In the last few months, even if indirectly at times, I have once again taken it upon myself to identify those who may think like me. And by this I mean those who can operate more or less outside of the human emotional storm. I have spoken to young and old; posing questions and arguments that, at least from the vantage point of my own ignorance, have a way to reveal simple subconscious attitudes held by the subjects of my investigations. Now, you can be sure that it is impossible to identify these deep-seeded psychological traits through a few sharp questions, or a short conversation – the PCL-R for example, is a complex assessment tool that while measures twenty (20) different dimensions of behaviour, demands a trained professional evaluator. However, some questions can show you superficial aspects of an individual’s psyche. Through this journey of personal psychological research I have come to find the question of rules quite interesting, if not entertaining. These [rules] are obstacles to most people; especially those who happen to be more predisposed to emotionally motivated conduct. It is claimed by many who either don’t understand science, or who driven by their own sentimental leanings choose to create a version of the truth that fits in with their biases (and if you have read my ramblings before, you will know what I think about this portion of the population) that all human behaviour – without exemption – is driven by emotions; and while sensation is essential, the two must never be conflated.
It is precisely populations that I want to talk about, here, to explain my point on rules and emotion. Robert Hare, Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and the world’s foremost expert on psychopathy explains that only an average of 20% of prison populations fit into his description of a “psychopath”. And though this percentage is responsible for half of all violent crimes, they are still a minority in the penitentiary system. Please understand that I do not attempt to glorify even the idea of psychopathy in this or my other write-ups, the condition is frightening because of what it can mean in the worst of circumstances; circumstances that are often dense with negative experiences of sensation. I merely want to point to the benefits of functioning without the usual emotional loads. I want to explain how productive we can all be when shedding the inessential weight of unnecessary moods. If, for example, we try to understand the role that passion plays in increasing inmate numbers, we come to see that within the violent crimes arena, most are a response to its influence. And its influence appears superfluous in our supposedly advanced society, does it not? And this I assert this from my rational, materialistic stand point. Again, I am not saying that passion is a bad thing, but that it can be horrifying if uncontrolled. Historically, crimes of passion have been considered less deserving of punishment than perhaps those committed with premeditation. In what I understand to be a glimpse into the true consequence of uncontrolled emotions, these crimes have been justified as temporary insanity or more offensively to the victims: provocation. Did you know that just over twenty years ago Brazil held honour killings as legal; that in the 1980 killing adulterous wives was not only legal, but considered righteous in many “developed” states? North American (government) statistics show that over 30% of murdered women are killed by their spouses. That even today, women who murder their male partners are likely to receive lesser sentences than what is prescribed to other similar crimes; and while the reasons for these recommendations may be found in the fine print of other collective constructs like gender inequality and contracts such as religion; this very notion speaks of the pervasive and perverse role of emotion in our society.
Obviously you must investigate and verify these figures I have provided for you, here. I encourage your doubt and skepticism, and welcome your serious efforts to keep me honest. And in defense of that honesty I return to the question of rules: should they be broken? Or more importantly, have I or do I break them? The answers to these are: sometimes (depending on the outcome), and yes, I have and I still do sometimes. However, it is the potential outcome of an event or an experience that determines my behaviour. I want rules, they offer me an objective framework by which to define, manage and inevitable improve my methods of control. And if being in the moment requires us to only look to the past to review certain lessons then I know that these rules have made it possible for me to accomplish numerous missions. Planning is also benefited by rules – standards of conduct can be used a predictive guidelines.
If you conduct your own interviews you will find that it is regularly those whose sensibilities are injured by rules that repudiate them. Because they see them as negations of their desires, impositions on their freewill, and this ultimately leads to broken prides, anger and discontent and at the worst of times, typical misconduct. In the here and now you can see all rules as opportunities to adapt, to learn, or in more exuberant circumstances to be critically transgressed against. Similarly to coping with change by embracing it, you can transcend the perceived limitations of rules by accepting them and learning them well.