Psychopathic Empaths and Empai

Image from Bernd Helfert
Empaths in the Communion of Worlds and elsewhere have an enhanced ability to model the physical and emotional feelings of others, an ability that allows them to understand the world from another viewpoint. But a very few empaths develop a personality disorder which encourages them to cause pain to others for their own amusement.

In general, psychopathic individuals display a marked lack of empathy hidden by an ability to appear outwardly normal. Instead pyschoempaths have enhanced empathy, but because of masochistic impulses they desire to cause suffering in others so that they may feel it themselves. This allows these individuals to experience excruciating pain without physical injury, although the psychological effects of this syndrome are very damaging and addictive.

Not all psychoempaths are human, or even bioids; artificially intelligent entities (especially in the Communion of Worlds) often possess very sophisticated empathy circuits, and those who specialise in modelling the mindstate and emotions of other entities are known as empai. Some of the most extreme cases of psychoempathy among empai occurred in the Late Federation Age, and caused some polities to view all empaths with a certain amount of distrust.

The Communion of Worlds takes great care to detect and treat those inflicted with psychoempathy, but some individuals manage to evade treatment and commit serial crimes of various kinds. In extreme cases such a psychoempath may be untreatable, and will be neutralised or eliminated by any means necessary.

DNI death cults and psychoempathy

Empaths use observation and deductive modelling to recreate the internal mind state of others within themselves, and for them the experience is very vivid. However there are other ways to share the mind-state and experiences of another being directly, via direct neural linkage and technotelepathy. Normally a true empathy rejects such methods as being too intrusive, but psychoempaths quite often use direct neural linkage as a way to enhance their appreciation of the suffering of their victims.

Since the development of workable DNI in the Interplanetary age of the Old Solar System a few thrill-seekers have used this technology to experience the pain and terror of torture and death; this powerful form of sadistic entertainment sometimes became the centre of underground cults known as DNI death cults. Torture and ill-treatment inflicted on a victim could be shared by the torturer, and sometimes by an audience of numerous other participants. In general this practice is a manifestation of sadism, as the murderer, torturer or other participant feels no empathy with the victim; however psychoempaths take a different view of the proceedings, as they identify very strongly with the victim, and in some ways they are acting in a masochistic fashion, wishing to hurt and punish themselves as much as possible without actually coming to any physical harm.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 08 November 2011.