Empathy for the Devil
This article takes an interesting but fairly highbrow—which is not to say it’s boring, BUT…—look at the functions of human empathy, and how it doesn’t only benefit the other guy; our ability to empathize is also good for us. What part of the brain is responsible for self-control? Previously science told us it was the front. You repress your desire to eat a cupcake because you want to lose weight. You think about swimsuit season instead of the taste of the sweet treat. That’s your frontal lobe at work. But a new study suggests that the right temporoparietal junction plays a part. That’s the part of your brain where empathy lives. When you bypass the cupcake in favor of weight loss, you are actually feeling empathy for yourself, the study maintains. Empathy for your future self. Sounds plausible.
Here’s where it becomes interesting. Not that the other part ISN’T interesting, but this site doesn’t deal with general psychology. We’re into the ABNORMAL stuff. Let us extrapolate, then, from this new theory. Let’s say someone angers you, and your inner animal voice is screaming at you to bash that person’s brains out. What stops you? Empathy, i.e. your conscience? For normal people, yes. But isn’t it also empathy for yourself? You don’t want to go to jail or the gas chamber, so out of empathy for yourself, you abstain from the violence. And when we’re dealing with sociopaths, who have NO empathy, what else is there to restrain them, if not self-preservation?