Psychology Question

I watched a movie Uninvited yesterday. I have seen or read about a lot of movies about psychopathic killers. I have also read about other minor psychological disorders like habitual stealing (kleptomaniac) and compulsive lying, which all come under obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD).

My question is why do all these disorders have to be anti-social? Like habitual stealing, is there a OCD of habitual charity? Like compulsive lying, is there a psychological disorder where a person is just incapable of telling a lie? Is there a psychological disorder where a person is extremely altruistic? If yes, can you please give me some references? If no, can you please tell me why?

Can some knowledgeable person (like a clinical psychiatrist) help me with an answer?

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5 Responses to Psychology Question

  1. Arnab Lahiri says:

    Dear Gomu Ji

    I will like to answer this question with whatever little knowledge I have on Psychology. In Psychology a mental disorder is classified as behavioral pattern which is not a part of normal development. We take into account the Culture also when we define normal development since there are culture where what we take as abnormal is considered as Normal and vice versa. However there are some standard guidelines that are widely accepted world wide as disorder. The list of disorders are classified and are mentioned in details in some sort of encyclopedia called DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) which is accepted world wide. Any behavior that is not accepted or that is considered to be wide variation from the expected normal is classified there as disorder. The definition of ‘Normal’ is based on the most expected outcome and one that does not inhibit the development of the Self or of the society. Anything contrary to this is classified as Abnormal.

    Charity, Altruism, and even speaking truth are something that is beneficial to the Individual self as well as to the society. Thats the reason that they are not classified as Abnormal. The outcome of these behavior are always positive to the society and hence the society does not have any threat from any of these behaviors. Thats the reason that they are not considered as Abnormal. Most of the times, Anti-social is closely related to Abnormal. Not only in mental diseases but sometimes some sort of Genetic disorder are also at times anti-social. You might have heard of the Criminal Syndrome or Super Male Syndrome (XYY) which has genetic causes. Now since that is harmful to the society we regard the same as abnormal.

    Food for thought-

    I will like to highlight one more interesting fact. Nature programs the genes in such a fashion that once an error occurs that leads to some abnormal deviation it tends to delete the same. That is the reason that most of the subjects suffering from abnormality due to gene malfunction (mutation) fails to last long ( i mean early death or quick termination). The same holds true to exceptionally intelligent people. Savants never live long, rarely they do so and if they are, they are mostly born with some abnormal traits. In fact a recent publication on ‘Nature (Science magazine)’ studies the reason and cause behind why the scholars (both academic or spiritual) fails to live longer. There is some programing in their genes that block them from living long enough. Why? There is still no answer, the research is still going on where they are studying the genetic pattern of scholars and enlightened people to study the reason for their short life. Now that means that extreme good is also considered as abnormal as extreme bad by Nature . It just eliminates both the extreme ends be it on positive or or negative side. There is no clue as of why it does so, and research is still going on. You might have read the news where the Genius in mathematics from Russia who declined to take the Mathematics Nobel prize named Grigori Perelman. He is also one of the subject (participant) of the research based on analysis of Savant study. Its very interesting to read his life, i am sending you the link please go through the same.

    Thanks and regards,

    • gokulmuthu says:

      Arnabji, Thanks a lot for your reply. I get the picture now.

    • gokulmuthu says:

      So, if altruism pushed to the extreme is not considered as a disorder, can we say that extreme altruism is the normal state and any kind of selfishness is a psychological disorder?

      • Arnab Lahiri says:

        Most people will find it difficult to accept but this is true that Selfishness is considered as a disorder. Some of the symptoms of Psychological illness (personality disorder) do consider selfishness as a notable symptom. Narcissism, OCD, Bipolar disorder are among them. Detailed analysis are done where it is found that Narcissist have huge selfishness in themselves. Egotism, probable we all are aware of.

        In the Book “The Selfish Genes” Richard Dawkins highlights the importance of Altruism. He asserts that animals including human beings act altruistically to bring benefits to the copies of their own genes. There are several examples where the benefits of Altruism are shown and now researches are trying to link the same to our Genes and Brain anatomy. Altruism is so much favored that even it is asked to teach children the quality of altruism against selfishness for the long term benefit it carries (and off course for the preservation of Altruism in genes).

        Theory of Ayn Rand who propounded that Selfishness acts in favor of Economics are now proved wrong with the failure of Laissez faire capitalism (which resulted in hoarding and greed -ve effect, instead of increase in societal wealth). Not only in the field of Sociology, but in Biology to Economics everywhere it has been found that Selfishness does more harm than good.

        With the “Evolution of Cooperation” the advantage of mutual cooperation, altruism has found space not only in the field of Sociobilogy, but in Economics, Operation Research, Organizational Behavior and even a large part of Game theory now supports the advantage of cooperation and altruism (please read on Axelrod’s tournament for more details)

        Selfishness is a disorder, it harms not only the society but in long term to the Self as well. Ethically a lot has been written and done to curb the Selfishness and legally, the “Law of Equal Rights” was established to control this.

        In Indian Philosophy we find relevance of texts related to Selfishness in BrahmaSutra, Bhagwatam and a large part of Buddhist texts.



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