blaming scores of other people for all the wrongs he’s committed & laws he’s broken.
    From what I understand he’s being held on bad check charges, and parole violations. And he’s neglected to pay back money from his last business in another county, where he bilked people and they won settlements against him.
    On a web forum, he’s been, informally (and unsubstantiatedly), accused of verbal abuse of employees, violent threats toward business contacts, sleeping with clients’ wives, spreading a venereal disease, arson, insurance fraud, fleeing cocaine charges in the Carribean, failure to pay child support, and abuse of a former spouse. All these accusations coming from people who say they knew him personally. But of all those accusations, either it’s inappropriate to include them in newspaper business articles OR it’s formally unsubstantiated or unverifiable for one reason or another. That doesn’t mean they’re all untrue though, of course.

    Basically what I’m saying is that sometimes a reporter’s hands are proverbially tied.

    DuMaurier-Smith! That thing in a lot of the country & western ballads, and many other so-called “love songs”… I’m so glad there’s someone else who notices that crap!

    It just reminds me of this, odd conversation I had with a narcissist once. This, I think would come under the heading paramoralism…
    It was myself and another woman talking to this guy about his dating issues. And he said that he once dated a girl that he never went out with on the weekends. He said that he just didn’t want to see her on the weekends, because he had plenty to do on the weekends (I suppose “better things”). The other woman said that wasn’t cool, and I agreed that it sounded like he was using her. He said that she (the girlfriend) wasn’t happy with it either, but that if she wasn’t happy with it, it was her responsibility to say to him, “Either see me on the weekends, or you can’t see me at all”. He said, “Then I’d have to make a choice.” Which works to a point, and has a certain logic… if it’s advice coming from another party to her. But he seemed to think it absolved him from any responsibility for his decisions & behaviour. Like somehow he shifted all the blame to the girlfriend.
    I mean really, should you ever have to confront a significant other that way anyway? And why the hell would you want a girlfriend who wasn’t good enough for you to spend time with her on the weekends?
    Unless you’re like him and would use a girl for mid-week lonliness, when other people weren’t available to him, but because she had fallen for him, she did make herself available to him during the week, because it’s the only time he’d see her. And that’s what it was. I don’t even think he was using her for sex. This guy just couldn’t be alone for 2 minutes together, always bugging people to go out on the weeknights (which is somewhat unusual for people in their 30s & 40s). I often suspected him of double-booking his social schedule. And I suspected him of keeping girls “waiting in the wings” just in case the current one fell through because she wouldn’t put up with his crap.
    Yes, it’s the woman’s responsibility to respect herself enough not to put up with a situation that she’s not happy with. However, something tells me he had her so mixed up, that he was feeding her excuses of his busy weekends, to keep her on the hook. I believe that he was guilty of mondo deceit & manipulations. If you tried to confront this guy about anything, he had a breathtaking & sometimes infuriating way of trying to convince you that black is white, right is wrong, and the moon is made of green cheese. Just like he tried to do when we confronted him about this. But imagine being the girlfriend, and having no 3rd party present to keep reality in view – I can only imagine the bizarre crao ge he fed her to keep her in response to objections she had made.
    And really, what kind of relationship needs to operate on the basis that one person forces the other person to behave decently? What kind of logic is that?
    If that’s not paramoralism, I don’t know what is!!!
    Of course I don’t think he really bought into that, I think it was another shifty excuse for him to be justified in behaving indecently.

  26. DrSteve: Maybe the adolescents are onto something with the accusations of phoney. I think “niceness” is phoney. Kindness is for real. And manners should be indifferent – more of just a social lubricant. When manners are used for a specific purpose, while other not good behaviours are going on, then I think they are phoney. And why not call them as such?

    When I say “thank you”, it’s sincere. I mean I may not feel in a debt of grand gratitude every time I utter the words for some small reason, but it’s sincere. And I don’t say “thank you” and then do 5 other ingrate things. lol

    I don’t think “intention” is “all important” in terms of paramoralism.

    I think if by saying “thank you” I’m expressing a sentiment, out of good manners because I want to continue smooth & happy relations with a friend or co-worker… That’s an intention. And maybe it’s a selfish one too.

    But I think the all importance of paramoralism is the contradiction at play.

    When I want to continue smooth & happy relations with a friend or co-worker, my other behaviour backs that up, not just saying “thank you” and then screwing them. The manners are an accessory, not a veil.

    With paramoralism, good manners are used to cover up or provide a lame excuse for shitty behaviour. Like “I feel bad for you losing money but it was nothing to do with me.” That’s something different, and nothing to do with intentions. It’s all about behaviour, and the words not matching the behaviour. Not matching reality in this case!

    I really feel like the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that intentions are really irrelevant on almost all levels.

    For example, I really don’t care if you hate my guts, as long as you’re not behaving in a way to hurt me. Is that phoney? If it is, then it’s for a good cause, I say. haha. I wouldn’t condemn it, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t prefer you hunt me down and harrass me instead, just because it’s honest. I wouldn’t want you to pretend you think I’m wonderful and insinuate yourself into my life under that guise. But if your intention is just to deceive me in order to keep a civil peace in the workplace, or some other venue, then I don’t see a problem.

    I can behave respectfully toward, and say “thank you” to, people I really personally dislike, because I live in a society, and have to deal with them, and would prefer to live in harmony with my fellow humans.
    Does that make my intentions a sinister thing? Does that mean I’m a bad person?
    In my view, the bad person is the one who treats another person like crap just because they don’t personally prefer the person.

    Do you see the problem emerging here?

    The only time that intentions SEEM to be important is the type tied to specific goals, under the law. If, through no fault of your own, you cause someone else’s death in an accident. That’s not homicide, and some will argue that it’s because it wasn’t your intention to kill the person. That it has to do with intentions & your goals. But that’s not true, and it’s not logical.
    The reason it’s not homicide is because the result was an accident. Same with manslaughter, which is about yes, you deliberately hurt the person, but the actual death was an accidental byproduct of your goal. So it’s not as bad as having deliberately killed someone.

    Results, results, results.

    Because if your intention is to kill someone, and you don’t succeed, you won’t be charged with murder, will you?

    See, intentions really aren’t the issue here, are they?

    It’s always the results.

    Because if you look at it as an issue of intentions, and you translate that intention thing to this Black fella… Okay, so what if he was able to argue that his goal wasn’t to lose the company money? Like he didn’t set out to hurt other people, just get money for himself, and hurting other people was an accidental byproduct. It wasn’t really his intention to lose the company money, after all.
    Well of course that’s utter nonsense, isn’t it?

    This is the problem with “intentions” and bringing them into any issue of ethics and human relationships.
    Intentions, for all intents & purposes (no pun intended), are just something that’s in someone’s mind before they act.
    But the line between intention and result is so thick that the 2 things are almost unrelated.

    I’m quite sure there’s probably a Buddhist term for this, but I don’t know it. But if there is, I wish someone would educate me.

  27. chloe – one psychopath can cause a hep of trouble. I sometimes wonder whether jail is as punishing for them as for regular folks. As they’re into power – that’s why they live, why not set about doing that in/from prison?

    “If you raise the issue with me than I’ll decide.” This is classic! It HAS been raised, why make her squirm and make her raise it again? He’s calling her a fool for not raising it but also threatening that he might leave. Crazy-making, poisonous. Guaranteed – he had other women, was, seeking other women (or men), or was a bigamist.

  28. chloe – I once worked with a man so polite that if I hadn’t accepted his insisted “No, after YOU” I swear I’d still be standing beside that door. Manners are meant to help the other person feel more comfortable, as you say. Not to come across as nice or to make a point or cover other acts. That’s rude.

    The definition of paramoralism that I use is, I must hasten to say, mine – not the term, the definition. Feel free to make your own – which emphasises phoniness if I understand right.

    For me that’s different to what I’m after which is to do with my undestanding of evil – by which I mean the intention to do another person down. The narcissist you mention above met my standard – he wasn’t phony at all – he was just being a bastard and loving her misery.

    Conrad Black, it may be, took the money for good (i.e. not evil) reasons. That makes it a crime, but not evil. However, if I’m right that he was trying to make people squirm in his statement, then in my book that’s an act of evil. Not a crime, though.

    In a comment to dm-smith today I made the point that for me evil and crime need have no connection at all. (He would agree with you about results, results, results, I think.)

  29. Oh yes, I agree, jail probably isn’t punishment to sociopaths the same way it would be for the average person. They don’t feel the same kind of emotional pain, so it’s probably that being incarcerated doesn’t seem quite as bad to them as it would to the rest of us. And yeah, they can play their same games in prison to keep themselves amused.

    DrSteve wrote: “For me that’s different to what I’m after which is to do with my undestanding of evil – by which I mean the intention to do another person down. The narcissist you mention above met my standard – he wasn’t phony at all – he was just being a bastard and loving her misery.”

    I don’t believe the narcissist “loved her misery”. I think he just didn’t care about her misery, and only cared about his own emotional needs.
    Mind you, with sociopaths, it does seem to be the case that they DO delight in the misery of others, as a sort of game.
    For this guy, I firmly believe he wasn’t as self-aware as a normal person might be, and definitely nowhere near as self-aware as sociopaths seem to be. I think he operates on a emotional needs basis, and really maybe nothing else. His own emotional needs, without empathy or concern for others, of course. But I don’t think his main agenda was ever to deliberately hurt other people. He just didn’t see how hurting other people was his problem, he had his own needs to fill, after all. And worked on the assumption that everyone is that way.
    Does that make sense? It was like he had his own messed up moral ideas. He knew they weren’t what were publicly acceptable, but he really thought that everyone had his morals, and just tried to romanticize them, and really they operated like he did. So what’s the problem?
    I definitely think this guy would justify himself to himself. I would have to tell you scads of information about things he said and did to demonstrate this, but he did seem to have some kind of internal struggle & discomfort. And he needed other people to salve him emotionally for it. He was always looking for approval and accalades.

    With sociopaths, I’ve come to firmly believe that hurting other people is a game they use to keep themselves amused. They may start out in life thinking everyone else is faking emotions, faking morals. But I think they figure out it’s not the case pretty quickly. And I don’t think they ever feel the need to justify anything to themselves, just to other people in order to get by. I don’t see any evidence that sociopaths demonstrate any internal struggles or any discomforts in the way they operate. They may seek accalades or the appearances necessary for their games and their survival needs, but I don’t think they have the same needs for emotional salves that guy needed 24/7.

    What khatalyst said about sociopaths, I really think more applies to narcissists. About the attachment disasters. That both narcissists and borderlines are 2 sides of the same coin. They have different methods of seeking that emotional salve.

    Everything I’ve read about sociopaths suggests there IS NO ‘hungry baby’ inside there.

    I think both narcissists and sociopaths are capable of using last ditch efforts to hold their world together with the cheeks of their ass. But I don’t think in the case of a sociopath that there’s any profound emotional need at work.

    Not that I’m saying that there’s a ‘hungry baby’ someone needs to help in a narcissist, because I’m not sure that’s really possible just because of the nature of their ways of operating, offering that ‘inner child’ comfort would just trigger a hostile response in a narcissist. (At least that’s the case with the people I’ve known who’ve fit the description of a narcissist.)

    In the case of a sociopath, I think it’s dangerous to think there’s some inner child needing comfort. Because that’s exactly what the sociopath could use.
    In fact, I think talking about inner childs in these people is dangerous just for the fact that someone might read that… and well, I just think of the scores of women who would read that and become even more hell bent & determined to try and reach that inner child in a sociopath.
    At least in the case of a narcissist, the narcissist is likely to reject them for that effort, and spare them that way. But in the case of a sociopath, I think the bolt on the door would slide shut trapping them in a vicious circle of the sociopath holding out the carrot of hope to them, when it’s really a futile situation, because there is no inner child to reach.

    But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe what Hare says about sociopaths isn’t entirely true, I don’t know. Are there other studies which suggest that sociopaths do have higher emotions, they’re just suppressed?
    Because what I read said that the sociopaths brain doesn’t even function in those areas. To me that’s not suppressed, that’s non-functioning. But maybe I my understanding is flawed?

    khatalyst wrote: “we find so many sociopaths jumping from one position of petty tyranny to another as they are chased off by people who’ve had enough.”

    The article I posted a link to shows a great example of that. That man had set up shop in at least 4 different towns over the years (2 different states), set up from scratch, after having legal problems each time, when people caught on that they were being swindled.

    khatalyst wrote: “I think that if we were serious about treating these people, it would be possible to create specialized institutions where they gradually learned that failure to trust is a dead-end life tactic. I don’t think it would be a quick cure, but I think it could be done.”

    Wow, I’ve long wondered if this was the premise of the tv show “LOST”.
    I mean not that I think the LOST island is a successful institution and really succeeding with this, if that is the premise.
    But on the show LOST, almost every character seems to be a sociopath to one extent or another. And that’s why they never get anywhere, find out anything, or accomplish much. Because they’re too busy trying to get one over, dominate, and they never trust each other. Because of course they can’t. Because they’re all the same – Untrustworthy!!! So they never really learn anything it seems. So round & round they go in one big dead-end life tactic.

    I think that’s the fatal flaw in your institution idea. Because you couldn’t teach sociopaths this stuff having them interact with each other. They’d just be screwing each other all the time!!
    So an institution for sociopaths would have to be made up of mock people for them to interact with, who can’t be duped by them.
    That’s a LOT of highly trained staff per patient.
    And all for people that most of society hates with a passion…
    Tragically unlikely.
    It might save cost in the long run, but people usually don’t go for that.
    Especially since you couldn’t force would-be criminals into the institution before they cost society, so most people (who don’t understand the high repeat incidence of sociopaths), would consider it closing the barn doors after the cows have long gone.
    But a noble and logical idea, of course.

    khatalyst wrote: “Sociopaths project need in order manage the situation. If a sociopath’s target doesn’t respond to that need, the sociopath will move on.”

    This might actually be the key to why I don’t seem to attract sociopaths. I’ve wondered this for awhile now. I’ve had friends, and known several people who’ve attracted sociopaths at some point, in fact, most of them attracted more than one, or many over the course of years. And I just wonder, I’ve attracted any number of people with various emotional maladies, disorders, and mental illnesses. But I don’t think I could hook a sociopath if I deliberately went out & tried. They just don’t seem to like me.
    (Not that I’m complaining! I just wonder about it, because if I could bottle it, I could make loads of money to buy lots of bright shiney things! J/K!!!)
    Whatever it is that they generally need, maybe I just don’t have to offer. Obviously something about me doesn’t jive with something about them.

  30. Kind of went off on a tangent there, but I did have something to say about the “evil” issue.
    I see where you’re going with that. And yeah, when I talk about intentions being irrelevant (and I do believe that), I’m speaking from a practical viewpoint.

    Yes, I guess I will admit that I do find intentions and the concept of “evil” to be an interesting subject.
    I think what keeps me away from ever focusing on that subject too much, is that I firmly believe it offers no practical use in life. Certainly not to victims or potential victims, or anyone effected by the disturbed or sociopathic.

    I’ve noticed that people in the mental health profession seem very interested in that side of things though. And begging your pardon, that’s where I think many therapists often fail in being effective at times, in helping victims & perpetrators alike.

    My friend who’s a psychologist & therapist (with some advanced degree), seems awfully concerned with morals and moral rules as an issue. And I don’t think she’s wrong for having that interest. Nor do I think you’re wrong for contemplating ‘evil’, etc. etc.

    I just think it’s a purely intellectual/philosophical pursuit. I think those of us interested in progress or bettering our life & relations make more progress by approaching it from a practical angle.

    Like I said above. There’s a trap in thinking there’s a hungry baby inside every offender. It might be safe for someone who is in a clinical situation with a disturbed or sociopathic individual to take things from that angle.
    But unfortunately, I’ve also habitually watched people in the mental health profession take that angle home with them, where there is no clinical safety.

    I see a pitfall that many mental health professionals sometimes fall into. They take care of the mentally ill or the mentally deranged, with a lot of compassion, on the job. Then when someone is a perpetrator in their own life, I think they feel guilt at the prospect of saving themselves from that loved one by abandoning the cause, because after all, if they show so much compassion to their patients who are strangers, surely they must be morally obligated to give that much, or more, leeway to their loved ones.
    “I wouldn’t turn my back on my patients when they’re sick.” is the plaintiff cry I’ve heard more than once by someone in the profession justifying why they’re allowing someone to ride roughshod over their personal life.
    This is a steel trap that puts a mental health professional in a very bad position. It’s impractical. It’s irrational. It’s illogical.
    But it’s perfectly human and understandable, isn’t it.

    If you approach things from practical angle, I think that problem would evaporate.

  31. chloe1 – maybe you narcissist guy was a tad aspergers?

    Someone once asked: Are psychopaths as happy as they’re portrayed in the movies and my answer was, in that they don’t get depressed, yes. But I think this comment by you is more enlightening; “I don’t see any evidence that sociopaths demonstrate any internal struggles or any discomforts in the way they operate.”

    Here’s my way out of your hungry baby/Hare problem. I think that there is an inner despair in the psychopath but – and this is absolutely key – he would literally prefer to die than to face it. So he projects it into others – thus the pleasure in watching others squirming. You’re right that trying to get to that inner stuff with the psychopath is worse than futile.

    I can’t imagine why a psychopath would ‘realise’ that “failure to trust is a dead-end life tactic”.

    So the ‘Lost’ island is one big prison. Shudder.

    There’s a guest post coming here soon by swivelchair (from neuralcorrelates.com/wordpress) on some aspects of the psychopath’s neurology. And I’m hoping to get him to write some more about an idea he and I have discussed that people with (yes, neurologically) very low trust like psychopaths and those with very high trust attract each other. This might be why you don’t attract these types -you’re not naive, enough! (But, hey, let’s be careful out there!)

  32. chloe2 – You say: “Yes, I guess I will admit that I do find intentions and the concept of ‘evil’ to be an interesting subject. I think what keeps me away from ever focusing on that subject too much, is that I firmly believe it offers no practical use in life.”

    And so I respond thusly: Ah, but my intention is to help myself, in the first instance, to be less evil, to be better! This is why I keep banging on about this. If we stay with notions like the following they doesn’t help us to live more moral lives ourselves, indeed they may let us of the hook: Hitler-meant-well, the-devil-made-me-do-it, it’s-not-people-who-are-bad-it’s-their-institutions/society…

    Why people are happy to talk about doing good and being good, and then not see that there are exactly the same number of opportunities to do good and to do evil every day…I’m unsure how to finish this sentence, but you get my drift.

    As for mental health professionals – I agree that the all-understanding (i.e. all excusing) position you describe may lead to, shall we say, difficulties. Where I’d differ is that I wouldn’t call that position ‘moral’ – it’s amoral. My emphasis on the existence of evil intent is, I’d say, not so much one of being ‘practical’, but one of morality. Of believing in good and evil and being against evil.

    Geez, this sounds pious.

  33. I don’t think it was Aspergers for this guy. But he matched everything I’ve read in books, and on-line, about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Not only that, but a friend who is a psychiatrist, actually called this guy a “narcissist” after meeting him maybe twice, long before I ever read about NPD to understand what she meant.

    And the stuff I’ve read so far about Aspergers doesn’t really fit him. Though he did say sometimes eye contact felt awkward to him when he thought about it – though he didn’t avoid it.
    What made you think of Aspergers anyway?

    Do you know, I think I’ve only ever known one person with Aspergers. And that’s only a big maybe. How common is that?

    “I can’t imagine why a psychopath would ‘realise’ that “failure to trust is a dead-end life tactic”

    Why not? From what Hare’s book says, a psychopath raised in a healthy upbringing would be the one that manages to avoid incarcaration. I’m paraphrasing like mad here, I know, but that was the gist I got from the book. So that suggests some capacity to learn more functional coping skills. (Even if it doesn’t make them have “good character”.)

    I think there’s an inner despair in them… But not in the way we think of despair, wrapped up in the sadness thing. I think that’s us, projecting our own sadness despair about their condition onto them. And it’s not that they’d prefer to die than to face it, but that they are emotionally incapable of facing it, because they just don’t have the set of emotions required to think that way.

    I agree that the “all-excusing” is amoral, when it comes down to it. But it comes from a place of humanity and morality, doesn’t it?
    That road to Hell again!!! See! See! 😉

    As for thinking yourself into being a better person… I had a friend years ago (also a therapist as it happens! haha) she used to say, “Mood follows action.” And I’ve come to believe the logic in that. I don’t think you can think yourself into better behaviour. I think sometimes the more you think about something, the easier it is to dangerously rationalize behaviours because of your intentions, and stay stuck, or even just go further astray.

    And I do understand about your “opportunities to do good” being missed.
    My moral psychologist friend is a big proponent of actively trying to do good. 😉
    But I say, it’s better to do nothing, than try like mad to do good, and wind up doing bad, with the best of intentions.
    That’s not to say I’m advocating not doing anything, ever, when the opportunity to do good arises. I’m specifically talking about the pitfalls involved in not waiting for those opportunities patiently and with some spiritual peace, and instead of going out and actively seeking them like a bull in a china shop. 😉

  34. chloe – Why aspergers? The lack of empathy, the crazy logicality, the incomprehension of social codes, the rationalisation, no desire to hurt the other…

    How common? Think of real computer geeks – they’re ofetn on the spectrum. No girlfriend, super-rationality, etc. Ever notice how impossible they find it to explain so computer thing? That’s because they’re mind-blind – they can’t understand that you have a mind separate from their own: If I get it so must you…

    But, still would this be learning trust? Or would it be learning not to behave that way? And still, why wold they do that? What’s the pay-off?

    They’re unable to face it, rather than refusing. That feels right to me, though I know one psychoanalyst who claims that they are able. Neuro research will probably tell us soon.

    Amorality can come from either a humanistic place, as you say (moral leading to amoral), or it can come from a relativistic place (amoral, period).

    Thinking can be an action if one sits down to think hard – to agonise – about something. There is a real danger of rationalisation, that’s true. (Have you read my earlier post on exactly this topic?) What’s vital is that one has good will; if I’m looking for an excuse I’ll find one.

    Say we go along with your argument that we can’t think ourselves to better behaviour – what else would you suggest?

    I’m with you on your last point – I have no interest in going out and seeking good works. But I do think that everyday life throws up all kinds of posers for us. Now that you mention it, I may have misspoken myself – it’s not that I see myself necessarily doing good, but definitely keeping an eye on the evil options – small, sickening, wickednesses.

  35. Now that you describe it, I may have known a couple of people with Aspergers, but not closely. I think I just have an aversion to people who put off that type personality. I mean imagine me trying to get along with someone who’s reluctant to communicate? Can you even see it for a second?

    And no, definitely not the guy I’m talking about. He ran away at the mouth. Loved to discuss humanity, in lurid detail. He was fascinated by people. Never wanted to be alone. That doesn’t match the Asperger’s thing at all.
    But besides, this guy was a perfect description of a narcissist. At first reading about NPD, I almost felt like he fit the criteria, traits, and character, TOO well. But then my friend in the profession, who’d referred to him as a narcissist in the first place, said that’s the nature of personality disorders – they are that extreme, that’s what makes them disorders. Just in every single way. Even the description of the parents that narcissists usually have fit his parents, as he and his sibling described them, exactly. It was uncanny.

    “Say we go along with your argument that we can’t think ourselves to better behaviour – what else would you suggest?”

    Acting better. Even if you don’t think it or feel it.
    I’ve tried this with many things, and it does seem to work.
    You feel the benefits, even if you couldn’t see them with all your contemplating.

    I’m not saying this would work with a sociopath, for example. So don’t misconstrue that. I’m talking about in terms of the rest of us.

    It’s kind of like how when I talk to my mother on the phone when I’m sick in bed on a cold winter day, and she’ll say, “Get out of your pajamas & get dressed, you’ll feel better!”
    Well, that isn’t a cure to for the common cold. But sometimes, getting out of bed & dressed, and having a lie down in the living room instead, has had a positive effect on my sense of schedule, and emotional state.
    Of course I always joke though that if I talk to my mother on the phone when I’m sick, and I’m in may pajamas, she tells me to get dressed, and if I’m dressed, she tells me to get into my pajamas & back to bed.
    But the truth is that it depends on what part of the day it is. If I’ve worked all day, and it’s 6pm & I’m sick, she’ll say “Get into your pajamas and to bed early”. Which is sound advice really.

  36. chloe – Again, a sensible point.

    This bit doesn’t seem quite right, though: “Acting better. Even if you don’t think it or feel it.” But you would have to have the thought in order to do it, right. I see you’re big on actions and down on thinking alone. But you mean thoughtful actions, presumably, not thoughtless actions (except when someone else does the thinking for one, e.g. mother).

  37. chloe – FYI an article on Aspergers and the autism spectrum:
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/baron-cohen.html

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