[p2p-research] The psychopath as peer?

Stan Rhodes stanleyrhodes at gmail.com
Mon Nov 2 21:34:18 CET 2009


I do appreciate your enthusiasm, and I appreciate the very broad scope and
fuzzy nature of the p2p research group, but it's nearly impossible to
explore issues deeply with these sorts of threads.  I consider these large,
mostly digressive link-flood replies to be hand-waving that obfuscates any
attempt at concise and possibly insightful discussion about issues.

It might be worthwhile to consider using a blog for these long, digressive,
almost stream-of-consciousness emails, while using the p2p research list to
explore one or two very closely-related points in-depth.  Until something
like that happens, I will have to bow out of replying to these sorts of

I only include the list on the reply so that anyone else who feels similarly
will know they are not alone.  If I am in the extreme minority, that's fine

-- Stan

On Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 6:53 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Stan-
> You are right to be concerned about simple labels, and that's one reason,
> as a caveat, I mentioned the idea of moving beyond the paradigm of
> "psychopath" to maybe something more useful, someday.
> On neural evidence, you are right again that it is not for 100% sure
> genetic, but genes do affect a lot of how the brain is wired, in interaction
> with history and current environment, so it could be a factor.
> To pull another bit from something previously linked:
>  "Why Do Some People Become Psychopaths?"
>  http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/30482
> """
> Many researchers now believe that the core defect in psychopathy — and what
> most distinguishes it from other antisocial behavior disorders — is what are
> called "callous/unemotional traits." [Note the use of the word "callous" and
> consider the below slashdot article text using the same word, referencing a
> statement by Peggy Noonan.] A child who kicks another child because he's
> angry and can't control himself but feels terrible afterwards may be
> antisocial, but he's not psychopathic. It's the kid who does it and feels no
> remorse — or even gets angrier because the other child's crying is annoying
> — who's most worrisome.
>  What causes this lack of empathy? Many — but not all — psychopaths were
> abused or neglected as children. Being treated poorly early on can set up a
> child to see everyone else as selfish and cruel, causing them to replicate
> that kind of behavior as a way to cope with a nasty, uncaring world.
> However, the vast majority of abused and neglected children grow up to be
> caring, and some are even especially sensitive — far from psychopathic.
>  James Blair, Ph.D., studies troubled children as chief of affective
> cognitive neuroscience unit in the mood and anxiety disorders program at the
> National Institute of Mental Health. He says that post-traumatic stress
> disorder (PTSD), which can be one result of childhood trauma, can be seen in
> some ways as the opposite of psychopathy.
>  "There's one core structure in the brain that's over-responsive in PTSD —
> that's the amygdala," he says. This region is critical for perceiving and
> responding to threats. In PTSD, the amygdala is hypersensitive to threats,
> producing fear in situations that wouldn't seem to be frightening to most
> people.
>  But in brain scans of people who have high levels of callous or
> unemotional traits, "We see a reduced response of the amygdala to threat,"
> says Blair.
>  That doesn't mean that the psychopaths weren't exposed to trauma — a brain
> faced with overwhelming stress can respond either by becoming hypersensitive
> or insensitive, depending on a multitude of factors, including genetics.
>  Indeed, callous and unemotional traits do seem to be highly genetic. About
> 70 percent of the variance between people on this dimension seems to be
> inherited. However, a study of sons of criminals found that those who had a
> highly responsive stress system were far less likely to become criminals
> themselves than those whose stress system was less responsive.
> """
> Again, what to do about genetic differences socially is another issue.
> Sometimes they can be adaptive.
> For example, see:
> "Slashdot | Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis"
> http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/10/29/1615214/Bad-Driving-May-Have-Genetic-Basis
> "Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame, suggests a new study by
> UC Irvine neuroscientists. People with a particular gene variant performed
> more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it — and a
> follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of
> Americans have the variant. 'These people make more errors from the get-go,
> and they forget more of what they learned after time away,' said Dr. Steven
> Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study
> published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex."
> But, from the cited article on the value of that gene:
> http://www.uci.edu/features/feature_bdnfdriving_091028.php
> """
> The gene variant isn't always bad, though. Studies have found that people
> with it maintain their usual mental sharpness longer than those without it
> when neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's and
> multiple sclerosis are present.
> "It's as if nature is trying to determine the best approach," Cramer says.
> "If you want to learn a new skill or have had a stroke and need to
> regenerate brain cells, there's evidence that having the variant is not
> good. But if you've got a disease that affects cognitive function, there's
> evidence it can act in your favor. The variant brings a different balance
> between flexibility and stability."
> """
> Some other recent slashdot discussion mentioning psychopaths, as an article
> and two comments.
> "Nothing To Fear But Fearlessness Itself?"
> http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/11/01/1713258/Nothing-To-Fear-But-Fearlessness-Itself
> "In a post last August, Robert X. Cringely voiced fears that Goldman Sachs
> and others were not so much evil as 'clueless about the implications of
> their work,' leaving it up to the government to fix any mess they leave
> behind. 'But what if government runs out of options,' worried Cringely. 'Our
> economic policy doesn't imagine it, nor does our foreign policy, because
> superpowers don't acknowledge weakness.' And now his fears are echoed in a
> WSJ opinion piece by Peggy Noonan titled 'We're Governed by Callous
> Children.' She writes, 'We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest
> children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves
> optimists but they're not optimists — they're unimaginative. They don't have
> faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are
> callous [Note the word, and compare with the above on children and how some
> few become psychopths], and they don't mind it when people become
> disheartened. They don't even notice.' With apologies to FDR, do we have
> nothing to fear but fearlessness itself?"
> One comment on that by someone else, similar to my question at the start of
> this p2p thread:
>  http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1426748&cid=29943450
> "It took me a long time to figure out why things are going to hell. Then I
> read http://www.youmeworks.com/sociopaths.html and it all made sense.
> Sociopaths seek power and winning without conscience and this is why banking
> and wall street leaders are where they are, because they've changed the
> system of laws to favor themselves. Like terminators, they don't feel
> remorse or care if their actions hurt other people. These people are now a
> large proportion of our international corporate leadership. Until our system
> collapses, they will stay in power, even though they are the reason for our
> suffering and downfall as a nation. Not sure what there is to do about the
> situation except have people come to recognize sociopaths for what they are,
> broken people who should never be allowed to hold power. From the web site
> the 12 clues to recognizing a sociopath ..."
> One reply to that comment again by someone else:
> http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1426748&cid=29944848
> """
> The silver lining to this could is that if:
> 1. the sociopath believes that there is a widespread catastrophic issue
> that will affect himself as well as everyone else
> 2. the sociopath is powerful
> 3. no one else is going to do anything to fix it ...the sociopath will do
> something about it.
> """
> In general, genetic diversity is a good thing. That's why most species are
> sexual, to maintain a larger genetic pool of variation and recombination
> than just by cloning. Nature seems to favor a diversity of approaches to
> life.
> Again, you are quite right to question how useful a "sociopath" term or
> paradigm for understanding current politics is. But in any case, it is a
> meme that p2p needs to think about, IMHO. Thanks for contributing to the
> discussion.
> I have a BA in Psychology from Princeton, for what it is worth. :-)
> Mentioned here: :-)
>  "Post-Scarcity Princeton, or, Reading between the lines of PAW for
> prospective Princeton students, or, the Health Risks of Heart Disease"
>  http://www.pdfernhout.net/reading-between-the-lines.html
> At least my advisor, when I asked him, said it was OK to talk about his sex
> life in there. :-) But, he was a past president of the American
> Psychological Association, so I figured it would be OK. :-) Another advisee
> that year, I found out only when she came to visit, was the son of Dr. Ruth
> Westheimer. :-)
> But we all know psychologists are all crazy, right? :-) For example:
>  "How To Tell If Your Therapist Is Crazy (Part One)"
> http://www.ironshrink.com/articles.php?artID=070828_is_my_therapist_crazy
> "Truth is, I’ve heard some disheartening stories of incompetence, conceit,
> and meanness among my colleagues. Add to that various tales of boundary
> violations, diagnostic ineptitude, and goofy, new age therapies. It’s enough
> to make a guy to wonder: is it true? Do psychologists struggle with mental
> illness more often then the general population? As is my tradition, I hit
> the literature in the hopes of scrounging up some facts. ... I’ve heard it
> said that shrinks aren’t simply screwed up, they’re shrinks because they’re
> screwed up. Where did I hear that? Why, from shrinks themselves. ..."
> Still, as another president of the APA suggests, it may be better to focus
> on amplifying the positive, than diminishing the negative:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_psychology
>  http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan98/pres.html
>  http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/
> People who tend to be sociopathic tend to have certain traits. What is
> positive about that? :-)
> Above there was one suggestion, if a sociopath became concerned about the
> effect of global issues on himself or herself. Consider, even in China:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/opinion/09friedman.html?_r=1
> """
> Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is
> hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse
> than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we
> have in America today.
>  One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a
> reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have
> great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult
> but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the
> 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us
> in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power
> and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding
> populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean
> power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure
> that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that,
> including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
>  Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate
> legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really
> playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing,
> arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail.
> Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s
> forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be
> whipsawed by its different factions.
> """
> I'm not saying China is a sociopath or run by sociopaths. I'm just giving
> an example of how "enlightened self interest" coupled with a strong will can
> accomplish some good stuff. I'd rather we did not have a government run by
> one or more sociopaths. But, if we did, I'm just trying to look on the
> bright side. :-) Can we help enlighten sociopaths to see their own long term
> self interests and act better on them? I don't know.
> Even if the government was enlightened, consider this:
>  "Corporation as Psychopath"
>  http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0218-01.htm
> """
> The filmmakers juxtapose well-shot interviews of defenders and critics with
> the reality on the ground -- Charles Kernaghan in Central America showing
> how, for example, big apparel manufacturers pay workers pennies for products
> that sell for hundreds of dollars in the United States -- with defenders of
> the regime -- Milton Friedman looking frumpy as he says with as straight a
> face as he can -- the only moral imperative for a corporate executive is to
> make as much money for the corporate owners as he or she can.
>  Others agree with Friedman. Management guru Peter Drucker tells Bakan: "If
> you find an executive who wants to take on social responsibilities, fire
> him. Fast." And William Niskanen, chair of the libertarian Cato Institute,
> says that he would not invest in a company that pioneered in corporate
> responsibility.
>  Of course, state corporation laws actually impose a legal duty on
> corporate executives to make money for shareholders. Engage in social
> responsibility -- pay more money to workers, stop legal pollution, lower the
> price to customers -- and you'll likely be sued by your shareholders. Robert
> Monks, the investment manager, puts it this way: "The corporation is an
> externalizing machine, in the same way that a shark is a killing machine
> (shark seeking young woman swimming on the screen). There isn't any question
> of malevolence or of will. The enterprise has within it, and the shark has
> within it, those characteristics that enable it to do that for which it was
> designed."
> """
> Or as I wrote here:
> "[unrev-II] Singularity in twenty to forty years?"
> http://www.dougengelbart.org/colloquium/forum/discussion/0126.html
> """
> I personally think machine evolution is unstoppable, and the best hope
> for humanity is the noble cowardice of creating refugia and trying, like
> the duckweed, to create human (and other) life faster than other forces
> can destroy it. [Though I now see social networking like p2p as another
> promising alternative, to interlink with that, where the social network is
> much stronger is some ways that the individual and can help reign in some
> negatives, as it maintains a Manuel de Landa Meshworks and Hierarchies
> balance.]
>  Note, I'm not saying machine evolution won't have a human component --
> in that sense, a corporation or any bureaucracy is already a separate
> machine intelligence, just not a very smart or resilient one. This sense
> of the corporation comes out of Langdon Winner's book "Autonomous
> Technology: Technics out of control as a theme in political thought".
>  http://www.rpi.edu/~winner/ <http://www.rpi.edu/%7Ewinner/>
> You may have a tough time believing this, but Winner makes a convincing
> case. He suggests that all successful organizations "reverse-adapt"
> their goals and their environment to ensure their continued survival.
>  These corporate machine intelligences are already driving for better
> machine intelligences -- faster, more efficient, cheaper, and more
> resilient. People forget that corporate charters used to be routinely
> revoked for behavior outside the immediate public good, and that
> corporations were not considered persons until around 1886 (that
> decision perhaps being the first major example of a machine using the
> political/social process of its own ends).
> http://web.archive.org/web/20021004182801/http://adbusters.org/magazine/28/usa.html
> Corporate charters are granted supposedly because society believe it is
> in the best interest of *society* for corporations to exist. ...
> """
> Anyway, lots of links have rotted in there. :-(
> But the point is, we have created a social organization form (the
> corporation, one that is immortal and many are very powerful, and which is
> driven by only fiat dollar numerical "profit" many times) that may exhibit
> psychopthic behavior. And, through them, we are not creating physical forms,
> the artificial intelligence, sometimes but not always embodied in a robot,
> that may also exhibit psychopathic behavior. Corporations and robots have,
> so far, no friends or family as entities -- in the sense that they are not
> yet designed to think that way. (Some work on swarm robotics is being done.)
> And as one person replied to a question I raised on essentially making
> smarter corporate sharks with computer technology:
>  "[unrev-II] Re: Is "bootstrapping" part of the problem?"
>  (Posted twice by that person, so two sets of replies.)
>  http://www.dougengelbart.org/colloquium/forum/discussion/2183.html
>  http://www.dougengelbart.org/colloquium/forum/discussion/2184.html
> """
> Paul, I respect your point of view but I do not share it. ...
>  Desires, intelligence, values, - rings true, up to a point. But it's sort
> of like id, ego, superego. A way of naming and thus discussing something
> about mind or personality that seems real to many of us, but not terribly
> informative about how we function or could or should function.
>  I suggest that if we are affirming values (widely shared or otherwise) we
> ought to affirm Respect for Human Autonomy. The idea that one individual
> may
> better determine that individual's needs, wants, and means than another.
> The
> idea that one may be mistaken, especially about other people.
>  I believe the evolutionary environment humans have adapted to, is that of
> other humans. Hence the skill at detecting cheaters, free riders etc. - as
> well as the adulation for those whose exploits demonstrate both a
> specialness as an individual and a major contribution to the community as a
> whole - success in two major areas of human endeavor. I think our great
> teachers refer to this when they talk about harmony, about finding peace as
> a part of the whole.
>  Another related value: voluntary decisions aren't only more whole-hearted
> than compelled ones, they are more likely to be correct for the precise
> individual circumstances. Summed over all humanity, these individual
> decisions - sometimes competitive, sometimes cooperative, are the
> well-spring of progress, both material and moral.
> """
> I don't completely agree with that, because it leaves out the issue of how
> people negotiate to do collective actions, or how they decide some actions
> are out of bounds, but there is a lot of wisdom there. There were various
> replies to the point I made. That thread on values and technology is here:
> "[unrev-II] Is "bootstrapping" part of the problem?"
> http://www.dougengelbart.org/colloquium/forum/discussion/index.html#2168
> That was a great mailing list to be on related to Doug Engelbart's efforts,
> and I am thankful for a chance to participate on it and learn so much with
> many very wonderful people. That and the early Squeak list are perhaps my
> models of healthy p2p communities related to digital tools and surrounding
> issues. They gave me some hope.
> Anyway, these are growing issues in our society, framed as a negative,
> related to decreasing psychothic behavior:
> * How do we get people to have less psychopathic behavior? Abundance of
> love and good food and sunlight would usually help (even, in the few times,
> when that love comes through as authority, as per the above article mentions
> on what works best for developing a conscience in some, not all, kids.)
> * How do we get organizations to have less psychopathic behavior? Coming up
> with better ways to structure their charters and their social/economic
> surroundings might help, as might be changing the meshworks/hierarchies
> balance with p2p activities. Even the most benign seeming institutions can
> have hidden pathologies: (only picking on the UUs as I respect them a lot)
> http://archive.uua.org/ga/ga99/238thandeka.html
> http://www.left-bank.org/antiuu/
> * How do we get the machines and software we build to have less
> psychopathic behavior? James P. Hogan talks about this in "The Two Faces of
> Tommorrow". Isaac Asimov talked about it with his "Three Laws of Robotics".
> Basically, we need to build our ethics into our artifacts. We already do
> that every day (as Langdon Winner and others talk about) but unfortunately,
> often in an unconscious or sociopathic way, that often reflects a scarcity
> ideology (like emphasizing minimum production costs or maximizing fiat
> dollar revenues or passing external costs to others or ignoring systemic
> risks). We need Bucky Fuller's (and other's) ideas of a "Comprehensive
> Anticipatory Design Science".
> http://challenge.bfi.org/movie
> Like cancer, sociopathic behavior is probably inherent in any system,
> because part of it depends on perspective. Cancer is basically one cell
> saying, "I'm just for me, in a different way, and I'm in it for the short
> term." Sociopathic behavior is similar. But, ultimately, there is the issue
> of sense of self. How big is a "self"? A gene? A genome? A finger? A
> thought? A brain? A body? A career? A family? A neighborhood? A network? A
> world? A universe? Etc. There are many ways to define self.
> If we reframe those things above in positive psychology terms, in terms of
> increasing positive behiviours, they might be:
> * How do we get people to have more compassionate and joyful behavior?
> http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/treatment.shtml
> http://www.dignitarians.org/
> * How do we get organizations to have more life-affirming behavior that
> meets societies unmet needs?
> "William C. Norris: Social entrepreneur founder of CDC"
> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/william-c-norris-418405.html
> (A businessperson I admire; sadly he died recently. But his legacy lives
> on.)
> * How do we get the machines and software we build to have more helpful and
> compassionate and life-affirming and joyful and so on behaviors? Do we focus
> on "friendly AI":
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_artificial_intelligence
> or do we focus on augmenting human communities?
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Engelbart
>  http://sloan.stanford.edu/MouseSite/dce-bio.htm
> With either affirming core human values, as above?
> So, you'd be right to question an overly simplistic us/them notion of
> "sociopath", even beyond formal "diagnosis". But, that still leaves open
> these deeper questions. Same as researching cancer is ultimately a complex
> enterprise, involving everything about what it means for a population to
> live and evolve, so too may be the idea of "sociopath" something that calls
> to us to think big to understand it, and deal with the situation our current
> reality calls for in a healthy joyful way. Of course, a sociopath might ask,
> healthy and joyful for whom? Or anyone else might ask that too. :-)
> As a graduate professor (Frank von Hippel) taught in a Woodrow Wilson
> School course I took (a class my grad department in Civil Engineering and
> Operations Research did not want me to take, and my taking it anyway was
> part of what cost me my PhD there), paraphrasing: "Cost benefit analysis
> involves asking, who pays the costs, and who gets the benefits, accepting
> that the two groups may not be the same."
> Which pretty much sums up big some major big problems in current and
> historical global politics.
> See also:
> "Citizen Scientist: Collected Essays of Frank Von Hippel (Masters of Modern
> Physics)"
> http://www.amazon.com/Citizen-Scientist-Collected-Masters-Physics/dp/0883187094
> And:
> http://www.disciplined-minds.com/
> """
> In this riveting book about the world of professional work, Jeff Schmidt
> demonstrates that the workplace is a battleground for the very identity of
> the individual, as is graduate school, where professionals are trained. He
> shows that professional work is inherently political, and that professionals
> are hired to subordinate their own vision and maintain strict “ideological
> discipline.” The hidden root of much career dissatisfaction, argues Schmidt,
> is the professional’s lack of control over the political component of his or
> her creative work. Many professionals set out to make a contribution to
> society and add meaning to their lives. Yet our system of professional
> education and employment abusively inculcates an acceptance of politically
> subordinate roles in which professionals typically do not make a significant
> difference, undermining the creative potential of individuals, organizations
> and even democracy. Schmidt details the battle one must fight to be an
> independent thinker and to pursue one’s own social vision in today’s
> corporate society. He shows how an honest reassessment of what it really
> means to be a professional employee can be remarkably liberating. After
> reading this brutally frank book, no one who works for a living will ever
> think the same way about his or her job.
> """
> Is our very academia, that which should provide our moral compass, and help
> guide us to a better world, itself somewhat a psychopathic institution, and
> one that even turns non-psychopaths into psychopaths? :-(
> Schmidt writes essentially about how one of the reasons many academics
> become so dysfunction is that they are trying, somehow, to make up, through
> fame or profit or control of others lives, for the trauma most of them were
> put through in graduate school and the early years of their professional
> work, where their hopes to make a difference were squashed, and now they are
> still trying to get something out of all that. :-(
> See also:
> "[p2p-research] College Daze links (was Re: : FlossedBk, "Free/Libre and
> Open Source Solutions for Education")"
> http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-October/005379.html
> But with that said, some graduate advisers are great, many grad students
> are better than I was at advanced calculus, some good percent of academics
> make very positive contributions either because they had a great graduate
> experience or despite it, or even because of it. To echo again the words
> above about kids:
> "What causes this lack of empathy? Many — but not all — psychopaths were
> abused or neglected as children. Being treated poorly early on can set up a
> child to see everyone else as selfish and cruel, causing them to replicate
> that kind of behavior as a way to cope with a nasty, uncaring world.
> However, the vast majority of abused and neglected children grow up to be
> caring, and some are even especially sensitive — far from psychopathic."
> Still, before I celebrate how wonderful grad school is, again, on
> psychologists, part two of the essay cited above:
> "How To Tell If Your Therapist Is Crazy (Part Two)"
> http://www.ironshrink.com/articles.php?artID=070910_how_to_choose_a_therapist
> """
> As tempting as it is to believe that most mental health workers are wacky
> and maladjusted, the data tell a different story. For the most part, we seem
> to be fairly sane. Our downfall, in my sometimes overbearing opinion, is
> that we have a tendency toward muddled thinking. Our logic chips are
> frequently on the fritz, and it is our patients who pay the price in time,
> money, and heartache.
>  Consider this example. The case is fictional, but it is based on far too
> many real situations that I've had the misfortune to witness.
>  Sally goes to a psychologist complaining of depression. Ever since her
> divorce and layoff last year, she just can't get out of her blue funk. Prior
> to those events, life was grand for Sally. She was happy and surrounded by
> friends. She believes that the events of last year sent her into depression,
> and she simply wants to get her life moving again. The psychologist
> disagrees with Sally's assessment. After several sessions, he concludes that
> Sally's problem stems from childhood abuse and that she may be suffering
> from Multiple Personality Disorder.
>  Sally thinks she is depressed; the psychologist thinks she is Sybil. Seems
> illogical to reach that conclusion, doesn't it? Not if you went to graduate
> school. Reaching that type of conclusion a simple matter of ignoring the
> facts.
>  If the psychologist doesn't believe Sally, if he buys into preconceived
> notions, or if he believes he knows more about Sally than Sally does, then
> he is free to reach any conclusion he wishes. It is rarely so egregious, but
> it happens in smaller ways more often than you might imagine. Brain
> blockages like this one are important to screen for in choosing a therapist.
> """
> What are we to say about a social system like academic and professional
> psychology that turns people who want to care into dysfunctional or
> disempowered helpers? Would "psychopathic" be the right word?
> Or, if we should never blame on malice what could be attributed to
> stupidity, should we merely use the term, "dysfunctional"?
> At least, there are some examples of functional psychologists out there.
> Former APA president George A. Miller built and gave away WordNet under a
> free license.
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Armitage_Miller
> Former APA president Martin Seligman has done a lot of good stuff about
> learned helplessness ani positive psychology:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Seligman
> Recent APA president Philip Zimbardo has done work on understanding
> authoritarianism, shyness, and how one's time perspective affects one's life
> happiness:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Zimbardo
> And there are many other contributions various psychologists of less fame
> have made to improving or healing the world.
> So, not all psychologists are completely dysfunctional. :-)
> But, clearly, our entire intellectual system has failed us in many, many
> ways. Deep and profound ones. As I've outline, we've lost US$100 trillion
> and untold suffering because academics would not share their information
> more easily about things like vitamin D deficiency syndrome, its effects,
> and its cures. And a similar lack of sharing on issues related to
> psychopathology may have cost the equivalent of quadrillions of US dollars
> in lost productivity or war cost and war damage (like, where we would be
> today if Hitler had been able to continue in his original career aspiration
> as a painter).
> http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/msg/32e8fc32c89c96bd?hl=en
> We need a substantial reordering of those myths and those priorities in
> relation to sharing and collaboration.
> http://www.share-international.org/archives/cooperation/co_nocontest.htm
> As Robert Muller suggests:
>  http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/oscomak/origins.htm
> """
>    The present condition of humanity was best described by the philosopher
> Gottfried Leibnitz a few hundred years ago when he said that humans would be
> so occupied with making scientific discoveries in every sector for several
> centuries that they would not look at the totality. But, he said, someday
> the proliferation and complexity of our knowledge would become so
> bewildering that it would be necessary to develop a global, universal, and
> synthetic view. This is exactly the time and juncture at which we have
> arrived. It shows in our new preoccupations with what is called
> 'interdisciplinary', 'global thinking', 'interdependence', and so on. It is
> all the same phenomenon.
>    One of the most useful things humanity could do at this point is to make
> an honest inventory of what we know. I have suggested to foundations that
> they ought to bring together the chief editors of the world's main
> encyclopedias to agree on a common table of contents of human knowledge. But
> it can be a dangerous idea. Why? Well, when the Frenchman Diderot invented
> the first encyclopedia, the archbishop of Paris ran to the king of France to
> have the book burned because it would totally change the existing value
> system of the Catholic church. If we developed a common index of human
> knowledge today it would similarly cause a change in our value systems. We
> would discover that in the whole framework of knowledge the contest between
> Israel and the Muslims would barely be listed because it is such a small
> problem in the totality of our preoccupation as a human species. The meeting
> might have to last several days before the editors would even mention it!
> This is exactly the point: some people don't want to develop such a
> framework of knowledge because they want their problem to be the most
> important problem on earth and go to great lengths to promote that notion.
>    So that is what I believe to be most necessary for global security: an
> ordering of our knowledge at this point in our evolution, a good, honest
> classification of all we know from the infinitely large to the infinitely
> small - the cosmos, our planet, humanity, our dreams, our wishes, and so on.
> We haven't done it yet, but we will have to do it one way or another.
> """
> To amplify one point there: "some people don't want to develop such a
> framework of knowledge". Is that related to "psychopathic behavior"? Or is
> it just "selfish" with a very small definition for size of self?
> But we can still sing anyway:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas!
> "However, he learns in the end that despite his success in stealing all the
> Christmas presents and decorations from the Whos, Christmas comes just the
> same."
> I never really got that as a kid. :-) But see also:
>  http://www.marcinequenzer.com/creation.htm#The%20Field%20of%20Plenty
> "When the cornucopia was brought to the Pilgrims, the Iroquois People
> sought to assist these Boat People in destroying their fear of scarcity. The
> Native understanding is that there is always enough for everyone when
> abundance is shared and when gratitude is given back to the Original Source.
> The trick was to explain the concept of the Field of Plenty with few
> mutually understood words or signs. The misunderstanding that sprang from
> this lack of common language robbed those who came to Turtle Island of a
> beautiful teaching."
> I'm very glad to see that we are building such abundant knowledge systems
> stigmergically, whether Wikipedia, Debian GNU/Linux, or many other projects,
> through the internet. Let's hope we can keep it happening using peer
> production and other means. Individual contributors may fall by the wayside
> for whatever reasons (politicians, hurry up with that "basic income" for
> everyone already :-), but the community will hopefully continue to thrive to
> the point where we see an extensive transformation, as these newly emerged
> values and capabilities reflect back on our infrastructure in a
> life-affirming and compassionate wa. Maybe even, someday, with robots and
> people playing/working together, like at the end of Wall-E :-)
>  "WALL-E Credits"
>  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6wgicmUAfw
> Was "Auto" psychopathic in the movie Wall-E? Or was he just just following
> his directive, like he was built to do...
> --Paul Fernhout
> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
> Stan Rhodes wrote:
>> Paul,
>> Due to controversy and overlaps between clinial tools, such as the DMS-IV,
>> it's hard to cut through the "popular science" fluff and find the meat in
>> most work on these subjects.  For example, measures of "psychopathy" are
>> used for research only, and are not in any way clinical diagnoses of
>> anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).   While psychopathy and ASPD are
>> correlated, only a fraction of prisoners diagnosed with ASPD meet the
>> PCL-R
>> criteria for psychopathy.  In fact, ASPD is almost synonymous with
>> "someone
>> in the US prison system" (around 80% of US prisoners are ASPD) and given
>> the
>> disproportionately large prisoner population in the US, there's a really
>> fishy smell to the whole business.  It's important to keep this in mind
>> when
>> reviewing research articles written for the public that touch on either.
>> While I'm not discounting the PCL-R, I have grave doubts about it
>> representing a distinct taxonomic group.  It's factor 1 and factor 2
>> measure
>> very different things.  I've run across studies where one of the factors
>> will correlate strongly with some behavior, but the other will not.
>> My warning, as someone that actually studied psychology--and still
>> does--is
>> take it all with a salt-shaker of salt.  This tends to be good advice
>> across
>> the behavioral sciences in general.
>> Paul, at some point you said "Some may be genetic too," but the study you
>> pointed to only tested for neural activation.  Neural activation does NOT
>> mean genetic evidence.
>> Cheers,
>> -- Stan
>> On Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 8:47 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
>> pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>>  A digression onto a psychopathic aspect of the current system, related to
>>> my previous post on changing social mythology which seems
>>> counterproductive,
>>  Here is some more on that theme of psychopath as "peer". :-)
>>> Some may be genetic too:
>>> "Bullies May Enjoy Seeing Others in Pain: Brain Scans Show Disruption in
>>> Natural Empathetic Response"
>>> http://www.sott.net/articles/show/195629-Bullies-May-Enjoy-Seeing-Others-in-Pain-Brain-Scans-Show-Disruption-in-Natural-Empathetic-Response
>>> """
>>> "Aggressive adolescents showed a specific and very strong activation of
>>> the
>>> amygdala and ventral striatum (an area that responds to feeling rewarded)
>>> when watching pain inflicted on others, which suggested that they enjoyed
>>> watching pain," he said.
>>>  Unlike the control group, the youth with conduct disorder did not
>>> activate
>>> the area of the brain involved in self-regulation (the medial prefrontal
>>> cortex and the temporoparietal junction).
>>>  The control group acted similarly to youth in a study released earlier
>>> this year, in which Decety and his colleagues used fMRI scans to show 7-
>>> to
>>> 12-year-olds are naturally empathetic toward people in pain.
>>> """
>>> I'm not saying all violent people are psychopaths, most probably are not.
>>> I'm just suggesting fixing the nutritional deficiencies and vitamin D
>>> deficiencies may help improve things in general for people who have
>>> psychopathic tendencies and may otherwise be impulsively violent.
>>> Likewise, I'm not saying all bullying people are psychopaths, again, most
>>> probably are not. But addressing bullying issues may help improve things
>>> in
>>> general for people who have psychopathic tendencies and might otherwise
>>> be
>>> bullying.
>>> Like with any paradigm, likely we will figure out how to move beyond the
>>> "psychopath" paradigm at some point and see some bigger picture,
>>> including
>>> nutrition, helping parents better match their style of parenting to their
>>> child's current needs, and more social supports (including a basic
>>> income,
>>> which would give many people the opportunity to just walk away from
>>> relationships at work or at home to psychopaths and in general any other
>>> dysfunctional relationship, or alternatively, have the resources to help
>>> fix
>>> the relationship).
>>> Might there be societies where people with the same inclinations just
>>> could
>>> not be "psychopaths" in terms of behavior effects because of other
>>> collective societal aspects? Or where better diet prevents the worst part
>>> of
>>> this? Maybe, even if we can't "cure" the psychopath, we can cure the
>>> society
>>> that lets him or her run wild, and worse, elevates him or her to
>>> positions
>>> of responsibility over others and major resources?
> _______________________________________________
> p2presearch mailing list
> p2presearch at listcultures.org
> http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/p2presearch_listcultures.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/attachments/20091102/f18f7469/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the p2presearch mailing list