2

The Vulcan society decreed it best to live without emotion and to suppress them the best they can, and this is where they divide. Since Vulcans tend to show slight emotions and they are usually superficial, can they be considered sociopaths? Most sociopaths are law-biding citizens and have little to no emotions.

9
  • 6
    Short answer no. Vulcans have strong emotions, they just use mental techniques to keep them in check, constantly editing their reactions against a learned set of internal rules. The opposite of a sociopath, in fact.
    – Valorum
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:53
  • 9
    Seems like an opinion-based question. Anyway, with their difficulty understanding the emotional responses of others and their tendency towards highly systematic thinking, wouldn't it make more sense to compare them to people on the "high-functioning" end of the autistic spectrum? Sociopaths typically have a lot of traits that don't seem much like those of Vulcans, such as being superficially charming, frequently lying and being unreliable, difficulty with long-term planning and learning from experience, strong desire for outside stimulation, etc.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:56
  • 3
    Sociopath - a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. While Vulcans suppress their emotions, they certainly have a sense of moral responsibility and social conscience. They just base those decisions on logic without relying on the additional input emotions provide. So by definition, they would not be considered sociopaths.
    – Stan
    Mar 21, 2014 at 16:10
  • 2
    It seems facetious to accuse aliens of suffering from human psychological disorders. It's not like we call cats sociopaths, though they all clearly are. Mar 22, 2014 at 4:24
  • 2
    Does anyone else besides myself work in mental health and law enforcement? Check out the DSM-V (Sociopathy) and the Psychopathy Checklist -- Revised (PCL-R) by Dr. Robert Hare, Ph.D. Sociopathy and Psychopathy can share some traits, but they aren't exactly the same thing. And I hesitate greatly at endorsing the suggestion that sociopathic or psychopathic behavior is rational per se. Consider instead: hedonistic, self-serving, dangerous, dishonest, uncaring, hurtful, without conscience, violent, entitled, homicidal. Sorry, but VTC. Subjective. Also, the topic is too complex for dictionary.com. Mar 22, 2014 at 13:14

1 Answer 1

12

Let's look at the definition of "sociopath".

Dictionary.com defines it as

a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Does your typical Vulcan fit that? No. Vulcans feel moral responsibilities, though they are arguably not outwardly driven by them.

Oxfard Dictionary defines it as

A person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

Does your typical Vulcan fit that? No, they have consciences. They know right from wrong.

Psychology Today lists common traits and warning signs of sociopaths including:

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence

I don't know that I'd agree with "superficial", but they're intelligent. Push.

  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking

OK, no irrational thinking here. +1

  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations

The average Vulcan is almost always calm and collected. +1

  • Unreliability

Nope. -1

  • Untruthfulness and insincerity

Nope. -1

  • Lack of remorse and shame

They may lack remorse outwardly, but that doesn't mean that they don't feel it. -1

  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior

Arguable, as they're not exactly party animals. But they don't typically actively avoid social situations. -1

  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience

Nope. -1

  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love

We know this to be false from Spock's reactions in various episodes and movies. -1

  • General poverty in major affective reactions

Arguable as they tend to hide emotions. +1

  • Specific loss of insight

What do Vulcans do if not analyze and find insight? -1

  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations

Again with not being overtly friendly. -1

  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without

Nope. -1

  • Suicide threats rarely carried out

Nope. -1

  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated

Arguable, but we do know that Vulcans feel love. We may allow that many, even most Vulcans view it more clinically. +1

  • Failure to follow any life plan

Absolutely not.

-1


So, after all that, do Vulcans fit the definition of a sociopath? Comparing against the Psychology Today warning signs, we have 4 positive warning signs, 1 neutral, and 12 negatives.

No, one can not reasonably conclude that Vulcans are sociopaths.

6
  • 2
    Actually their sexual drives seem pretty darned indiscriminate.
    – Valorum
    Mar 21, 2014 at 16:38
  • @Richard only once every 7 years.
    – Kevin
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:53
  • @user14111 whoops. you're right. not sure how I misread that one. fixed.
    – phantom42
    May 12, 2014 at 15:10
  • @Kevin Which makes them a lot more discriminate compared to, say, Kirk.
    – Zibbobz
    Aug 28, 2014 at 15:09
  • 1
    I used the definition from a major industry publication for a very specific reason - to avoid debate or discussion. If you don't like their definition, that's fine - write up your own answer.
    – phantom42
    Jul 3, 2015 at 22:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.