Questions of Morality
For a long time I’ve known that people with Asperger’s can’t be psychopaths. The two conditions are never co-morbid.
I’ve known this, but not quite known what to make of it, especially since some of the symptoms are similar.
For instance, I have a really hard time connecting with people, and I feel totally indifferent toward about 80% of humanity. So what’s to stop me from going out and killing a bunch of people? Well, a couple of things.
First of all, indifference is a very different from antipathy. You have to care about someone in order to want them dead. You have to be capable of wishing harm on them. I don’t give a shit about practically anyone, so why the hell would I hurt them? What motivation do I have?
Now, granted, about 10% of the people I meet I hate. I actively despise these people and wish I didn’t know them. What’s to stop me from killing them?
Fucking morality, that’s what.
Morality doesn’t have to have an emotional basis, and in fact I suspect it’s stronger if it doesn’t. One of my strongest moral convictions is that everyone should be treated equally and that everyone has a right to kindness and dignity.
Most people would say they agree with that, including- I would guess- a significant number of Germans in the 1930s. So how do you explain the Holocaust?
Well, the very thing that allows us to form a civilization is also the thing that allows us to keep killing each other. Our feelings get in the way. We feel connected to each other, and we feel especially connected to people who are like ourselves.
Most people’s morality can be easily manipulated through external events like warfare, terrorism or propaganda. People get scared. People feel patriotic. Then it’s all too easy for psychopaths to convince large numbers of otherwise decent people into putting asterisks next to everything they believe in (everyone* should be treated equally* and everyone* has a right* to kindness* and dignity*).
I don’t feel connected to other people, so I’m not particularly susceptible to bigotry. My indifference is universal and not limited to race, colour, creed, or any other factor. If you’re a person, chances are that I’d rather be by myself than with you. If you’re being oppressed and the powers that be aren’t doing anything substantive, I’ll do what I can to protect you. But that process doesn’t have an emotional component.
One of the things that psychopaths enjoy doing is manipulating people. Again, my indifference toward people and all-consuming social avoidance prevents me from doing this. In order to manipulate people, you have to feel something for them and be able to connect with them in some way. Even if I was capable of doing that, I’d have no interest in it, because the psychopathic process of high-stakes game playing sounds exhausting and unsatisfying. Once you start doing that shit, you get into a cycle where you pretty much have to keep doing it. That sounds like a nightmare, and in any case, it violates my ethical code.
The more I think about Asperger’s and psychopathy, and the closer I examine the symptoms of both disabilities, the more I wonder whether the two might in fact be opposites.
Psychopaths know people, and are good at being with people, and even seem to enjoy people in their own twisted way.
Aspies like myself, on the other hand, just want to stay as far away from people as possible.