Psychopathic discourse – paramoralisms

‘Ponerology’ is the study of evil. On a ponerology blog I came across Lobaczewski’s term ‘paramoralism’ – a means of discourse favoured by psychopaths.

A paramoralism is a psuedo-moral statement; one stated in moral-like terms but with precisely the opposite intent and effect which are one and the same, namely to bamboozle you into being unable to use your normal means of ethical thinking.

I’m sure that not only psychopaths use it, but here’s a good illustration:

Continue reading


Can we think our way to ethical behavior?

Dr. X asks a fascinating question (which emerges from The Splintered Mind): does thinking about ethical behaviour lead to less ethical thinking?

It can, he says. Thinking can just make it easier to rationalise unethical behaviour: “Not returning this library book on ethics isn’t stealing, nobody else reads these things anyway…”

Dr. X concludes:

Fruitful self-examination that recognizes the implicit themes, the contradictions, the gaps and the subtleties (or lack of subtlety) in our conscious experience is a capacity that is cultivated over time by consistently applying oneself to a process that can be painful, anxiety-provoking and depressing as we give up the lies we tell ourselves to make our lives more bearable. Rational examination has a role to play in this self-exploration, but deeper familiarity with the much larger role played by irrational, unconscious mental activity is critical to getting the most out of self-reflection.

A couple of points occur to me:
a. Conscious thought can help.
It is possible to end up going, “Aargh, though I don’t feel like doing it, pulling my car over to help that person change a tire is the right thing to do (it’s what I’d want someone to do for me and I’ll like the feeling of ‘being a good person’…). I.e. it can lead to good behaviour, if not to selfless motives. Continue reading

The psychopath’s effect (criminal variety)

Have you ever encountered criminal psychopath?

I say ‘criminal’ because, as I’ve pointed out before, not all psychopaths are criminals (and not all criminals are psychopaths). Psychopaths make excellent salespeople, for example, because of the pleasure they get in getting one over another. The criminal psychopath

breaks societies laws and values to attain goals
is isloated (i.e. law-breaking revolutionary groups are not psychopathic)
has a confusing array of effects on others

One of the most frightening examples I’ve seen Continue reading

Healing the criminal mind? A Soprano-question

Can Tony be cured by talk therapy?

A recent study on impulsivity, alcoholism, and personality disorders raises an interesting point. The authors are Gabriel Rubio and colleagues of Complutense University in Madrid, the article appears in ‘Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research’.

Rubio says: “We may also need to rethink treatment options. Programs that emphasize immediate rewards for abstinence may have a better chance of succeeding with antisocial personality disorder. Conversely, psychotherapeutic and pharmacological interventions that focus on ‘behavioral control’ may work better with subjects with borderline personality disorders.”  

The bit on treating the antisocial personality caught my eye. Continue reading