Archive for March, 2012

Yvonne Roeb

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2012 by pauljohnwhite

The Psychopath’s uncanny imitation of human characteristics.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2012 by pauljohnwhite

And then I heard a strange noise coming from Constant. His body was shaking. The noise I could hear was something like sobbing. But it wasn’t quite sobbing. It was an approximation of sobbing. His face was screwed up like a face would be if it were crying, but it was weird, like bad acting. A grown man in a dapper suit was pretending to cry in front of me. This would have been awkward enough if he was actually crying – I find displays of overt emotion not at all pleasant – but this was a man palpably simulating crying, which made the moment at once awkward, surreal and quite disturbing. (This describes an uncanny reaction to imitation of human characteristics and empathy, not from a machine or robot, but another person who is lacking genuine emotional characteristics despite having the exterior appearance of a normal person)

Our time together ended soon afterwards. He showed me to his door, the epitome of good manners, laughing, giving me a warm handshake, saying we’d meet again soon. Just as I reached my car I turned around to wave again, and when I saw him I felt a jolt pass through me – like my amygdala had just shot a signal of fear through to my central nervous system. His face was very different, much colder, suspicious. He was scrutinizing me hard. The instant I caught his eye he put on that warm look again. He grinned and waved. (pp132-133)

Bob Hare said psychopaths were skilful imitators. He once told a journalist a story about how he’d been asked to consult on a Nicole Kidman movie called Malice. She wanted to prepare for a role as a psychopath. Bob told he, ‘Here’s a scene you can use. You’re walking down a street and there’s an accident. A car has hit a child. A crowd of people gather round. You walk up, the child’s lying on the ground and there’s blood running all over the place. You get a little blood on your shoes and you look down and say, “Oh shit.” You look over at the child, kind of interested, but you’re not repelled or horrified. You’re just interested. Then you look at the mother, and you’re really fascinated by the mother, who’s emoting, crying out, doing all these things. After a few minutes you turn away and go back to your house. You go into the bathroom and practice mimicking the facial expressions of the mother. That’s the psychopath: somebody who doesn’t understands what is going on emotionally, but understands that something important has happened. (pp142-143)

Ronson, A (2011) The Psychopath Test. Picador. London.