Sociopaths and self destructive characters

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by DarknessFalls, Dec 16, 2015.

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  1. DarknessFalls

    DarknessFalls Rpg Maker Jesus - JS Dev. Veteran

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    That was a really interesting read :)
     
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  2. Valkyriet

    Valkyriet Pocket Panda Veteran

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    Pretty sure Hannibal Lecter was a psychopath, not a sociopath.

    Also, I don't think you'd love it any more if faced with a character like that, and having to get your ear chewed off or, in worst cases, having your liver eaten raw. No person in their right mind loves a psychopath, and for the simple reason that they're dangerous. Yes, the fictional character in question is charismatic, granted, but not all are. Psychopaths kill without remorse, and it's not a lovable trait.
     
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  3. DarknessFalls

    DarknessFalls Rpg Maker Jesus - JS Dev. Veteran

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    He was a sociopath, he had no emotions and no empathy for what he did
     
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  4. ARMR

    ARMR Veteran Veteran

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    In a game I'm designing I'm having a character that does not grow up through the whole game, even though he does have character archs.

    Inspired by a player I had in a TTRPG, that even though he saw what he hated to be useful and helpful, and not really that bad, he stayed a bigot during the whole game.

    Just make a character extremely stubborn, that will be their downfall. They own hubris will do them in.
     
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  5. DarknessFalls

    DarknessFalls Rpg Maker Jesus - JS Dev. Veteran

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    I dont think that would make them a sociopath, more of an ignorant person ??
     
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  6. Chrispy

    Chrispy Veteran Veteran

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    not to go over what was already said earlier in the thread, but, Psychopath and Sociopath are actually the same thing. I've never found a proper way to define it, because every single different source tries to define it differently. The simplest way I could define it is that it's pretty much people who are disconnected from society in one way or another, but not necessarily anti-social. They can be intelligent or not. They can seem very friendly, or not at all. they can be manipulative, or not at all. They can be a crazed killer, or not at all. Its a very broad subject and trying to use just one example of the disorder to define it all (and also trying to separate varying levels of this disorder into two separate terms) is somewhat foolish to me. ((An in-game example of a sociopath might be someone who uses a potion on themselves, even when commanded to use it on another party member.))

    Psychosis, which should not be confused with Psychopathy, is someone who is at least partially disconnected with reality in some form (which is very different from someone who is simple anti-social). They are normally delusional and some have an unrealistic sense of superiority over others. Extreme Psycho/Sociopaths will display some level of psychosis, but it is not required. Kefka, Sepiroth, Ultimecia, etc. from Final Fantasy were all suffering from Psychosis, but they weren't all necessarily sociopaths either. ((An in-game example might be someone who feels so big and invincible that they don't wear armor when there's swords, arrows, and lightning bolts flying around))

    The biggest problem with disorders like this though is that they overlap, cross-over and contradict with each other. You can read this thread and see that people are confused by what disorder is what. it can get even more,...complicated if you throw a disorder in there like PTSD, which can sometimes display symptoms of half a dozen other 'separate' disorders. ((an example might be a character that freezes up in battle for a turn when a spell is used that generates a loud sound.))
     
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  7. Valkyriet

    Valkyriet Pocket Panda Veteran

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    *sigh* Part of the point of this thread was about how sociopaths and psychopaths are not one and the same.

    The main reason this discussion is unsuited for your research purposes is because 1) Lecter was a fictional character and even though he was intended to be a sociopath, the portrayal of the character exhibited all the characteristics of a classic psychopath (i.e. charmer, not afraid to talk to people, no feelings attached and no empathy); 2) You still need proper references and study material by actual experts in the field if you want to avoid making the same mistakes in your game. Hollywood and fictional characters are not credible sources. Re-iterating for the third time, but it's better to skip this whole idea of trying to implement a metaphorical black hole than misinform people.
     
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  8. AwesomeCool

    AwesomeCool Bratty and spoiled little sister Veteran

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    Agree with Valkyriet (again).

    If you truly want a realistic sociopath, research it from expert sources (Someone with a phd).  

    Any other source should be taken as wrong (even if they could be correct), if only due to the risk of misinformation.

    and taking info from fiction (especially Hollywood) would be the opposite of realistic portrayal.

    Would you trust info from someone who spent there life researching the subject or some director who spent probably less then 10 minutes studying the subject? (Psychology is a very complicated field and many things are still unknown in it)
     
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  9. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

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    I'd say make the character that you need to make for your story and let other people decide whether to classify your character as a psychopath, a sociopath, or of some other mental condition. Valkyriet and AwesomeCool are both right. You can't use fiction as your source of science facts.
     
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  10. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    And to emphasize this further, not everything in psychology is agreed upon by the experts either.
     
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  11. Lunarea

    Lunarea Artist Global Mod

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    There's been a lot of research done that shows that quite a few successful business people have sociopathic tendencies. In their case, it's reflected in increased ambition and ability to put their own needs before their coworkers/friends/etc. They're capable of working in a team if necessary, but they have no qualms about (figuratively) stepping on others to further themselves. It leads to success and advancement in certain businesses where the competition is high.

    This might be interesting to illustrate in a game, as it would potentially fit a lot of roles: mercenary, politician, pirate, etc. Someone very ambitious with a hidden agenda and no qualms about betraying the team...
     
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  12. DarknessFalls

    DarknessFalls Rpg Maker Jesus - JS Dev. Veteran

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    The only problems with this is you end up painting a "big bad" and my game doesn't have any major bosses oO. But I can see your point
     
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  13. Chrispy

    Chrispy Veteran Veteran

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    The problem is....They are! Well, once you remove all of what the internet has to say and also remove the opinions of armchair psychologists, you'll see that they are the same.

    Firstly, the Psychopathy and Sociopathy are not used as an official definition in any medical diagnosis. Instead, the term "Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)" is used. (You even posted this earlier in the thread.)

    Second, every single expert's opinion on how to distinguish between the two is different. To add to that, they make zero sense. Just read the WebMD article on it, it states half a dozen differences between the two supposedly different disorders but makes no opinion on people who cross over with both sets of supposedly different symptoms. Robert D. Hare gives half a dozen differences between the two in his book, 'Snakes in Suits', basically a book about psychopaths in business (manipulative, cunning, and non-violent ones). After giving several different definitions that other experts gave, he gives his own definition to describe the two because he doesn't agree with any of them. Then there's yet more experts who give their own opinions because the subject is largely undefined.

    Here is the confusion that is defining Psychopathy to Sociopathy. And these are just 5 traits out of dozens :::

    - Psychopaths are born Psychopaths. Sociopaths grow into Sociopaths because of society. (though some claim that psychopaths also grow into psychopaths somewhat, due to societal influences. Wait, baring any other possible disorder, isn't that some people's definition of a sociopath?!?)

    - Psychopaths do not distinguish between right and wrong. Sociopaths do.

    - Psychopaths have no empathy. Sociopaths do.

    - Psychopaths are cunning and manipulative, and plan ahead. Sociopaths aren't. (some sources say the opposite)

    - Psychopaths are not random. Sociopaths are (unplanned violent outbursts for example.) (some sources say the opposite)

    - Psychopaths are calm and collected. Sociopaths are hot heads. (yet people also define psychopaths as having poor control over their random behavior)

    So what do you call someone who is born with Anti-Social Personality Disorder (psychopath?), but their patterns are more random without planning (sociopath?) What if you have someone who is calm and collected (psychopath), but doesn't plan ahead (sociopath)? What if its someone who can distinguish between right and wrong (Sociopath), but still has no empathy (psychopath)? Hannibal Lector has been shown to exhibit every single one of these traits through all the books he appears in in one form or another. What about Ed Gein, an actual real person who you can argue also displayed every one of those traits from both psychopaths and sociopaths?

    The reason why I call them the same is because they are. If they had a different origin but similar symptoms, I would say they were different. If they had the same symptoms but different origin, I would say they were different. One problem is that characters, real and fictional, very often cross over into both. One problem is that their symptoms and origins are different (except for what is common between both, the seemingly 'anti-social' part and the sometimes destructive behavior part). One problem is that everyone, including the experts, keep trying to define each as separate entities instead of what they are ::: disorders that were hand-picked from a list of traits used to describe an entirely different disorder that describes and fully encompasses both perfectly (that you already stated, Anti-Social Personality Disorder)

    On a side note...after spending all day researching this subject (because I actually believed for a second that they might not be the same...)...is there any real world violent psychopath/sociopath in history that isn't also suffering from some sort of other disorder like Psychosis? (Elizabeth Bathory for example, who tortured/murdered hundreds of girls and women, but was also said to have the completely unrealistic belief that bathing in their blood wound keep her skin young forever?)
     
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  14. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

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    @ Chrispy: I think one of the main problems also is that many people treat this as black and white, whereas in reality there is a massive spectrum and degrees of psychopathy. There is no clear cut boundary between healthy and psychopath/sociopath. Likewise, oftentimes having one mental condition can make a person susceptible to others. If there happen to be differences between psychopath and sociopath (I honestly don't know), it is quite well possible for a person to display characteristics of both. This can of course create confusions and make it hard to diagnose a person.
     
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  15. Lunarea

    Lunarea Artist Global Mod

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    I'm not sure how that automatically paints a villain... The betrayal could be used as something that just changes the party dynamic, or it could be used to illustrate the major conflict in your story. Then there's also the positives if the party member in question has the same ultimate goal as the party and motivates the team when the morale is low. Or you could have that character killed and have the party members deal with conflicting feelings.

    Ultimately, it's up to you to figure out how the character's personality/condition affects the story. All that the character will do is add another layer of complexity to the story and offer a perspective that someone out there might identify with better.
     
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  16. Azaarious

    Azaarious Veteran Veteran

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    Perhaps a Class specific to the character if you were to find a way to use health instead of mana or even damage allies to buff them or themselves. Maybe a class that gets stronger the more allies he has that are knocked out or who gets stronger the less health he has.  Everyone here has great ideas for personality, but how do you plan to incorporate this into the gameplay?

    Is this even that type of game or is this more of a puzzle game?

    I understand you want to keep a lot of it a secret as not to give spoilers but a bit more info may be good for pointing you in the best direction.

    (also watching movies is my recommendation like all of the Hannibal movies, American Psycho, Bloody Mary, Etc...)
     
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  17. Dark Messiah

    Dark Messiah Infamous Member

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    I think a sociopathic character could be very interesting, if done well. Too many "hollywood sociopaths" like Dexter are really nothing like actual sociopaths at all. The main trait of a sociopath is a complete lack of empathy. Often they have some sort of social "mask" of charisma and superficial charm that hides their manipulative nature. The sociopath has no regard for morals or anything of the such, and seeks purely to further there own agenda, and will use and abuse anyone who crosses their path. The reason I think hollywood does sociopaths wrong typically is because they really are a mostly one-dimensional character, I wouldn't expect a sociopath to have any character growth or learn any lessons. They may pretend too, but in reality they wouldn't. So overall, I would make sure to have them be a complete lovable at heart but also one with a good amount of intellect and lots of superficial charm. 
     
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  18. Chrispy

    Chrispy Veteran Veteran

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    Sociopathy/Psychopathy is defined as having a diminished level of empathy, not necessarily the complete lack of empathy. (but that itself changes depending on a person's definition/opinion on the subject). Maybe a perfect Sociopath is what you described, but there are very few of those that are ever written well. They wouldn't normally make for interesting characters anyways because their only describable flaw is what...that they hate people?
     
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  19. hian

    hian Biggest Boss Veteran

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    Firstly, sociopathy has not been an accepted diagnosis to put on people for quite some time in the field.


    Secondly, psychopathy is rarely used either, and then often limited to the field of criminal psychology when talking about people


    who're exhibiting extreme criminal tendencies and are already in the system.


    The writer of the article posted in the thread is not a mental health professional, but a professor of sociology and criminology and


    as such is not an authority on what constitutes either of the two.


    Furthermore, he lampoons his own argument by selectively citing some of the DSM-5 on the topic, while omitting other relevant


    passages.


    The two terms often overlap in use, but psychopath is the more accepted term (which is saying something,


    since it's not exactly accepted casually in any sense either) for what essentially amounts to the same thing -


    a person who exists on a spectrum exhibiting a whole host of different anti-social personality traits at the same time,


    and having been caught in the system engaging in behavior stemming from those traits.


    When a distinction is intended, it usually deals with whether a person is born or made that way (a topic which


    in and of itself is difficult to pin-point in context of many personality disorders) or with whether a person


    has "no sense of morality" as opposed to just "a different sense of morality" which is a topic and distinction that border


    on philosophy and is ambiguous in either case.


    Simply put, it is rarely meaningful to talk of psychopath and sociopaths as different, and


    its certainly not meaningful to talk of a psychopath that hasn't committed any serious crimes,


    as one would have to conclude that the person in question does not have anti-social tendencies to the extent


    that it would lead them to engage in serious anti-social behavior yet still to the degree that it would


    warrant the label, which is for all intents and purposes meaningless.


    This is why the term should never be casually thrown around to describe people


    outside of the criminal justice system.


    The difference if you will, is actually well-explained and sourced even in the wikipedia article on the topic of Psychopathy,


    which is easily a better read by far than the article posted here.


    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy)


    "The word element socio has been used in compound words since around 1880.[157][158]


    The term sociopathy may have been first introduced in 1909 in Germany by biological psychiatrist


    Karl Birnbaum and in 1930 in the US by educational psychologist George E. Partridge,


    as an alternative to the concept of psychopathy.[157] It was used to indicate that the defining


    feature is violation of social norms, or antisocial behavior, and has often also been associated with postulating


    ocial as well as biological causation.[159][160][161][162]


    There are various contemporary usages of the term. Robert Hare claimed in the popular science book


    entitled Snakes in Suits that sociopathy and psychopathy are often used interchangeably,


    but in some cases the term sociopathy is preferred because it is less likely than is psychopathy to be confused


    with psychosis, whereas in other cases the two terms may be used with different meanings that


    reflect the user's views on the origins and determinants of the disorder.


    Hare contended that the term sociopathy is preferred by those that see the causes as due to


    social factors and early environment, and the term psychopathy preferred by those who believe that there are


    psychological, biological, and genetic factors involved in addition to environmental factors.[85]


    Hare also provides his own definitions: he describes psychopathy as not having a sense of empathy or morality,


    but sociopathy as only differing in sense of right and wrong from the average person"


    It's also worth mentioning on the topic of "empathy" that most people use this term wrong confusing it with sympathy.


    In fact, distinct or not, neither "sociopaths" nor psychopath have problems with empathy - which would be the ability


    to understand emotionality on part of other people (or "putting yourself in someone else's shoes) - they have problems with sympathy,


    which would be to what extent they feel compassion for, and sense of familiarity with that emotionality


    (putting yourself in someone else's shoes and going "Oh, that must be tough, I wouldn't want that


    to happen anyone!").


    The very concept of manipulative sociopaths/psychopaths would be rendered a paradox if they had no ability to empathize,


    as your ability to manipulate others is directly related to how well you understand what makes them tick emotionally.


    In fact, the people often given these labels are some of the most empathetic people around - they just aren't


    sympathetic to what they understand you to be feeling I.E they know why you're crying - they just don't care -


    or worse, they get something out of it. It's very different from for instance, extreme types of autism,


    where a personally literally might not be able to understand other people crying in any capacity what so ever.


    Here's an interested although old and outdated psychopathy/sociopathy inventory which rates you on an average compared


    to the other people who've taken the test, and then outlines the two primary psychopathy types


    http://personality-testing.info/tests/LSRP.php


    Looking at those questions you might get an idea of what sort of personality type might be considered a psychopath,


    and could be a good way for you derive a profile for a character, by simply giving him or her several


    of the character traits framed by the questions of that taste taken to an extreme.


    Happy trails into the land of coocoo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2015
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  20. Chrispy

    Chrispy Veteran Veteran

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    So.....You are saying that we're confusing empathy (the ability to understand and share another's feeling) with Sympathy (feeling of pity/sorrow for one's misfortune; Understanding between people), yet, you just cited a Wikipedia article that uses Empathy throughout the article and makes no mention of Sympathy at all?

    Well, wait, if Sympathy has this definition (understanding between people), isn't that the same as Empathy, in which people are able to understand each other's feelings (which is an understanding between people)?

    Also, knowing why someone is crying isn't empathy. Example :::

    "I just hung this girl up by her ankles by piercing her with hooks. She's screaming for her life as I bring the knife closer to her neck. Her blood will start draining from her body soon, and those sounds will vanish."

    My writing's not that great, but I used a disturbing example for a reason. Anyone reading that obviously knows why shes crying. I just put hooks through her ankles, and I'm about to kill her. I even understand why she is crying, but, if I am truly a psychopath/Sociopath, would I understand the emotion behind it? Would I be able to feel the emotion, understand the emotion, put myself in her shoes, show empathy towards her, enough that I decide to not take her life?....HELL NO! I'm a psychopath dude! I don't feel her pain! Feeling her pain is an entirely different feeling than feeling sorry for her pain, which I might almost certainly, not that I actually care much because I don't understand why I feel sorry for her pain.
     
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