by Fr. George W. Rutler

A psychopath is often confused with a sociopath, but the latter is not mentally ill in a medical sense. Sociopaths, being more subtle and even charming, may do more harm to others than someone who is certifiably insane. Sociopaths are so absorbed in themselves that they lack any moral conscience, and blame others for their own failures while taking credit for the accomplishments of others. Sociopaths are manipulative and intimidating, skilled at bullying others while playing on their affections. They will use others for their own ends, either through flattery or humiliation, and lie without any sense of guilt, becoming vindictive when exposed. Sociopaths can be attractive, until you experience them.

The sociopath is the photographic negative of Christ in whom we can see the Father. In the sociopath, we catch a glimpse of the Prince of Lies. The sociopath makes sorrow a contagion, while Christ spreads joy (cf. John 15:11) by giving Himself to us as “grace,” which enables us to love. The sociopath cannot love because he is frozen within himself. The youthful Saul of Tarsus may have been a budding sociopath, destructive in his self-regard, but the Risen Christ changed all that. Sixty percent of the occurrences of the word “joy” in the New Testament are from St. Paul, who did not know its meaning before his conversion. In Greek, joy and grace sound much the same, for hara is nurtured and perfected by haris.  St. Paul says (2 Cor. 2:3 ff) that “my joy is the joy of you all,” and he urges us to save others from becoming “swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.” That word “overmuch” is the craft of the King James translation and needs no updating in our conflicted world. In St. Paul, and in all the saints, is sensed the personality of Christ whom some adored and some scorned, but no one ever found manipulative, and not even His enemies found Him depressing.

By following Our Lord as He walks into the cauldron of the earthly Jerusalem, with its rampant pathologies, the Church also walks toward the heavenly Jerusalem, where all is joy because all are looking at God instead of themselves.

“Be glad and rejoice for ever and ever for what I am creating, because I now create Jerusalem ‘Joy’ and her people ‘Gladness.’ I shall rejoice over Jerusalem and exult in my people. No more will the sound of weeping or the sound of cries be heard in her; in her, no more will be found the infant living a few days only, or the old man not living to the end of his days. To die at the age of a hundred will be dying young; not to live to be a hundred will be the sign of a curse. They will build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (Isaiah 65:18-21).

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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