Posted by: Brad | April 13, 2008

Damn Interesting: The Unburdened Mind

A while ago I read a Damn Interesting article called The Unburdened Mind by Christopher Putnam about psychopaths, and found that I was intrigued and amazed with it. Here’s a summation of what he says:

  • Psychopaths are altogether different from ‘normal’ people because they do not understand certain emotional feelings.
  • They are generally more realistic and rational, and get more of what they want out of society.
  • There are many more psychopaths than anyone would instinctively guess because they learn to fit in and mimic ‘normal’ emotional behavior or comprehension. Chances are, you and I both know a psychopath.
  • We actually look up to psychopaths such as James Bond for their strength and invincibility. Popular culture glorifies psychopathic tendencies.


Here’s the final statements on psychopaths:

“The reasons we look up to these conscience impaired people are unclear. Most likely it has something to do with the confidence they exude, the ease they seem to feel in any situation—a trait that comes easily in someone essentially incapable of fear or anxiety. Maybe we’re easily suckered in by their natural glibness and charm. Or maybe on some level we envy the freedom they have, with no burden of conscience or emotion.

The psychopaths, for their part, will never know things any other way. Most experts agree that the condition is permanent and completely untreatable. It’s been theorized that their situation is the result of a kind of inherited learning disorder: without dread or anxiety to deter them, psychopaths are unable to make the associations between behavior and punishment that make up the building blocks of a normal conscience. That being the case, it is questionable whether a description such as “evil”—which is not uncommon in both the popular and scientific literature—can really be applied to individuals incapable of understanding what it means.”



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