January 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm #27137
note; I am posting this interesting article. so that readers gain insight into what is known as “shen disturbance”. Psychopath is an extra case. I suspect it to be a case of the Zhi, kidney spirit, somehow cut off from ability to feel and communicate this to the heart and other vital spirits. How or why Kidney spirit could be so totally cut off I leave to others offer up their theory on….. – Michael
THE UNBURDENED MIND
By Christopher S. Putnam
January 20th, 2008
³I don¹t think I feel things the same way you do.²
The man sits at the table in the well-fitted attire of success — charming,
witty, and instantly likeable. He is a confident, animated speaker, but he
seems to be struggling with this particular point.
³It¹s like at my first job,² he continues, ³I was stealing maybe a thousand
bucks a month from that place. And this kid, he was new, he got wise. And he
was going to turn me in, but before he got the chance I went to the manager
and pinned the whole thing on him.² Now he is grinning widely. ³Kid lost his
job, the cops got involved, I don¹t know what happened to him. And I guess
something like that is supposed to make me feel bad, right? It¹s supposed to
hurt, right? But instead, it¹s like there¹s nothing.² He smiles
apologetically and shakes his head. ³Nothing.²
His name is Frank, and he is a psychopath.
In the public imagination, a “psychopath” is a violent serial killer or an
over-the-top movie villain, as one sometimes might suspect Frank to be. He
is highly impulsive and has a callous disregard for the well-being of others
that can be disquieting. But he is just as likely to be a next-door
neighbor, a doctor, or an actor on TV — essentially no different from
anyone else who holds these roles, except that Frank lacks the nagging
little voice which so profoundly influences most of our lives. Frank has no
conscience. And as much as we would like to think that people like him are a
rare aberration, safely locked away, the truth is that they are more common
than most would ever guess.
“[M]y mother, the most beautiful person in the world. She was strong, she
worked hard to take care of four kids. A beautiful person. I started
stealing her jewelry when I was in the fifth grade. You know, I never really
knew the bitch — we went our separate ways.” — Hare, Without Conscience:
The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
The word psychopathy dates back in an early form to the 19th century, but as
a modern term it¹s primarily used in reference to the work of Canadian
psychologist Robert Hare. Hare¹s PCL-R tool (Psychopathy Checklist –
Revised) was developed to test for a wide range of socially deviant
behaviors and personality traits, the most important being the absence of
any sense of conscience, remorse, or guilt. The result of this combination
is a destructive, self-serving, and often dangerous individual sometimes
called ³the born criminal.”
The psychopath’s world is a strikingly skewed one in which the normal laws
of human emotion and interaction do not apply — yet it serves as reality
for a sizable portion of humanity. Spanning all cultures and eras, roughly
one man in every 100 is born a clinical psychopath, as well as one woman in
every 300. They are so common that every person reading this sentence almost
certainly knows one personally; indeed, a significant number of readers are
likely psychopaths themselves.
Many potential psychopaths might not even realize they have the condition,
nor has there traditionally been any easy way for others to recognize them.
The leading scientific test is Hare’s PCL-R, but to be valid it must be
performed by a qualified professional under controlled conditions. For those
who can’t be bothered with such expensive frills, we present the PCL-DI: an
alternative, PCL-inspired test guaranteed to appear scientific.
The concept of the psychopath is only the latest and most refined in a long
string of attempts to account for a certain pattern of conduct. In the 19th
century, psychiatric clinicians began to notice patients in their care who
fit no known diagnosis, but who nevertheless displayed strange and
disturbing behaviors. They were impulsive and self-destructive. They had no
regard for the feelings and welfare of others. They lied pathologically, and
when caught, they shrugged it off with a smirk and moved on to the next lie.
It was a puzzle — because while there was clearly something unusual about
these patients, they showed none of the psychotic symptoms or defects in
reason thought necessary for mental illness at the time. Indeed, apart from
a tendency to follow foolish and irresponsible impulses that sometimes got
them into trouble, they were coldly rational — more rational, perhaps, than
the average citizen. Their condition therefore came to be referred to as
manie sans délire (³insanity without delirium²), a term which later evolved
into moral insanity once the central role of a ³defective conscience² came
to be appreciated. By the 20th century, these individuals would be called
sociopaths or said to suffer from antisocial personality disorder, two terms
that are still used interchangeably with psychopathy in some circles, while
in others are considered distinct but related conditions.
The psychopath does not merely repress feelings of anxiety and guilt or fail
to experience them appropriately; instead, he or she lacks a fundamental
understanding of what these things are. When asked a question such as ³What
does remorse feel like?² for instance, the typical psychopath will become
irritated, deflect the question, or attempt to change the subject. The
following response from a psychopathic rapist, asked why he didn¹t empathize
with his victims, shows just how distanced such a person can be from normal
“They are frightened, right? But, you see, I don’t really understand it.
I’ve been frightened myself, and it wasn’t unpleasant.” — Hare, Without
Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
Arriving at a disaster scene, a psychopath would most likely gather to watch
with the rest of the crowd. He might even lend assistance if he perceived no
threat to his own safety. But he would feel none of the panic, shock, or
horror of the other onlookers — his interest would fall more on the
reactions of the victims and of the crowd. He would not be repulsed by any
carnage on display, except perhaps in the same sense as serial killer Paul
Bernardo when he described cutting up one of his victims¹ bodies as ³the
most disgusting thing he had ever done.² He was referring to the mess it
Despite this emotional deficiency, most psychopaths learn to mimic the
appearance of normal emotion well enough to fit into ordinary society, not
unlike the way that the hearing impaired or illiterate learn to use other
cues to compensate for their disabilities. As Hare describes it, psychopaths
³know the words but not the music.² One might imagine that such a false and
superficial front would be easily penetrated, but such is rarely the case,
probably because of the assumption we all tend to make that others think and
feel essentially the same way as ourselves. Differences in culture, gender,
personality, and social status all create empathy gaps that can seem almost
unfathomable, but none of these is as fundamental a divide as the one that
exists between an individual with a conscience and one without. The
psychopath’s psychology is so profoundly alien to most people that we are
unable to comprehend their motives, or recognize one when we see one.
Naturally, the industrious psychopath will find this to his advantage.
Some psychologists go so far as to label the psychopath ³a different kind of
human² altogether. Psychopathy has an environmental component like nearly
all aspects of personal psychology, but its source is rooted firmly in
biology. This has caused some researchers to suspect that the condition
isn¹t a ³disorder² at all, but an adaptive trait. In a civilization made up
primarily of law-abiding citizenry, the theory goes, an evolutionary niche
opens up for a minority who would exploit the trusting masses.
This hypothesis is supported by the apparent success many psychopaths find
within society. The majority of these individuals are not violent criminals;
indeed, those that turn to crime are generally considered ³unsuccessful
psychopaths² due to their failure to blend into society. Those who do
succeed can do so spectacularly. For instance, while it may sound like a
cynical joke, it¹s a fact that psychopaths have a clear advantage in fields
such as law, business, and politics. They have higher IQs on average than
the general population. They take risks and aren¹t fazed by failures. They
know how to charm and manipulate. They¹re ruthless. It could even be argued
that the criteria used by corporations to find effective managers actually
select specifically for psychopathic traits: characteristics such as
charisma, self-centeredness, confidence, and dominance are highly correlated
with the psychopathic personality, yet also highly sought after in potential
leaders. It was not until recent years — in the wake of some
well-publicized scandals involving corporate psychopaths — that many
corporations started to reconsider these promotion policies. After all,
psychopaths are interested only in their own gain, and trouble is inevitable
when their interests begin to conflict with those of the company. This was
the case at Enron, and again at WorldCom — and Sunbeam CEO Al Dunlap,
besides doctoring the books and losing his company millions of dollars,
would allegedly leave his wife at home without access to food or money for
days at a time.
The thought of these people wearing suits and working a 9-5 job conflicts
with most people¹s image of psychopaths gleaned from films like The
Godfather and The Silence of the Lambs. But it shouldn¹t be surprising. A
lack of empathy does not necessarily imply a desire to do harm — that comes
from sadism and tendencies toward violence, traits which have only a small
correlation with psychopathy. When all three come together in one
individual, of course, the result is catastrophic. Ted Bundy and Paul
Bernardo are extreme examples of such a combination.
“Do I feel bad when I hurt someone? Yeah, sometimes. But mostly it’s just
like uh (laughs). I mean, how did you feel the last time you squashed a
fly?” — Unnamed rapist/kidnapper
If psychopaths often appear where we don¹t expect them, neither does the
clinical term always apply where we think it might. Nazi Luftwaffe chief
Hermann Goering is thought to have met the diagnostic criteria, but Hitler’s
own behavior was frequently inconsistent with that of a psychopath.
Columbine killer Eric Harris fit the description, but his accomplice Dylan
Klebold did not. In total, only about 20% of a typical prison population
qualifies as psychopathic (half of the violent offenders), and the
difference from the general population is readily apparent to those who know
them well. Even the most hardened of normal offenders can find their
psychopathic cellmates unnerving.
The same discovery awaits most anyone who becomes close to such an
individual. In romantic relationships, a psychopath may be charming and
affectionate just long enough to establish intimacy with a partner, and then
suddenly become abusive, unfaithful, and manipulative. The bewildered
partner might turn to friends and family with their story, only to be met
with disbelief — how could the warm, outgoing individual everyone has come
to know possibly be guilty of these acts? All too often, the abused partner
blames the situation on themselves, and comes out of the relationship
But from a comfortable distance, the impression given off by a psychopath is
often highly positive. The same absence of inhibitions and honesty that
makes psychopaths so dangerous also gives them unusual powers of charisma
through self-confidence and fabricated flattery. The aforementioned Sunbeam
CEO Al Dunlap was a legend in business circles — ³a corporate god,² some
called him — precisely for his ruthless, results-oriented business style
and in-your-face, furniture-hurling personality. In social circles,
psychopaths are often the most popular friends among members of both sexes.
And strikingly, in entertainment media such as films and books, it¹s not
just the villains who tend to have psychopathic personalities — it¹s the
One doesn¹t have to look far to find examples of this kind of protagonist.
James Bond, the promiscuous, daring secret agent who can ski down a
mountainside while being chased by armed attackers without breaking a sweat,
is a textbook case. Frank Abagnale Jr., the charming con-man on whom the
recent book and film Catch Me if You Can were based, is another highly
likely candidate. And nearly every character played by action stars such as
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone — the ones who vow revenge on
an enemy and rampage about while coolly spouting one-liners — would qualify
for a diagnosis.
³I wouldn¹t be here if my parents had come across when I needed them,² he
[Terry,¹ imprisoned bank robber] said. ³What kind of parents would let
their son rot in a place like this?² Asked about his children, he replied,
³I¹ve never seen them. I think they were given up for adoption. How the hell
should I know?² — Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the
Psychopaths Among Us
The reasons we look up to these conscience impaired people are unclear. Most
likely it has something to do with the confidence they exude, the ease they
seem to feel in any situation — a trait that comes easily in someone
essentially incapable of fear or anxiety. Maybe we¹re easily suckered in by
their natural glibness and charm. Or maybe on some level we envy the freedom
they have, with no burden of conscience or emotion.
The psychopaths, for their part, will never know things any other way. Most
experts agree that the condition is permanent and completely untreatable.
It¹s been theorized that their situation is the result of a kind of
inherited learning disorder: without dread or anxiety to deter them,
psychopaths are unable to make the associations between behavior and
punishment that make up the building blocks of a normal conscience. That
being the case, it is questionable whether a description such as ³evil² —
which is not uncommon in both the popular and scientific literature — can
really be applied to individuals incapable of understanding what it means.
But to those who cross their paths, this may be small comfort.
Christopher S. Putnam is a writer and bomb-disposal expert for the Damn
Interesting A-Team. He posts from an undisclosed location in Saskatchewan,
Canada.January 24, 2008 at 9:48 pm #27138
This is an open question – whether excessive detachment reduces feelings and qualifies as a kind of psychopath, which as we saw in previoius article, are often very successful people. Are “successful meditators” who get very removed from daily life in this category?
michaelJanuary 25, 2008 at 1:54 am #27140
Here’s my opinion:
Philosophy of the detached meditator:
I’d like to help others, but I can’t do that until I help myself first.
By blocking out the feelings of the outside, I can better focus so
that I will improve. As I improve, I will be able to connect with
the collective and humanity in a more loving way.
Philosophy of the psychopath:
Why would I want to help others? Would doing so be an advantage to me
in some way? How can exploit others for my personal gain?
I don’t need to block out the feelings of others, because I don’t
understand them, and moreover they are irrelevant and unimportant to me.
The difference here is that while the detached spiritual types
disconnect from the emotions of others, they still have a conscience.
They still realize on deeper level how things affect others emotionally.
They have compassion for others, and when need be, they can share and
empathize with the feeling of others. Moreover, even while separated and
detached, usually an overriding love in a higher sense for all of humanity is present–no such feelings are present in that of a psychopath.
There’s a big difference between using a calculator for efficient number-crunching,
and someone who uses a calculator because they don’t actually possess any
StevenJanuary 25, 2008 at 2:20 am #27142
The title of this post being my personal favorite explanation of
insanity . . .
What is desperation?
It is an intense combination of sorrow and fear.
Left unchecked it leads to insanity.
Of course this explanation applies only to insanity that
developed from someone not originally insane, so the following
discussion is, in some sense, academic.
Assuming that psychotic behavior is a “learned” trait, rather
than a “born” trait . . .
Here’s a quick theory I just came up with regarding your
comment about the kidney spirit being cut off:
After a period of time, left unchecked, the intense
combination of sorrow and fear, i.e. desperation, damages or
interferes with the energetic connection between the lungs and
kidneys. The kidneys feeling unsupported in the creation cycle,
contract and withdraw from interaction with the other vital organ
spirits. Fear retreats and buries within the kidneys, while all
communication shuts down.
The person becomes unnaturally fearless toward all actions.
Simultaneously, the heart which is no longer cooled by the
kidney water, enflames . . . fueling arrogance and self-centeredness,
while killing compassion for others. You end up with a
fearless individual with no compassion for others fueled
by a joyful self-centeredness, i.e. a psychopath.
Of course, this all assumes that you began with someone that
wasn’t a psychopath to start with. If the article
is to be taken at face value, and psychopaths are born and
not made as the article seems to imply, then all bets are off.
StevenJanuary 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm #27144
I think in a since yes. But often I see them feeling strog emtions then later on trying to become psycopathic, vs having done so at a young age. THere might besome that use certain tools to increase there detachment, so they just become more of a refined psychopath. I think relationships, and living in the word is much harder on some, then hours of meditation.January 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm #27146
I would be interesting to see if there ae moer male psycopaths.January 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm #27148
It is interesting to see how cetain institutional desighns. Create a Psychopathic effect. THus the importance of protest, just incase the people are not Psychopathic but just the institutions create that detachment.
I have a feeling a weak inner earth(Yi) mixed with a over barring Hun, might cause such a thing. Ofcourse a under lying lean tword the heaven side of the soul might predispose some one to this issue. All the different lvls seem to just imitate what is going on at the soul lvl. The Hun is also connectd to the Thoracic diaphragm right?
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