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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Obviously, V is a sadist, too. Or maybe the author hasn't properly thought about how horrible it was what they did there.
    I'd agree that V is a Sadist. The problem is that I think people get confused as to what Sadism means. This is pretty understandable though, considering we get the term from the Marquis de Sade.

    Although we get the term from him, Sadism is a broader term then just getting sexual satisfaction from inflicting pain (that said though, some of the earlier comics would indicate that of the two, Vaar-'bat guano in the morning'-suvius is probably closer to this than Belkar -- although it's not really true in V's case either). It's getting any sort of pleasure from inflicting pain and/or humiliation. Something that goes beyond Roy's smug satisfaction in taking someone like Miko down a peg.

    Sadism is a common enough trait, unfortunately. Many exhibit it from time to time. The thing is, most of us that have it exhibit it rarely and apply a sense of justice to it: it's not mutually exclusive with respect to empathy. Therefore you don't see people just going out and bullying or picking on innocents, but instead rail against convicted criminals or others who 'deserve' being the focus of their darker urges. Darker urges that probably come about because of some unresolved issues -- which is certainly the case with V, although with Belkar it seems a more simple situation.

    So saying Belkar and V are sadists isn't really all THAT extraordinary a statement. Sadism probably wouldn't preclude alignment (especially if the character was aware of their own urges and strove to keep them in check). We're not talking about the personality disorder in this case.

    So, in this sense, it can be no more than deriving more than a little pleasure from invoking 'just deserts'. One could say 'but this is true of Roy as well' and invoke his alignment conversation in the afterlife as proof, but that would be saying there's no difference between the things Roy did as Roy, and the things V did as Darth Vaarsuvius.
    Last edited by Nilan8888; 2013-10-16 at 08:28 AM.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
    It's not that you can't have psychopaths in fiction. It's that you can't stay with them for very long without the narrative itself turning into something twisted... like 'Natural Born Killers' or 'American Psycho' or something. Those were narratives more suited to actual psychopathic 'protagonists'. And as much as OOTS isn't ANYTHING like 'Dexter', it's at least closer to 'Dexter' than it is to those works, no matter how many galaxies removed it is.
    What is an actual psychopath or a sociopath (or for that matter a sadist)? What qualifies them as such on the DSM-V (is there even a category for psychopath or a separate category for a sadist)? I can't even look up these terms without getting a mess that confused mess!

    Actually after some research, sadism went off the list of mental illnesses years ago! "Psychopath" is just an outdated term for a sociopath (although there are different concepts historically involved in what made someone a "psychopath").

    The authors of "Dexter" and "Order of the Stick" are not psychologists, do not pretend to be, and are making up characters out of their heads that reflect what they think about these labels. Presumably, most of us are not sociopaths and never met one. I would say this about sadism but all that 50 Shades of Grey popularity and the Belkar fandom has me thinking otherwise.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    I think I'm onto something about sadism being commonplace, check out this Association for Psychological Science press release.

    You guys are all sick twisted people. I should have known something was up when I first got invited to go "dungeon delving."
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  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    "Psychopath" is just an outdated term for a sociopath (although there are different concepts historically involved in what made someone a "psychopath").
    These days it seems like it's the other way round, in the sources I look at.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    These days it seems like it's the other way round, in the sources I look at.
    What does the term "psychopath" or "sociopath" even mean clinically?
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  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    May depend on the authority in question. It might be a list of common traits, with the term being applied if more than a certain number of those traits apply.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    May depend on the authority in question. It might be a list of common traits, with the term being applied if more than a certain number of those traits apply.
    That sounds like a diagnostic test. The idea is that "sociopaths" or "psychpaths" is that there is a useful framework in referring to how individuals with these label will behave. You can say things like "sociopaths do not have remorse, or empathy, or guilt" or something of that sort.

    I need to know what is a real life sociopath if I'm going to say that Belkar, or Dexter or Xykon or The Joker in Dark Knight differs from one.
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  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    What is an actual psychopath or a sociopath (or for that matter a sadist)? What qualifies them as such on the DSM-V (is there even a category for psychopath or a separate category for a sadist)? I can't even look up these terms without getting a mess that confused mess!

    Actually after some research, sadism went off the list of mental illnesses years ago! "Psychopath" is just an outdated term for a sociopath (although there are different concepts historically involved in what made someone a "psychopath").

    The authors of "Dexter" and "Order of the Stick" are not psychologists, do not pretend to be, and are making up characters out of their heads that reflect what they think about these labels. Presumably, most of us are not sociopaths and never met one. I would say this about sadism but all that 50 Shades of Grey popularity and the Belkar fandom has me thinking otherwise.
    As I understand it -- and I am not a psychologist, btw, nor studied it in school, just done a fair bit of reading -- it is 'sociopath' that is the layman's term, and 'psychopath' that is the clinical one.

    The chances of meeting a psychopath -- not a sadistic psychopath, but one just lacking empathy to that degree -- are about 1 in 1000. Every 1000th person is one (although it deserves to be said that as I understand it, it's very, very rare -- almost unheard of -- for that 1000th person to be a female. Psychopaths are usually male). Narcissists, a very related but separate condition, are about 1 in 100, and are about equal with respect to men and women.

    You have probably met both and not known it. But they were probably people that rose barely to the level of acquaintance: these aren't social sort of people, or at least ones who have intimate relationships.

    This does NOT mean you have met serial killers and child molesters by any means. It means you have met people who have things that those sorts of criminals MUST have, unless they are suffering from a more severe sort of brain damage (which would be pretty apparent). The actual people you have met were probably as law abiding as you were. That said, you probably wouldn't want to send them invites for your next BBQ.

    I cannot speak for Rich and wouldn't venture much further in my observations of his characters than I already have. What I can say is that the authors of Dexter were undoubtedly familiar with the psychology, but adapted it as per the needs of the show. So you'd get some accurate stuff, but then someone would go off describing a psychopath as an 'Alpha Wolf', when psychopaths/narcissists are better described as 'lone wolves': ever notice how, for instance, the great generals of history... an 'Alpha Wolf' occupation if ever there was one... were probably NOT psychopaths? This despite the fact that narcissists and psychopaths seek out positions of authority? This is because Generals need to LEAD, which is something those sorts of people, lacking empathy, can't do.

    The real categories we're dealing with here are NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder -- Narcissists) and APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder -- Psychopaths). There's two or three others in this general tree, but none of them are characterized by a lack of empathy (Borderline, Histrionic... I think there's one other).

    There's a whole host of behaviors and most don't register all of them, but in all cases the real key point is a consistent lack of genuine empathy, where an empathetic facade is given only to get what the person in question wants.

    Most of the rest really falls from that: the fact they have a lack of real hobbies is a logical extension: if you're thinking about yourself and your problem all the time, you don't have a lot of interest for other things. Your mind exhausts itself just going over and over your own self-image. Lack of impulse, I think, also stems from being so overwhelmingly self-centered: if your focus is so tight on yourself, concern for other people is just not there to help hold those impulses in check. And so it goes.
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  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
    The chances of meeting a psychopath -- not a sadistic psychopath, but one just lacking empathy to that degree -- are about 1 in 1000. Every 1000th person is one (although it deserves to be said that as I understand it, it's very, very rare -- almost unheard of -- for that 1000th person to be a female.
    I've seen other arguments saying 1 in 100 men, and 1 in 300 women- but those might be using a slightly looser definition. Or were early estimates.
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  10. - Top - End - #70
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    I need to know what is a real life sociopath if I'm going to say that Belkar, or Dexter or Xykon or The Joker in Dark Knight differs from one.
    Belkar is probably not a psychopath, and Dexter definitely is not one, I would say.

    Xykon and the Joker definitely are. The primary difference between these characters and real criminals is really that these guys don't hide what they're doing, they flaunt it. Which is mostly just the result of the story needing a good villain we love to hate. Do that theatrical stuff in real life and it's a pretty short ending in favor of the cops.
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  11. - Top - End - #71
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    Maybe, with Belkar arguably having extreme Lack Of Empathy for most of the strip (and the trait "Has No Regard for Other People's Right To Exist") - he qualified - but he's beginning to grow some empathy now, so is not so close a match?
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Maybe, with Belkar arguably having extreme Lack Of Empathy for most of the strip (and the trait "Has No Regard for Other People's Right To Exist") - he qualified - but he's beginning to grow some empathy now, so is not so close a match?
    Well, I can't remember Belkar's more heinous deeds at the moment, but I suppose he qualified at one time, sure. But at the same time, his actions towards the party have always been a bit askew of being an actual psychopath, which I mentioned earlier. In that, since even as far back as No Cure for the Paladin Blues, he's done things... or more importantly, REFRAINED from doing things... that reflect a sort of loyalty (something a psychopath wouldn't share). You sort of have to fill in the spaces yourself, but over the long term you have to wonder if all of Belkar's claims of only being in it for the money and the thrills add up, and this was possibly at issue even BEFORE meeting Mr. Scruffy.

    Yes, he kills without compulsion... heck, he kills INNOCENTS without compulsion... but he keeps on keeping on within the OOTS, you know. And says things where, underneath it all, he's GOT to know the emotional value.

    For instance, his speech to Roy over Durkon's Death... maybe I'm in the minority, but I think he was in such a place to give Roy that sort of speech as far back as War and XPs. I think events have just made it more apparent things that were already there.

    I think the most proper thing for Belkar is that, if he doesn't know you, he has NO regard for you whatsoever. If you do know him, he'll enjoy tormenting you for a laugh.

    But if you know him very well and he respects you, he actually WILL start to care. Just don't expect him to ever admit it. And be ready for V to try and convince you otherwise if you ever bring up the gap between Belkar's persona and the actual positive results of his actions, which I doubt he's as ignorant of as he pretends.
    Last edited by Nilan8888; 2013-10-16 at 11:51 AM.
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  13. - Top - End - #73
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    Obviously, V is a sadist, too. Or maybe the author hasn't properly thought about how horrible it was what they did there.

    If, on the other hand, you're talking about the dragon-thing: Threatening to kill V's mate and children and bind their souls so that they don't get to the afterlife, was a lot worse than shooting a cat with an arrow.
    I thought V redeemable before s/he tortured Yukyuk as a favour to Belkar. Now ... I'm not so sure. V may repent having killed innocent human beings, but the "guilty" black dragons, and the "guilty" kobold?
    Well the kobold was guilty - we know that as does V.

    Also the person that took the revenge was Mr. Scruffy - it is a free willed animal with thoughts and desires of its very own after all. Belkar and V merely enabled their teammate to met out some justice against someone who wronged them.

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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
    Yes, he kills without compulsion... heck, he kills INNOCENTS without compulsion... but he keeps on keeping on within the OOTS, you know. And says things where, underneath it all, he's GOT to know the emotional value.

    For instance, his speech to Roy over Durkon's Death... maybe I'm in the minority, but I think he was in such a place to give Roy that sort of speech as far back as War and XPs....if you ever bring up the gap between Belkar's persona and the actual positive results of his actions, which I doubt he's as ignorant of as he pretends.
    I really doubt Belkar was in a position to give Roy the sort of speech he did over Durkon's death. Belkar never shows any evidence of that sort of empathy, was theorized by V as having only two emotional states and during his post-curse experience was represented by a line due to being a one-dimensional character.

    Belkar's loyalty to the Order prior to the curse removal did run against his personality, which is why the author gives us reason for why he was with the PCs instead of the bad guys. If they are bad reasons, well, Belkar does have a very low wisdom score. Don't pin too much on that, he has always been a PC and was always going to remain with the PCs.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    I really doubt Belkar was in a position to give Roy the sort of speech he did over Durkon's death. Belkar never shows any evidence of that sort of empathy, was theorized by V as having only two emotional states and during his post-curse experience was represented by a line due to being a one-dimensional character.
    What V says and what is actually the case are two different things. V is not exactly the most accurate barometer of predicting someone's emotional state. Actually, given the individuals in the party, V is probably the worst at understanding emotion. He/She might be better at displaying empathy then Belkar, but not as good, I'd say, as knowing where it comes from. Which is the age-old irony of the archetypical scientist who can understand everything except human behavior.

    So, there's actually evidence that Belkar has a wider range of emotions than V believes. His/Her theory is really just buying into the persona Belkar plays to, and probably thinks he is. But the earliest sign of Belkar displaying emotions beyond that simple range is comic #8. Although the rule of funny applies to a certain extent, it's showing Belkar feeling guilty over something you would think someone like him wouldn't feel guilty about. And what's applying for the punchline in #8 does seem to be guilt, as opposed to shame.

    Does that mean he'd show deeper emotions at that point? No, but I think little incidents like that would mean that Belkar has been capable of a wider range of emotions than was let on, despite V's theories.

    Belkar's loyalty to the Order prior to the curse removal did run against his personality, which is why the author gives us reason for why he was with the PCs instead of the bad guys. If they are bad reasons, well, Belkar does have a very low wisdom score. Don't pin too much on that, he has always been a PC and was always going to remain with the PCs.
    Yeah, but the low wisdom score thing only gets us so far. Low Wisdom does not equal loyalty. If it was all just low wisdom at play, I think he'd be doing other things that caused more immediate problems. Throughout the comic Belkar's essentially been presented as an evil Keith Moon. But the reality is that while Keith Moon was not an evil person and not going around killing people (errr... maybe with ONE unfortunate exception), he was actually harder to control than Belkar. When they reached town after the Dungeon of Durokan, Belkar actually didn't go off and do things that were all THAT crazy. Killing those Barbarians was certainly evil, but not exactly the results of low wisdom. So he did some evil things but he didn't, say, trash their hotel rooms. You'd think he'd do more things like that on a regular basis the low wisdom was THAT much of a factor.

    I'm not saying this is a product of bad writing or anything. I'm saying that even the broad outlines that the story requires to stay functional mean that Belkar can't be a sociopath, or the analogy Shojo makes about getting 'booted out of the game' would have probably happened before they ever got to Azure City.
    Last edited by Nilan8888; 2013-10-17 at 08:41 AM.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
    When they reached town after the Dungeon of Durokan, Belkar actually didn't go off and do things that were all THAT crazy. Killing those Barbarians was certainly evil, but not exactly the results of low wisdom. So he did some evil things but he didn't, say, trash their hotel rooms. You'd think he'd do more things like that on a regular basis the low wisdom was THAT much of a factor.

    I'm not saying this is a product of bad writing or anything. I'm saying that even the broad outlines that the story requires to stay functional mean that Belkar can't be a sociopath, or the analogy Shojo makes about getting 'booted out of the game' would have probably happened before they ever got to Azure City.
    This is why I asked you what a sociopath was clinically. It appears you understand a sociopath as someone far more autistic then how sociopath's are presented in say Silence of the Lambs or my psychology classes back in the day (which did not include an a full length treatment of the pathology). From what I've been taught, a sociopath can seem quite ordinary, except when they are responding to their deviant impulses, which if they include killing, torturing or the like, is when they fall into the colloquial usage of the term (and are likely to appear on the evening news). I heard a theory of that a particular sociopath employed compartmentalization to appear normal (where the killer only acts like a deviant in very limited circumstances and doesn't even think about that sort of stuff in the normal day to day).

    True Blood spoiler:
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    Rene in the first season of True Blood is more of this mold.


    In a literature and a social psychology classes, I've learned that sociopaths are
    were "supermen" are "Napoleons" (see Crime and Punishment for that reference). They don't have certain normal limitations.

    You seem to suggest that Belkar would be a complete wild person if he was a sociopath. Someone incapable of going to town without, not just killing a few people (which is sans Order is his modus operandi) but also trashing the place. That's not what a sociopath is. You also say he would not accept the limitations from the Order of the Stick or have any capability of loyalty. I don't believe so. A sociopath, from everything I have heard about the subject (including from credentialed psychologists), is quite capable of acting like a normal person, unless they have deviant impulses that they wish to indulge.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    This is why I asked you what a sociopath was clinically. It appears you understand a sociopath as someone far more autistic then how sociopath's are presented in say Silence of the Lambs or my psychology classes back in the day (which did not include an a full length treatment of the pathology).
    I really think you must be confused by what I wrote. Although I never mentioned autistic, I used Keith Moon as a comparison for Belkar. Now as it happens, there is evidence out there (circumstantial) to suggest that Keith Moon actually was autistic on some level, or suffered a form of retardation. Roger Daltrey himself has speculated this in interviews. And by associating Belkar with Keith Moon yes, I am saying that perhaps Belkar might have a certain level of the same.

    But then, as I've been saying, I do not consider Belkar a psychopath/sociopath. So I do NOT consider psychopaths/sociopaths autistic. They might not have part of their brain working, but a psychopath is far more aware of their overall situation.

    'The Silence of the Lambs' is an interesting point of mention. Lecter is considered the prototypical psychopath. And that character is in fact a psychopath (and Thomas Harris would know what that means with his background). But for the needs of the story, certain things were tweaked: it's rare you have a brilliant psychopath. It's even rarer to have a learned one that is so interested in culture. Usually a psychopath with his knowledge would have to be surrounded by others of a similar mindset, otherwise a psychopath wouldn't bother. A psychopath WANTS to be smarter than you, but part of the point is that they don't to take the effort to actually know things in order to make that happen. Which would be the same for most people: if you're not into an act for the pleasure of the act itself (i.e: not into Physics because you think learning about it is way-cool), and you just want to look smart, you're probably never going to be as 'smart' in Physics as the guy who is genuinely interested. Lecter makes great efforts and does a lot of reading about things the don't directly effect himself, so this is atypical. But: this has to be done to make him a memorable villain and a credible threat or source of information. The needs of the story demanded it.

    That said though, most of the other things are consistent.

    From what I've been taught, a sociopath can seem quite ordinary, except when they are responding to their deviant impulses, which if they include killing, torturing or the like, is when they fall into the colloquial usage of the term (and are likely to appear on the evening news). I heard a theory of that a particular sociopath employed compartmentalization to appear normal (where the killer only acts like a deviant in very limited circumstances and doesn't even think about that sort of stuff in the normal day to day).
    Exactly. Although I wouldn't use the term sociopath just because it's falling out a favor (although I keep making the mistake of using it time and again), that's a psychopath for you. But even here you can sort of notice how Belkar doesn't really fall into this description. Belkar doesn't really compartmentalize that I've seen (neither did Keith Moon). Like a psychopath, he is impulsive. Unlike a psychopath though, he doesn't 'switch modes'. He doesn't bother appearing normal. Even the recent 'pretend character growth' comes across as more genuine than a psychopath would: no psychopath would set out to do this, and then rub it all in people's faces like Belkar ("I love helping people!").

    Part of this is that, yes, Belkar is dumb. And unlike 'The Silence of the Lambs', it is true that psychopaths are not necessarily smart: they're usually of average intelligence, but surprisingly ignorant of esoteric facts due to their lack of curiosity. But probably the overriding reason is that Belkar just doesn't compartmentalize.


    In a literature and a social psychology classes, I've learned that sociopaths are
    were "supermen" are "Napoleons" (see Crime and Punishment for that reference). They don't have certain normal limitations.
    I don't understand THAT at all. Psychopaths, as I understand them, are emphatically NOT supermen. And it is funny Napoleon is mentioned, because I highly doubt he was a psychopath (he had some narcissistic tendencies, but I doubt he even suffered from NPD). Napoleon was too keenly aware of how his foes and subjects thought to have been one. He 'got' things a psychopath would simply not get. His instincts at prediction, both on the battlefield and as a governor, were too good.



    'Psychopath' just describes a particular emotional state. Because of this lack of empathy, they sometimes seem to be able to take heat under pressure. But that's just part of the myth: they're really no smarter than you or I. Because of their relative ignorance of things not directly effecting them, they can even seem dumber (although they're not). They are, however, kings of the phrase 'Better to be silent and thought an idiot than to speak and remove all doubt'. They excel at flying under the radar.

    This doesn't mean a psychopath is autistic, because, among other things, an autistic person -- perhaps like Belkar -- doesn't get that they don't understand something. Most often a psychopath will get it (if they're not in denial), but just not care or rather immediately see need to hide it all rather than work on changing themselves.


    You seem to suggest that Belkar would be a complete wild person if he was a sociopath. Someone incapable of going to town without, not just killing a few people (which is sans Order is his modus operandi) but also trashing the place. That's not what a sociopath is.
    Again, you misunderstand. Although I'm not saying Belkar would be a COMPLETE wild person, you're on the right overall track as to my characterization. But I'm using that as part of the reason to say that Belkar is NOT a psychopath.

    You also say he would not accept the limitations from the Order of the Stick or have any capability of loyalty. I don't believe so. A sociopath, from everything I have heard about the subject (including from credentialed psychologists), is quite capable of acting like a normal person, unless they have deviant impulses that they wish to indulge.
    Yes, but that's just it: the psychopath's loyalty is an ACT. And they use that act to their advantage. I don't believe Belkar's loyalty, wherever it comes from, is an act. He might want you to think it's an act, but I don't think it really is.

    And the reason I use Belkar's long-standing loyalty to the OOTS as evidence as to his non-psychopathy, is because the motives for that act would have ended a while ago. Actually, they would have ended once the Dungeon of Durokan was over. From that point on there was no real reason for Belkar to not try to just kill the OOTS in their sleep and take their stuff. Once the Mark of Justice was applied, there was a reason (and sometimes not even then). But up until then and after it, what was the reason?

    Sure, Belkar was tricked at some points and at others he was being dumb. And I'm actually NOT saying there were points where he would have willingly left the Order (#139 was probably the most likely). But then you turn around and read his reasons for helping save Elan in #159, when even Roy was willing to leave. There was no real material motive for Belkar helping out, and his non-loyalty explanation falls a little flat. Once or twice you could buy this sort of thing. But over the long haul it starts to show a relatively consistent pattern of behavior of an actual, small-but-existent, hidden streak of... dare I say it? Decency.

    None of that means Belkar isn't evil. He's definitely, DEFINITELY evil. But a psychopath? Eeeh, I wouldn't buy it.
    Last edited by Nilan8888; 2013-10-17 at 12:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Psychopathy originally was just a broad term that covered a range of disorders and could refer to anyone who was morally impaired for reasons other than unusually low intelligence or suffering from severe delusions hallucinations, and that thinking hasn't entirely fallen out of use.

    Sociopathy came about to draw a distinction between those who were "born" psychopathic and those who gained psychopathic traits from their environment or upbringing (hence "socio-")*. It does not necessarily mean that a sociopath is any less cold or unfeeling than a psychopath or that they do or do not have any emotional attachments; it just means that social factors were a major influence in their behaviour. Both sociopaths and psychopaths had a mixture of biological and environmental factors in their background, but psychopaths lean towards the former while sociopaths lean toward the latter.

    * This doesn't necessarily mean a "bad" or abusive childhood; the Nazi Air Marshall Hermann Goring was diagnosed a sociopath prior to the Nuremberg Trials, but he had a very happy childhood- the problem was he was pretty much spoilt, doted on and got his way too often, so as an adult he was obscenely entitled.

    Nowadays neither term is used by official diagnostic manuals or psychological organizations, but this isn't a rejection of those terms per say- it often simply suggests research in said field is limited when that happens- and there is a strong lobby to being one or both of them back. The DSM has the diagnosis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder, but that is widely criticised because the criteria focuses almost solely on outward behaviour and nearly the entire prison population of America (and probably every country on Earth) easily meets it, even though most don't have the condition. Several individual psychologists and groups use the term psychopathy and do extensive studying of the subject- most notably Robert Hare who wrote the widely used Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which checks for degrees of psychopathy (and sociopathy, considered synonymous with Anti-Social Personality Disorder), with 25-30 / 40 being the cut-off point for a diagnosed psychopath. The criteria on any such checklist may be biased by cultural factors or similar.

    Psychopathy is not an absolute term. Examples of real life psychopaths almost never display absolutely no sign of any kind of affection or empathy or remorse (however shallow that is) whatsoever at any point in their lives.
    Just because someone ticks all the boxes for psychopath but appears to, say, enjoy spending time with their kids or regret doing bad on one day or another (be careful about confusing regret with remorse, though), or gets themselves a degree or does their job properly and professionally, does not mean they are not a psychopath. There are always variations and rarely any pure examples of anything.

    It is not true either that psychopaths have no hobbies or interests, or that they are not sociable (many are very sociable, if only / mainly because they recognise others as means to various ends, or because that's what everyone else is doing- often they do just want company though). In a very real sense it could simply mean that you are a psychopath if you tick enough boxes in a given checklist, though brain scans do seem to show that psychopaths are different in fundamental ways. Most are of average / below-average intelligence, but intelligence varies just like in everyone else, and a minority of psychopaths really are very smart.

    Mainly though psychopaths are those who are emotionally shallow and consequently lack empathy (or vice-versa- emotionally shallow because they lack empathy). They can like somebody, but they cannot love them (though they might call or even think it love); they can feel regret, though not real remorse (ditto). Or perhaps they can feel love or remorse for a fleeting moment or in a superficial and meaningless way (eg. "I shouldn't have killed that baby...oh, well."- that's an extreme example, of course). Most are vulnerable to other personality disorders (narcissism especially) and its not at all unusual to find two or more disorders in a single person (psychopath / sociopath or otherwise). Most serial killers are psychopaths (though only about 60% or so, I think) but most psychopaths are not serial killers- they are far more likely to simply lie or cheat than steal or kill, as are sociopaths.

    Belkar and Nale seem to be sociopaths (and Belkar is absolutely not autistic- he just likes stabbing things more than reading), while Tarquin and Xykon are most likely psychopaths. Nale is probably the way he is because of his upbringing, while both he and Belkar show a bit to much strong emotion and affection for some others to be psychopathic (but far too much senseless and guiltless violence and sadism to not be at least sociopathic); Tarquin, though, seems to really have no sense of empathy (which is different from not being able to read emotions, which he can do very well) and while he might be serious when he tells Elan he loves him its quite clear that his love doesn't really mean all that much, and he can kill anyone- including his children- without a shred of remorse; Xykon isn't much different and as a bonus we know he's been the way he from a young age with seemingly no social factors influencing his behaviour. Redcloak and Tsukiko are most likely sociopaths as well.

    Sociopath, here, means that it was mainly from their environment that shaped their behaviour, as can be speculated from their shown upbringing or inferred from their behaviour (sociopaths demonstrate more genuine emotion and emotional attachment, or evidence thereof). Whether all or none meet the criteria depends entirely on what criteria you use, though, since their are so many schools of thought on the subject.
    Last edited by masamune1; 2013-10-21 at 01:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    That's a very good summary (and fits well with the The Giant using "sociopath" rather than "psychopath" in commentary in the OoTS books) - though Roy tended to use "psychopath" when describing Belkar in, for example, Origin of PCs, that doesn't mean he's completely right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    That's a very good summary (and fits well with the The Giant using "sociopath" rather than "psychopath" in commentary in the OoTS books) - though Roy tended to use "psychopath" when describing Belkar in, for example, Origin of PCs, that doesn't mean he's completely right.
    Well, again, that depends on the criteria. Some psychologists use the term psychopath differently from others- Theodore Millon, for instance, identifies ten different kinds of psychopath, but treats the word as the same thing as Anti-Social and Sadistic Personality Disorders (and combinations thereof). Roy is speaking as a layman, but he is technically completely right and technically completely wrong; it just depends on the exact definition you use.

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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Roy may also have a tendency to judge harshly:

    Roy Greenhilt: The rogue is ambitious and greedy, the ranger is a complete psychopath, the wizard is trigger-happy and never stops talking, and the bard is as dumb as a box of moldy carrots!

    Durkon Thundershield: As I recall, ye called me "surly and unpleasant" shortly after ye met me.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by masamune1 View Post
    Psychopathy originally was just a broad term that covered a range of disorders and could refer to anyone who was morally impaired for reasons other than unusually low intelligence or suffering from severe delusions hallucinations, and that thinking hasn't entirely fallen out of use...

    ...Sociopath, here, means that it was mainly from their environment that shaped their behaviour, as can be speculated from their shown upbringing or inferred from their behaviour (sociopaths demonstrate more genuine emotion and emotional attachment, or evidence thereof). Whether all or none meet the criteria depends entirely on what criteria you use, though, since their are so many schools of thought on the subject.
    Thank you for that insightful summary. Its not clear from this analysis that Belkar's loyalty to the Order is incompatible or in a great deal of tension with a sociopathic label, but it is suggestive that too much loyalty (where it doesn't serve self-interest or Belkar's kicks) is.

    It does suggest strongly that post-remove curse Belkar (after the removal he demonstrated attachment to Mr. Scruffy AS WELL AS a "whole thing" with Celia and Haley) is not fitting the sociopathic mold anymore.
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    I think he is still a sociopath. Again, just because one or two things are unusual (like his loyalty / friendship with the Stick) doesn't mean much if he fits the rest of the criteria. Most real life sociopaths and psychopaths do have family and friends they are reasonably loyal to (for those family and friends, its usually the friendship that becomes the problem). There are also principled sociopaths / psychopaths to consider. Since he's not a psychopath, his feelings of loyalty and his affection for Mr Scruffy will be a bit more meaningful.

    But I do agree Belkar is getting better.

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    What would be an example of a psychopath with genuine hobbies and interests?

    There's only a couple that come to mind. One example involves a well-known person who was involved in law and politics in the 70s, but he was largely drawn to that, as I remember, because he was rejected by a female interest due to immaturity and lack of ambition. So he went out and embarked on getting a law degree and was involved in political party politics at a low level. Once he'd come back into that original person's life, by design, he summarily dropped her one day, and then seemed to lose interest in law and politics. Which implies to me that the entire thing was forced and motivated by something other than an actual interest in law and politics.

    The other, even more notorious example from the late 60s, seems a little more genuine, but that individual's interest in music was atypical, as was his MO since he mostly got others to commit crimes for him rather than commit them himself.

    I'm unaware of other examples. People like Goering I'd be adverse to considering since I'm not sure there's conclusive evidence that, had there never been a Nazi party or a WWII, he would have ever killed anyone or had them killed, and there's every indication his marriages were fully functional -- especially since he seemed quite content with his status as an ace in WWI. The highly unusual and unstable societal situation made a lot of those men what they were, similar to some of the people in the French Revolution. In the earlier two examples, society at large was probably less of a factor.
    Last edited by Nilan8888; 2013-10-21 at 11:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
    What would be an example of a psychopath with genuine hobbies and interests?

    There's only a couple that come to mind. One example involves a well-known person who was involved in law and politics in the 70s, but he was largely drawn to that, as I remember, because he was rejected by a female interest due to immaturity and lack of ambition. So he went out and embarked on getting a law degree and was involved in political party politics at a low level. Once he'd come back into that original person's life, by design, he summarily dropped her one day, and then seemed to lose interest in law and politics. Which implies to me that the entire thing was forced and motivated by something other than an actual interest in law and politics.
    I take it you are talking about Ted Bundy. In his case, its just that his real hobby turned out to be frowned upon by society.

    He claimed that he sought then dumped her just to see if he could. She had earlier dumped him because he didn't seem to have any ambition- he wanted to show her up, but he continued to stay in the political job and though it was low-level, it made him contacts and he definitely could have had a bright career ahead of him- it wasn't an unusual starting point for someone with political ambitions. Plenty of psychopaths get into politics and he was no different.

    To be honest I've never heard or read anything that says psychopaths do not have hobbies. I have read that they are easily bored and constantly seek stimulation, so its more likely that many just try and drop hobbies like hats. For serial killers like Bundy, the hobby was rape, torture and murder, but that doesn't mean that non-murderous psychopaths don't have non-murderous hobbies. The average psychopath might turn petty crime or substance abuse or serial womanizing, but they can still enjoy video games or a good movie too.

    The other, even more notorious example from the late 60s, seems a little more genuine, but that individual's interest in music was atypical, as was his MO since he mostly got others to commit crimes for him rather than commit them himself.

    I'm unaware of other examples. People like Goering I'd be adverse to considering since I'm not sure there's conclusive evidence that, had there never been a Nazi party or a WWII, he would have ever killed anyone or had them killed, and there's every indication his marriages were fully functional -- especially since he seemed quite content with his status as an ace in WWI. The highly unusual and unstable societal situation made a lot of those men what they were, similar to some of the people in the French Revolution. In the earlier two examples, society at large was probably less of a factor.
    Goering sought out the Nazi Party specifically- in his own words- because it was small and he could dominate it quickly (which he did), to overthrow the Weimar Republic "and maybe, one day, to become dictator of Germany". He had killed hundreds of people before WWII broke out (and killing people has naught to do with being a sociopath or a psychopath), usually to settle scores or advance his career as much as securing the future of the Nazi state, and his career is littered with lying, cheating, stealing and brutality.

    In power he was a textbook kleptocrat and he was the mastermind behind the Night of the Long Knives, the Nazi purge of its enemies inside the party and without (Hitler himself was rather ambivalent about the whole thing). He also thought Nazi anti-Semitism was "useful" but didn't particularly hate the Jews. The societal situation attracted sociopaths and psychopaths to the Nazi party, and Goering joined early because of his grandiose ambitions and self-interest. He, like many leaders and members of the Nazi party, demonstrated sociopathic traits before he ever joined them.

    He was one of the more pleasant and charming sociopaths in the Nazi party, to be sure, but he was still a sociopath. He was a pathological liar (including to his wives, though his marriages were indeed happy- if over-the-top); he habitually took drugs; he charmed and befriended people whose downfall he plotted; he was grandiose, manipulative, reckless, ruthless, spoilt and entitled, and showed evidence of all of this even in his youth. The Nazi party attracted such people; it didn't just create them.

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    I take it you are talking about Ted Bundy. In his case, its just that his real hobby turned out to be frowned upon by society.
    Bundy was the first example, Manson the second. I tried not to use names in case the mods raised an alert, which they still might.

    He claimed that he sought then dumped her just to see if he could. She had earlier dumped him because he didn't seem to have any ambition- he wanted to show her up, but he continued to stay in the political job and though it was low-level, it made him contacts and he definitely could have had a bright career ahead of him- it wasn't an unusual starting point for someone with political ambitions. Plenty of psychopaths get into politics and he was no different.
    It's one thing to go through getting something and another to stay in it.

    Psychopaths get into things like politics because of the power involved in it, the same reason they get into other positions of authority. But I think it's a totally other thing to say they have a genuine curiosity in the subject matter.

    Bundy is a good example because he summarily stopped with a lot of his law classes after dumping his 'romantic' interest the second time. His subsequent schooling afterward prior to his capture (I think this was in Utah) also seemed to go nowhere and he stated having frustration with it.

    That he kept on in the political job, I think, doesn't reflect an interest in politics as much as he saw that it was giving him advantages. But would he have initially pursued it had he never met the woman who dumped him for lack of ambition? I think he would have needed to have come from a social strata where that was expected (born to a rich or wealthy family). It's not that a psychopath isn't interested in advancement, it's that they're not interested in pursuits that won't yield them a lot of power. So if they don't come from a certain class, they're probably not going to strive for something that's really out of their comfort zone or requires hard work and concentration that they're not compelled into. So if you were born to a working class family with a working class education, why become a lawyer when you can become a cop or a prison guard?

    To be honest I've never heard or read anything that says psychopaths do not have hobbies. I have read that they are easily bored and constantly seek stimulation, so its more likely that many just try and drop hobbies like hats. For serial killers like Bundy, the hobby was rape, torture and murder, but that doesn't mean that non-murderous psychopaths don't have non-murderous hobbies. The average psychopath might turn petty crime or substance abuse or serial womanizing, but they can still enjoy video games or a good movie too.
    What I've read pertained largely to narcissists, so by admission I'm including psychopaths by proxy. Also, what you're saying actually sort of fits what I'm trying to get at, because your initial examples, at least, involve instant gratification.

    Petty crime, womanizing are only 'hobbies' in the barest sense. In terms of enjoying video games or movies, I'm not sure a psychopath would be likely to enjoy 'Terms of Endearment', although they might get a kick out of 'Rambo'. Although they'd pretend to like popular culture, they'd only really have an interest in the sex, the violence, and the comedy (especially comedy at the expense of a given character).

    But hobbies like astronomy? Like writing? Like collecting stamps? Like anything that might not turn into a job and might require a fair amount of discipline prior to the reward? I'm not sure that's in the realm of a psychopath. Which is what makes Manson's case unusual, to me, because the extent to which he followed that hobby is a lot closer to a normal person -- although one could argue it was the performance (and the hangers-on it brought) he was interested in rather than the songwriting.


    In power he was a textbook kleptocrat and he was the mastermind behind the Night of the Long Knives, the Nazi purge of its enemies inside the party and without (Hitler himself was rather ambivalent about the whole thing). He also thought Nazi anti-Semitism was "useful" but didn't particularly hate the Jews. The societal situation attracted sociopaths and psychopaths to the Nazi party, and Goering joined early because of his grandiose ambitions and self-interest. He, like many leaders and members of the Nazi party, demonstrated sociopathic traits before he ever joined them.

    He was one of the more pleasant and charming sociopaths in the Nazi party, to be sure, but he was still a sociopath. He was a pathological liar (including to his wives, though his marriages were indeed happy- if over-the-top); he habitually took drugs; he charmed and befriended people whose downfall he plotted; he was grandiose, manipulative, reckless, ruthless, spoilt and entitled, and showed evidence of all of this even in his youth. The Nazi party attracted such people; it didn't just create them.
    Firstly, much of his behavior comes through his privileged background. Is this necessarily all that distinct from people such as Lord Mountbatten? Tsar Nicholas II? Many members of the aristocracy? It seems strange to me to look at some people who were born to these levels of privilege and say how many of them were sociopaths for doing some of the things Goering did. When we look at Goering and how he mourned his wife... I dunno, I can't see Ted Bundy or Dahmer doing that. Feels like a totally separate category of human being. Plus I think there's something to be said for the world needing to label the Nazis as distinct from themselves.

    To this end, the nature of German politics was by this time violent prior to not only Goering, but the Nazi party itself after WWI. The fate of Rose Luxembourg came at the hand of the Social Democrats, for instance. The existence of Stahlhelm for another, an organization totally independent from the Nazis. I think with Goering you might have to look at him in the context of his time, in which he might seem not so out of place. Bundy on the other hand, when the full extent of his life is seen, is VERY much out of place.
    Last edited by Nilan8888; 2013-10-22 at 02:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Sociopathy in Order of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post

    It's one thing to go through getting something and another to stay in it.

    Psychopaths get into things like politics because of the power involved in it, the same reason they get into other positions of authority. But I think it's a totally other thing to say they have a genuine curiosity in the subject matter.

    Bundy is a good example because he summarily stopped with a lot of his law classes after dumping his 'romantic' interest the second time. His subsequent schooling afterward prior to his capture (I think this was in Utah) also seemed to go nowhere and he stated having frustration with it.

    That he kept on in the political job, I think, doesn't reflect an interest in politics as much as he saw that it was giving him advantages. But would he have initially pursued it had he never met the woman who dumped him for lack of ambition? I think he would have needed to have come from a social strata where that was expected (born to a rich or wealthy family). It's not that a psychopath isn't interested in advancement, it's that they're not interested in pursuits that won't yield them a lot of power. So if they don't come from a certain class, they're probably not going to strive for something that's really out of their comfort zone or requires hard work and concentration that they're not compelled into. So if you were born to a working class family with a working class education, why become a lawyer when you can become a cop or a prison guard?



    What I've read pertained largely to narcissists, so by admission I'm including psychopaths by proxy. Also, what you're saying actually sort of fits what I'm trying to get at, because your initial examples, at least, involve instant gratification.

    Petty crime, womanizing are only 'hobbies' in the barest sense. In terms of enjoying video games or movies, I'm not sure a psychopath would be likely to enjoy 'Terms of Endearment', although they might get a kick out of 'Rambo'. Although they'd pretend to like popular culture, they'd only really have an interest in the sex, the violence, and the comedy (especially comedy at the expense of a given character).

    But hobbies like astronomy? Like writing? Like collecting stamps? Like anything that might not turn into a job and might require a fair amount of discipline prior to the reward? I'm not sure that's in the realm of a psychopath. Which is what makes Manson's case unusual, to me, because the extent to which he followed that hobby is a lot closer to a normal person -- although one could argue it was the performance (and the hangers-on it brought) he was interested in rather than the songwriting.




    Firstly, much of his behavior comes through his privileged background. Is this necessarily all that distinct from people such as Lord Mountbatten? Tsar Nicholas II? Many members of the aristocracy? It seems strange to me to look at some people who were born to these levels of privilege and say how many of them were sociopaths for doing some of the things Goering did. When we look at Goering and how he mourned his wife... I dunno, I can't see Ted Bundy or Dahmer doing that. Feels like a totally separate category of human being. Plus I think there's something to be said for the world needing to label the Nazis as distinct from themselves.

    To this end, the nature of German politics was by this time violent prior to not only Goering, but the Nazi party itself after WWI. The fate of Rose Luxembourg came at the hand of the Social Democrats, for instance. The existence of Stahlhelm for another, an organization totally independent from the Nazis. I think with Goering you might have to look at him in the context of his time, in which he might seem not so out of place. Bundy on the other hand, when the full extent of his life is seen, is VERY much out of place.
    I think using Bundy and Manson as examples of typical psychopaths is a bit fallacious. Most psychopaths are not serial killers or cult leaders but outwardly act like normal people. I think getting into whether or not they have hobbies is not going to get us anyway- again, I have yet to read anything that says they don't have hobbies, and its hard to get a list of diagnosed psychopaths (or nearly impossible, since it isn't an officially recognised diagnosis) who are and are not violent criminals.

    And I don't think that being interested in politics because of power means you are not interested in politics, and its not just the power that attracts intelligent psychopaths but the fact that they are good at it, since you can go far if you are a remorseless manipulator. They are more generally attracted to success- they can hold an interest if they have a talent for it and if it brings them rewards. But if they are bored and just want to pass the time or aren't going anywhere with their lives- yeah, they could write or do something similar- John Wayne Gacy painted without any expectation of profit (because he wasn't allowed to; it didn't bother him- the infamy probably helped, but still).

    Rose Luxemburg wasn't killed by Social Democrats; the government brought in the far-right Friekorp militia to suppress an attempted Communist revolution, and the Friekorps took the opportunity to murder her off their own back. The killers were put on trial for this, and acquitted by a sympathetic right-wing court. Hermann Goering was actually diagnosed as a sociopath, and he does stand out from other members of his class in many ways. That he came from a certain background matters about as much as the crap childhoods of Bundy and Manson- it helped shape his behaviour, but it doesn't invalidate him being a sociopath.

    Its not like his social class was devoid of such people just because it had a subculture of prejudice and elitism. That he doesn't perfectly fit the criteria because of things like seemingly loving his wives doesn't exclude him because few sociopaths perfectly fit the criteria anyway (Harold Shipman- who, by the way, came from a working class family and became a doctor through hard work and determination- also seemed to have a good, or at least stable marriage, and claimed his suicide was so that his wife could get a pension). Point is, just because a sociopath or a psychopath can keep a steady marriage or have a good career- in other words, if they tick everyone box but one or two-, does not mean they are not psychopathic.

    Anyway, I think we're getting way way off topic here.
    Last edited by masamune1; 2013-10-22 at 03:54 PM.

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