I was trying to figure out how to tell this story without mentioning that I'd had a bunch of psychological testing done. But I mentioned that last post. Again, I'm fine and have escaped some pretty serious demons through what is I assume the grace of a few well-placed strands of DNA. (Of course, the indirect effect of said demons in others was inescapable, but that's another post. Actually, it is in some ways exactly this post. People unaffected by such things don't have their minds go into places like this in the dark hours of a sleepless night. I assume.)
Anyway, so this was hours and hours of filling out multiple choice batteries, describing ink blots and making up stories to go along with pictures. When it was all over, the psychologist who had administered the tests went to her computer and was compiling my bill.
Being me, I started looking at her books as I was waiting. She had quite a few on crime and the criminal mind.
"Do you do forensic work?" I asked.
She smiled. "Yes." My bill was printing.
"Can I ask you something about that?"
"Do sociopaths have souls?"
She looked at me for a long moment, but not nearly as long a moment as a lot of people would have. "True sociopathy is not as common as most people think. But the real ones? No. They don't have souls."
"Hmmm..." I said. "I tend to agree. I confess I've been working on this one in my own head for years. As closely as I can figure, the soul is what inside us that is receptive to the force some people call "God." And I am really loath to label another human being as soulless, but that's the conclusion I'd come to. They just can't pick up on God's radio signals." She nodded as if that sounded reasonable to her. "But it upsets me that my religion breaks down at sociopathy."
She gave a tired laugh, "oh, Honey. Psychology breaks down at sociopathy, too. Everything breaks down at sociopathy."
I'm certain I thanked her for her time and said goodbye, but my memory of the conversation stops there.
(Item: Boris, one of our cats, just nosed the bedroom door open and I about jumped out of my skin.)
So, I guess what I am asking here is does anybody else have a theological framework where the concept of a person who can't really concieve that other people feel even fits?
Many people take a "Well, if my girlfriend with clinical depression loved me enough, she'd cheer up" approach to mental illness and assume that anything can be overcome by sheer willpower. That people with ADHD don't fail to focus on you every minute because they don't like you, it's just the way their heads work, is really a post of it's own, but suffice to say such thinking is useless in this contest. A friend told me once about a sociopath she knew who was genuinely broken up about the fact that his sister didn't like him any more after he stole her visiting daughter's money and left his neice stranded on vacation. He can do something really obviously awful one minute, then be distressed that his victim doesn't love him the next.
Such a person is missing peices that are necessary for a moral consciousness beyond the very basic cops and robbers level.
As a universalist, I know they well be OK in the hereafter, but how does one minister to them on earth?