Psychopaths VS Aspies: Who Has More Empathy?
By Jessika Endsley
It happens to be a fact that Psychopaths indeed have more empathy than people with Aspergers Syndrome.
Yes I just said that.
Yes I have the research: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23431793
Read that. (PDF mirror)
Psychopaths have the classic hallmark of a disturbing lack of empathy. This is part of the Bob Hare checklist. Psychopaths show no remorse, no guilt, and seemingly feel no emotions that are not feigned and mimicked. Aspergers Syndrome presents itself with a lack of empathy, although less "disturbing" than that of a psychopath due to the inability to sense what others are feeling and therefore coming across as much less predatory. Although both are disconnected from the norms of society, all human beings are social creatures. As I have said before, the difference in the empathy of Psychopaths/Sociopaths and Aspies is that the former is a social predator and the latter is social prey.
Psychopaths can mimic. I wonder now why is it news that Psychopaths have more empathy than those with Aspergers (although that is not the exact statement in the above article nor is AS even mentioned, and probably won't be due to political sensitivities to the Autistic Spectrum [yeah right like they care] so I will write on it and conduct more research.) The article explains that Psychopaths can turn their empathy on and off. This is why they can mimic. To some degree, Psychopaths have empathy, and they leave it off by default. The Psychopath is a bit deeper than what their hallmark disturbances explain.
An Aspergers patient will not have the same ability to mimic that the Psychopath does - us aspies are oblivious to social cues unless trained by professionals or ourselves, and we do not have the ability to turn empathy on and off. I know a few highly empathetic Aspies, but they do not actually feel what the person they are empathizing with feels - they can only sense logically that it is a good thing or a bad thing and their emotions respond accordingly, which can be very frustrating to the Aspie. The Psychopath can feel, to a small degree, what the other person is actually feeling if they turn it on. The difference is that the Psychopath does not care. The Psychopath, by default a Narcissist, sees and knows that if that condition were happening to him, it would be uncomfortable and they know what it would feel like.
No wonder they like to keep it switched off.
I am not going to claim that Psychopaths have the same range of emotions of the average empath or NT. I cannot claim that Aspies do either because Aspies are all over the emotional spectrum - some are like me and often feel nothing, some feel so much they don't know what to do with themselves, and more often than not we are a combo. But our emotions have nothing to do with empathy for others in the vast majority of situations. The Psychopath's "empathy" may be narcissistic, but it is there, and it is based on relating to other human beings.
Psychopaths, however, have a very difficult time identifying fear in the faces of their victims (in the violent psychopaths, obviously.) Rapists, murderers, and bank robbers alike have said they don't understand why their victims cry, scream, nor do they relate to the fear because Psychopaths have an underactive or otherwise compromised amygdala (organic in Psychopaths, nurtured in Sociopaths) and this is the same reason they are prone to boredom. The amygdala may indeed be overactive in many Aspies, but people on the Autistic Spectrum don't only have trouble recognizing social cues and emotions in others - we often have difficult even recognizing familiar faces. Aspies often do not deal with boredom well, but are so fixated on certain topics that they are engrossed in them rather than thrill-seeking like the behavior of someone with a compromised amygdala. Lack of empathy = desire to harm?
Psychopaths are still social predators and still fit what subjective society calls "evil." They don't feel bad for you, they don't care about you, they wouldn't mind hurting you - but they can empathize if they want to turn it on. They just won't care once they do.
The Aspergers lack of empathy is more in line with naivety and being oblivious than an in-born desire to use, abuse, and pin-point weaknesses in others. Aspies are easy targets and can be taken advantage of due to the social obliviousness and our obsessiveness over the people we do come in contact with intentionally.
Lack of empathy. If we generalize, AS displays less empathy than Psychopathy. But which would you rather have around you?
Re-think empathy. It can be used against you.