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Articles    H4'ed 5/12/14

The Healthy Opposite of the Psychopathic Spectrum Is the Relatedness Spectrum

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Message Thomas Farrell

Originally Published on OpEdNews

Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 12, 2014: Rob Kall has asked, "What would be the opposite of the psychopathic spectrum?"

I would say that the healthy opposite of the psychopathic spectrum is the relatedness spectrum -- you know, John Donne's famous quip that "no man is an island." But psychopaths tend to think they are in effect islands.

Now, in the 1988 two-volume hardcover edition of Nietzsche's Zarathustra : Notes of the Seminar Given in 1934-1939 by C. G. Jung, expertly edited by James L. Jarrett, Jung says that the concept of Eros represents "a principle of relatedness" (page 382).

Much later in the seminar, Jung says that "the opposite of relatedness [involves] destructiveness" (page 872). He then explains that destructiveness can turn into "a warlike attitude" in which one becomes the enemy of mankind" (page 872).

In his book The Duality of Human Existence (1966), David Bakan discusses two dimensions of human existence: (1) agency and (2) communion.

Vicki S. Helgeson in psychology at CarnegieMellonUniversity in Pittsburgh has conducted research using Bakan's two dimensions of human existence. See the index of her 700-page textbook The Psychology of Gender, 3rd ed. (2009) for specific page references to her own research.

By definition, communion involves relatedness.

By definition, people on the psychopathic spectrum tend to over-do agency to the exclusion, or near exclusion, of communion.

It is also possible to over-do the spirit of communion to the exclusion, or near exclusion, of agency. This would be the extreme -- and unhealthy -- opposite of the psychopathic spectrum.

Now, for must of us, the optimal form of communion would be Martin Buber's I-thou encounter.

However, in our Western cultural tradition, St. Francis of Assisi experienced an extraordinary degree of communion that he commemorates in his famous song "The Canticle of Brother Sun." See Eloi Leclerc's book The Canticle of Creatures: Symbols of Union: An Analysis of St. Francis of Assisi (1977).


Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003), discusses the world-as-event sense of life in his article "World as View and World as Event" in the journal American Anthropologist, volume 71, number 4 (August 1969): pages 634-647. We reprinted this article in volume three of Ong's Faith and Contexts (1995, pages 69-90).

We could say that the spirit of communion is alive and well in the world-as-event sense of life -- as it was for St. Francis of Assisi -- and as it was for some of the psalmists who composed psalms in the Hebrew Bible.

The Walt Disney musical Pocahontas (1995) presents a stylized version of the world-as-event sense of life that children can relate to and understand.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
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