Neurodiversity editorial: Do we have to accept sociopaths?

Anti-sociopath activism

Anti-sociopath Activism

Yay for neurodiversity.  History-making artists, scientists, politicians – were any neurotypical? Probably not really. But then who is? Up with neurodiversity.

Yet, I’m a huge hypocrite: I just can’t get with the whole sociopaths-are-just-another-neuro-diverse-population gig.

On the one hand, it’s true: sociopathy is organic. Just like kidney stones. On the whole, kidney stones are seen an illness; a little free will with diet, but, in general, involuntary.  Same with sociopathy.  Some contextual free-will, but not much. I know that. Predators are predators, sociopaths are sociopaths, that’s what they do.

Contrast autistic spectrum disorders. I’m totally ok with that neurodiversity. Both autistic spectrum and sociopaths lack “empathy” (although there are profound other differences, which I won’t go into here). Why am do I grade these two organic conditions differently, having neurotolerance for autistic spectrum, and no tolerance whatsoever for sociopaths?

Fear. I’m fearful because wild-type sociopaths roaming free in society are capable of huge swaths of destruction, and I can’t tell who they are. They look so lifelike. It’s context. I understand the ecological niche for rattlesnakes. But NIMBY. If sociopaths were culled from the herd, and put somewhere where they couldn’t do any harm, I’d be much more benevolent.  I know this is inconsistent. But is it wrong?

If society tested first graders, and herded off the proto-sociopaths into a special needs class, I’d feel sympathy. “Oh, look,” I might say as older vo-tech school sociopaths get off the bus with guidance counselors at Broad and Wall to work the bond trading desk, “how sweet. ” And I’d probably feel good and righteous, and probably tell other people, “I saw the sociopath school bus today. They were all wearing their “Do Not Approach- I’m A Sociopath” badge, and not one put up a fuss. What a great thing for them.”

This neurointolerence is the basis for my reaction to the inauguration of a new administration. Rather, my reaction to the end of the past regime.

My biggest inauguration reaction is one of relief.  Relief seeing the helicopter fly away.  I had to laugh at a man in a wheelchair. Ha. Empathy shmempathy.

Sociopathy is a slidey thing, when viewed objectively.  Andrew Bird, in “Oh No,” asks if we are all harmless sociopaths, numb to emotion, only awakened by a calculated blow to the head. Good question, Mr. Bird.  (Song starts at 1:56 or so):

In the salsify mains of what was thought but unsaid
All the calcified arhythmitists were doing the math
It would take a calculated blow to the head
To light the eyes of all the harmless sociopaths
Oh arm and arm we are the harmless sociopaths
Oh arm and arm we are the harmless sociopaths
Calcium mines were buried deep in your chest
In the calcium mines buried deep in your chest

Ooh no we’re deep in a mine
Ooh a calcium mine oooh
so let’s get out of here
past the atmosphere
squint your eyes and no one dies or goes to jail
past the silver bridge, oh the silver bridge
wearing nothing but a one ? and a veil

Ooh oh deep in a mine,
Ooh oh a calcium mine “oh no”
Arm and arm we are the harmless sociopaths
Arm and arm we are the harmless sociopaths
In the calcium mines buried deep in your chest
In the calcium mines buried deep in your chest

Oooh oh deep in a mine
Oooh no calcium mines oh no

so let’s get out of here
past the atmosphere
squint your eyes and no one dies or goes to jail
past the silver bridge, oh the silver bridge
wearing nothing but a one ? and a veil
Oh no .. oh no … oh no … oh no