“I’m a selective sociopath”... Well, not really, but if I was a criminal this would be the job title I would choose. Maybe I could even get a business card made up: ‘Ben Farrell – Selective Sociopath – Criminal Enteprises specialisng in self-gain’. You see there are indeed sociopaths. That is, humans who are incapable of feeling any emotion. Often studies of the infamous serial killers over the years have revealed that these individuals were true sociopaths who were incapable of feeling emotion, such as remorse, which is an excellent quality to have if you plan on killing people really.
This phenomenon has recently been brought in to pop-culture with shows such as ‘Dexter’. The problem with this show is that Dexter, as the shows suggests; is a sociopath, yet his motivation for killing is because his victims are criminals who have committed bad deeds. This is his way of justifying his actions, yet justification is something that a true sociopath has no need or motivation to do. The need to justify ones actions requires a level of guilt… An emotion. Secondly the constant voiceovers and internal monologues in this show express Dexter’s emotions and about how he feels about not being able to feel emotion… What the?… Anyway, I’m obviously not a fan of the show.
Anyway what I’ve realised recently is that most criminals are not sociopaths, they are selective sociopaths. That is, they are incapable of feeling any emotion unless it relates to themselves or sometimes their own personal relationships. Let’s just say I’ve worked in past professions where I’ve seen people show utter disregard to their victims, families, property, children etc, yet break down emotionally when triggered on a personal level. The other night I watched a quality ‘current affairs’ program (*insert sarcasm here*) where the story showed a widow of a major gangland figure who was gun downed and killed. In this ‘exclusive interview’ the widow wept genuine tears and sobbed about “the way in which he was killed… how could they”. Does she not take a moment to consider the horrific way in which her husband killed or organized for numerous people to be executed in equally, if not worse, bloody scenarios. It seems these people are selective about the emotion they feel.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a fine line between just being ruthless, not caring, being selfish or displaying self-centered arrogance and then being a selective sociopath. Yet it seems genuine selective sociopaths such as our crying gangland widow are totally oblivious to just how ridiculous their double standards are. They are not even aware of the irony of their ways.
Despite this, the topic of sociopaths, criminals and more so, societies view of such people has got me thinking. Whenever we see natural disasters, we see a lot of media ‘stories’ which are both inspiring and emotional and some just sensationalized and straight out inaccurate. Despite this, one motif always strikes me in times of disaster… That is the way in which media and society react to people looting during these times of crises. “How could they?”… “At a time like this”… “How could they take such advantage of people at their most vulnerable”… Whilst I strongly agree that people who do this are scum… They are criminals, what do you expect? That’s what they do. Regularly they take advantage of vulnerable people as they rob, steal, consort, and unleash violence on unsuspecting vulnerable victims.
So my question is… Why is it that the media and society expect these individuals to suddenly develop a social conscience in times of disaster? Why would a criminal, a sociopath or even a selective sociopath suddenly care that people lives are in turmoil. The only difference in a natural disaster is that the turmoil is not caused by criminals as it usually is… It’s caused by nature and usually on a much greater scale. People who loot are not your average Joe who then passes a destroyed electronics store and, out of the blue, decides to grab himself a plasma TV. They are criminals who take advantage of the chaos, vulnerability and lack of law enforcement.
In my opinion most criminals are selective sociopaths who feel no emotion such as remorse or empathy for others, yet have double standards when it relates to their own situation. When they themselves become victims, suddenly they are capable of feeling sorry for themselves and even expect sympathy from others such as the weeping gangland widow. And then there are actual sociopaths who are just downright scary. Yet, at the end of the day in times of flood, earthquake and disaster, these criminals are like a kid left alone in a candy shop. Society is in chaos, law enforcement is stretched and people are vulnerable. It takes a lot more, if anything, than a natural disaster for these people to change and suddenly conform to social norms.
Let me finish by saying, by no means am I condoning the actions of these pathetic individuals. I think what they do on a daily basis is disgusting and yes even morally worse when the world is at its most vulnerable. But just don’t expect your average day crook to put their ‘daily activities’ on hold because people have already suffered enough.