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Old 08-17-2009, 11:02 AM   #1
SamAnderson
 
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Default Sociopaths in In Nomine

So I've been thinking about sociopaths and how they relate to Heaven and Hell. (For the purposes of conversation I picked the term sociopath; I don't feel like a terminology argument, so feel free to substitute psychopath, or antisocial-personality disorder, or whatever you feel like.)

Specifically, the question of a sociopath as something distinct from merely an evil person. There are tons of people who are selfish bastards and happy to hurt others for their own gain, but they're not sociopaths. It's been pretty well established at this point that some percentage of people are actually born neurologically different, that from birth they are incapable of any empathy for their fellow man, and that although they can understand morality in a disconnected, abstract way, they can't feel things like guilt or remorse if they behave in a way considered 'immoral'.

This first popped into my head in relation to a character playing a Shedite. What if you had the bad fortune to jump into a person like this? You can't corrupt them. There's no act that will inspire a sense of moral revulsion for you to overcome; it's an automatic dissonance trap.

It's problematic for other celestials, too. An Elohite of Judgement could presumably look H. H. Holmes or Ted Bundy in the face and see nothing, because they don't feel guilt that they've justified to themselves. They have no conscience whatsoever, and can murder an innocent as carelessly as you or I eat a bowl of cereal, and with as much lasting guilt.

What about Destiny? This is actually a bit less problematic; my understanding is that Destiny is based on your potential. So perhaps a sociopath would simply have a very, very low potential. But I'd love to see the look on the face of a Servitor of Yves who resonates someone and finds out that his Fate is to murder and mutilate 19 people before he's caught and executed, while his Destiny is to stick to stealing and torturing neighborhood pets...

Or I could see an argument that since they can't really make moral choices, that sociopaths can't achieve Fate or Destiny; they always reincarnate, hopefully into a normal brain the next time around.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:34 AM   #2
rknop
 
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

I think the Destiny of a sociopath would be to rationally come to understand that most of society values empathy for your fellow man. While they can't *feel* it, they could understand it, at least on some abstract level, and they could rationally learn how to emulate it.

(Not to equate Aspergers with sociopathy, for sociopathy really is a sort of "evil by nature" trait whereas Aspergers very much is not, but one might draw a parallel to people with Aspergers who train themselves to cognitively recognize the social cues they don't "just pick up" the way that people without Aspergers do.)

Re: the Shedite, a creative Shedite may still be able to find some ways to corrupt a sociopath, depending on GM interpretations in the game in question. While the sociopath may be incapable of having empathy for his fellow man, you can still ruin his life. There are probably some kinds of harm *to himself* that would revolt him, that the Shedite might take advantage of. Also, if the sociopath *has* managed to come up with a rational set of moral strictures, that he doesn't fell but has come to understand that he must abide by so as to remain in good standing in society, the Shedite can easily violate those. It will be harder-- none of the secret, small, "nobody knows about this" corruptions are going to work with such a sociopath. Even the smallest corruption is going to have to be something that a number of people know about, for the sociopath who has rationalized a form of morality will have done so because he has come to understand other people's perceptions, so the perception of other people will be central to it.
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

In the context of the In Nomine world, I wonder if some sociopaths might actually be Gorgons (twisted ethereal/human crossbreeds) or Nephallim (twisted celestial/human crossbreeds). Both are described as being monstrous by celestial standards because of either gross physical or psychic deformity -- often, something that went wrong in its soul and manifested in either its mind or body. A trait like this could easily be seen that way ... possibly by both Heaven and Hell.

I like rknop's idea for the potential Destiny, especially since it allows the person to "do good" (to the limits of his/her potential) rather than just "do less evil." And even small Destinies aren't always easy; this certainly qualifies as a challenge for the person involved.

Sam, excellent point about the Elohite of Judgment and the lack of guilty feelings. Here's another difficult situation; how would this affect the angels of Gabriel? Elohites and Kyriotates of Fire seek out those who enjoy cruelty, but I'm not sure a sociopath takes actual enjoyment from it any more than someone "enjoys" cutting the lawn. On the other hand, I suppose a Seraph of Fire might work well on the assignment -- they seek out the people who decieve themselves about what monsters they are, and in a sense their own minds have been deceiving them about that since birth ...
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“It's not railroading if you offer the PCs tickets and they stampede to the box office, waving their money. Metaphorically speaking”
--Elizabeth McCoy, In Nomine Line Editor

Author: "What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger"
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

An Elohite would still see emotions in a sociopath; they aren't utterly emotionless beings. What would disturb the Elohite is seeing different ones than he would expect--upon encountering a human crouched over a dead body, an Elohite might expect to find emotions like fear, horror, revulsion, satisfaction, glee, etc, but might be very weirded out by seeing "annoyance because they canceled my favorite TV show."

As humans, I would say that they definitely have Fates and Destinies. The books describe several people whose Fates and Destinies aren't longterm behaviors but a specific moment--inspiring that one student to do great things, help that one person running away from a murderer so she can become a great crime detective, be rude to that one emotionally disturbed guy so he goes home and kills his wife and kids, approve the loan that will let her ruin her finances forever in gambling debt, etc. Sociopaths could still have those sorts of Fates and Destinies, and presumably if a sociopath went to Heaven the Truth would be revealed to him/her. Possibly these people might do well in certain Principalities in Hell, too (like Hades).

I agree that these people are still corruptible for Shedim, but that it would be harder. You can't go through the usual steps from "stealing a pack of gum" to "sleeping with my boss's wife" to "murdering my boss's wife's brother when he threatens to reveal the affair." Lots of sociopaths have internalized/secretized their condition; a "corruption" might be getting the host to act against his normal pattern by acting sociopathic in public (and that will probably ruin his life, too). However, I bet these are the sorts of people Shedim talk about in whispers when they are together hanging out in Hell (since other demons won't hang out with them), like "one of the incorruptibles, don't even jump into one!"

I like that some of these might be Gorgons or Nephallim, but I wouldn't say that that's always true--I'd rather not move back towards every bit of human crazy originating in Heaven or Hell (or the Marches). It's possible this could be cast as an Ethereal Discord for Mercurians/Impudites (or everyone at large), and the similar flaw in humans.

As far as Fire is concerned, Fire's definition of cruel is I think an absolute. Kicking a kid in the face is cruel. Simple. Servitors of Gabriel are rarely subtle when meting out punishment. As for which Choirs would be most interesting in taking out a sociopath, my gut says Malakim, but Seraphim make sense too.
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“The world is going to Hell in a hand-basket, but I’ve got Good News: I saved my soul by switching to Heaven.”
—Baruel, former Djinn of the Media, now Cherub of Destiny and the Angel of Good News
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:21 PM   #5
SamAnderson
 
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

Well, I was referring specifically to the Elohim of Judgement not detecting any guilt, but actually, it's been observed that true sociopaths tend to feel little or no emotion. If you've ever seen the show 'Dexter' they do a very good job with that aspect of it. He's a purely rational creature incapable of feeling much of anything; he's simply trained himself to fake feelings for the benefit of his public persona.

This is apparently a pretty solid representation of the real world sociopath.

That said, I think rules based around cruelty would probably be unaffected. Not all sociopaths are cruel. Most are no more sadistic than anyone else. They don't feel sorry if they hurt someone, but they feel no particular urge to hurt people either. These are the stealth sociopaths, who rise to become CEOs of companies and politicians. The ones with sadistic urges are the ones who become serial killers.

One random thought that does occur to me -- sociopaths have been described as "subtly constructed reflex machines." As noted, they seem to feel little or no emotion, they can't really make moral decisions... I wonder if you could simply say that a certain number of humans are born as the corporeal equivalent of a Remnant. They have Corporeal and Ethereal Forces, but no Celestial. They can think, and they have biological drives, but there's no soul in there.

But unlike an angel or demon, they were born this way, and they can learn to fake it so well most people can't tell the difference.
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:23 PM   #6
Rocket Man
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte View Post

I like that some of these might be Gorgons or Nephallim, but I wouldn't say that that's always true--I'd rather not move back towards every bit of human crazy originating in Heaven or Hell (or the Marches). ...
Agreed. I didn't mean to suggest that all sociopathy could be traced back to the ethereals and the Grigori, only that it might provide an interesting explanation for some of them.

Quote:
As far as Fire is concerned, Fire's definition of cruel is I think an absolute. Kicking a kid in the face is cruel. Simple. Servitors of Gabriel are rarely subtle when meting out punishment. As for which Choirs would be most interesting in taking out a sociopath, my gut says Malakim, but Seraphim make sense too.
Again, agreed -- I picked the Choirs that I did because their description says they hunt those who enjoy their cruelty (which wouldn't apply here). And yes, since Malakim of Fire are given the special cases, these would certainly qualify. ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamAnderson View Post

One random thought that does occur to me -- sociopaths have been described as "subtly constructed reflex machines." As noted, they seem to feel little or no emotion, they can't really make moral decisions... I wonder if you could simply say that a certain number of humans are born as the corporeal equivalent of a Remnant. They have Corporeal and Ethereal Forces, but no Celestial. They can think, and they have biological drives, but there's no soul in there.

But unlike an angel or demon, they were born this way, and they can learn to fake it so well most people can't tell the difference.
Oooh! I smell a story-hook ...
__________________
“It's not railroading if you offer the PCs tickets and they stampede to the box office, waving their money. Metaphorically speaking”
--Elizabeth McCoy, In Nomine Line Editor

Author: "What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger"
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Old 08-17-2009, 08:18 PM   #7
William
 
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamAnderson View Post
One random thought that does occur to me -- sociopaths have been described as "subtly constructed reflex machines." As noted, they seem to feel little or no emotion, they can't really make moral decisions... I wonder if you could simply say that a certain number of humans are born as the corporeal equivalent of a Remnant. They have Corporeal and Ethereal Forces, but no Celestial. They can think, and they have biological drives, but there's no soul in there.

But unlike an angel or demon, they were born this way, and they can learn to fake it so well most people can't tell the difference.
This model makes them something like Undead. They are a slightly biologically flawed approximation of a human that never generated a soul and did not attract a reincarnating soul, so they will never see an afterlife. This also introduces the notion of soulless human lookalikes, which is the justification advanced for every bigotry and racism ever perpetrated by humanity upon different-looking people.

This is not necessarily a negative, depending on the contrast and brightness in your game. It's an entirely reasonable theological arrangement.

I would personally go with the Destiny and Fate simply taking the affliction into account -- or, alternatively, having them be null: "this human is automatically due to reincarnate due to current neurological damage."
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

IIRC it was mentioned in the Angelic Player's Guide that the Malakim could NOT take out Hitler because he was not violating his moral principles.

Just thought it releveant.
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:40 AM   #9
Rocket Man
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCD View Post
IIRC it was mentioned in the Angelic Player's Guide that the Malakim could NOT take out Hitler because he was not violating his moral principles.

Just thought it releveant.
You're right, but that was errata'ed online. According to the correction, the section now reads:

Hitler served as a prime example of the agonizing restraint that Malakim must show. By an infinite number of standards, Hitler was evil - but he was humanly evil, with a sense of honor that was no more selfish than that of any other misguided human. By the time the consequences of his beliefs were clear . . . He was too public and protected to reach without revealing supernatural powers to the rest of humanity.
__________________
“It's not railroading if you offer the PCs tickets and they stampede to the box office, waving their money. Metaphorically speaking”
--Elizabeth McCoy, In Nomine Line Editor

Author: "What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger"
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Old 08-18-2009, 01:41 PM   #10
Andygal
 
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Default Re: Sociopaths in In Nomine

Hmmm...I dunno if I can see them as "psuedo-Remnants", because it seems that many of them are very "driven" people, like somebody said, many CEOs and politicians may have sociopathic tendencies) for me reaching the position of CEO or politician requires a degree of focus and drive that somebody with no Celestial Forces (and thus little or no Will) wouldn't be able to manage.

Of course, they could have up to 3 points of Will, which would be "average human" but I'd imagine most CEOs and high-power people like that to have a Will of 4 or possibly even more. Plus reaching those positions also requires the ability to read people (which requires perceptiveness).

So yeah....
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