IEET > Rights > CognitiveLiberty > Vision > Contributors > Andrea Kuszewski
Addicted To Being Good? The Psychopathology of Heroism
Andrea Kuszewski   Nov 17, 2009   The Rogue Neuron  

We look at heroes and do-gooders as a special sort of breed: people who possess extraordinary traits of altruism or self-less concern for the well-being of others, even at the expense of their own existence. On the other end, sociopaths also have an extraordinary set of traits, such as extreme selfishness, lack of impulse control, no respect for rules, and no conscience.

As crazy as it sounds, there may be a closer link than than most people would think between the extreme-altruistic personality and sociopathic personality. Would it shock you to know that two people, one with the traits of extreme-altruism (X-altruism) and the other the traits of a sociopath, could be related? Even siblings? And that their personality traits are very similar, with only a few features to distinguish them? Research by Watson, Clark, and Chmielewki from the University of Iowa, “Structures of Personality and Their Relevance to Psychopathology” [pdf], present a convincing argument in which they support the growing push for a trait dimensional scheme in the new DSM-V to replace the current categorical system.

Personality has consistently shown to be extremely heritable. However, the same genetic material arranged and weighted in a slightly different way, may at times express as vastly different phenotypes: the “extremely good” and the “extremely bad” individual. How is this possible?

At a first glance, one would be compelled to put the sociopath and the X-atruistic person on opposite ends of a personality scale. After all, the chances of a serial killer running into a burning building to save a child are pretty slim, right? And wouldn’t a hero-type be one of the last people likely to break rules? WRONG!!!!

Someone who goes out of their way to help others, even at the expense of their own welfare, is actually more likely to break rules than the average person. Think of Dr Ross from the early days of the TV show ER. He was constantly pushing limits, breaking the rules, throwing caution to the wind, all for the sake of the child-patient, even when it ultimately meant getting fired. On 9/11, after it was apparent that the buildings were about to collapse, teams of firefighters were called back, yet they disobeyed orders and pushed on anyway, only to perish in the quest to possibly save even one more life. Those are the actions of a hero, or an X-altruistic personality type. But consider the type of rule-breaking that the X-altruist engages in—would you classify it as criminal, or even unlawful? How does motive factor in?

People whom we consider to be heroes (or X-altruists, as I am referring to them here), while among some of the most admired individuals, they possess many of the same traits as the sociopath. However, there is a fundamental difference in the motivation behind their actions that distinguish them from their nasty cohorts. Incidentally, that one difference is vitally important in determining if someone turns out to be the comic book hero or more like his archenemy.

X-altruists are compelled to good, even when doing so makes no sense and brings harm upon them. They cannot tolerate injustice, and go to extreme lengths to help those who have been wronged, regardless of their personal relationship to them. Now, I am not speaking of the guy who helps an old lady cross the street. I am speaking of the guy who throws himself in front of a speeding bus to push the old lady out of the way, killing himself in the process. The average, kind, thoughtful person does not take these kinds of extreme personal risks on a regular basis.

If you asked someone with an X-altruistic personality why they take the actions they do (and I have personal knowledge of at least one person like this), they would tell you that they couldn’t help themselves. When they are faced with that moment, they just act. Compulsively. Barely considering any other course. The lack the impulse control to stop themselves from doing “the right thing” when it comes to the welfare of others, yet ironically, it almost always results in some form of negative consequence for themselves. They have no problem breaking the rules when it means helping an innocent, yet they highly value the importance of obeying rules in other contexts. That’s crazy, you say? Now you’re getting the idea.

The word “altruism” conveys images of people like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, passive, extremely self-less people. They are altruistic, sure. But the X-altruistic person is anything but passive or meek. They are often feisty, argumentative, independent, idealistic risk-takers and convention-breakers. Sound sort of like the sociopathic personality? Let’s take a closer look at some similarities and differences between the two.


  • low impulse control
  • high novelty-seeking (desire to experience new things, take more risks, break convention)
  • no remorse for their actions (lack of conscience)
  • inability to see beyond their own needs (lack of empathy)
  • willing to break rules
  • always acts in the interest of himself


  • low impulse control
  • high novelty-seeking
  • little remorse for their actions (would “do it again in a heartbeat”)
  • inability to see past the needs of others (very high empathy)
  • willing to break rules
  • acts in the best interest of others, or for the “common good” (because it is the right thing to do)

Both X-altruists and sociopaths have high impulsivity, need for novelty, and the tendency to break rules, but there is a fundamental difference in the motivation driving their behavior. Someone who is altruistic is always looking to the idealistic good situation, or the way things should be in a fair and just world. They are able to empathize—feel what the other person is feeling, or imagine themselves in another’s shoes. This empathy is the force that moves them to engage in heroic behaviors. They have a need to live in “a fair and just world”, and will go to great lengths to try and maintain that. They are driven by factors outside of themselves, externally motivated drives, such as aiding the plight of society or serving the “greater good”.

The sociopath, on the other hand, is motivated by internal factors; selfish desires and the advancement of their own cause, rather than the causes of others or society as a whole. They don’t have the ability to empathize, so they see no logic in acting in any way other than selfishly, since they cannot imagine themselves in anyone else’s position. Everything they do is driven by their quest to satisfy their own needs, rather than (and often at the expense of) the needs of another person.

If an altruistic person is able to empathize, and thus is motivated to help others, the X-altruistic person has too much empathy for others, driving them to break rules and put themselves in harms way in order to alleviate the suffering of others or bring fairness to the world. That extreme empathy, combined with a lower impulse control, the need for novelty, and an intolerance for injustice, is the trait formula of the X-altruistic personality. Because this type of person often engages in such extreme behavior that results in harm to self on some level, he earns a spot on the dysfunctional end of the personality scale, nearing psychopathology.

Interestingly, these two type of individuals, the sociopath and the X-altruist, may appear similar in their displays of behavior, and at times, even confused for the other type. If an X-altruistic person is compelled to break rules without remorse in order to help a disadvantaged person, is may seem as if he is acting rebelliously, especially if the motives behind his behavior are not known. On the other hand, a sociopath may donate a large sum of money to a charity, a seemingly altruistic behavior, but his actions may have been motivated by his selfish need to appear better than or more generous than a colleague. The defining characteristic that separates the two personality types is their ability to empathize, either not at all or too much, which then drives the extreme behavior of each.

So while the X-altruistic person indeed acts for the good of the people, he often violates laws, breaks rules, or otherwise causes ripples in the order of society. To be a good citizen, we are required and expected to follow laws at all times. But we can all agree that the world needs extreme heroes; they are the ones who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty, for self-less reasons, even when it could mean losing their job, receiving hefty fines, or even serving time in jail.

But are they really criminals? Or do we need to bend the rules at times in order to allow for these types of do-gooders to continue on their path, bringing righteousness and justice to an otherwise corrupt world? Where do we draw the line between criminality and heroism?

Here’s an even better question:

How exactly do we support necessary rule-breaking for virtuous intent, yet punish malicious rule-breaking for ill-intent? Can it be done? Maybe someday we will be able to write public policy that actually serves the best intent of the people, even if it means that once in a while, some rules need to be broken in the process.

I want to send a message out to all of those heroic, X-altruists out there, continually putting their butts on the line for our well-being: Thank you. The world is a better place because you dare to do good… even when it seems crazy to do so.

Andrea Kuszewski, an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET, lives in San Francisco and works as a researcher and manager with VORTEX Research Group. She investigates the neurocognitive factors behind human behavior.


i’ve been wondering about this issue for sometimes… thank you for the article!! now things are a bit clearer for me…(or shall i say, we can justified ourselves…lol…) 
although it can cause some nuisance, yes, sometimes we do need to bend/break ‘stupid’ norms and or rules when they basically don’t serve ‘the common good’.

I must admit…........ part of writing this article was a bit of catharsis. However, I feel we need more people like this who are willing to look beyond the “rules and norms” and into what is the “right thing to do”. Not an easy path in life, but those who take that path pave the way for progress in society.

Thank you!

“How exactly do we support necessary rule-breaking for virtuous intent, yet punish malicious rule-breaking for ill-intent? Can it be done?”

I think that’s called a “judicial system” - it isn’t perfect, but it does a reasonable enough job, much of the time.

P.S. there’s a typo, “their/there” in the paragraph after the characteristic lists.

Of course, there’s an even finer line beyond the two: what if one’s extreme empathy extends to things that are beyond the scope of what society deems acceptable (for good or ill).  Things like lab animals, fetuses, old-growth forests, the reputation of the Prophet Muhammad, it seems to me that the difference between a crusader and a jihadist is often a question of values.

I’m not convinced that the X-altruist’s ability to experience empathy ought to be cited as a principal distinction—there is evidence that sociopaths are not incapable of empathy, but tend to avoid its practice (otherwise applying the information acquired to selfish purposes). It might be useful to replace the word ‘empathy’ here with ‘regard for others’—a sociopath confers relatively low regard to the interests of other individuals.

To Rigel in Baltimore: If the judicial system is working as designed, it would be a blind system of rules, and rule-breakers would be dealt with as the laws prescribe. Of course, that doesn’t prevent judges from throwing out the rules and siding with the rule-breaker, but I’d suspect that the judges in both cases would be either x-altrustics or sociopaths in their own rights.

Interesting article. Your points actually remind me of a lot of the character work done in action and superhero fiction, where the sociopath is a highly esteemed member of society and considered an altruist, heroes are often misunderstood and persecuted, and the villain always says “we’re not as different as you’d like to think.”

One minor note about the Twin Towers situation: My understanding about the firefighters who rejected the order to withdraw is a bit of political spin that was put out for both myth making and to cover Mayor Giuliani’s butt. According to fire fighters in NYC, the order to withdraw was never received by fire fighters in the building. The radios that had recently been put into action lacked the range and power required and had failed reliability tests. The men and women who died did so not because of extreme altruism, but because of faulty equipment.
Interesting video on this at

For more information see the last 10 years of Batman comics…
Batman as X-Altruist and The Joker as Sociopath.

And people say comic books have no merit…such people obviously don’t read them.

Lillith: I suppose that depends on your conception of justice, no?
Given that we’re both in the US, the following points seem relevant:

judicial discretion in sentencing
jury of one’s peers
use of intent or “mens rea” in determining guilt

all point to a non-mechanistic definition of justice as it is conceptualized here.

Just as an aside, this is a pretty shaky thesis. Try arguing a little less from anecdote and more from actual data.

I think you conflated this nicely enough, but it overlooks something, which is that rules are there for people who need them, not for people who have developed a sense of appropriateness and are motivated by love for all beings and act “from a good place”.

For example, once you learn to drive and have experience in many locations and situations, you can drive reasonably correctly even with missing signage. At 50, I often find myself going the correct speed limit unconsciously in a new place, from situational clues. A 17-year-old might not, and there are several varieties of reasons for that, some genetic, some cultural.

And then there’s the fact that rules were written over there back then, and we’re now in a situation over here right now. Failure to accommodate changes in the way things are is a consistent failure of rules-oriented processes. Try using a 1976 phone book to find a friend’s number, in an extreme example.

Also, there have been experiments with removing all traffic info and findings that show people act more cautiously when confronted with that lack. A Sociopath would see opportunity for advancement or mayhem here, one of your X-peeps would not see anything different from the rest of the proles unless there was a situational difference, such as a gasoline truck running away toward a stroller. The X-peep would be more likely to deconstruct the motivations of the removal of the traffic aids, and more quick to act appropriately in the new situation.

So the external versus internal motivation is very important, not just a list item. We see this difference in attitude and source of motivation all the time in our daily lives, and it is profound in its effects on all of us.

I think it’s interesting what the article says about you, that you consider rule-following to be the ne plus ultra of human behavior.

I also noted a bit much surprise at the notion that goodness and rule-breaking could go hand in hand…

One only has to consider how much injustice is fostered and locked in by rules, often intentionally, to realise that those who blindly follow them are part of the problem.

...Or to contemplate how much more you can get done by breaking rules.

A fictional but entirely valid exemplar of this ‘X-altruist’ archetype is Hawkeye Pierce. The borderline sociopath Frank Burns (although less credible a character) is far more comfortable within the rules; they legitimise his machinations.

Really shallow,there’s way more to human actions and reactions.
Are we talking about a perfect world here?Got news,thats also a dream.One can be independent without being feisty,argumentative or convention-breaker as you put it.
Social rules were meant to be broken,last year the government redefined marriage.
It all comes down to being a follower or being independent,which side are you on?
I chose mind independent long time ago,that gave the motivation and ability to identify rotten hazards a mile away.

Interesting article, but not without bias, and in my opinion, unprofessionally written.  Never before have I heard a health-care professional refer to a sociopath as “nasty”.  As a behavioral specialist, I would expect you to know better than anyone that sociopaths do not choose their hereditary personality disorders anymore than your beloved X-altruists do.  Why call names? 

And how do you define virtue and “good” intent?  Is not the X-altruist’s all-consuming desire to help others, at the expense breaking these rules you seem to value so much, just as selfish as the sociopath?

Your intentions are obvious. Try as you like, we’ll never associate heroes with sociopaths.

And the social order will thus survive, despite your kind’s attempt to weaken and destroy it.

This is interesting.  I know two people who fit your description of a sociopath and an extreme altruist who are closely related.  A father and daughter—the father a classic sociopath, and the daughter so empathetic and compelled to altruism as to impair her functioning.  I had never before thought of this as two sides of the same coin, because caring about others is such a large difference as to result in completely different personalities.

Do you think being a sociopath is genetic? (Many do, but I can’t tell for sure from your post.)  If so, would sociopaths and super-altruists tend to occur in the same families, that is do you think they share the same genetic underpinnings?  What about environmental factors?  In the case I mentioned above, I had always surmised the daughter’s altruism was a reaction to the abuse she suffered from her father—she feels her life isn’t worth much unless she is helping others.

Are behavioral twins also genetic twins?

With schizophrenia and bipolar disorder having similar genetics, a plausible hypothesis would be that heroes and sociopaths also have similar genetic origins. A hypothesis well worth testing.

The law (“society”) has always provided for altruistic rule-breaking, the defense of necessity for example, e.g. you are absolved of stealing a car if you “stole” it to get a dying person to the hospital and there was no alternative transportation.  It’s not really even breaking the rules, this is a caveat to the rules.
Aside from low impulse control and novelty-seeking I see little similarity between a sociopathic reptile and a hero, but perhaps this is why evolution gives us these people generation after generation.  Occasionally we need a hero to save the day —we can’t all be deliberative, prudent farmers and accountants.

Interesting analysis and commentary!

Your description of empathy, as arising out of a desire for “a fair and just world”, your subsequent comment about “people like this who are willing to look beyond the ‘rules and norms’ and into what is the ‘right thing to do’”, and then subsequent comments concerning the judicial system remind me of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, where “empathy” seemed to be branded by conservatives as a word nearly as evil as “liberal”. I imagine that many judicial activists may be playing the role of hero, whether they see themselves that way or not. I wonder about the distribution of heroes and sociopaths across the liberal / conservative spectrum. And I find myself musing about the sociopathological characteristics exhibited by some politicians.

Regarding your (and my) desire for more heroes, I wanted to finish this comment by sharing an excerpt from the movie “Hero”, in which the reporter, Gale Gayley (played by Geena Davis), asks John Bubber (played by Andy Garcia), “If everyone thinks of you as a hero, Mr. Bubber, how do you see yourself?”  Bubber answers “I think we’re all heroes, if you catch us at the right moment.”

It sounds reasonable to me. It also seems warply reasonable that an altrustic personality might get caught up in a sociopath’s manipulative designs. I’ve seen these types (flip sides of same coin) drawn to one another time and time again. Generally with disastrous results for the “good” one.

Interesting take on an older subject. I recall reading an article on this same fundamental observation in Psychology Today 20+ years ago.

There’s a teaching from over 1500 years ago that says some people are born “under the constellation of blood”—or something strange like that. It goes on to say that people with this attribute will have a proclivity towards becoming either murderers or surgeons.

Great article.  As a comic book writer it got my creative excitement flowing.

However, I would say Ghandi was an X-altruist. He sure as hell broke a lot of rules.  I don’t know much of the history of Mother Teresa, but I’m willing to bet she ruffled a few feathers in her time.

You misspelled Gandhi.

[thanks for the catch, Scott - it’s been corrected]

“The word “altruism” conveys images of people like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, passive, extremely self-less people. They are altruistic, sure. But the X-altruistic person is anything but passive or meek. They are often feisty, argumentative, independent, idealistic risk-takers and convention-breakers. “

According to Gandhi was a risk-taker. Also, Gandhi was not being passive or meek when he said, “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”

It seems to me that “psychopathology” is being misused in the title and by implication, in the article. Psychologists define pathology as maladaptive and harmful behavior and “psychopathy” as essentially anti-social personality or sociopath (though it’s not quite the same) so by this definition, heroes are NOT engaging in psychopathological behaviors. Their behavior is NOT maladaptive nor is it harmful.  Conflating the terms to make a point is dishonest. As for empathy, psychopaths not only have little (no one said “none”), they don’t care about others. The term, as used by developmental and forensic psychologists, includes the idea of caring about others, not just understanding others. Psychopaths typically do not. See Harre’s work on psychopaths.


Read the article again, and you will see that you either missed some information or misinterpreted what was stated.


“The sociopath, on the other hand, is motivated by internal factors; selfish desires and the advancement of their own cause, rather than the causes of others or society as a whole. They don’t have the ability to empathize, so they see no logic in acting in any way other than selfishly, since they cannot imagine themselves in anyone else’s position. Everything they do is driven by their quest to satisfy their own needs, rather than (and often at the expense of) the needs of another person.”

Second (in regards to X-Altruists):

“Because this type of person often engages in such extreme behavior that results in harm to self on some level, he earns a spot on the dysfunctional end of the personality scale, nearing psychopathology.”

“Psychopathy” and “psychopathology” are not the same word, and are not interchangeable.

Thanks for reading!

No, I didn’t misread, I just wasn’t clear. The part about empathy was not directed toward the article (which is clear on the issue of empathy) but toward one of the earlier comments that claimed psychopaths may show empathy. So the article was not the problem here but the other commenter. My apologies for not being clear on that.

However I still disagree that risky altruistic behavior is pathological. There is a world of difference between risk for the sake of thrills and risk to save a human life. I don’t really see how they can be equated. The motivations as well as the results are quite different.  Saving human lives is hardly maladaptive,which is after all, part of what is meant by psychopathology. That would make parents who risk their lives for their children, to say nothing of police officers, all pathological. Though I am not a Christian, it occurs to me that by this definition, the behavior of Jesus would be classified as pathological. Perhaps some non-Christians might buy that but I’m sure Christians (and me too) would have a hard time with that. How is are these examples different? Or are they?

You know, I’m reminded that America has stopped being a land of freedom and justice, and has become a “nation of laws”. We’re not about doing what’s right anymore. We’re all about CONTROL. We’re about mediocrity and homogenization. It disgusts me that right and wrong are being determined nowadays by the rules written by whoever’s writing them.

I’m with AndiK and anyone else who seems to have some moral and ethical fiber.


I found this idea very useful for the course I taught last month on religious responses to Harry Potter.  What’s the difference between H.P. and Lord Voldemort?  Empathy!  Which is something I wish could be taught somehow; I think greater empathy would be a good antidote to things like bullying.

This bears a striking similarity to “On Sheep, Sheepdogs and Wolves” By LTC(RET) Dave Grossman, RANGER, Ph.D.,

In particular, “If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.”
The full text can be found at:

As a gifted and sensitive child with one malicious sociopathic parent, one insensitive narcissist parent, several siblings, including an older malicious sociopath “golden child” whom I roomed with my whole childhood, I can tell you that there is far too much emphasis here on genetics. I am in my forties and just getting to the bulk of teasing out all the “para-moralities”—I propose the term “patho-moralities” instilled in me in seventeen years—my FIRST 17 years of life—of brainwashing. I was groomed to be an altruist; for the family values and superego to prohibit and crush my own will—to do everything I could for others, and that the right answer was to say, “For me, I want nothing.” To consistently model that behavior to others, and not complain when I was disappointed, but to examine my right to be disappointed, instead, my rights to anything at all. YES, I DO THINK THERE’S A LINK BETWEEN SOCIOPATHS AND ALTRUISTS.

“Trying to be good” is a classic part of captive trauma, I’d like to add.

This article actually gives a fairly good explanations for some vigilantes. In the case of vigilante justice, it is sometimes carried out for purposes of necessity, sometimes out of revenge, or due to a feeling that the legal system has failed them; but there are a rare few who act on such notions due to an “addiction to being good.” I’ve known one such kind of person, and the ideations are just as dangerous as that of a sociopath.

Constance X:

That explains so much! Thank you!

Nixon is—was—the classic example of how an altruist and a sociopath can exist in the same person.

Brilliant article—thank YOU!  Like Constance X, I grew up in a family that polarized the children into sociopaths and x-altruists. I’ve been called a do-gooder or altruist all my life; I was in one job for ten years, but constantly fighting the admin. for the good of students and colleagues; since then I’ve left many jobs when I could not tolerate the injustice toward myself and others. My eldest brother committed suicide rather than burden his family with the costs and misery attending his terminal disease. On the other hand, my elder brother killed animals, abused his siblings physically, verbally and sexually (raped me when I was 5); my elder sister, a victim of his as well, became epileptic and psychotic, finally coercing a will change that cut the rest of us out of our estate.  I have been questioning my knee-jerk altruism for some time now.  I try to pick my battles and truly do some good without harming myself.  Still, I am glad that my narcissist/ sociopathic parents (themselves abused, I’m sure) affected me to be x-altruist rather than sociopathic.

I guess another trick to this argument stems from the fact that, as often as not, real-life “heroes” are not the only victims they create.  If an approval-seeking X’er runs into a burning building to save babies or kittens, often others will follow, assuming the X’er(s) have some kind of idea what they are doing.  They typically do not.  This often leads to more injury or death.  While the X’ers can inspire heroism, they are also sirens to the rocks.  They will take you down with them.  I don’t care how conflicted X’ers are about [insert friend’s name here] after the fact, but the simple fact is that [insert friend’s name here] probably wouldn’t be quite so dead had they not had [insert friend’s name here] bounding after them across a partially frozen lake or trying to hold off a pack of rabid wolves to save someone with a ridiculously low survival rate, even in the event of their unlikely success.  Both pathologies are dangerous.  Make no mistake.

BNF, I agree.  Both syndromes (x-altruism and sociopathy) are dangerous because they ARE syndromes.  Anything kneejerk is by definition irrational and automatic.  I am trying quite hard to look at life like a ‘normal’ person (as far as such exists, let’s call it The Middle Way) and it is wonderfully liberating.  I had never realized what a martyr—and inspiration for martyrdom—I was.  I now, as I said, am in recovery and find your point very apt.

I think you guys need to stop picking this article apart. Obviously this article is taking reference from psychology. However, psychology is limited to generalities in the human condition. Everyone is unique and so it is impossible to give a “blanket” statement that would be correct for everyone.

What we can say however, is that all actions start with a thought.
All thoughts have a root. And that root is either Good or Evil.

Someone who is willing to put their life in danger for another, regardless of their relationship is clearly acting on good.

These actions need to be commemorated and should set the example for others. We make the world in which we live, what do you want your world to be like?

“A Dream you dream alone is just a dream. A Dream we dream together is a reality” - John Lennon

Why claim that the x-altruistic person is not selfishly motivated? Many so-called altruistic people are motivated by appearing to be altruistic to others, by portraying themselves as more ethical and selfless, etc. Within religious organizations there is often competitions to see who can appear more selfless.

Meanwhile folks like Gandhi do not have low impulse control, but incredible discipline. Some sociopaths also have high discipline, aka Darth Vader type evil.

“However, psychology is limited to generalities in the human condition. Everyone is unique and so it is impossible to give a ‘blanket’ statement that would be correct for everyone.”

And psychologists/psychiatrists/researchers can be as intellectually dishonest or more so than the patients they study/treat.

No need to adjust the rules. The selfless actor knows the cost and they gladly pay it. The selfish is unhappy to pay, that’s punishment enough.

Spoken like a true non-hero.  Well, it certainly is interesting how we look from the outside.

Judging by Andrea’s criteria, I am an x-altruist.

And I can tell you, it’s curse.

Society will hate you for it.

You got it right, ipan.
BTW, the gullible are those hated most, or more accurately, not respected. It took a long time (too long) to figure out the difference between like and respect. For example a self-sacrificing individual—say for instance a homeless person—is liked but not respected; while an alcoholic is both liked & respected (“he’s one of us”) and sent to Alcohol Recovery and 12 Step. The substance abuser is liked, respected, sent to Rehab and whatever else comes next. However a gullible person is a fool, chump, sucker, and ultimate loser, he is:

a) to be neither liked, nor respected.
b) to write futurist books & articles—and be ridiculed all the way to the bank 😉

Damn, I like you a whole lot now post-post.

You show a great understanding. Not right nor wrong, but I feel a deep understanding based on experience.

I will be listening closer to your writing from this point forward.

“You show a great understanding.”

I don’t understand anything- merely read alot of books.
The Wizard said to the brainless Scarecrow in the ‘Wizard of Oz’:

“what does a professor have that you don’t have? a diploma!”

The Wizard didn’t say anything about understanding.

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