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  1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Characters Without Empathy

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MilesTro, Dec 10, 2013.

    Are characters without a sense of empathy usually end up becoming cold blooded killers because they can't express love to people? I thought about this question because I learned that most serial killers have no empathy.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    While it is true that almost all serial killers are psychopaths/sociopaths who by definition, have no empathy, it is not true that all sociopaths are killers. Check out Confessions of a Sociopath or The Psychopath Test for a lot of information on this.
     
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  3. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    No. My boyfriend doesn't have much empathy, but he's never killed anyone (yet, I suppose). Not having empathy really just means that you end up living life for you and not others. Other people don't have sway over your opinions or choices in life. You do what you want, when you want, only when you feel like it. At least, that's how he explains it to me.
     
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  4. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    Nearly every dumb jock I've met is too much of a narcissist to show empathy, but it doesn't make them a killer or a sociopath. On the other hand, I've met some illiterates who are very empathic and willing to pitch in and help, even though they aren't rocket scientists to say the least.

    People kill for more reasons than blood thirst. Even many hit man types don't want to know anything about their target save for logistic habits. Think of Hannibal Lecter. He had his compassion seared with a hot iron after being forced to eat the meat of his beloved sister, Misha. If you are wanting to write a psycho-thriller, a good read is

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0880480203/?tag=postedlinks04-20

    Borderline Personality Disorder by Dr. Gunderson.

    You can find quite a few PDF form studies on most psychological conditions you can imagine and a plethora of ones you might not.
     
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  5. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's several leaps of logic in your first sentence...

    One, a lack of empathy doesn't mean an incapacity for love.
    Two, not being able to love doesn't make one capable of murder.
    Three, most killers don't lack empathy - most of the famous ones do, and that's because they're psychopaths, i.e. people whose empathetic parts of the brain don't work, from troubled environments.

    Note that a person without empathy isn't necessarily a psychopath, though all psychopaths are without empathy as that's a facet of the condition.
     
  6. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    So I guess it would make them anti-social.
     
  7. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One thing to consider is what a person without empathy can feel. For all intents and purposes, Richard Kuklinski appears to fit this category; he could kill a man, cut him to pieces, stash the body in a barrel, and go home to have dinner with his family, no problem. Yet, when he was interviewed in prison, when talk turned to how his imprisonment (and the revelation of him being a hitman / killer) affected his wife and children, he got teary.
    Likewise, he appeared genuinely remorseful when asked if he regretted any of his kills and he mentioned one where he had told his pleading victim that he'd give him 5mins to pray for God to intervene, and when the 5mins passed, he killed the man since God hadn't come down from heaven to stop him. That being said, it seems at least some "cold-blooded killers" are capable to experience some kinds of emotions akin to empathy and love even if they don't experience them quite like "normal" people do.

    One observation a bouncer / martial artist made was that teflons don't feel shame: he could literally wipe the floor with one and the guy wouldn't bat an eye at the experience; no burning cheeks, no evasive gaze, no sign of shame or embarrassment.
    Not sure how common this trait is among the empathically challenged, but in a way it seems to fit the pattern.

    Take all this with a grain of salt, since I'm no psychologist / psychiatrist.
     
  8. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    A psychopath suffers with anti social personality disorder. So yes to the anti social
     
  9. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Normally they don't have a lack of empathy as much. Its more their emotional and ethical states are wired incorrectly. Some only progress to killing as a way to seek stimulation that is alien to them. Because of their wiring they snowball the sensation until it peaks at killing or other acts. They believe that what they are doing is ok or at least understandable so can look like lack of empathy
     
  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, there is a lot of overlap, but "psychopath" is a lot more specific.

    The "Psychopathy Checklist" refers to a number of purely internal features of how their minds are different, like "shallow, short-lived, self-centered emotional reactions."

    On the other hand, the people who defined Antisocial Personality Disorder wanted their diagnosis to be more objective than that, which meant that they focused on the behavioral signs/symptoms. As a result, the diagnosis of APD doesn't rule out as many people as "psychopath" does.

    Most psychopaths have APD, but most people with APD are not psychopaths.

    Should I extend the comparison/contrast to sociopaths?
     
  11. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Agreed it is an umbrella term.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh My God, This made me laugh. :D
     
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  13. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I thought antisocial just meant shy. Not lack of empathy.
     
  14. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope, that's "asocial."

    "Anti"social means "bad interaction"
    "A"social means "without interaction"
     
  15. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    That makes sense.
     
  16. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What if there is a sentient alien race that evolved without empathy?
     

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