Altruists are like sociopaths ? Hogwash I say

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Addicted to being good? Turns out you are similar to a sociopath, says an article on Science Blogging. The piece posits this thought:

People whom we consider to be heroes (or X-altruists, as I am referring to them here), while among some of the most admired individuals, they possess many of the same traits as the sociopath. However, there is a fundamental difference in the motivation behind their actions that distinguish them from their nasty cohorts. Incidentally, that one difference is vitally important in determining if someone turns out to be the comic book hero or more like his archenemy.


I really don't like this article or the direction it takes us in.

Headline : don’t respect people who do good things they are just doing it in response to pathological urges and should be considered on the same psychological typing scale as sociopaths.

The formal science doesn't have the same impact as they use technical definitions not moral ones for terms like sociopath. 

Society at large however has a less nuanced view and it is in reporting the cut down version that we run into trouble.

One person disregards societies rules for their own good (sociopath) the other disregards societies current rules for societies good.

The compulsion argument advanced in the article is less than compelling and the categorisation of the so called x-altruist types is very weak and in some place inconsistent.

To define altruistic behaviour as aberrant is abhorrent but it is also in this instance wrong. 

Most of the people listed such as Mother Theresa and Ghandi developed their philosophies of life over years. It was a moral choice not a psychological compulsion.

You can say that their need to do good was a compulsion but reading about them it seems to me it was an agonising and sometimes painful series of choices made in their efforts to become more human.

We look up to people like this not for following an urge but for doing the opposite, making the hard choice and taking a moral decision. 

This is not compulsion it is sacrifice, to ignore this is just plain wrong.

If we set a definition of aberrant as different from the norm then I guess Mandela, Einstein, Mozart Feynman et al are all pathological too.

To describle everyone who breaks societies rules as aberrant is not a smart move for mankind as its seems that our most productive creative and useful members will all fall outside the statistical bell curve of psychological typing normality.

Hmmmmph sorry just had to get that out of my system.

Posted via email from Urban Ascetic


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