By | December 20, 2010 30 Comments

Why the Michael Vick story is important

The sportswriters have run out of adjectives. They can’t find superlatives big enough to describe yesterday’s incredible, improbable, amazing victory of the Philadelphia Eagles football team over their archrivals, the New York Giants. The Eagles were losing 31-10 with only 8:09 left in the game. They scored 28 points—four touchdowns—to win.

The Eagles were powered, almost single-handedly, by quarterback Michael Vick. This is the same Michael Vick who, in 2007, was convicted running a dog-fighting ring and served 18 months in prison.

I’ve been writing about Michael Vick since the Eagles hired him for the team in August 2009, a move that outraged thousands of fans, myself included. After researching his history, I came to the conclusion that Michael Vick is a psychopath. I wasn’t the only one who thought this—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to the National Football League saying the same thing.

Here’s my previous article: Can Michael Vick change his behavior?

Stellar football season

Last year, Michael Vick barely played. This year, he was supposed to be a backup quarterback, but the Eagles’ starter suffered a concussion in the first game of the season. Michael Vick replaced him—and played brilliantly.

Now, Michael Vick is football’s story of the year. Vick has the third-highest passer rating in the NFL.  This season he’s rushed for 613 yards—far more than any other quarterback. Opposing teams change their defensive strategies just to cope with the fast, scrambling, multi-talented threat.

From a football perspective, Michael Vick has become a hero. “He masterminded the impossible yesterday with his legs and with his gumption,” gushed sportswriter Rich Hoffman in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Another dog

But Vick has been in the news recently for another reason as well. He says he wants a dog. “I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process,” he said.

Vick is on probation from the dog-fighting conviction until May 2012. While on probation, he is prohibited from owning a dog. Keep in mind, this is a man who personally hanged, drowned and electrocuted dogs that didn’t win. But he says he’s a changed man. He also says he’s not a psychopath:

“I really mean what I say. I don’t have a problem. I’m not a psychopath. I’m not crazy. I’m a human being,” Vick told The Associated Press on Thursday. “What happened in my past and what I did in the culture I grew up in doesn’t shape and mold me as the person I am now. I said it before that I wish I can own a dog and I’ll continue to say it. I’m not allowed to, but I’m just saying I wish I could because my kids ask me every day. It’s more so for them than for me.”

Read Michael Vick says he would like a pet dog; anger follows on

Humane Society

So the controversy rages among fans and dog-lovers: Should Michael Vick be allowed to own a dog?

Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society, addressed this question in a recent blog post. Pacelle has probably had more interaction with Vick on this issue than anyone. Vick is working with the Humane Society to speak against dog-fighting to at-risk schoolchildren, and Pacelle says the quarterback is having an impact, making inroads where no one else could. He writes:

While the most important aspect of this work is the education it provides for these kids, it is also part of Michael Vick’s own rehabilitation and his process of relocating his reservoir of empathy, and exercising it and building it up.

Although Vick shouldn’t have a dog yet, Pacelle says, the time may come when he could.

Read Michael Vick and having a pet on Wayne Pacelle’s Blog.

Is change possible?

At first, I was highly skeptical of Michael Vick. I thought he wouldn’t be able to stay out of trouble. In fact, last summer, when Vick attended his 30th birthday party at a Virginia nightclub and his co-defendant in the dog-fighting case was shot in the leg, I thought the incident was the beginning of the end for Vick. But he was not charged in the shooting, and was accused only of bad judgment.

Read Quarterback Michael Vick possibly in trouble again.

Yesterday, I was at a family party. While the Eagles vs. Giants game was on the TV in the background, I argued with a relative about Michael Vick.

He said that Michael Vick had grown up in a brutal culture, where dog-fighting, and killing dogs that failed, was normal. But Vick was a changed man.

I said that Vick exhibited a variety of behaviors typical of psychopaths—lack of empathy, financial problems, run-ins with the law, sexual impropriety. He may seem to have changed, but psychopaths are capable putting on very convincing acts.

I also said that we’d probably never know if Michael Vick really changed until long after he left the NFL.

My relative said, “So you’re willing to concede that the jury is still out?”

I conceded the point.

Then he urged me to watch the Michael Vick interview with Bob Costas.

Talking the talk

NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas interviewed Michael Vick on November 21, 2010. Much of the conversation is about football. But at the end of the interview, Costas does ask Vick about his time in prison, life change and redemption.

It’s an intriguing interview. Michael Vick acknowledges that he brought his problems upon himself, rather than tossing blame around, as psychopaths typically do. He admits that his life is a work in progress. He says he doesn’t want to blow it again. He seems to be sincere.

Is it an act? I don’t know. There are two ways to look at this:

Cynical view: Psychopaths can control their behavior when they want to. The guy isn’t capable of a change of heart, but he is capable of looking after his self-interest. A lucrative football contract, nonstop media attention and the adulation of an adoring football public are enough of an incentive for Michael Vick to control his behavior and put on a good show.

Optimistic view: Michael Vick did grow up in a disfunctional culture. Then, as young football star, he was showered with money, attention, and who knows what else, which all lead to his psychopathic behavior. But he did have a seed of empathy within him. His time in prison, the losses he experienced, the counseling he’s receiving, and his work on behalf of dogs has allowed the empathy to grow.

Watch Video: Michael Vick talks with Bob Costas prior to Eagles-Giants SNF game on

Withhold judgment

So why have I now written four articles about Michael Vick? Why is all of this important?

Here at Lovefraud, we tend to be ruthless in labeling people in the news as psychopaths. Usually, this is an important way to illustrate just how many of these social predators are out there, what their exploitation looks like, and how much damage they cause.

But maybe there are times to withhold judgment. After all, we don’t need to make a decision about Michael Vick. We’re not living with him or going into business with him. Heck, I don’t know if any of us are even in a position to have a conversation with him. None of us are at risk. So maybe we should just wait to see how this all plays out.

If Michael Vick can stick with the changes he’s made in his life years from now, when the media glare dies down, that would be mean, in some cases, change is possible. We have a lot of gloom and doom on Lovefraud. It would be nice to feel hopeful.

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Ox Drover


you are right that WE don’t have to decide if Vick is a psychopath or not because we are not on a jury to take the evidence of his behavior + the evidence of the culture he grew up in to determine a guilty or not guilty verdict for him.

However, whether or not he is a legitimately diagnosable psychopath (30 or above on the PCL-R and from what I have been told about his life and behavior I think he would rate waaaaay on up there toward 30 points) Vick is just the kind of man that I see held up for admiration by the media as a “success.” He is rich and famous and IF HE GETS CAUGHT doing something “naughty” he is still rich and famous and admired…just like Tiger Woods, just like O. J. Simpson, and Roman Polanski and John Edwards, Bloggo, and Bill Clinton.

Can any of these people be “rehabilitated”? Are they going to see the error of their ways and grow a conscience or remorse for the people they hurt? Is the public going to say “oh, well, boys will be boys, and I’m sure they are sorry for what they did”?

How about Charlie Manson is he rehabilitated? No, because he can’t and never could as far as I know throw a football or run and win a game.

It appears to me that our sports and political figures today are the “gladiators” of our time, violent and remorseless, and when they are caught doing something “naughty” they are easily able to ingrate themselves back into society—and because they have no shame they do not slink off into the dark night but continue to stand center stage.

Vick is I think a hateful violent person who should not be allowed to have a CHILD OR A DOG in his custody.


“…my kids ask me every day. It’s more so for them than for me.”
Exaggerating. kids don’t ask everyday. BTW, didn’t he explain to them what he did?

“I’m putting in the hard work to do it so it’s not for any personal benefit, it’s to help others.”
too slick. genuine remorse would address what HE did and what’s wrong with him.


I’ve been reading and studying Bruce Lipton…the cell biologist (genius) who discovered that “genetics” alone does not determine who we are. In fact, take a “bad” cell, and put it in a good environment, and it CHANGES the actual cell structure!
This blew my mind, since, as I got older, I started to discount “environment”…and I began to believe that, “we are what we were born with”.
Not so, anymore. I know for a fact that my 3 daughters, born of a genetic background of sociopaths…(thier father, grandfather, MY mother….) are all very empathetic. My oldest daughter, has the strongest gene of “selfishness, entitlement…” BUT, growing up in a totally different environment..with me….and NOT around their Dad….she is an animal lover, very sweet and sensitive…etc..
I believe that if she was raised with my xhusb in the home,…she may have learned to laugh at others misfortunes…and other behaviors that her father exhibited.

So, yes, sometimes a person that has the gene..AND the environmental situation to bring that socio gene out….they cannot change. A divorce court judge told my xhusb…”you are unrehabilitative”. At the time, I had no idea what he meant. He is exactly like his father who was diagnosed to be a socio…AND, he grew up in an abusive environment.

I do feel that there is hope for someone whose genes are sociopathic, but the environment was not abusive or dysfunctional.

Ox Drover


I agree with you, genetics alone does not determine our fates, and neither does environment, however, I don’t think that as an ADULT Vick has had a total change in his attitudes and lack of conscience or empathy. I think the chances for “rehabilitation” of an adult who acts like a psychopath is BELOW ZERO.

Just as a baby goose IMPRINTS on the FIRST MOVING OBJECT it sees as “mama” there are pre-programmed times in our development that if the event doesn’t occur THEM it never can.

For example, if you put a patch over the eyes of a kitten and they do not get light on them at the day nature has intended that they start to “see” –even if you remove the patch a few days later, they are FOREVER BLIND even though the eye itself is not damaged and the nerve is not damaged, but the brain is unable to process the light into vision because it didn’t happen WHEN IT WAS SUPPOSED TO IN THE DEVELOPMENTAL SEQUENCE. So TIMING of things is important and I think if a child is not taught EARLY about a conscience and empathy, that the trying to RETROFIT a conscience and empathy as an adult is like trying to get that kitten to see—IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN. It can’t happen.

Vick grew up in a CULTURE of violence I am assuming, where that sort of thing was accepted, but he associated with others in a wider culture when he got out of the earlier living conditions that COULD have taught him that dog fighting was ILLEGAL AND NOT OKAY if he had been interested in learning this. He knew he was breaking the law and that the wider culture didn’t approve of his actions…yet he chose to have no empathy for those dogs as living beings.

Just as the gladiators of the Roman empire fought to the death without empathy for the victims, either animal or human, that was their culture, but you were also not going to “reform” them or change their violent outlooks at that point.

I think Vick is only one example of the American “gladiators” who are raised in a culture of violence and then glorified for being violent on and off the sports or media fields. They are given more latitude to act contrary to the acceptable standards of behavior without real consequences to their status or position, wealth or power.


When I read about what Michael Vick and all the low-lifes who participated in this “sport” did to the animals, I could not stomach it, literally feeling nauseated reading the descriptions about what was done to the dogs. My children and I have three dogs who mean the world to us – what Vick and his psycho cronies did to all those dogs is plainly wrong. How any human being can viciously mistreat an animal in such horrible ways is beyond my comprehension – if anyone ever tried to harm our dogs, my children and I would fight for them.

Ox Drover

I was talking to my son D. tonight about this thing with Vick and we were talking about him killing the dogs because they wouldn’t perform…and I think that D had a valid point…it was about VICK’s RAGE. His rage at the dogs that they wouldn’t fight or wouldn’t win, and he wasn’t actually trying to “torture” the dogs, but was venting his RAGE.

I think that is a very valid point. I have a friend who used to raise
Border Collies for a living and train dogs, and he developed his reputation for his lines of dogs because they would work and work well. If a dog was either aggressive or wouldn’t work for some reason he would put the dog down. Not beat it to death or strangle it, but he would put the dog down. I actually agree with him in his culling practices and while many people may NOT agree, I think a breed of dog that is NOT culled for dogs that are aggressive or for ones that are deformed etc. does the breed of dogs a disservice by continuing to perpetuate animals that don’t function for the purpose for which they are bred.

I do NOT agree to breeding dogs for “looks only” and many kinds of bad traits have been bred into various breeds of dogs for appearance sake that make the dog itself’s life unhappy, unhealthy, and miserable. I do not agree to breeding dogs that are aggressive for fighting etc. and I know that a greet deal of suffering is done to racing dogs (grayhounds) by breeding for racing and then tossing them aside like so much trash….the same with horses, and many of you have heard my diatribes over the way horses are used and abused in this country because the slaughter of horses for meat has been banned by the USDA and instead of a relatively quick and pain free death, they are now sold for pennies, or given away to be shipped for slaughter in Mexico for meat there, or simply turned loose in the national forest or the roads in the country because the owners can’t afford to feed them and there is no market for them as meat, and what do you do with 1200 pounds of animals you don’t want and can’t afford to feed. One wandered on to my place the other day that was as thin as a gray hound and pitiful (I literally cried when I saw it) and I found the owners who were not able to get the animal vet care, and there wasn’t any vet care that could have helped it anyway, so I did get them to agree to let me put the animal down. (If they had not agreed I would have had to call the sheriff and had them prosecuted for cruelty, a felony.) Their problem was ignorance and an excess of “love” for the animal. “I just can’t bring myself to shoot him.” I would have harvested the meat for my dogs, but there wasn’t any meat to harvest, it was so thin.

I helped a friend put down an old blind horse not too long ago and he harvested the meat for his dogs which is a valid use for the animal in my opinion. He had received the animal as a gift from a dealer who bought it not knowing it was blind and since it is illegal (as well as unwise) to haul a blind horse across the border he had no place to put it and offered it to my friend that he knew raised dogs. My friend also buys hogs and calves that are injured or deformed to feel his dogs with.

But HUMANELY putting down an animal of any species or breed that is deformed, old, injured or unfit for its purpose is a big difference to me between beating or strangling that same animal.

I get very upset at a Hog killing if one has to be shot more than once to put it down. I stayed with my cattle as the butcher put them down to make sure they were not “hot shotted” with an electric prod or that the bolt gun was not improperly used and to keep them calm until they could no longer have any fear.

But what Vick did is to me an OUTRAGE that only someone who is ENRAGED and has no conscience and no empathy could engage in, regardless of his “culture” or how hard a life he had growing up in the hood.

I can somewhat feel some empathy for some third-world person who grew up seeing animals slaughtered by being clubbed to death or having their throats cut as a religious rite, but I can NOT feel that Vick, who grew up in the US should get a pass because he grew up in a violent neighborhood. He did grow up in the US of A and he did know that the mainstream culture did NOT approve of his “hobby.”

I think my son is right, I think the man is so filled with psychopathic RAGE that he had to vent it on something and the dogs just happened to be what he ENJOYED.

I killed my coop of chickens today and harvested the meat, but not one of them suffered, and as far as I could tell they weren’t even scared as they were handled calmly and with gentleness. I know that not everyone is prepared to provide their own meat from any source and some people don’t agree with eating meat of any kind, or even eggs, but if someone is willing to eat meat, it should be from animals and fowls that have been humanely slaughtered, and that NO ONE should brutalize ANY animal or ANY person for ANY reason and be acceptable in society at large.

Ox Drover

No Donna, I don’t think you have lost your mind, I think you are maybe too optimistic about Vick, but at BEST he might quit his criminal behavior and that would be an IMPROVEMENT.

I also saw John Edward’s lying interview where he talked about how he had hurt others and was apparently taking responsibility for what he had done to hurt his wife, etc. (excuse me while I puke! LOL)

My psychopathic son can make you weep in “taking responsibility” for his actions—if you believed him—he is such a good actor.

There have been some studies done about people with “power” starting to behave in a psychopathic manner—power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely–and we all know that is pretty well true, and maybe with Vick’s fame and money he began to feel “powerful” in his group of associates and the ultimate power trip was to fight the dogs, and to take his RAGE out on those that didn’t perform to his expectations, but about the BEST I could hope for someone like him with that much RAGE, desire for power over another living thing’s life and death, would be that he would stop his criminal activity, but I don’t think his “personality disorder” is going to be “improved” any.

If he were a child, I might buy it, that therapy had helped him, though with the ones I’ve seen who were violent and felt entitled I’ve never seen much progress in even decreasing criminal behavior. It is possible I am generalizing too much, or just going on my personal experiences, but I’ve known quite a few criminal highly violent psychopaths as well as some pretty violent inpatient adolescents who were diagnosed as “conduct disorder” and were in a psych unit instead of jail I think because their parents had insurance.

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I have very little confidence in court-ordered “anger management” classes doing much good for the soul of the abusers or prison in reforming criminals. If they did any good for Vick I think he would be the RARE EXCEPTION to the rule.

BTW I Frequently “argue” this point with a friend of mine who is a licensed psych examiner and has many years experience in working in prisons—he also has family experience with psychopaths as well and I respect his opinion a great deal, but we argue this point of “can an adult psychopath be helped?” He is more optimistic than I am, but we agree to disagree on items and like I tell him (Jokingly) “you’re entitled to your opinion even if you are wrong.” LOL

Actually, Donna, I hope you are right, but I’m not going to hold my breath, as far as his criminal behavior only time will tell if he gets caught again—look at OJ, he eventually got his “hook hung” and got caught, prosecuted and convicted. If Vick takes advantage of the second chances he has been given, good for him, if he doesn’t, he will eventually be arrogant enough to get caught again. That is one thing psychopaths don’t lack and that is arrogance that they won’t get caught.


I am careful about using the word psychopath and do not throw it around willy nilly. However there are some people in the news/media that are psychopaths without question, and those I won’t hesitate to label because it’s what they are. Like one article said… if it walks like a duck… then…

As for Michael Vick, as disgusted and repulsed as I am by his actions, not only do I not know enough about him as a person to come to a conclusion about his personality, but dog fighting may as well be something kind of cultural, maybe in certain communities- there are also people who neglect and abuse animals out there who aren’t psychopaths- not that they should be excused from their behaviors, but they just aren’t. I didn’t know about his electrocuting/drowning dogs before reading this article however, so I guess the jury will be out on this one. I think it was more common back then ( such as cock-fighting ) then in present day. Still, it’s appalling and disgusting behavior, and inexcusable on all counts.

Steve Becker brought up Isiah Thomas a while ago though( also involved in sports/media )- I’m fairly certain that that guy is a flaming psychopath. Just by watching one of his interviews… the gut feeling is there, the grandiosity is there, blame shifting is there, & word salad is there as well. ( And the creepy inappropriate smile too )


I think it is good that you wrote this article. One of the (many) issues is that often any or all bad behavior is conflated with psychopathy. And a whole lot of this is often subjective. I’ll use your words as an example:

I said that Vick exhibited a variety of behaviors typical of psychopaths—lack of empathy, financial problems, run-ins with the law, sexual impropriety. He may seem to have changed, but psychopaths are capable putting on very convincing acts

Lack of empathy – Is it selective empathy or lack of? Lack of would imply none across the board towards all people in all situations over a long period of time. I have personally seen some very awful people seem to be monstrous towards some people and yet display incredible caring and empathy for their own (i.e. mother, child, etc).

Financial problems – A common issue for many people at least at some point in their lives. Also quite common for folks who go from rags to riches in a short period of their lives.

Sexual Impropriety – This is another very subjective piece.

You also mentioned Glib. This is another piece that can be very subjective. Different people see it differently.

There is also the problem that even if someone changes it is a catch-22 because then they are said to be faking it because they are such good actors and just wait and see…

Another thing to consider is that we never hear the stories of people who could easily be considered by many to be very nasty people and possibly psychopathic yet they become decent people as time goes on. It happens but it doesn’t make great bleed to lead media.

There are numerous examples of people (gang members are a great example) that have committed just awful things in their lives and appear to be just some of the worst people in the world BUT later in life they have turned it around and are productive citizens.

And just because some don’t or won’t change does not equal can’t change. It is a choice. One thing about human’s is that we have often have the ability to overcome or adjust the genetic aspects.

As for Vick, I have no idea. I do know that it is not uncommon for people who go from rags to riches, obscurity to fame, in a short period of time often have years of behaviors that are not in line with what is socially acceptable. When you have the ability to suddenly (or so it seems anyway) get anything you want, do anything you want, well it is kinda like the kid that leaves a very sheltered environment and goes to a party college. A good number get sucked into it, do all sorts of not so good things and drop out. And no that is not an excuse for bad behaviors.

And yes there are people who will never change and should never be allowed among the public again. But when we call anyone who exhibits bad behaviors “psychopaths” the term starts to lose all meaning and become just another term for bad behavior.

Heck even what people mean by “psychopath” is a problem. Are talking about the 1% worst of the worst or people with “traits”? I think the people with “traits” are much more open to change than those in the 1% definition.

But again “can they change” is a question that applies to every person period. There are people who are not even close to being psychopaths yet they need to change some aspect of their lives but some don’t/won’t. That doesn’t mean they are unable to. Again don’t change/won’t change doesn’t mean can’t change.

This piece will ruffle a few feathers I am sure. Dehumanizing another person is often one of the major things that abusive people and groups do. Dehumanizing others allows the abuses to occur and makes them acceptable, even justified. It sets up the us and them; the we are human they are sub-human. And yet how many times do we see people doing this same exact thing when talking about others; when talking about psychopathy? Doing so is no less wrong than when the abusers do it. It may be a behavior that was learned from them; it may be just hurt and anger speaking out; it may be a whole set of things. But it is still not a positive thing to hold onto over time.

Oxy I agree with your statement NO ONE should brutalize ANY animal or ANY person for ANY reason.

We only get to see a very small cherry picked sliver of people’s lives and cases through the media. They almost never show the other 99%. Some cases are pretty obvious of course. Others not so much. I know from personally watching a show that “believed” a certain criminal was innocent even though they had been convicted and so they got that person set free because of doing a show on that person. However they did not air any of the damning evidence that got the person convicted in the first place. And because of confidentialty laws those of us involved couldn’t say a peep. That person had kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed a child. For example the show implied that a registered sex offender that lived down the street may have done it. But the show did not say that that person did not do it because that person was 100% known to have been many states away when for a period of time including when it all happened. Basically they made the story to appear how they wanted it to appear and it worked. Heck I would have believed it if I had not known otherwise.

Anyways sorry for the rant. Oxy is always gettnig on me to post more often so let me indulge in some blame shifting and blame her for my posting now 🙂


So – I can absolutely understand ALL of the various points of views expressed in the posts above…BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is ONE thing that SCREAMS more loudly to me than anything else here.

Let me say, first of all, that I am an animal lover. No, I won’t kill for meat (I am not a big meat-eater anyhow) but I have no issue with others doing so – humanely and without distressing the animals.

Then let me tell you that I REGULARLY kill animals, and at times have done so with my bare hands if nothing else was at my disposal and if it is an emergency. As a long-time carer for waifs and strays, a large percentage of the birds and animals I take in come to me badly injured or very ill. Many times, I need to make a judgement call as to whether they are in too much pain/are “too far gone” for me to help. At other times, after several days or weeks or even months of care, it will become apparent that a creature is still suffering and is unlikely to make a good recovery. Depending on the type of animal, the time of day it is (eg: is the vet clinic open or closed?) and/or where I am at the time (on the side of the road, miles from anywhere with a rabbit that the car in front has just partially disembowelled, or in my back yard with a parrot that is fading fast), I will often take care of it myself. I am fast and I am humane in these cases. If I am near a vet clinic, I will take it there instead and have it put to sleep.

I also agree that in some instances (not all, but some) certain breeds and types of animals need to be culled for various reasons – including the lack of suitable new homes for them.

The thing that SCREAMS at me – apart from the whole dog-fighting thing just being disgusting and wrong to begin with – is the WAY this person dealt with the unwanted animals. If you have a legitimate reason to kill a dog then take it to a vet or shoot it between the eyes with one shot.

Who in their right or sane mind HANGS, DROWNS OR ELECTROCUTES a GROWN DOG!!!???!!!

The METHODS of disposal speak more to the type of person than the act itself does (whether or not we can find an excuse for the act).

I personally, do not doubt that he is one sick ****


Okay, just did a quick googling and came upon the information that Michael Vick threw his own FAMILY PET into the “pit” ( where the dog fighting took place ) to encourage the aggression between the two dogs fighting.

“The instigating animal, usually a kitten or a smaller dog in Vick’s case ( his own family pet ), is left for dead or alive” ( from the article )

Source :

My knowledge of the Michael Vick debacle was very superficial before reading about it here. For example, I did not know about the electrocution and the throwing of the dogs against the wall as punishment for not fighting, and the sexual impropriety ( for behavior not related to dog fighting ). Now we’re in hot water. The article i read highlights the fact that “his brutality superceded the cruelty all ready in place among dog-fighters” ( it elaborates on this fact, some of the points which i wrote about above ) ..

So I am really unsure. Is a bad environment enough to influence an individual to brutally sacrifice in vain a creature he “should” by normal means have developed an emotional connection to ( in this case the family pet.. ) ? Or should we be evaluating one stark commonality amongst psychopaths : That they’re only sorry they got caught. Thinking again about all the factors that would be affected by his non compliance, his unacceptance of the wrongs of his behaviors- his reputation, his career- the whole world is scrutinizing him. How else would a psychopath react? I don’t know. I can’t say with absolute and undying certainty that this man is a psychopath- but I sure can’t come to the conclusion that he’s in any way someone I would let into my life personally. He has shown the world his behavior behind closed doors, his lack of mercy to otherwise helpless creatures, the most innocent of all : animals. It’s a shame that they themselves can’t speak for the brutality and ghastly treatment they’ve been subject to. All we have are the remnants of what we’ve seen. The anecdotes. The empty rings where the inhumane and unspeakable acts took place. Whether we determine his behaviors should be attributed to pathology, is ultimately up to each of us individually.

( As an aside, Michael Vick’s own father has said : “I wish people would stop sugarcoating it. This is Mike’s thing. He likes it and he has the capital to have a setup like that.” Source : )


How many times have we fallen for the “I’m sorry” schpeal by the sociopaths in our own lives? ( some of which, *at the time* were actually very convincing. ) Can we not say this ( Michael Vick’s “apology” ) is nothing more than the same thing repackaged to feed and ingratiate the masses which have turned their noses at Michael Vick’s actions?

Just goes to show that humans aren’t the only ones that pay for the sociopath’s self serving, perverse and destructive ( to say the least ) behaviors.


here, here

Ox Drover

Dear blogger, I know the “circular logic” of

the “doing bad acts means someone is a psychopath” and “psychopaths do bad acts.” How do we know he is a psychopath? Because he does bad acts. How do we know he can’t change? Because he is a psychopath.

I was listening to a show on NPR the other day about a former priest who runs a program to get kids out of gangs, and he ended up hiring an ex con about 10 years ago and the ex con has been very successful in their recovery program and OVER A 10 YEAR PERIOD they have “rescued” almost 100 (a hundred) kids from the gangs in LA.

Two men working full time for over 10 years and have “rescued” less than 100 kids out of the tens of thousands of kids joining gangs each year.

I’ve been reading in the news lately about the 14 year old “hit man” arrested in Mexico, the kid is a US citizen and was “recruited” by the gangs as enforcer. He casually told how he cut the throats of 7 people on the orders of the drug cartel/gang.

Is he a psychopath or is he a kid that was essentially homeless due to who knows what causes and had a “God father’s choice” of “do this murder or we will kill you?” What’s he going to do, go to the POLICE for protection in Mexico? That’s a laugh!

The brutality of how Vick killed the dogs, etc and the use of “teaser animals” in dog fighting, and like Vick’s father said “he enjoys it.” I think those are all clues that Vick might actually BE a psychopath, that he might have the PATTERN OF BAD BEHAVIOR AND LACK OF NORMAL PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS OF EMPATHY AND CONSCIENCE, as well as IMPULSE CONTROL.

While I think we shouldn’t be “too quick to judge” I also think that we SHOULD be able to declare some behavior outside the norm, that we should be able to say that “that behavior is unacceptable” it is (gasp!) WRONG!!!!! That we should be able to say that a behavior that is WRONG and hurtful is prohibited, and that there should be sanctions for such behavior…and that if people persist in continuing patterns of WRONG behavior that they should be removed from society. That they should no longer be TRUSTED to not engage in prohibited behavior, that society should SHUN them, rather than give them chance after chance and glorify them for the act of running or throwing a ball.

While BloggerT may think that certain individuals have shown SELECTIVE empathy, I respectfully disagree. I don’t think it is “empathy” at all, but the feeling of ownership and not wanting THEIR PROPERTY harmed.

My own P son “loved” his animals, and after he became a young adult he “loved” “his pets” and protected them, but he wanted animals that were “tough”—a python, and a pit bull dog—simply, I think, because they were “tough,” not cuddly. It was ownership more than companionship.

The expressed sorrow for his past transgressions by Vick smacks to me of someone who has made a choice to get back in the good graces of the public and the law so he can go back to making BIG BUCKS. The man is in my opinion a psychopath, NOT STUPID.

If he were he was truly sorry he would not still be associating with his “co-defendant” and would have distanced himself from that person. When we quit drinking we don’t hang out with our former drinking buddies even IF they have also dried out. We find new and better friends who have not engaged in the dysfunctional behavior.

There seems to be nothing that convinces me that Vick has improved except that he is supposedly NOT CURRENTLY engaging in dog fighting and is speaking at schools to discourage it. Anyone with this much violence in their past is NOT LIKELY to have made a CHOICE for change….only 40% of parolees finish their paroles without committing new crimes, and AA only dries out long term about 20% of the drunks they get, and so I don’t have a lot of confidence in REFORM movements for adults, especially ones with VIOLENT pasts. Not that it is impossible, just NOT STATISTICALLY LIKELY.

Ox Drover

ps BloggerT,

I’ll take the blame, ALL the blame, if you will post more! Hee hee

Ok Oxy 🙂

In regards to the selective empathy, I think I came across wrong. The point I was trying to make was that it can be easy to confuse selective empathy with no empathy. And I can not speak about Vick at all as there is very little information to go on. I do know that people can change, many do not even when they should and that includes psychopaths and non-psychopaths.

And of course we should label behaviors as wrong and right, acceptable and not acceptable. But again there is a huge difference in saying the behavior is wrong or even criminal and saying its “psychopathic”.

And just think about some things. Bear baiting, dog fighting, cock fighting, Bull fighting, heck fish fighting even. All of these have been around for hundreds or thousands of years and in many places and times openly acceptable. Today, in the US the consensus is that they are not. So are all those people who, for example, engaged in bull fighting and went to watch it, are they psychopaths? (are the ones that still go watch bull fights?)

Are how about this. I don’t think anyone on here would disagree that human trafficking/slavery are wrong. Further I would guess that many would say the people that do it are psychopathic or close to it. BUT…

For thousands of years, across numerous civilizations, including the US, it was seen as acceptable and normal, so much so that both the Bible and the Constitution have mention of it in them. And even though it still goes on today, the consensus is that it is wrong, very wrong. So were all those civilizations and people psychopathic?

Or was it learned selective empathy compared to a psychopath who probably has none.

Ultimately unless you are in a position where you have to deal with the specifics (i.e. doing research, guarding, treating, etc) it really does not matter. What matters is if they are abusive to you that is enough to say bye bye and stay gone. For example if a person embezzles money from a bank and gets caught, it would be beyond foolish for a bank manager to offer him a job in a bank when he is released. Doesn’t matter whether he is a “serial” criminal or if he is fully changed. There is never a 100% way to know for sure and there are plenty of other jobs he/she could do. Same with the abusive partner. There are plenty of other people for them to find and show they are no longer abusive. It is not what a person says, it is what a person does.

And Oxy in regards to parole, a huge part of that is because of the system itself rather than the people. And the prison system is NOT a reform movement, not even close. That is one of my pet peeves. It is a warehouse them system. And because of that those who often would/could do better don’t because you have to act like a predator inside or you become prey. The resources need to be directed to those that can and want the change and those that don’t are the ones that should stay locked up. One last tidbit, poverty plays its role, a big role, in criminal behavior.

Curse you Oxy, (switching to blaming others mode) you got to me again and drug another rant out of me. Hope you have a good christmas and hope everyone has a good christmas/holiday this year. Lots of work and projects happening right now so I am not sure how much time I will have for the internet .

Ox Drover

Friend BloggerT,

I agree with most of what you say and that many things that our laws now call criminal (slavery for example)—I think I sent you that article the other day about the girls in NY who were being used as slaves, they had been brought in from West Africa, their parents were told they were going to the US to be educated when in fact they were used by this couple for a solon where intricate hair braiding was done, and the girls were literally kept captive as slaves to work for free.

I agree that the resources should be directed toward those that can and WILL change and the others kept locked up. SO HOW do you determine who will change and who won’t? to give those resources to?

I do believe poverty plays SOME role in crime and criminal behavior, but it is kind of difficult to get a kid to do well in school so he can get a 7$ an hour job when he can steal $50 per , or make $200 or more selling drugs.

Education I think is the way out of poverty for most people. My egg donor educated herself out of poverty, my son C educated himself into a profession, though through poor money management he will continue to live in poverty, but he doesn’t steal and he wouldn’t, he might beg but he wouldn’t steal.

P-son had a few jobs for a week or two here or there as a teenager, and after he got out of prison the first time he worked for some telephone dating service (probably some kind of scam) but he made enough to buy a new vehicle on credit. But he immediately started crooked credit card dealings and I think hauling drugs as well….but it wasn’t about poverty or even making money I think it was about EXCITEMENT and feeling like a big shot doing something illegal and getting away with it.

Adrealine high! Macho [email protected] Tough guy high! Look at me, I’m tough and scarry!
I would like to see more rehabilitation alternatives to prison, expecially for young men, modeled on the military style, teach them how to clean up, dress, show respect, study, learn life skills from how to cook, wash and press clothes, open a checking account, fill out a job application, get a job and do it. Public service jobs and REALISTIC education and mentoring rolled into one program.

Others, women and children are used as slaves to work in the garment industry, as well as “sex workers” (non voluntarily) so slavery goes on in this country today. The devaluation of these “slaves” by their exploiters (I won’t use the word owners)

Well,l I’ve lost my train of thought, I’m sleepy and gonna call it a night. We’ll type tomorrow night. G’nite Blogger!


Wow interesting point/counterpoint arguments. But I guess I have to agree with Donna that we should sometimes withhold judgement even though I am guilty of casting stones myself. But Oxy don’t you think many Christians or people who were of that “way” as they called them then thought Saul was a psychopath? He was there when Stephen was stoned to death. He then lead Christians in every city he travelled to be put behind bars to be tortured or maybe executed in some/many cases. Do you think he could be rehabilitated? We wouldn’t think so, but God operates differently. Is Michael Vick a changed man? I don’t know, but yes he can play football. I don’t think personally he should own a dog, but if he were in England they might take him shopping for a dog for Christmas……


Yes the how is the issue. Sadly there is no 100% way to get it right. There will always be some that will slip through. This is one reason why anecdotal cases can be harmful. It can make something look much worse than it appears. We talk about the nasty mistakes but never hear about the other 99 ones that were not.

I sent someone a case today and she was commenting about what should happen if it was true and the baby dead and she missed a piece entirely. I mentioned that yes that is right but even if the child is safe what does it say about that person that she would even say that she had killed a baby out of revenge, would say that to the other parent just trying to get even. This is the type of psychological abuse that many victims suffer but that no one ever gets to witness and often does much more harm than any physical injuries. This is the stuff that when people say he/she said this, others often don’t believe it because who would say such a thing? So even more damage can be done by that. This kind of psychological abuse is, I think, the most ignored and the most damaging, even more so when it is directed at young developing children. (For those interested here is that case

Anyway enough of my ranting, good night Oxy.


Why should he be allowed to own a dog when he has demonstrated his ineffable cruelty in keeping his own family pet? If you watch Animal Planet- well when I used to watch tv more often I would watch those Animal Cop shows… if you are written up for cruelty to animals, by either neglect or perhaps deliberate cruelty- you’re done! No other way around it. You should be able to handle being given one chance in taking care of a live animal. No one would give someone who would sell their child to prostitution ANOTHER chance of being able to raise a child. So why would you give Michael Vick another animal? Not only did he own a private dog fighting establishment, but he singlehandedly murdered several dogs, including his OWN FAMILY PET ( threw it into the dog fighting ring to encourage the 2 pitbulls already in there to fight ) . Why should he be given special treatment, when others who abuse animals are not given the same? Why should he be set apart from others? He should be grateful that he even got a job after this incident… asking to keep another dog? That’s too much. Stick to throwing the ball around Vick, whether you’re a psychopath or not- you in NO WAY deserve the chance to care for another dog. NO WAY.


I don’t like Vick but neither you or I
have any idea what he’s like off the
field. I can’t categorize everyone I
dislike as a psychopath. HIM BAD,
B/C ME NO LIKE HIM. IMO, the whole thing
about having a dog is probably treated
by him as a complete joke but he will
try and look real serious in front of
a camera.

Ox Drover

Thanks for the article Donna.

While I very much believe that people are SPIRITUAL BEINGS at the same time, I also know that many religious people (and/or spiritual people) will grant “forgiveness” to people like Vick without TESTING them.

The story in the Bible about Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery when he was an obnoxious spoiled teenager (at first they had decided to kill him) but they sold him and then told their father that they had found his distinctive coat covered in blood so a wild animal must have killed him.

Years later, when through a series of adventures Joseph had become a powerful man in Egypt, second only to the king. There was famine and Joseph’s brothers showed up to buy grain. He recognized them but they didn’t recognize him.

Joseph had long ago forgiven them, had long ago ceased to be BITTER toward his brothers, but he did NOT trust them one iota.

Joseph concocted a series of moral tests for his brothers which they passed, and in the tests he saw that they had truly realized just how much pain they had put their father through by faking his death, and that at this point in time they would actually SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES for the youngest brother to keep from hurting their father again. They were no longer the same selfish jealous young men they had been 20 or 30 years before when they had sold him into slavery.

ONLY AT THAT TIME did Joseph reveal himself to his brothers after TESTING them to see what kind of men they had become.

VICK did something that was COMPLETELY DETESTABLE and cruel, just as Joseph’s brothers did to him. MAYBE he has learned his lesson and maybe not. Maybe the reason he did what he did was a short lived power trip that he got by becoming “rich and famous” and having people cow tow to him.

I’m not sure WHY Vick would be so callous as to throw his own pet animal to a pair of pit bulls to tear it apart. That sounds to me like someone with VERY SELECTIVE EMPATHY (Thanks for the phrase BloggerT! Hee hee) yea, like SO selective that it is NON EXISTENT. Joseph’s brothers didn’t have much empathy for him at the time they pulled him out of the pit and sent him off into perpetual slavery in a foreign country. That’s pretty UN-EMPATHETIC for sure.

But, they SHOWED by their willingness to sacrifice themselves to SAVE their youngest brother, Benjamin, that they had remorse for what they had done in the past, and that they were willing to pay whatever consequences were necessary to prevent the same pain from being repeated. When Vick SHOWS by his life being CHANGED that he has “reformed” and that he has “learned humility” then I might say he was not a complete psychopath (scores of over 30 on PCL-R) but I still think he is VERY HIGH IN THE TRAITS and BEHAVIOR that would mark out an EVIL MAN who does EVIL things without any REMORSE or EMPATHY for the suffering he has caused.

I agree, I think he should not only be denied the ownership or being around a dog, I think his CHILDREN should be KEPT AWAY FROM HIM COMPLETELY in case one of them “doesn’t perform” to his expectations. If he is so concerned about his kids having a dog, then he should leave the house, never see the kids again, and the kids can have a dog. GOOD TRADE FOR THE KIDS I think. Just MHO.


I think that anyone who really has taken a look at what Vick’s involvement with the dogs was, realizes it boggles the mind. It goes way beyond most people’s definition of animal cruelty.

I know Wayne Paycelle and understand why HSUS took the stance they did with Vick. Wayne said “Isn’t this what we want people to do….try to reform?” Yes, but it is naive and even dangerous. Society has to grow up beyond Pollyanna beliefs and recognize that some people can’t be fixed. And when you look at the lines they crossed, it gives you a pretty good clue who those people are.

Reminds me of the joke about the guy (who horrendously murdered someone) talking to St. Peter, saying “Come on, I stepped off the path one time…give me a break”

Ox Drover

Dear neveragain!!!!

GREAT POINT!!!! Like someone said here once a while back “he is such a GREAT GUY when he is not raping and killing” (about Ted Bundy) Yea, give me a break!

I’m in agreement with you, I think Vick is a psychopath who is working hard at pretending to reform so he can get back into the good graces and high pay check of the foot ball world. The extent of the cruelty he engaged in is beyond belief.

Ox Drover

I thought you guys might like to know that president Obama called the Eagles owner to congratulate him and Vick’s rehabilitation on Vick’s recent “success”—several animal groups, particularly the one who rescued and rehabilitated the dogs that were the survivors of Vick’s “kennels” said that they are also WAITING FOR A CALL FROM OBAMA TO CONGRATULATE THEM ON TAKING CARE OF THOSE DOGS. I hope they are not holding their breaths while they are waiting for the call from the White House.


thanks Oxy,
Obama, like Clinton, has been such a disappointment.
But I guess covert abuse from your president is better than overt abuse from your Bush.

Wait…maybe not.


“Michael Vick endorses anti-dog fighting legislation he inspired”


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