Recently I have been consumed by certain fantasies and lack of empathy. When I see people in the street I wonder what it would be like to kill them(mostly out of boredom), and I have thought of ways I would do it – I’m particularly intrigued by poison or psychologically engineering a suicide because it’s quite passive(not violent/bloody). However, I don’t think I would ever do anything to hurt anyone, to be honest, I think 1) out of laziness and 2) I would want to be 100% sure I would get away with it. I’m an INTJ personality so I am meticulously organized and analytical. I have recently been very withdrawn socially and realized my relationships with people/conversations are quite superficial and I do it just because I sometimes need friends. However, while I feel like I can switch my empathy ‘off’ (stop caring), I do care very deeply for some people, and I love helping my loved ones and making their lives better. So I don’t understand why I can be a caring person as well as regularly lack empathy / feel superficially charming and manipulative and have fantasies are urges to hurt people? I’ve taken the Hare psychopathy checklist and scored 29, but like I said I can feel empathy when I want to, so I’m not sure that’s really accurate. Please let me know what you think and any advice (I know this isn’t clinical advice and I don’t think I need professional help, its not THAT bad). But still, appreciate any thoughts. (From England)
I don’t share your conclusion that you wouldn’t profit from professional help. Boredom and laziness are not typically viewed as the source of killing fantasies. By your own reflection these fantasies don’t make sense if you score high on psychopathology and yet can also feel genuine empathy. Since you are interested, I’d recommend adding to your efforts at self-diagnosis with at least an initial interview with a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. He or she can offer you some ideas about what might be going on — and perhaps more importantly, what can be done to help reduce these intrusive thoughts. You university’s counseling center should have some qualified people you can talk to.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2019). Consumed by Certain Fantasies and Lack of Empathy. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 12, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/05/12/consumed-by-certain-fantasies-and-lack-of-empathy/
Last updated: 10 May 2019 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 10 May 2019 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.