So lets not talk about psychopaths for a minute. Not exactly anyway. Their behavior being a subset of ours, reveals all sorts of neat things about who we are. Our only distinction from them is our conscience. What exactly is a conscience? It's a metamind. That's what the civilization gene activated.
The metamind is almost like a second brain superimposed on all of thoughts. It's comprised of metadata, specifically emotional metadata. This emotional metadata comprises our feelings about all of our thoughts. Each memory is tagged with a bliss and a despair feeling of varying intensity.
When you activate a memory be it a word, a thought or a sensory input, emotional metadata is imposed on you. In a word empaths are subject to mandatory emotional recall. When you remember something, you remember how you felt as well. This alone would not be an advantage if you were simply feeling the emotion you felt when the memory was created.
Most thoughts do not occur in a vacuum. They involve a chain of objects inputs and ideas. Together, when all of these memories are recalled together complex emotions are formed. Many complex (and possibly conflicting) emotions can be felt at one time.
The despair and bliss primitives may seem too simple to explain all human behavior, but a third 'feeling' is involved. We use the ego as the desire to take action, or will. These three primitives make up a primary color system to paint all other emotions.
Compound emotions seem to have a time component as we think of them conceptually, but this may just be an artifact of how we conceptualize them in our imaginations. Some examples of complex emotions are feeling fear (despair, future), sorrow (despair, past), grumpiness (despair, ego, now), compassion (despair, bliss, ego, now), etc.
If you've made it this far you're in for a treat. This is not the best trick. Your conscience or metamind is actually a relational database. When you recall a memory, and a feeling associated with it, you can now cross reference it to other memories with similar feelings. This is not only how complex emotions are formed, but greatly enhances imagination! The metamind allows us to group otherwise unlike things, strictly by emotional content. This creates some nice advantages like solving problems in dreams, and staying out of trouble by following your 'gut.' (your conscience, or metamind by other names.)
There are all kinds of emergent properties to the conscience. The most profound seems to be trusting our society. Irrational to the self but responsible for civilization. The ability of parents to use emotion to guide their children from low likelihood, high impact risk when they are not present. They do this by loading words and thoughts with negative emotions. The ability of empaths to screen each other by discussing memories and watching each others emotional reactions. And more. So much more. Such is the nature of emergent properties.
Psychology is the study of your emotional database or map. It is primarily concerned with rationally and logically understanding our muddled emotions. With so many emotions recalled for any event it's easy to loose track of the source of an emotion. This can be crippling if emotions from negative event overshadows our day to day activities, blocking low risk beneficial behavior. No doubt Freud, Jung, and so many others had humanities best interest in mind. Seek out common connections, and make a discipline out of locating the rest per patient. It's a sound strategy. One that has benefited many.
The metamind in society
The metamind is far from automatic. It must be constantly maintained. Keeping track of emotions and their origins. Enlightenment is not a state, but a process. Edward Bernays, Freud's cousin is known as the father of modern marketing. He used Freud's common emotional map to influence people to buy products they do not need, or are even harmful to them. Joseph Gobbles the Nazi Minister of Propaganda and follower of Bernays, took it one step further clinically tainting peoples emotional maps en masse. Both marketing and propaganda are actively used around the world today both utilizing and creating emotional triggers in those who do not seek enlightenment.
Bernays and Gobbles were allowed to run amok simply because Freud and Jung did not know that psychopaths, as we know them today, existed. They did not imagine that humanity was broken into two distinct breeds who on the surface appeared completely the same. They handed off the keys to our minds, without discussion of what the mind would look like without a conscience, and how those minds interact with us.
While humanity may end as a tragedy there is hope. It seems that globally people are increasingly aware of the ills of both marketing and propaganda. The American counter-culture, while hijacked had the correct idea. Knowing yourself and reaching for enlightenment is critical to see the world as it really is. Think of your metamind as a search engine for your emotions. If someone can add emotions that you did not originate from your experiences to your memories, your conscience can draw the wrong results when you search yourself for answers. Learn to distinguish your own feelings from those that are imposed on you.
An alternative strategy such as hinted at by the very word counter-culture is to invest your time and mind in alternative culture or cultures. By not following the herd and making your own path you are far less likely to be caught in mass hysteria or manipulation.
In a turn from the pre-psychology past, the more actively a culture attacks other cultures, the more likely that it is actively trying manipulate it's members. One example of this is the religious cult. 'Cult' simply defined as as a religious organization who thinks they are above reproach or criticism. Another example is the mockery of conspiracy theory in the media organizations dominant in the United States. This is absurd on it's face as most new information starts as a theory and history is rife with conspiracies. One can't help but notice the rise in this emotional trigger shortly after revoking the fairness doctrine in 1987. The fairness doctrine was a law requiring some counterpoint time for stories reported by 'news' organizations. Most interesting is it's origin, as a defense against Nazi style propaganda in the United States in 1949.
If possible try to avoid outside emotional influences all together. I am not saying you should not let individuals influence you. Without that there is no society. Instead make sure to only allow individuals you personally know change how you feel about a word, and idea or the situation you currently find yourself in. As a start two steps will help you towards clarity.
So now that you've got another page in the human owners manual, it's time to get to work. It is not just your parents that can preload your memories with alien emotional reactions, but society and individuals including psychopaths. Question all your reactions and learn their sources in total. Ask strange questions, and explore cultures that are unknown to you. The human race is counting on you to know who you are. Don't fail us. Don't fail yourself.
Matthew A. Newhall
You may be interested in my blog, The Civilization Gene
My other theories on the human mind.