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Culture or Psychopathy?

Editor’s note: The author is well-known to all Lovefraud readers as “Ox Drover.”

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (Retired)

I read an article today that made me start to think about psychopathic behavior in groups of people. About groups of people without empathy, without altruistic thinking.

Looters hamper rescue efforts in tornado-ravaged Alabama

Most of us here in the U.S. have read many stories about the horrible damage done in Japan by both the earthquake and the resulting tsunami which washed over the land, killing tens of thousands, and devastating a large thickly-populated area. We’ve read where people’s life savings, stocks and bonds, and cash were found many miles from their homes and returned to them by the finders who could easily have kept them.

We sat glued to our televisions as the Japanese lined up in orderly fashion for scarce water and food supplies, or lay quietly and calmly in shelters, with the well assisting the ailing, the young the old.

As American, we are “amazed” to read this ”¦ while remembered video visions of policemen in storm-torn New Orleans wading through chest deep water with stolen goods held up over their heads are dredged up from our memories.

Only a few days ago a small town here in my immediate neighborhood was demolished by a tornado, and then only a day or so later, huge portions of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia were devastated by huge F-2-3 storms that left paths swept clean for miles wide and tens of miles long, with over 300 deaths known so far ”¦ and now the looters move in.

The people of the area, already hit by the horrors of Mother Nature, are now assaulted by the roaming gangs of psychopathic neighbors who troll for unguarded loot to steal. With more storms passing over my area, headed directly to that area with 2-4 more inches of cold rain, these people are having to try to guard what little they have left of their possessions that might be salvageable…and fight the frustration of knowing that their “neighbors” are willing to “kick them while they are down” to rob them of the few things that might have survived the natural disaster.

Why is Japan different, why was there so little looting, so much consideration, so much compassion among this people? What is it about the culture of the Japanese people today that would show such cooperation and yet, in the 1930s and 1940s, this same culture produced some of the most horrific psychopathic-like abuse of prisoners of war and civilians the world has ever seen?

Why do disasters of the magnitude of Katrina and these tornadoes bring out both the most altruistic in people who have come from hundreds of miles away at their own expense to volunteer to help these people, and yet ”¦ it also attracts the psychopathic-like vultures who will loot and steal, and destroy some more? Why more in America and less in Japan in the twenty-first century?

I know if my house were hit by tornadoes, my neighbors would come to assist me ”¦ people I know and people I don’t know ”¦ and in the rural area where I live and where my house is situated it is unlikely that there would be looters, but if I lived in Little Rock, the larger city and capitol of my state, I would expect looters. The hired hand that worked for me and my husband, knelt over my husband at the scene of the aircraft crash, helped direct rescue efforts, also stole my husband’s gold watch off his dying arm.

Tragedy and chaos seem to bring out both the best and the worst in human nature—in individuals and in groups of individuals, countries and cultures.

 


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13 Comments on "Culture or Psychopathy?"

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Oxy, interesting article. Yes, can be something cultural about some Japanesse people returning the money to their owners. But when they’re in war they rape and kill women like any other country in war.
Also take into account the media is highly manipulated. The aim of journalism is not to inform any more but mostly to brainwash and manipulate the thinking of the masses.

I think human nature is the same everywhere and that most of the monstruous behaviours in situation of caos are perpetrated by people who are not psychopathic but people whose bad side is stronger than the good one and they take advantage of the anonymity, when their reputations are not at risk.

This kind of behavior just infuriates me. What the heck kind of person does this?? I know, I know… SOCIOPATH.

My heart goes out to these folks that have lost so much. I find myself wishing that I could go there and help with the cleanup. Although, I can’t say that I would mind helping with guard duty either.

I’m a firm believer in the right to bear arms to defend oneself and property.

Eva,
I agree, the media cannot be trusted. Any information can be skewed. Japanese people are culturally trained to feel less entitled than Americans, so there might be less looting and more helping, but it isn’t all black and white.

Another thing to consider is motivation. Entitled Americans assume that there will be insurance settlements and government handouts, so they think, “why not? the owners will just report it as a loss and be compensated”. Those with a weak moral compass, will find a way to justify themselves.

I’m not sure if the Japanese are as heavily insured or subsidized by the government as we are.

Hi Skylar,
Don’t know much about Japanesse culture. I’ve met few Japanesse people and they seemed to me reserved but also rather trusting people. Could be in rural areas people are less greedy, but in the urban ones i would not so sure.

Could be the most heavily insured country in the world is the USA? Well, Americans living in Spain say so, that in the States one earns more but much of the money goes to insurances. Much more heavily insured than Spain it is for sure. The most common insurance here is for houses, businesses and cars. Life insurance is not very common. And the health system is public. Except dentist and of course plastic surgery.

I just finished a book on the Batan Death march that the Japanese did of American soldiers and civilians…and there was a lot in there about how the Japanese officers and men were trained to think of the prisoners…and how some of the officers who I think WERE psychopathic both personally and probably culturally as well…made the soldiers see the prisoners as less than human. The Us vs. Them way of looking at others.

Sometimes we I think also do that with the psychopaths, the US vs. THEM when we have been injured. I was amazed at the way some of the soldiers on the march though, saw that some of the guards were NOT psychopathic, not uncaring, and one of the head officers who was executed for “war crimes” was probably one of the most gentle men in Japan’s army, and actually did not know what was going on.

The culture of the Japanese people though I think, because they DO live in such close contact is to be considerate of others, like not taking the last of the supplies off the shelves of stores, and leaving some for others…that is NOT the American way I can say for sure…

It does make me feel ashamed, though, that my countrymen behave in such a way that they rob and loot…and yes, I think, Sky, that because there is chaos they think they can get by without anyone “knowing” and they might not do such if they thought there was a chance of getting caught.

The test of character though is what we do when no one else is looking. I think a great many Americans fail this test and it makes me sad.

Haiti had a great deal of violence and looting too, and even that American fake “missionary” woman who went down there and actually tried to kidnap kids in the chaos and duped quite a few unsuspecting people into helping her. That woman’s record for scams goes back a long way….and there will be scam “contractors” come out of the wood work to take people’s money for repairs that are not done, or not done right….it is sad, frustrating.

I think our culture influences our moral compass as well. I can only pray for those people who have lost so much and pray that the vultures don’t succeed.

One of my favorite books a few years back was “Rising Sun” by Michael Crichton, which goes into great depth describing differences between Japanese and American culture. As I recall, one of the main reasons Japan has (or had at the time the book was written) a very low crime rate is because ALMOST ALL CRIMINALS GET CAUGHT. And are then presumably held accountable. Knowing that if you do the crime, you’ll do the time is a great deterrent. It seems to be much more black and white than the many shades of gray found in our legal/judicial system.

Valley Girl,
the problem with the black and white approach is that spaths are on to it. They KNOW how to work that angle too. They will make sure innocents are incarcerated in order to create sympathy for the guilty spaths. There is almost no angle that they can’t work. I know, from experience, that they will even work the, “Oh no, we must get rid of all the spaths because they are the problem!” angle.

can you imagine?

But they always give themselves away because they can’t help being what they are: hypocrites.

Donna’s method is really the only method: Shine a light on the vampire/parasites/evil monsters/hypocrites. When everyone knows their dirty tricks, then none will work. When we teach EVERYONE to recognize their red flags, and their TELLS, then they will starve.

Remember, too, that psychopaths will not do anything that is of no advantage to them. They will not do anything they cannot justify. Japanese don’t tolerate that sort of behavior – it is not the cultural norm, so even the disordered Japanese person wouldn’t do that.

My own abusive ex had very strong moral standards – he looked down on people who were dishonest with their taxes or lazy with helping neighbors in need. If he caught someone looting, he would be violent in his reaction and justify it.

Speaking of culture and psychopathy, I am sure that just as there is individual disorderedness, there is also national disorderedness, and some cultures are more narcissistic/psychopathic than others. It is just so obvious when you live among certain types of people – they justify the use of power over others, and don’t see anything wrong with it. They are manipulative and expect others to be so. They don’t see anything wrong with using and exploiting others for their own advancement. When people can justify psychopathic behavior, how can you ever expect to teach them to act in empathetic ways?

Not too late,

I absolutely agree with you about “cultural” psychopathy….and justifying (legalizing) violent and controlling behavior.

Look at the founding fathers of the US—many of them were slave owners, yet decried the POLITICAL “slavery” they were being forced to by England’s king and fought for FREEDOM, never even once thinking that the very chattel bondsmen they “owned” also had the same rights to that freedom.

So in that case, the culture was the thing that allowed the founding fathers to behave in psychopathic ways in SOME aspects of their lives…the way I behave in “psychopathic” ways toward the animals I raise to eat….yet my Hindu friends would not behave this way toward animals. So our culture, both the larger culture of the country and the more personal culture of the family and the smaller communities within the larger culture also have a big influence on how we will behave.

The “Us vs. Them” attitude, where it was noted that one man went to the store to buy bottled water, and there were like 20 bottles and he took 10. He COULD have justified taking all 20 and paying for them, but he left 10 and took 10.

I hate to admit it, but I would have taken all 20 and been grateful for having found the last ones available. He was more altruistic than I would have been with my “American” culture and “get mine first” attitude….I would NOT have knocked down someone and robbed them of their water if I had been unable to buy those last 20 bottles, and I think if someone else had arrived there at the same time I did I would have insisted we split them 10 and 10 rather than letting them take all 20….but this is again, “situational ethics.”

Dr. Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for meaning” written after his Nazi prison years, talked about the “situational ethics” of his fellow prisoners, some of whom became “stooges” for the Nazis in order to survive. Sir Laurens Van der Post’s writings about his time in a Japanese prisoner of war cam in Java during WWII and his observations of what were probably true sadistic psychopathic officers and guards, versus those who were in a situation where they had to “follow orders” but were themselves not psychopathic and took no pleasure in the suffering of the prisoners.

The book I read recently on the Batan Death March was framed along those same lines as van der Posts’ and Frankl’s books, looking at the different ways in which some people inflicted and seemed to enjoy inflicting pain on others versus those who may have participated but unwillingly, and those who actually may have been in “command” but knew nothing of what was actually going on

The chaos of natural disasters mimic war in some ways, and I think brings out both the best and the worst in what might be otherwise components of character that might lie “dormant” or unobserved. The people who might “like” to behave like psychopathic vultures use the opportunity to do so, and those who have more noble and altruistic feelings, are given a chance to express those feelings.

It is a survival thing also. You have to remember, in Japan, they have a collectivist culture. They live very closely together. If one person is caught stealing or doing something that is culturally frowned down on, they are totally ostracized from the entire community. You have to “play nice” and “fit in” in order to be a part of the community, and basically, in order to survive.

In America, if you steal, you are frowned upon by some, but really, there are so many people and so many places you can go, and we are such forgiving people, they will be given another chance if they just apologize and say they will do better next time. The Japanese are not so forgiving. Once you are “outcast”, you are done.

The leading article is a blanket statement without merit as a journalistic piece. Media in America has always been “if it bleeds it leads”. Local news will rarely report corruption in a police force due to that is who gives them “news”, don’t bite that hand! Eyewitness accounts never all agree and really nothing is ever what it seems.
Please explain to me how one can find money in a flood and then locate the owner miles away to return it? When a tornado levels your house most of your possessions are gone or destroyed. What is there to protect? Where are the police and National Guard to keep order and stop these mysterious “roving bands of plunderers, killers and rapists” as are so often described.
Residents were told to leave as Katrina was coming and they did not heed the warnings. Why? If they had no vehicle then walk. The reality is they hung around because they know the government will save them from themselves.
These are the realities of life. Saying one country is noble and the other is not is myopic and in no way worth contemplating. Mother Nature is a force nobody can fight and win.

Bob,

Many of the articles posted on Lovefraud would fall more under the description of an editorial, commentary or a personal column than news reporting. That’s one of the beauties of links—we can link to the original article to provide the news basis, and simply write the opinion that we want to convey.

I think this article offers a valid observation. Safes full of cash were washing up on Japanese beaches and being turned in to authorities, so that hopefully the owners could be found. Other publications have commented on the lack of looting in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. Apparently there isn’t even a word for “looting” in the Japanese language. Here are some links:

http://theweek.com/article/index/213154/why-is-there-no-looting-in-japan

http://www.sify.com/news/no-panic-no-looting-life-in-a-tsunami-hit-japanese-city-news-international-ldns4fgeicj.html

In contrast, I saw in an article that a sheriff surveying the damage in Alabama from a helicopter flew over his own ruined house and saw people ransacking it. A news article today reported that four men from Florida traveled to Alabama just to loot the properties and were arrested.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20110503/article/110509834

This does point to major cultural differences. Asian societies emphasize community and cohesion, and American society focuses on individualism and competition. This is true. In fact, many experts feel that American child rearing practices – again focused on individual achievement and winning, is breeding more sociopaths. I think we, as a society, have real reason to be concerned.

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