Psychopathy vs control of emotion

I recently learnt that I have the val-val variety of the COMT gene. This piece of information means I respond to stress pretty well – the weight I attribute to it is tiny, but it is also characteristic of the ENTP personality type, so I will roll with it.


Looking at other women freaks me out sometimes – they are so emotional. Everything seems to matter. I feel like I have the full range of emotion, but being around these super intense women sometimes makes me feel like either a man – or a psychopath. I just can’t relate – and it makes me feel isolated. Furthermore, I never thought of myself as being super-empathetic (though I still cannot watch A Christmas Carol even without crying.) So I don’t know what to make of it and am starting to wonder if I am a tad psychopathic.

Controlling emotion, being aware of emotion and using it rather than allowing it to use you is fundamental to getting anything done. I struggle sometimes to understand the difference between controlling emotion, suppressing emotion and being a psychopath. In the words of Robert Frost, the only way out is always through, but sometimes it seems that the drama just passes me by.

So let’s say someone hurls an insult your way.

A number of things can happen:

A. You feel that the only thing you can do is react. [Stupidly reactive]

B. You are in tune with your emotions, you will feel the anger as a response within you. Having this awareness will allow you to then decide: ok, there has been an insult, now I feel angry, but what am I actually going to do? [Zen master]

C. You know that this person’s opinion isn’t everything, so you don’t care, so you don’t get angry. You respond is an entirely calculated way. [? Psychopath]

D. You feel the anger, feel offended, but you are the bigger person, so you delay the response – and think of a way to respond while feeling vulnerable and under attack. [Suppressing emotions]

B and C seem like good options. The problem with C is that most people would regard it as psychopathy. But what if you control your emotions from a cognitive perspective? If you develop a belief that a person’s opinion isn’t important – that’s not psychopathic. And the fact that it diminishes your emotional response to the point of not existing – is also understandable. As a baby you could be afraid of the loud noise that the hoover makes, but when you get a little older – you understand that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and so the fear that had previously made you cry – goes away. Similarly, not every person is entitled to an opinion on every subject. **A conscious decision to not care with good reason is different to being someone who is unable to care, i.e. a psychopath.**

Do we really need women role models?

I have never bought in to the radical feminism that is all around us. However, today, for the first time, I realised something: we do actually specifically need women role models – for a particular reason.


The way we learn seems to come from our ability to mimic. From Aristotle to Kurt Vonnegut, to the modern self-help industry, they all agree that we learn by modelling people. I think that toddlers learn to walk at least in part because they want to be like everyone else abound them. So it doesn’t matter to them how many times they fell on their a*s. Same thing with language. Monkey see – monkey do. That’s what learning is about. That’s why doctors in training shadow more experienced doctors. However, as is the case with toddlers, we learn just by being close to something – without necessarily having chosen to do so. It’s like walking into a room full of people who are laughing at something – it is hard to stop yourself from smiling, even though you have no reason to laugh and feel really awkward now! That’s why we become the average of the five people around us.

The clincher is in the fact that it is much easier to learn from someone who you can relate to more easily. When I heard Arianna Huffington speak about her career, it just made so much more sense to me than when I heard countless other men. It’s not that I didn’t learning anything from men – far from it. However, seeing women in business is life-affirming and whatever it is that my brain saw in this woman that I am not even aware of – I feel that it really made a difference. It added certainty. It’s not that I don’t get inspired by male role models, but there was this added “if she can do it – I can do it too.”