Originally Published on OpEdNews
What's the opposite of psychopathy? I've come to believe there is a psychopathic continuum or spectrum, from full-blown psychopath, having all the traits and characteristics, to some characteristics to having a few. But perhaps we should consider the full spectrum-- all the way to people who are the most opposite of psychopathic. What would such a spectrum look like? What would all the traits, characteristics and parameters look like, all the way to the most positive aspects of being human-- kindness, honesty, caring?
I'm not sure this is a fair question. I mean, is it fair to ask what's the opposite of cancer or heart disease, criminality, predation, evil or death?
Where do you draw the line? But, I'm trying to really get my head around what psychopathy is all about , so I'll ask some questions that work and some that don't.
Psychopaths are predators. What's the opposite of predator or predation?
Is the opposite of a predator prey? Possibly. But very few predators prey upon or eat their own kind. How about cooperation as the opposite of predation?
Psychopaths are mean. What's the opposite of mean?
Kindness? simply being not mean? Does it involve actively being kind to others, taking initiative, living an altruistic life, or will kindness in response to others do it?
Psychopaths Do not experience empathy, don't care
Being empathic, being caring? How is THAT manifested, measured, assessed? If a person cares and takes action, is he or she further along than a person who cares deeply, even to the point of heartfelt tears, but who does nothing?
Psychopaths are callous. This is a newer trait being studied.
Sensitive? understanding, empathic?
Psychopaths are Charismatic Manipulators, lying, hiding secret, selfish intentions.
Being honest, transparent, open, sharing intentions and goals? Empowering instead of manipulating?
Talking straight and honest is good. Sharing and being open is a step further.
Psychopaths are dominators, seeking to rise to the top of the hierarchy, perhaps creating and accentuating hierarchy even oligarchy.
Egalitarian, fair, sharing power, socialist, indigenous tribal? What IS at the other end of the domination, hierarchy spectrum?
Some of the other psychopathic traits are not as clearly negative. That makes things more complicated and confusing.
Psychopaths are Bold
Is the opposite of bold necessarily better?
But what is the opposite of boldness? Cautious, conservative, slow to act, modest, timid?
There are certainly positives about being bold. Maybe we need to think about confluent continuums (or is it continua?)
Psychopaths are impulsive, or disinhibited. That's certainly more true of the ones who get in trouble or jail.
Thoughtful, deliberate, reserved, obsessive compulsive, shy?
Psychopaths are Fearless and cool under stress.
This is another trait that has some attraction, if it's not tied with the predatory aspects. Courage has been described as action WITH fear. Is it courage to act in a situation that should evoke fear, if there is no fear experienced? What is the opposite of fearless?
Courage WITH fear? Feeling anxiety but facing and coping with it? Stress management?
Psychopaths Don't feel emotions. Some fake what is called "cognitive empathy" by knowing what others feel and acting like they care.
The Dalai Lama encourages us all to express warmheartedness. This might be an ideal. There's so much to think about, in terms of feeling emotions. There are people who are unable to feel emotions and others who are unable to express emotions and they are not psychopaths. Feeling emotions and expressing emotions are part of being a healthy, happy person. Of course there are negative emotions-- anger, sadness, disgust, fear, contempt. And there are some that are a mixed bag-- lust, greed, desire.
Feeling the full spectrum of emotions is good, within reason. Too much of anything can be problematic-- too much fear or sadness can lead to paranoia or depression. Too much elation can lead to mania.
But at the least, healthiness should include the capacity to feel and express the full gamut or spectrum of emotions.
I have not described the whole person who might be at the opposite end of the continuum from full blown psychopath. I'll leave that to commenters for now.
This is not an academic paper. It's an article that I hope will evoke some discussion. What do you think?
An afterthought. In selecting the tags for this article, one popped up for HOPE-- a concept that I never see associated with psychopathy, perhaps because psychopathy is associated with cynicism. I wonder where hope fits into the continua.