We all know a lot about sociopaths. At the very least, we know what the movies and the news show us. People without empathy are scary and can commit crimes, disregard others and simply live for themselves. They don’t fit into what we see as a society. Surely if there are so many people who are sociopaths, there must be people who are anti-sociopaths. Hyper-empathetic, incredibly friendly and trustworthy, as well as believing that they can trust people very easily.
There isn’t that much literature or studies about people who are hyper-emphatic. One theory is that it doesn’t cause them any trouble so that there wouldn’t be any research done, but that presents some problems – surely if you just trusted everyone, you would eventually get in some trouble, right?
There are also different types of empathy.
For instance, people with autism and people that may be considered sociopaths both have trouble empathizing but in a totally different way. This book by Simon Baron-Cohen, Sacha Baron-Cohen’s cousin, explores this more in-depth.
The closest thing to some that is an anti-sociopath would probably be someone with Williams syndrome. Williams syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is very rare. The people who are born with it have distinct facial features like big smiles, small teeth, flat noses and small teeth. Their appearance is elfin. While people with Williams syndrome have difficulty acquiring language skills and can suffer from cardiovascular disease, they are incredibly friendly.
People with Williams syndrome are very chatty and friendly, they use speech that is richer in emotional descriptions and always seek the company of others. They are extremely empathetic and many fear listening to people having arguments. While they are very friendly with strangers and very sociable, people with Williams syndrome may not be able to form deeper relationships. It’s obviously difficult for them as they are often extremely vulnerable.
So are there such people as anti-sociopaths?
Well, we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that empathy is incredibly complex, and it seems to be in our genes and physical make-up while it’s also in our surroundings.