Does a Sociopath Feel?
I have never really pondered this question. But I have been pondering it lately. I have been reading “I Am Not a Serial Killer,” which is about a 15-year-old sociopath (at least that’s what he calls himself) that has a dark desire to be violent, to hurt others. But another part of him is trying to fight off his dark side. I thought that, in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut, it might be an interesting thing to write about.
After looking up sociopath and antisocial personality disorder, I have learned that some people are unable to connect with others emotionally. In other words, some people are unable to understand how others might be feeling. I already knew that there are people like that, such as autistic people, who, strangely enough, aren’t classified as antisocial. However, I’d never actually thought about this topic until I started reading this book. I have taken psychology and sociology classes. In fact, I want to go into sociology in college! Anyway, I think it’s an interesting topic.
We all know that every person is different, and every person responds to a certain situation in a different way. In my sociology class, we learned that a psychologist’s perspective is mostly biological (I say mostly because I don’t believe it is always the case); and a sociology’s perspective is mostly social. I am speaking from a sociologist’s point of view because I believe our behaviors are mostly the result of social situations instead of something wired in your brain. In the book, the main character, John Wayne Cleaver, seems to think of himself as having been born a sociopath. It seemed to him that he’d always been this way.
Perhaps that’s true. However, I think of it differently. As I said, everyone responds to the same situation in a different way. As babies and young children, we naturally have not developed the ability to understand other people as older children and adults do. In the case of a sociopath, something had probably happened to him before he had reached a more mature age that had stifled his ability to feel for others. Perhaps it was not having his father around much; perhaps it was arguments between his family members; or perhaps it was the fact that his parents were morticians and he grew up if not seeing at least hearing about dead people, which could have made him think of humans as things.
I don’t know much surrounding the character’s life, but what I do know is that many criminals are sociopaths; they have a hard time understanding how others are feeling. Surely the man that shot his mother, those children and teachers, and then himself had many emotional problems. I think that he did feel…he just couldn’t feel for others very well. I think that sociopaths DO feel. They can feel happy, sad, angry, or scared (if not for others then for themselves). But they do feel.
I also wanted to talk about something else the character said. He keeps talking about a monster inside himself, waiting to come out. And he treats it like it isn’t normal. Everyone has a dark side, though. Everyone. Everyone has been and will be tempted to do something they know isn’t right. Everyone is going to break down and do that thing they know is wrong sometimes. Nobody is perfect, and certainly not John Wayne Cleaver. I think that he’s just like everyone else, except he can’t relate very well to others like most other people can.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but that’s just my opinion. I think that his ability to understand emotions, especially emotions of love, was stifled at a younger age than he would have naturally been able to develop it. I think that he’s just like everyone else, with a dark side except it would be a little harder to control because of his sociopathy. This is just how life is: some people are too emotional (like me) while others are not emotional enough (like John Wayne Cleaver and criminals behind bars)…but most are in between, which is why people think of me as a whimp and John as a freak.
I recommend this book to anyone! I haven’t finished reading it, but I thought I’d write these thoughts down before I forget them. Thank you, Dan Wells, for writing such a psychological thriller as this! Anything that thrills my mind is noteworthy to me.