Can Sociopaths and Psychopaths go to hell?


#1

If a person has no conscience, can they be held guilty of any kind of sin?

Sociopaths and Psychopaths have a severely limited or entire lack of conscience, of a sense of ‘right and wrong.’ So could God justly condemn them for committing grave sins?


#2

Are you sure they have an impaired notion of right and wrong? Or do they simply not care about right and wrong or believe that they are exempt from rules?


#3

I’m not sure at all, actually. But say that they really do have an impaired notion of right and wrong?


#4

What is the psychiatric definition?


#5

I’m not sure where I would get that but the Wikipedia article says:

Psychopathy is currently defined in psychiatry and clinical psychology as a condition characterized by lack of empathy [1] [2] or conscience, and poor impulse control [3] [4] or manipulative behaviors.[5]


#6

I believe the criteria for being culpable for mortal sins would apply to them equally. They would have to know it was a grave sin, decide to commit it, and then commit it with a free will.

It would not and does not exempt them from obeying civil law, such as those regarding murder, for example–a very grave matter indeed. They are intelligent enough to understand that some things are forbidden by law. Likewise, they would be culpable for any grave sins they knew about and yet chose to commit.


#7

How about this- if they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong, why would they try to hide it?

I would just say, “So they wouldn’t get caught”, but a morally neutral action (say, checking your mail) isn’t one that carries with it the threat of incarceration. So the fact that they’re evading capture means they understand their actions are not morally neutral.

But…my whole arguement supposes that all laws are moral. Abortion is legal, and I still know that having one is wrong. Christianity used to be illegal, yet we know that’s a crock. So I guess it could be said that a sociopath could be amoral (without any knowledge of right and wrong), yet still understand that certain actions would result in loss of freedom.

Shoot. I thought I had it all figured out. Dang reasoning.
Let me get back to you on this one.


#8

Their evading capture may have nothing to do with knowing a crime may also be morally wrong. Their will to survive is still intact even if they have no conscience.

But…my whole arguement supposes that all laws are moral. Abortion is legal, and I still know that having one is wrong. Christianity used to be illegal, yet we know that’s a crock. So I guess it could be said that a sociopath could be amoral (without any knowledge of right and wrong), yet still understand that certain actions would result in loss of freedom.

Shoot. I thought I had it all figured out. Dang reasoning.
Let me get back to you on this one.

We aren’t discussing the morality of civil law, though, so we really don’t have to take it into consideration here. (I merely used civil law as an example of knowing what is permitted and what isn’t.) We are only talking about knowing right from wrong. And as you so aptly pointed out, our civil laws aren’t always morally correct, so we can’t completely go by them in this case. Yes? :slight_smile:


#9

Psychopathy is currently defined in psychiatry and clinical psychology as a condition characterized by lack of empathy [1] [2] or conscience, and poor impulse control [3] [4] or manipulative behaviors.[5]

Note that this doesn’t say anything about not knowing the difference between right and wrong – the closest it gets is “lack of conscience”.

I’m no psychologist, but it seems to me there’s a difference between ignorance of right and wrong on the one hand and inability to feel remorse, compassion, or regret on the other. Throw in a lack of impulse control, and it becomes even murkier.

If a sociopath is one who

  1. cannot empathize, and
  2. has no conscience (i.e., inner sense that one must choose right over wrong), and
  3. acts impulsively,

it stands to reason that they may not be entirely culpable for their actions. This does not entirely lift their responsibility, and thus they must still pay the price (incarceration/treatment in this life; purgatory in the next) if they are indeed incapable of making rational moral judgements.

Again, I’m no shrink – so forgive me if I sound like I’m full of it!

Peace,
Dante


#10

People seem to think that “freedom of conscience” means “if your conscience doesn’t convict you, it’s not wrong.”

That’s utterly false.

“Freedom of conscience” means that if your conscience does convict you, and tell you that it’s wrong to do some good thing (give money to an alcoholic homeless person, join the Catholic Church, etc.) that you cannot and should not be compelled to do that good thing, and if you do do it, even while your conscience convicts you, it’s sin, even though it’s an objectively good thing.

Conscience can turn objectively good things into sin, but it cannot turn objectively bad things in good. Even if a psychopath has no conscience to convict him of his sin, it’s still sin.

Jeremy


#11

The conscience is only a gauge that allows us to “feel” the rightness or wrongness of our actions. How well it works depends on how it’s been calibrated. Even if the gauge didn’t work, if the person knew objectively that an action of grave matter was wrong (even if he or she didn’t feel it was wrong or even agree that it was wrong), that would be sufficient with full assent to make him or her culpable. Along that line of thinking, for a great long time I did not feel that use of birth control inside of marriage was wrong–I didn’t feel it was wrong, but knew objectively what the Church taught. I decided to ignore the teaching (gave full assent to its use), and therefore sinned. My gauge, at that time, was not well calibrated, but I was still culpable.


#12

God decides whether that suffering soul is invincibly ignorant and their degree of culpability. As humans it is indeed hard to judge.


#13

My understanding is that sociopaths/psychopaths know perfectly well what the difference is between right & wrong, but they just plain don’t care.
They do care if they get caught, and they are very, very smart, and cover their trails…
They can’t be sorry for their crimes, because “sorry” to them, means, “I’m sorry for myself because I’m in jail”. They lack all empathy for the rest of the world…
Truthfully, from what I have read, I have come to believe that many of them are:eek: under demonic influence…
:hmmm: One might, in fact, define satan as the original sociopath.


closed #14

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