Psychopaths Can Form Bonds: Love as Symbiosis

Controversial statement: Psychopaths (Seekers) probably have the largest potential for unbiased love of any personality type.

There's a lot of controversy regarding psychopathy and feelings. Most clinically diagnosed Seekers will agree that on a whole, they do not form bonds or love in the stereotypical way. In this post we explore why the lack of typical bonding is actually not a love defect but actually a love advantage. Read the first post in this series to find out why most markers for psychopathy are actually defense mechanisms and do not explain the underlying thought process for psychopathy.

Oxytocin has been touted as the love hormone by numerous studies including some for romantic love, friendship, and familial bonding. Oxytocin is also the basis for "allegations" of loveless-ness among psychopathic individuals. They lack the ability to process oxytocin and have therefore been concluded to neither experience bonding nor love. My issue with these kinds of studies is that they have the underlying bias of basing normality on neurotypical behavior. They automatically conclude that the only kind of love and bonding is oxytocin based and because Seekers do not process it, they are devoid of these sentiments. Seekers do experience love, albeit differently, and experience it deeply.

The Bible provides a wildly divergent view of love than has been propagated in modern literature. In fact, the love described in the Bible has very little to do with emotions. In the book of Hebrews, the author describes a separation of soul and spirit, essentially, a separation of emotion and intuition, of nurture and nature. The soul represents perspective drawn from the external world while the spirit represents a fundamental worldview that is instinctive and distinct to it's owner - the spirit is the person without external obligations.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Because a person's spirit is reborn to godliness at salvation, the role of the Word of God becomes to divide between thoughts and attitudes that arise from the soul and those that arise from the spirit. This delineation becomes the foundation for the Christian ideal which is walking in/embodying God's love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

An emotion driven love is incapable of replicating the traits described in 1 Corinthians 13. Here we see a description of love that is very in tune to the general psychopathic mindset (and indeed every mindset really); not that Seekers are upstanding in their love, but that the general affectation of the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 makes intuitive sense to the Seeker.

I have been searching for a way to describe how love is experienced at least from my perspective. I remember worshipping God a lot of the time and saying to Him: "I love You". It's only recently after recognizing my emotional passivity, as in I love God but I am not emotionally agitated by His presence or absence, not at all, what my agitation is is a lot more primordial than that. And it's not just God that I love in that fashion, it's how I experience all relationships. Love occurs as symbiosis to a Seeker.

Symbiosis - Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both (Oxford dictionary).

There's two levels to the experience of love, one passively accessible to a Seeker from birth and the other accessible with the Word of God. The first form is more targeted and more likely to be identified as love by a casual observation and the second is an expansion of the first sentiment and goes to encompass all people just as Jesus said it should.

Whenever a Seeker meets someone, they immediately create a tally of reasonable expected behavior from that person. This tally is subconsciously created. For example, from a parent, there's an expectation of attention, time, and conversation. That's reasonable benefit from that interaction. Bonding occurs for the Seeker when these expectations are not met but rather exceeded. The Seeker approaches each relationship expecting to "doctor" the interaction; to anticipate the other's needs and to move the interchange towards a beneficial ending, regardless of whether that's to the benefit of just one or both parties. This is the stage where a lot of the breakdown that's been commonly associated with psychopathy occurs.

The Seeker has allocated a designated amount of 'social energy' to each relationship, usually correlating to its duration or until the desired outcome has been achieved. If bonding has not occurred, i.e. reasonable expectations have not been exceeded, and the social situation is at its end, they will then move on from this relationship. To the Seeker, a state of symbiosis has not been achieved. No mutual benefit has occurred. After spending all their 'social budget' for the relationship, no action from the other party has warranted an addition to their neural network. This is usually devastating to the other party because on their part, they have formed an emotional attachment which to them was enough to sustain relationship and whose terms are broken by the sudden termination of association.

So when a Seeker says they love someone, they are not referring to an emotional connection, what they are saying instead is that that person has exceeded an arbitrary underlying metric in ways that they found surprising and rare. This person has been added to the symbiotic network. Seekers require this symbiotic network to survive.

The requirements for the Seeker's symbiotic network are large and a lot of the time, this need fails to be met in daily interaction. And so you have a seemingly insatiable pursuit of thrill which is not a pursuit of thrill but of balance and calm. The closest comparison in nature would be the atom. An atom has a nucleus (a center) made of protons and neutrons. This core is positively charged and attracts oppositely charged particles - electrons - which orbit around the nucleus offsetting its charge and consequently balancing the atom.

The symbiotic network performs the role of the electrons for the Seeker. It provides a system of élan vital information input and output. The best case scenario would be that the symbiotic network is constantly active to the degree necessary to maintain calm. This is not usually the case. In an effort to maintain balance, Seekers will resort to almost anything that functions as a drug, that is, it provides thrill and can be repeated. Whatever activity this is will have to bring balance to their internal symbiosis: essentially, they will exist in ongoing input from and output to the activity.

This is the first level of love to which every Seeker has access; the ability to form symbiotic relationships that operate from the pnuema (Greek for vital spirit/soul/creative force). It is the default by which they interact with people and even with things. It is why they are always seeking adventure, it provides a deep-seated satisfaction that transcends the cerebral. Their unique perspective also provides an excellent bedrock for the Love of God. The next post in the series will explore the function of God's love in the Seeker's life and how that love expands the Seeker's capacity to encompass the love depicted in 1 Corinthians 13.

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