Religion and Sociopathy/Psychopathy

Most religions require or at the very least encourage their adherents to care about their fellow human beings and to treat them well, in general. (Let’s not get into debates about specific instances where religions advocate cruelty, etc., unless it directly affects the point of this post.)

But science now recognizes that there are some human beings who simply lack the capacity to care about other human beings. it’s not that they are morally flawed, it’s that they just don’t have the CAPACITY to care, so that no amount of instruction or encouragement can help them – they can only ape the speech and behaviors that demonstrate caring and kindness, without having the feelings or understanding them.

Do any religions take into account the existence of sociopaths, people who are unable to care through not fault of their own, and if so, how?

For at very least a century, most religions have been aware of moral exceptions, such as lunatics, drug addicts, people with severe social disconnectedness, etc. This is generally covered by the rubric, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Religion has long understood that there are some people who simply cannot help themselves.

Some deeper theological disagreement may exist over whether human Free Will can be alienated. Can someone be so very ill that their will, itself, is taken from them? I would think that most religions understand that.

(Just for instance, I do not believe that the Catholics would hold someone to be damned for all time, even if they renounced their faith, abominated scripture, and reviled the Trinity…if they did all that under torture.)

I’d say: no. religion has a history, well documented, of blaming mental illness on demons.

Well we didn’t have a modern understanding of the nature of sociopathy and psychopathy until quite recently. Psychopaths probably fit quite comfortably under the rubric of “lunatic/possessed by demons” but sociopaths are often not recognized as being mentally ill as they are often able to function quite well in society, in fact, I’ve read that sociopathy is much more frequent among corporate CEOS than among the general population because their ability to fake emotion combined with an ability to harm to others without any pangs of conscience makes them more effective CEOs than non-sociopaths.

My thought was that you can’t even call a sociopath a sinner in terms of being cruel toward others because they have no inner capacity to understand cruelty, or to be ashamed of it. They have to develop abstract understandings of these terms in order to function well in society. It might even be argued that sociopaths who are able to do so are more virtuous than non-sociopaths, because they don’t have any inner moral compass to aid them.

Sure, but that’s in the historical past. We didn’t have any real understanding of sociopathology and psychopathology until recently. Was just wondering if any religion had updated their teachings or had had teachings that took them into account all along.

Religion, in general, is one of the major causes of psychopathology.

As does science, until relatively recently. Things change in the mainstream.

I think most mainstream Judeo/Christian religions have an understanding that some people are sociopathic/psychopathic and can’t be held accountable for their actions from a sin or “love thy neighbor” standpoint. In my thinking (and I believe in most of the folks at my church), these folk will be held to a different standard when the time for accounting comes. No idea what standard, but different. I think the converse of “To whom much is given, much is expected” applies here.

update their teaching???


the bible is the WORD OF GOD

it can not be updated

Please continue, Robert. Ignorance is such an interesting thing to watch.

I’ve said all that I can say, in, IMHO, Doctor Jackson

Most if not all religions acknowledge the existence of bad or evil people. Sociopaths who manage to do an okay job of following the religion’s rules for correct behavior probably would not be considered especially bad/evil, while those who couldn’t would be.

I don’t think the existence of sociopaths presents a conundrum for most of the world’s religions. It’s not even problematic for all forms of Christianity. I don’t know a whole lot about Calvinism, but I think a Calvinist would take sociopathic behavior to be evidence that this person was a reprobate who had been predestined for damnation.

I’m ashamed that it took all the way until post six for someone to come in and say, “Religion r dumb and da ebil hurr hurr.”

So the new testament doesn’t exist. Interesting.

I stand by my statement. The evidence is overwhelming.

I was thinking of the fact taht the King James Version is kind of the updated and revised Word of God, with some books left out from earlier versions. For Mormons, the Bible has certainly been updated. The Protestants and Catholics each understand their texts differently. the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims have all updated the Old Testament. Of course, each of these has their adherents who believe that their particular update is the only one that is true. But fact is, the Bible has clearly been updated many times.

But my point wasnt that this or that interpretation was true or untrue, I just found the notion of people who were, through no fault of their own, unable to follow religious prescriptiosn for goodness, an interesting religious conundrum.

yes, but sociopaths who are ruthless and harm people thereby are not reprobates, they’re emotional cripples. I mean, you see a rabid dog wandering the street, you shoot it before it can bite someone, but you don’t think it’s evil or a reprobate. It’s just sick. You feel sorry for it, dangerous as it is.

Yeah, true, agreed. But, you shoot it, you don’t pet it then shoot it.

Oh good. You can link to some of it.

People without the capacity to care for others are still capable of understanding and complying with laws, social expectation, and the needs of friends and family.

Here’s some evidence:

While investigations of physical morbidity had been ongoing for decades, prior to this study psychiatric epidemiologists showed less interest in the impact of characteristics or functions of religion on population rates of psychopathology. The Midtown Manhattan Study led to other studies, which have since snowballed. In the early 1980s, literature reviews began summarizing this work, by then consisting of about 200 empirical studies of various outcomes (e.g. Gartner, Larson, & Allen, 1981; Larson, Pattison, Blazer, Omran, & Kaplan, 1986). The verdict was consistent. According to one authoritative review, “The mental health influence of religious beliefs and practices – particularly when imbedded within a long-standing, well-integrated faith tradition – is largely a positive one”

So religion has a positive effect on mental health, not negative as panache45 claimed.

Did they control for the effect a strong coherent and cohesive community?