The ABC’s of Sociopaths

Sorry I missed covering the last episode. I may do some retroactive reviews once the season is over but really it was a glorified clip show. Don’t get me wrong it was a good episode and when I say clip show essentially I mean a collection of short stories of which each had merit but it didn’t grab my attention hard enough to make me want to run out and write a review.

This episode on the other hand did. I’m not going to try to narrate the episode word for word but more focus on what I thought was the main theme, which in this case is sociopathy. You see in this episode Beth was forced to come to terms with the fact that more than likely she is just as much of a nihilistic sociopath as Rick is. But those are just words, they are labels and it takes people to apply meaning to words. So lets break down those words and try to dissect what they mean to the us. Nihilism means believing in nothing, literally nothing. What does that even mean you ask? good question it certainly opens up many existential cans of worms but more on that later, first I want to focus on sociopathy.

Sociopathy is defined as a person that cannot empathize with the suffering of other people. Essentially someone who cannot (or chooses not to) imagine themselves in the place of any other person who has a life worse than they do. I have heard figures as high as 10% of the population suffer from this to some extent. But that’s not true right? Rick is even more deserving of that label and I don’t even think he cares more about himself than (some) others. When Beth asks Rick flat out if she is an evil person he replies “worse.. you’re smart”. And I think there is a lot of truth in that statement. For instance imagine you are a scientist who is on the verge of creating fusion energy. If you complete your work successfully you will eliminate the need for fossil fuels entirely. Coal, Natural gas, Oil, all would become expensive relics as our power bills went from pennies per kilowatt to kilowatts per penny. Your work would not only change history but redefine human existence and may even be the difference between the entire species failing or continuing to exist. Now I would imagine you would be pretty hyper focused on your goal. You certainly are not going to spend your time volunteering at homeless shelters. You may even be a dick to anyone who distracts you from the big picture. Sure you could take the time to explain to every person you meet how vital your work is but even that is a distraction you cannot afford. I think that every person who some would label a sociopath believes this or some version of this in their own minds. To what extent it is true or not is up for interpretation but that raises the question who does the interpreting. Only you know enough about your daily efforts to know how important they may be, and you are likely to overestimate their importance. Other people can judge how you treat others but they will never know your justifications let alone know them well enough to judge if they are bullshit or not. Don’t get me wrong I am in no way defending people who engage in sociopathic behavior but essentially my point is that sociopathy shouldn’t be considered a binary yes or no kind of issue. It is in reality a spectrum disorder. Some people are a little bit sociopathic some are a lot. But we all fall somewhere on this spectrum. We have all been guilty at some time or another of thinking or acting selfishly. Rick undoubtedly cares very much about his children and grandchildren. But the fact that in his multiverse he has access to infinite quantities of each complicates the issue drastically. I think Rick does everything he can to take care of the family that he has in the universe he is currently in. Though he also knows better than to put himself in danger just to save any individual one of them. But even this comes with a degree of selfishness because there are also infinite Rick’s also. It’s not a simple issue to quantify, And I think this is why Rick refuses to try. He would rather not make a decision than make a wrong one.

Which brings me back to nihilism. One could easily say that Rick is a nihilist. Rick himself constantly tries to show this is true to whoever will listen. But to believe in nothing is not possible unless you’re currently brain-dead. The mere act of making a choice is a belief that it is the right one. So in reality nihilism is the futile effort to try to believe in nothing. An effort in which Rick continually fails. Rick cares about lots of things. Rick cares about his progeny. Rick cares about Unity. Rick cares about getting drunk. All these things count as something.

You see this is the problem with labels. Labels are a means for lazy people to quantify other people without putting in any effort. Very few people would ever label themselves as sociopathic or nihilistic, they are typically applied to you by other people who do not understand you and don’t care to. Does this mean that people never act in sociopathic or nihilistic ways? No of course not. But those are symptoms of bigger problems, not causes. To slap a label like this on someone is to write them off, and I think it is shitty to write people off. I am guilty of doing so just like anyone else. But that doesn’t make it right. If you know someone who acts this sort of way all I can tell you is to keep trying to reach them because there is clearly some inner pain they are hiding. Anyway, sorry if you thought this was a review when it actually turned into a massive digression. The episode was great. Go watch it and you will see for yourself. 😀

P.S. I don’t think Beth was cloned.

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