HOW TO SPOT ZERO DEGREES OF EMPATHY (NEGATIVE) - The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty - Simon Baron-Cohen

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty - Simon Baron-Cohen (2011)


How to Spot a Person with Borderline Personality Disorder

A psychiatrist or clinical psychologist looking at someone with suspected borderline personality disorder turns to DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition), the book of rules for how to diagnose a mental health condition. For this diagnosis, the person needs to show at least five out of eight of the following signs:

1. Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships

fluctuating from clingy dependency to withdrawal, from being supernice to unreasonably demanding, from seeing someone as all good (idealization) to all bad (devaluation)

endlessly searching for the perfect caregiver

wanting to be a soulmate and yet fearing intimacy, believing she will lose her identity and cease to exist in relationships

being highly manipulative in relationships (e.g., being hypochondriacal, being inappropriately seductive, making suicidal threats) to get attention

2. Impulsivity

potentially self-destructive drug or alcohol abuse

sexual promiscuity, stealing, excessive spending

extreme eating or extreme dieting

3. Extreme mood swings, from depression to anger to elation and enthusiasm, each mood lasting only a few hours

4. Inability to control anger

raging and getting into fights

throwing objects at people during domestic arguments

threatening them with knives, often triggered by something trivial

directing anger at closest relationships, such as a child, parent, therapist, or partner

5. Suicidal threats or self-mutilation, a way of saying, “I am in pain; please help me!” Suicidal threats are eventually ignored by others as they realize these are attention-seeking.

6. Identity confusion

feeling unsure about self-image, career, values, friends, or even sexual orientation

feeling that he is faking it and will be discovered as a fake

falling easy prey to a cult leader offering to tell him who he is and how to think

7. Extreme emptiness

loneliness or boredom

mood swings

drug abuse to escape the emptiness

8. Extreme fear of abandonment

clinging to others

being terrified of being alone in case she ceases to exist

How to Spot Someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder

Diagnosed when someone shows a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age fifteen years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

1. Failure to conform to social norms of lawfulness, including performing acts that are criminal offenses

2. Deceitfulness

repeated lying

use of aliases

conning of people for personal profit or pleasure

3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead

4. Irritability and aggression,a including physical fights and assaults

5. Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others

6. Consistent irresponsibility

repeated failure to sustain work commitments

repeated failure to honor financial obligations

7. Lack of remorse

indifference to having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from someone

rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from someone

How to Spot a Young Person with Conduct Disorder

For this diagnosis, a young person must persistently violate the basic rights of others or societal norms, as manifested by three (or more) of the following actions in the previous twelve months:

1. Aggression toward people and animals

bullies, threatens, or intimidates others

initiates physical fights

uses a weapon that can cause serious physical harm (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun)

is physically cruel to people and/or animals

steals while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery)

forces someone to have sex

2. Destruction of property

deliberately engaging in fire-setting with the intention of causing serious damage

deliberately destroying others’ property

3. Deceitfulness or theft

breaking into someone else’s house, building, or car

lying to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (i.e., “cons” others)

stealing (e.g., shoplifting, forgery)

4. Serious violations of rules

staying out at night despite parental prohibitions before age thirteen

running away from home overnight

truanting from school beginning before age thirteen

How to Recognize a Narcissist

People who are Zero-Negative Type N show five (or more) of the following:

a grandiose sense of self-importance

a preoccupation with fantasies of success and power, beauty, or ideal love

a belief that he is “special” and should associate with people who are also of high status

a need for excessive admiration

a sense of entitlement

a style of exploiting others

a complete lack of empathy

an envy of others or a belief others are envious of him

arrogant attitudes