Dr. Brilliant your last blog made me think:
You say that true compassion means getting out of the way; this implies a certain trust that the other person has good intent. How do you deal compassionately with someone who is very wrongly structured and constantly defaults to destructive behavior? I’m thinking of
drug addicts, chronic liars, cheats and the like.
Dear Dis Illusioned,
“you can write out the lines
but you can’t make the actors feel”
It boils down to common sense; you don’t need to be liked by everyone nor do you need associate with everyone. Compassion does not require you to place yourself in harms way. I believe that not all people are human. Or, rather, some have human form; but they have no capacity for empathy. These people do not experience emotions the same as most other people, thus there is no chance for reciprocation. If there is no chance for reciprocation then there can be no relationship with these people. Humans are social animals but we are also territorial animals. It’s important that these traits be in balance. Everyone has a slightly different amount of each. Some people (albeit rare but they do exist) have all of one and none of the other. Those without empathy are dangerous – in the book Dune, by Frank Herbert, people were tested for empathy and those who didn’t have this capacity were killed for the sake of society. I am certainly not advocating killing anyone, but I have seen some children that I know will cause great destruction as they age. I can’t really do anything about it; I just hope I don’t ever run into them.
So as stated before, GET OUT OF THE WAY still applies here. Avoid placing yourself in harm’s way. People without empathy are like a freight train that you will be unable to stop or control. The trick is being able to recognize them in the first place so that you don’t end up with your free will and self esteem flattened.
A word of caution- people who do not care about the consequences they cause for others can be extremely charismatic. In films, vampires are quite charming creatures as they lure their victims; after all, they must be invited to enter a house. But watch out for their bite. The rule is: if it seems too good to be true, it is not true.
Remember that genetics count; do not breed with someone who does not have the capacity for empathy. If you do not breed with them, then your children have much lower odds of being antisocial. The problem is, by the time people realize it matters who you breed with, it’s often too late- the kids have already amassed a stack of notes from the principle and the guidance counselor at school knows you on a first name basis.
On an optimistic note, via better living through chemistry, a chemical is being researched called OXYTOSIN – it’s why Human woman don’t eat their children like hamsters do. It causes social bonding and is released during breast feeding. That’s why there is increased risk of bonding issues if a child is not put to breast right after birth. Pharmaceuticals based on this chemical may someday be available for those humans who lack the capacity to bond.
A related side note about using mental health as a defense in court- you can’t apply rules when the rules do not apply. If a person lacks the capacity for empathy, it is not true that they do not have the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. Studies have shown they most certainly do. They just do not care. They are functioning with an entirely different set of rules and logic than those used by people with empathy.
The ideas expressed are only my opinions and observations, and are not intended as medical advice.
-Dr. Brilliant Cliché