As a retired therapist I can say without reservation that it is very difficult for the vast majority of human beings who possess normal capacities for empathy to REALLY UNDERSTAND how psychopaths function in the world. Unless you have been in an intimate relationship with a psychopath and come to see firsthand how they are typically characterized by pathological lying with a seemingly endless capacity for remorseless deceit and even violence most of us can’t really imagine such a person, or even recognize such behavior as really “human.” Their behavior is simply so outside normative ranges that it is literally “unimaginable” to most normal people. This, unfortunately, makes the vast majority of human beings unwitting prey for these people.
We have created a system in which the psychopath’s unlimited capacity for deceit and lack of any capacity for empathy put them at a very real advantage in terms of being promoted and given power within our amoral dog eat dog capitalist system. Their ruthlessness and dishonesty serve them well in our system which rewards such traits and rarely punishes them at the white collar or governmental level.
Psychopaths can learn to mimic “how” normal people express empathy. They do not actually feel empathy, but they can learn to “act” as if they do. The comments from the psychopathic neocons Caitlin references would fall into this category in my opinion. They are attempts to appear “empathetic” and “normal” and “acceptable” in order to better manipulate their “prey” — which is the rest of us. Nonetheless they remain the same amoral, psychopathic war criminals deserving of public trial and punishment they have always been. The embrace of these monsters by neoliberal democrats speaks volumes about the commonality of psychopathic traits within our ruling class. The words of a psychopath mean nothing regarding their actual intents, while their behavior means everything.