Essay on Lack of Empathy V. Psychopathy

Essay on Lack of Empathy V. Psychopathy

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In the book, The Stranger, Merseault is convicted of first degree murder. During the questioning Merseault is indifferent about the murder. Lawyers note that Merseault feels no remorse towards his violent action and as a result of this, the jury finds Merseault guilty; the penalty is execution. The jury believes he is a danger to society and calls him a monster. Merseault lacks empathy; he is unable to recognize and respond to other people’s feelings (Baron-Cohen). However, this is not enough to state that Merseault is a danger to society. Does Merseault lack more than just empathy? Is he a psychopath?
Empathy is a skill children learn from their parents (Kutner). The way a parent shows empathy is crucial to the development of their child’s empathic skills. Infants and toddlers learn empathy by the way their parents treat them when they are sad, angry, or frightened. Children learn these basic survival skills long before they enter the world of formal education. According to, children are educated by identifying with and imitating their parents, which Dr. Benjamin Spock calls, incidental learning. Young children identify more closely with the parent of the same gender, absorbing important lessons about social and moral conduct (“Children Learn through Imitating Behavior of Parents”).
The first six years of a child’s life is a window of opportunity when a child unquestionably accepts the virtues modeled by his or her parents (“8 Ways to Raise a Moral Child | Ask Dr. Sears”). In their first few years, children believe that their behaviors are right or wrong according to what a parent tells them. By five years old, a child begins to adopt their parent’s values, whether they are noble or not. Merseault’s childhoo...

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... another thing to be convicted to the death penalty and feel no fear. Merseault may not have been dangerous at all until that point in his life, but a jail sentence is not enough to stop a person with no conscience. “Psychopaths don't feel guilty. They don't feel sorry for what they've done. They go through life taking what they want and giving nothing back. They manipulate and deceive and convincingly lie without the slightest second thought” (Khan). Researchers say that approximately one percent of the general population are psychopaths; others say about three or four percent. The reason that the estimates vary is because not everyone has been tested, but also because psychopathy is a sliding scale. A person can be very psychopathic or only slightly, and anywhere in between. How psychopathic does someone have to be before they can be classified a psychopath (Khan)?

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