Science Proposals.

 

For our purposes, sociopaths are termed, “Sociopathic 301.81s.”

  • “Narcissist”: At root, narcissism is an utter lack of a capacity for empathy (LCE) but is defined with precision by the American Psychiatric Association in its DSM-5 at 301.81, “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

  • “Sociopath”: Webster’s: “A person suffering from a psychopathic personality (e.g. 301.81), whose behavior is aggressively anti-social.” 

Not all narcissists are sociopaths

– But all sociopaths are narcissists. 

RESEARCH PROPOSALS FOR SCIENTISTS

AS SUGGESTED BY “SOCIOPATHS AS VILLAINS”

As an attorney, Robert Louis Mueller, J.D., is necessarily evidenced-based. But as a non-scientist, he is also necessarily limited. He urges Neuroscientists, Geneticists, Sociologists and evidence-based Psychologists to conduct additional research in their specialties.

 

THESIS

The central defining feature of all narcissists is a lack of empathy: a congenital disorder, a genetically-designed birth defect. That lacking in perception is a form of blindness that limits their consciousness mostly to two-dimensionality and thus separates narcissists from healthy others. Most 301.81s are known to be good people, but if they’re raised in an environment where antisocial behaviors and values are experienced as normal, they may develop into sociopathic 301.81s

 

301.81 is a function of nature. Sociopathic attributes are a function of nurture. 

NEUROSCIENTISTS

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI 

301.81s and healthy others are shown images while in a fMRI brain scanning machine. What are their observable organic responses?

 

Organically-based narcissism?

After subjects are evaluated for traits of empathy and narcissism:

+Is there organically-based evidence confirming these? Or not?

 

Lacking a capacity for empathy (LCE):

Images of:

+Pedestrians stepping:

-Over homeless man. And not.

-Past a young mother needing help with her baby. And not.

-Animals in distress. And not.

Lacking emotional responses:

Images of events that commonly generate an emotional response (violence, romance):     

+Young lovers holding hands/kissing.

+Acts of violence: 

-Involving only strangers.

-Towards familiar others (friends, family, etc.).

-Towards self.

Antisocial & asocial:

Images of:

+Strangers working:

-Together in teams.

-Under “autocratic” boss (bullying boss).

Failure of intimacy:

Images of:

+Generic lovers (or parents) being loving. And in strife.

+Actual lover (or parent) being loving. And in strife.

Existence of self:

301.81s not only lack a capacity for empathy for others but themselves as well. With each antisocial act, they prove their existence not only to others and but also to themselves. 

Composite images of strangers:

+Not including self.

+Including self but:

-Ignored by others as if invisible (a bystander). 

-Presence acknowledged by others.

Disconnect from physical reality:

Exposure to:

+Sudden, very loud noise (per Robert Hare).

+Unexpected, mild electric shocks (per Robert Hare).

Capacity to read people:

Despite LCE, 301.81s have an uncanny ability to read people (and to manipulate them: e.g. sales people, litigators selecting jurors, etc.).

+Is it possible to discern an alternative, maybe organically-based method of “connecting” with others that does not include a capacity for empathy?

+301.81s are able to identify each other – almost instantly. How does that work organically? Or not?

+301.81s are somehow able to identify persons with extra empathy (persons for them to be concerned about). How does that work organically? Or not?

 

Question:                                What, if any, is the relationship between empathy and mirror neurons?

 

SHAME-PAIN & ENTITLEMENT

301.81s are generally regarded as being shameless when in fact they are hypersensitive to shame, probably from birth but certainly when challenged (sometimes real, generally imaginary) by people or circumstances. Many if not most 301.81 behaviors are motivated by shame-pain avoidance.

 

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI

Pains:

The differences in 301.81s organic responses to:

+Physical pain.

+Emotional pain generally (e.g. grief, anger).

+Shame-pain (personal humiliation).

+Shame-pain when status/status symbols of benefit to themselves are inserted. Is relief obtained in some measure?

+Shame-pain when a morality issue is inserted. Does the subject ignore it; or maybe twists it into promoting their status (alleviating shame-pain)?

Entitlements:

301.81s are generally under the misconception that they were born specially entitled to social & material status above others – without regard to merit -despite their being surrounded by 7.3 billion other human beings in the world. 

Posit stories that elicit their sense (or not) of entitlement. How do they react organically if their sense of entitlement is:

+Affirmed? Do they experience a sense of status enhancement?

+Challenged? Do they experience shame-pain? Voice victimhood?

301.81s are most vulnerable to shame-pain when their preexisting (supposed) entitlements are thwarted.

Is there an organic basis? Identify what a 301.81 thinks they believe they are specially entitled to from birth, when others are not. Posit stories in which:

+“Entitlement” is achieved. What happens to their pleasure/pain reactions as compared to a baseline? 

+“Entitlement” is not achieved. What happens to their pain/pleasure reactions?

Social status concerns:

301.81s are hyper-concerned about their social ranking (more than substance) as antidote for their usually suppressed shame-pain.

Expose 301.81s and healthy others to a composite of images of people in a pyramid that include the subject inserted:

+At bottom.

+In the middle.

+At top.

Their pain/pleasure responses?

Concern for status symbols:

301.81s and healthy others are shown images of restaurant menus with small pictures of tasty offerings (e.g. a particularly juicy steak; or chocolate cake with trimmings, etc.) with:

+No prices.

+Low prices.

+High prices.

Do prices (which can reflect status) affect the subject’s organic responses? 

Interviewer’s approach:

Interviewer of 301.81s and healthy others elicits responses to subject’s description/attitude when questioned on a sensitive issue. What are their organic responses (pain/pleasure) when treated:

+Neutrally (businesslike).

+Positively (e.g. praised, perhaps for empathy).

+Negatively (e.g. chastised, perhaps for lack of empathy).

SIMPLISTIC

 

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI

 

Simplicity:

301.81s prefer simplicity to complexity; sometimes reacting to complexity with shame-pain.

What are the organic responses when 301.81s and healthy others are shown: 

+Images with “X” large number of people/things; perhaps in an orderly fashion. And not.

+The simple numbers of people/things superimposed as text in that scene.

Depth adverse:

What are the organic responses when 301.81s and healthy others are presented with stories with unresolved problems that include a possible explanation that: 

+(a) Is simple and superficial, and, 

+(b) Requires a nuanced understanding (e.g. irony, factual conflicts, etc.).

 

 

GENETICISTS

 

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI

 

Gene configurations:

With subjects known to have the below attributes, what are the observable configurations of genes indicating:

+301.81 attributes? 

+Sociopathic 301.81 attributes? 

+Empathy? 

+High levels of empathy?

Among 301.81s, what are the differentials in their occurrence between:

+Age groups?

+Levels of education?

+Ethnicities/nationalities/races?

+Large urban/small urban/suburban/rural?

+East coast/mid-west/the South, west coast?

+US/Europe/Latin America/India/China?

Criminal behaviors:

Who among the following genetically test for 301.81:

+Workplace bullies?

+Domestic abusers?

+Violent criminals?

+Rapists?

+Murderers (singular, mass, and serial murderers)?

Based on objective, observable indicia for 301.81s in gene configurations, what is the likelihood of descendants of 301.81 parents: 

+Exhibiting 301.81 gene configurations? Dominant? Recessive? 

+If not exhibiting 301.81 gene configurations, do they exhibit 301.81 attitudes, values, etc. – probably due to environmental exposures?

+Observably, some families with pervasive 301.81 presence seem to also include maybe one member with an extraordinary capacity for empathy (e.g. an artist). Could there be a genetic basis? A genetic reversal?

General population:

Is it possible to extrapolate from genetic findings to know what percent of the US population suffers from:

+301.81: Current psychological estimates based are generally accepted to be 4% but 17% seems more likely.

+Sociopathic 301.81: Current estimates are 1% but 4% seems more likely.

Darwinian function:

It is hypothesized that 301.81s with their crass behaviors and narrow self-centered perspectives may have served the country well during the harsh Industrial Revolution and were thus of high value in society and attractive for breeding. Successful men. Good providers.

 

It is predictable that 301.81s now have negative values as society evolves into a modern team-structured environment (made possible by advances in communications technology).

Has the gene pool shifted to favor persons for breeding with a capacity for empathy?

 

SOCIOLOGISTS/PSYCHOLOGISTS (evidence-based)

 

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI

 

Overreaching:

Lacking a capacity for empathy (LCE), 301.81s tend to underestimate other people and events while overestimating themselves. In addition to the presence of victimhood, perhaps the most reliable indicia of 301.81 is their tendency (perhaps inevitability) of their eventually overreaching.

Proposal: subjects play games (bridge, poker) that require an accurate estimation of one’s position/ability and that of opponents. 

+Do 301.81s tend to overreach? 

Environment:

What is the difference in reaction of subjects with 301.81 gene configurations who are raised in a:

+Prosocial environment?

+Antisocial environment?

Work teams:

Made possible by advances in communication technology, first line supervisors are frequently no longer needed to communicate production data up the chain of command or to communicate commands downward. This information is now likely on everyone’s screen. Thus, the US workforce is shifting its organizational model from a paramilitary, top- down one - to team structures. 

How well do 301.81s fare when placed on a team as an equal? 

 

Bosses who bully/abuse:

With a work group whose tasks are discrete and their production is measurable:

+What happens to productivity when a new supervisor has basic empathy?                                                                I.e. a “leader.”

+What happens when a new supervisor lacks basic empathy? I.e. a “bully.”

+Is it possible to extrapolate from those findings:

+To apply to the US workforce nationally? 

+The aggregate gain/cost for 301.81s LCE/ empathy in the US economy?

Disability:

301.81s tend to know that something is wrong with them. 

Do they know that what they’re missing is empathy?

 

Being blame-adverse, do they disregard empathy as being unreal? A weakness? Stupidity? A mental illness? [Ironically, 301.81s tend to regard themselves as the “grownups” of the world, the only ones not affected by the fantasy of empathy, when to casual observers, maturity is the exact thing they lack.]

Concern for social/status ranking:

Subject is asked to identify a personal adversary and is then: 

+Given a sheet of pejorative adjectives;

+And is asked to circle the five (or ten) most applicable to that adversary.

Do a disproportionate number of selected adjectives have to do with their relative social ranking (e.g. looser, worst, etc.; not ugly, not mean, etc.)?

 

Blame-adverse:

301.81s find it difficult-to-impossible to accept blame; rarely or never apologizing. Shame-pain avoidance. 

Posit stories in which 301.81s and healthy others are “blamed” or likely will be “blamed” for a negative event/outcome. Do they:

+Dismiss the assignment of “blame” as irrelevant. Or critically important? 

+Accept responsibility when due?

+Shift blame to others. (“projection,” “shame-dumping”)?

Then posit stories where there is no one to blame.

+Do they nevertheless require blame be assigned to someone?

Victimhood:

Posit stories where 301.81s and healthy others suffer an incidental, adverse effect and  subject reacts by:

+Accepting the adverse effect plainly.

+Reactions when given opportunities to believe the negative effect is part of:

+A pattern of bad luck.

+The product of an adverse conspiracy.

Is the outcome different if a preexisting (supposed) entitlement is at issue?

Failure of intimacy:

Subject is asked to identify a discrete list of persons they may believe they’ve shared intimacy with (lovers, family, friends, coworkers, etc.):

+Which and how many do they think resulted in “betrayal” by the other (entitlement thwarted?)

+Which and how many included emotional or physical abuse?

Factoids:

LCE and therefore disconnected from others, 301.81s frequently insert factoids into conversations where they appear as non sequiturs, as filler, parts of their probably practiced script.

Posit the following and ask 301.81s and healthy others which is most likely true:

+Factual statements on an obscure topic.

+Flatly stated, rationally-structured factoids that are false.

+Sensationalized but rationally-constructed factoids that are false.

Do they insert a conspiracy theory? 

Therapy:

It is generally believed that therapy sessions actually make 301.81s worse by teaching them the elements of appropriate emotional responses thus enhancing their powers of manipulation. 

Subjects are shown images of events that commonly generate an emotional response (romance, violence, etc.). Empathy responses are tested:

+As they first reported to the study, thus unschooled by a therapist.

+After - after standard therapy session(s).

Baby-making:

301.81 is a congenital disorder (birth defect). 

Can healthy women considering child birth successfully differentiate between faux alpha men (superficial charm, red sports car) and actual alpha men (truly confident, healthy, strong)?

 

Can 301.81 women be more or less successful in making that differentiation?

 

SOCIAL MORALITY

 

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI

 

Immorality:

301.81s are generally regarded immoral or amoral, when in fact they tend to follow ridged moral/rule structures that are defined by a special morality personal to themselves. Generally, 301.81s regard as moral that which minimizes their 

shame-pain and/or maximizes its antidote, status/status symbols. And immoral, which does the opposite. In their minds they are the ones standing for morality against the obvious immorality of others. (Self-halo effect?)

Posit fact patterns to 301.81s and healthy others presenting various moral dilemmas. When asked to identify the applicable morality:

+Does the subject cite a generally-accepted morality?

+Or one more personal to themselves and perhaps self-serving. 

-Shame-pain avoidance? 

-Status/status symbol enhancements?

Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others presenting moral dilemmas:

+Not involving the subject (to establish morality baseline).

+Involving the subject with a self-interest in the outcome. 

Good & evil:

Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others where generally-accepted moral values can be discerned:

+Does the subject tend to regard as “good” that which serves them (minimizing their shame-pain, enhancing their status; diminishing the status/status of some other)?

+And “evil” which serves another and/or does not serve them?

Self-Halo Effect:

Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others in which someone violates accepted moral standards in a minor way. Is their response different when:

+They are judging someone else?

+Being judged themselves?

Cheating:

Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others with game playing when:

+The other game players have an opportunity to cheat and do. And don’t.

+The subject has an opportunity to cheat and does. And doesn’t.

+In both cases, does the subject assert notions of entitlement and/or victimhood?

BIASES

301.81 ATTRIBUTES                                STIMULI

Abstractions:

301.81s generally prefer abstractions over objective reality. 

301.81s and healthy others are presented with: 

+A core principle of a common theoretical construct (e.g. Jesus and religion, democracy [an ideology] and equality, etc.), and,

+Fact patterns that contradict that core principle. In the tension between theory v. evidence, which do they tend to choose?

Rules:

LCE, as an accommodation, 301.81s tend to conduct themselves in accord with rules (abstractions)over facts, frequently being told they are “phonies” and/or are being unreasonable.

Posit stories in which 301.81s and healthy others are faced with fact patterns which:

+Seem to affirm their preexisting rules.

+Seem to conflict with their preexisting rules.

Ahistorical:

Posit stories of political/military conflict and the subject is given an opportunity to act. And not act:

+When not given any historical/experiential context.

+Given historically:

-Negative past outcomes (multiple, failed invasions of Afghanistan).

-Positive past outcomes (successful US invasion of Panama, 1989).

Confirmation biases:

Elicit potential, preexisting biases. Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others that:

+Seem to confirm those biases. 

-Different reactions? 

+Contradict those biases. 

-Different reactions?

Intentionality biases:

Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others where a stranger inadvertently causes the subject harm:

+Subject accepts that the harm was inadvertent.

+Subject believes the harm was intended by the stranger.

+Subject perceives actual malice in the stranger’s intention.

Proportionality biases:

Posit stories to 301.81s and healthy others in a political context when the actors, acting together, cause a negative outcome and:

+The subject interprets their intentions neutrally. Different reactions? 

+The subject implies a conspiracy into the story. Different reactions?

 
 

© 2018 by Robert Mueller

ROBERT LOUIS MUELLER

SociopathsAsVillains@gmail.com