Why are there sociopaths?

I would encourage you to read the entire Catechism section on the Fall, Original Sin, etc. We all inherit Adam’s fallen nature.

Sociopaths certainly have free will. What they don’t have is feelings, deep feelings to be precise, as they are capable only of shallow emotions. However, Saying that they are incapable of love is equating love with feelings. They are capable of freely choosing God by grace, as you. That is love. What they are not capable of is doing it via feelings. Or being drawn to it by feelings.

They lack a conscience in the psychological sense (not the spiritual sense) which is the feelings of guilt or horror when we harm others that come from the deep empathy or sense of obligation we naturally have towards other human beings and animals, especially close family and friends (care). These generally define human conscience or love in the psychological sense.

Sociopaths can certainly tell what is right or wrong. What they cannot do is experience feelings of guilt when they opt to do what is bad. Similarly, they can choose to do good like you, but they do not get the feelings of deep emotional satisfaction that come with having a clean conscience or the deep sense of inner peace/joy when we do right or when we discover that we are loved by others. They have no internal rewards for choosing good, only external (like money, wealth, pleasure). For them, the rewards and punishments for right/wrong or good/bad are external, not in their interior feelings.

For normal humans, we are conditioned to do right/wrong good/bad based on both an internal (feelings) system and external system of rewards and punishment. When you are younger, you rely on the external system/authority like your parents and their rewards and punishment, but as you grow older, you internalize the values deeply in your interior, so that there is a voice of authority inside you and a system of rewards and punishment inside you. You don’t need threats of spanking or jail to do good as a healthy functioning adult. You feel great when you do good and you feel bad when you do something your conscience tells you is wrong (internal value system). This is your adult checker, not the external authority.

The sociopath lacks this system completely. His conscience cannot communicate with him by feelings of guilt, shame or remorse or empathy towards other people. So his motivation for action is based on values external to himself. He may be good to avoid going to jail (external punishment) but not to avoid violating his conscience. These are extra burdens in him but his free will remains intact. It is his feelings that are damaged, not his soul or the spiritual part of his soul where free will stays.

Narcissism is exactly the opposite problem. They have a conscience that they want to kill so that they can do what they want. It is an attempt to avoid the pain of a guilty conscience or a sense of shame through lies instead of truth. It is a defect in the will, not the mind. I believe it is a spiritual illness that only God can heal. Some psychologists have termed it the closest you can get to human evil. It is theoretically curable (unlike sociopathy) but almost impossible to cure because at its root lies a decision of the will. To be cured, the person must be willing to embrace truth. Looking at it with catholic eyes, one can say that it is a an act of pride that no psychologist can cure unless he is the Holy Spirit who alone can touch a soul at that level.

Narcissists have convoluted reasoning and may appear to suffer from a defect of reason but this is not their real issue. They try to force their image of the world in which they are the centre and a god and perfect and incapable of wrong on you and so you feel they are in their own world. It’s a form of self-deception that carries over to others. They are truly blind spiritually-speaking, The Pharisee syndrome. Avoiding the pain of a guilty conscience or shame through lies instead of truth and humility, the path if repentance that begins with acknowledging oneself as a sinner… Unlike sociopaths, true malignant narcissists spend all their lives running away from their conscience or trying to kill it. Shame is their death and killer. They can endure anything else. Sociopaths just want to win. They have no idea what shame feels like. We have it also, the narcissism. But it’s not all consuming for most of us. Yet it’s serious enough that we struggle with it in confession for years and years till we grow old and we are still not completely cured. Especially when we justify wrong by projecting blame on others, this is narcissism. We need Christ. He can enter the fog and show us to ourselves.

I can’t help with the spiritual part of the discussion, but I have had the opportunity to talk to some self-identified sociopaths before. A few things that might be relevant to the discussion:

  • The sociopaths I talked to all felt that they *were *capable of love, but they defined love differently from the rest of society. One of them described sociopathic love as lacking the selfless aspect of “traditional” love - he said he would value the person he loved most over everyone else in the world, but never over himself.

  • Sociopaths don’t get any pleasure from doing the right thing, but neither do they get any pleasure from doing the wrong thing. They are still capable of making moral judgments, though they don’t see them as such. For example, a sociopath who finds a lost wallet may choose to keep it because she wants the money, but she may also choose to return the wallet because seeing people happy because of her makes her feel powerful.

I think it a question that can not be answered by mortals.

I have a problem with thinking that man brought it upon himself because that type of thinking can easily become a convenient scapegoat especially in the US where there is strong tendency on blaming others and on punishment.

Neither would I give up hope for sociopaths. We do not know God’s will or the way he works.

All good and maybe valid arguments.

Still, I will not accept that my mental illness have anything to do with the Original Sin. As some of you have stated God do not “create” illness or disorder. I believe that we, we do have a free choice, are responsible for many different accidents and medical problems. We smoke and yet we know it is not good for us, (I smoke) we drive to fast, we do things where we truly test how far we can go and when God will think “oh, too far”. I am not responsible for me illness nor are Adam and Eve. If I would track my history and what have happen to me I most likely would be able to say that “there” (is the reason to my state) but that is too painful for me to do, and if I am right, I am certain that it has nothing to do with the Original Sin.

Since the The Bible is the only book I understand you have a huge advantage and you are able to quote many passages in a great number of scriptures and of course the CCC, I am able to understand some short passages, but everything else I know is things I have seen or heard. Therefore you can twist my words as much as you want to, I don’t think you will but it is possible. When I need to know something I call a priest, which is something many could do, you understand things much better when someone explain it to you.

One thing I know for certain though is that to understand the future you need to understand the past, and if you want to understand the Gospels you need to understand the Old Testament, and don’t forget what Christ did say to the man crucified the same time, “today you will be in Paradise with me”. No original sin, no Purgatory, just love and comfort. If we all would keep that in mind this world would be a much better place. I think The RCC agree with me on that point.

But Original Sin by itself isn’t about personal fault (this is explicitly stated). It’s about the overall degraded nature of mankind, and this degradation is seen both within humanity and within the universe in general.

If you don’t accept that mental illness - along with all maladies and sufferings in general - exist as a result of the sin of mankind, then what is your theory for why it exists? Was God not clever enough to create us without any maladies? Or is he doing it out of sadism? Or is it solely a result of Satan, and God is not powerful enough to stop him?

It’s either one of those three explanations, or it is that these things exist as a matter of consequences.

Perhaps God (this is speculation) said you had paradise and you blew, you now are under the laws of nature and will know suffering like all the animals that came before you. Some of your offspring will gay, some will have mental illness, some will die in childbirth, etc.
The free ride is over and you now live with what nature deals you.

Which is an (incomplete) explanation of what the CC already explains.

The state of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden was one of abounding grace. When sin entered into the picture, mankind is thrown into a harsher unvierse. It is a universe that is created good, but it is under enemy occupation. There is disease, there is hard labor, there is pain, there are calamities. Although a person is not at personal fault for Original Sin, it is something which is a part of who they, and it is part of the wider consequences of a world gone awry.

If we inherit a fallen nature then we have no choice in the matter. You stated earlier that this all had to do with free will but if someone makes a choice in which I have no say then I have no free will with regards to that choice.

I’m not sure where you were going with the Catechism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Adam made a choice and that affected all of humanity. I justifies the inheritance part by saying that all of humanity was in Adam (it doesn’t explain what that means but sounds like a hand waving explanation to me).

In the end a sociopath has a condition caused by a choice someone else made for him. His free will does not come into account here. God has set up the rules in this game. My question still stands: If God set up the rules this way, why is he not accountable for the suffering of others?

Dear Lasting Faith,

The meaning behind something being the result of Original Sin is in the beginning God created a “perfect” place. There was no disease or illness.

We read all that God created He saw was Good.

Genesis 1:10 usccb.org/bible/genesis/1
God called the dry land “earth,” … God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:12
the earth brought forth vegetation: … God saw that it was good.

In Genesis 2 - we read another story of creation.

Garden of Eden.
Gen. 2: 7 - 8
then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, …and placed there the man whom he had formed.

Gen. 2:15 - 17 usccb.org/bible/genesis/2
The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Gen. 3 Expulsion from Eden.usccb.org/bible/genesis/3
Gen. 3: 1-3

Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?”

The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, …’”

Gen. 3: 6 - 8

The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes,…So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked;
When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife **hid themselves from the LORD God

** Gen. 3:11
Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat?

Gen. 3: 23-24
The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Lasting Faith, what the Church teaches us with these first three chapters with the Book of Genesis is that in the beginning God created a perfect place for man to live - without pain or illness.

There was a rule to be followed - all the plants could be used except for one.

God allowed the devil to enter this place of Paradise. When the first sin was committed - the first following of the devil - Paradise was lost.

With the loss of Paradise - the perfectness was lost. Now sin has entered the human race, with that sin came suffering, illness.

God gave to the first people the gift of free will. The consequence of following a poor choice was sin. This sin lead to a loss of Paradise - a place of perfect harmony - now the introduction of bodies that could experience illness and suffering.

In Genesis 3, we read Adam and Eve were at once aware of what they had done. They tried to hid from God, to cover up themselves. God removed them from this Perfect Garden of Eden.

This is where Original Sin affects each of us and all of nature.

Without sin having entered our world, there would be no fallen nature or illness for us.

God had a plan to restore our souls - Jesus as our Savior. God gave us the Church to lead us to Him and to Heaven. Before we enter Heaven our souls will be purified. In Heaven, our bodies will be whole - without pain or illness.

With Confession, we continue to seek God’s forgiveness in washing clean our souls.

Our bodies often still experience pain and suffering. God sometimes allows our bodies to be healed - but are never perfect - until we reach Heaven.

What it says about Original Sin is that whatever anyone one of us is suffering - it would not have existed if it were not for the First Sin against Our God.

It goes back to the first temptation by the Devil and the first turning from God. Now, the Perfect Paradise - was lost and suffering, illness begins.

God is Love. He loves us so much. Man is no longer in the perfect Garden - suffering is in our lives - but Jesus came to be our Savior. Even with our imperfect bodies and souls - God can make our souls pure again and bring us to Heaven with newly made perfect bodies and souls.

Are you sure this is a question (are you asking with an open mind)? It comes off as more of an angry accusation against God. :shrug:

Either way, you’re describing God as an absentee landlord, who set the universe in motion and then walked away. That’s completely inaccurate. God did create the initial conditions of course, and there were specific consequences for disobedience that would be passed down to all of humanity. But He also altered those consequences in the most radical way through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ has taken the guilt for all our sins onto Himself - those caused by original sin as well as our personal choices. God also offers His grace to everyone as a way to help us overcome the limitations of our fallen nature. Apologies for the long quote, but the whole passage is important:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:12-21

Technically you are correct, but only indirectly. After Adam and Eve sinned God threw them out of paradise to be subject to the whims of nature like all other animals that came before man. In loosing paradise man lost God’s protection from nature. It is a role of the dice by nature and our environment that determines how we will turn out.

Since I believe that God is all good I believe that sociopaths at some point will be given an opportunity to redeem themselves before God in spite of their genes and evironment.

I’m an atheist, so I don’t believe in any Gods at which to be angry. My question is asked in the context of Catholic theology. The narrative doesn’t make sense to me and I’m curious how people would explain it.

Either way, you’re describing God as an absentee landlord, who set the universe in motion and then walked away. That’s completely inaccurate. God did create the initial conditions of course, and there were specific consequences for disobedience that would be passed down to all of humanity. But He also altered those consequences in the most radical way through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ has taken the guilt for all our sins onto Himself - those caused by original sin as well as our personal choices. God also offers His grace to everyone as a way to help us overcome the limitations of our fallen nature. Apologies for the long quote, but the whole passage is important:

I’m not describing God as an absentee landlord, I’m describing him as a neglegent builder. If he foresaw a danger in his design , why didn’t he just eliminate that danger. Instead he just patched it with what, from my perspective, was an imperfect solution. So now everyone suffers because of one person’s mistake and after that suffering only some will have that suffering end with Jesus’s help.

God made the rules in this scenario and presumably he could make different rules. Why didn’t he do a better job? If he knew there would be an issue where one person could subvert everyone else’s free will, isn’t he responsible?

I think it is more like this. God created man perfect. To stay perfect, the man had to behave perfect. He could do anything he wanted except become knowledgeable about good and evil. He disobeys and “eats of the tree”. Now he is changed. He sees the world in the sense of good and evil. Look at a couch and it’s good because I can sit on it but it can used for evil, like i can drop it off an overpass and kill someone with it. Since the man could now understand good and evil, his heart had inclinations toward the evil, which God foresaw when he said, “Eat of the tree and on that day you will surely die.” That’s the birth of evil in the heart. So in that day he died. Not physically but in his heart sin was born and so was death. Death follows sin. God created man perfect and he had no idea what good and evil was. He had no idea what a sin was. His state of mind and being was not dualistic like ours is. Childhood is the closest we can come to understanding the first man but it is not exactly similar. Children of the fallen man are also his spiritual offspring as well. When he fell spiritually he did not reproduce children who were perfect. The are dualistic in their thinking from the beginning of their life. All offspring of the first man have the seed of knowledge of good and evil built into their spiritual genetics so to speak. Our knowledge of it grows as we grow up and live. We tend toward evil. We sin. We die.

God knows how to live forever. He knew how to keep the first man alive forever. All he had to do was “not eat”. It is a spiritual thing that Adam did. The “eating”. Satan is spiritual. The temptation is spiritual. The sin was spiritual. The change to Adam’s and Eve’s spirits was real. The were no longer immune to death because sin is a corruption. It is spiritual decay.

Like all people everywhere, despite what they believe or know, we have a spiritual heritage. We are born of the same spirit that was the first man’s. Our spirit is discerning of Good and Evil just like the first man’s after he “ate”. He was radically changed. We are radically different from what Adam was before he “ate”. Likewise, by following the plan of salvation designed by God, we are able to radically change again becoming a “new creation.” Jesus, on the contrary was born of the Spirit of God not Adam.

Anyways, that’s what I think it is. I’m no expert though.

Was eating from the tree an evil act? Was it a sin?

I think it was. God commanded them not to eat but they did. So it was a sin. When God questions them they point blame to others. At that time they probably knew that they had done wrong because their eyes were “opened”. The bible uses the term “opened” so we assume that there eyes were closed to good and evil before hand.

It just a theory.I might have interpreted it wrong.

No animals suffered before the fall. All of mans world which includes animals was perfect and without suffering.

We are in Adam in the sense that we all derive our nature from Adam and not some alternative source. Therefore if his nature is messed up, we all get it. Like Hiroshima Nagasaki, a damaged nature is handed on, not an wholesome nature.

Yes, God sets the rules. He is God after all. The creator. From our point of view, it makes little sense to judge how good we think God is for making creatures with the ability to separate themselves in different degrees from God, and therefore experience suffering. What we know is that where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. So as much as the sociopath and every other human is born with a nature he did not directly cause, he is also given grace that he did not cause or merit, grace that is more powerful than the weaknesses of his nature.

You may think that a better plan would be to make it incapable for a creature to separate itself in the first place, in which case there would be no free creatures, or to make creatures that were truly separate from each other and not a family like the human race…etc etc. God thinks both the familial nature of humanity and a true sense of free will which is the ability to reject a relationship with God, are important, and he supplies grace to each person according to his weakness, circumstances and the level of beatitude to which he has called them each. In this way, he makes loving him a true choice of each soul and not simply a robotic instinct of nature. In this way, he supplies grace that all souls receive as pure gift whatever their personal worthiness, thanks to the familial nature of humans and his incarnation into this family and sacrifice.

At the end of the day, you are judging God!s acts per a standard you have come with or chosen. Which is like a cartoon judging the cartoonist for flaws it thinks it can pick out in the story, even while it cannot see the whole picture or the end of the story. God has “made good” for anything that you think he is accountable for, or anything that humans do not directly choose. He has also protected humans choice. Ultimately anyone in hell will be there by his own choice absolutely.

Gods greatness can be seen in many ways, and one is his refusal to allow his creation to be given up to destruction and complete ruin out of the work of creatures like satan and the demons and the men they have cheated into joining their rebellion. Instead, he loves this world so much and still goes ahead and creates it, finding a way to redeem it without taking away the free will of the creatures. This “way” is to become one of them and make a personal sacrifice that merits grace through love. This is a god willing to go very far to save his creation, in my opinion. A God that has proven his love better than any lover Hollywood can come up with. You may not like this plan, I love it. But bottom line, you and I don’t know from our limited perspectives what is “the better plan”.

I don’t believe that God created them that way. That’s just the human interpretation of things.

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