What do these all have in common: the father who killed his daughter’s kitten in front of her, saying he would do the same to her if she ever told anyone about their secrets, the uncle who said he would kill his victim’s father if the victim ever told about their secrets, the step-mother who got rid of a sister when the sister complained that one of the step-mother’s revolving-door boyfriends had molested her, the electrician working on the new house across the street, the uncle of the school classmate on the paper route, the step-father whose victim was molested for half their life, but at eight years old didn’t want step-daddy to leave because the two of them had lots of special secrets?
Most people are shocked, and outraged, to know a football coach was seen sodomizing a nude ten year old boy in the shower, later seen fellating another nude boy in the shower, and went for years with no justice for the victims. I personally know all the victims mentioned in the first paragraph above. One thing that all the victims have in common, including the victims of the coach, is that they went for years and years with no justice, no punishment for the offender. But the thing that the offenders all have in common, and that I want to focus on, is that the offenders are all without shame. They feel no shame for what they did, although their actions made all their victims feel shame.
You see, there is a common term in Spanish used as an insult for a scoundrel, a rogue, a shameless person: sinvergüenza. And the literal translation of that term in English is without shame, or shameless. It’s not just current news stories and personal experience that have produced today’s article. In 1335 Don Juan Manuel published El Conde Lucanor in Spain. His fiftieth story in that book, of examples for life, deals with shame. In this story, a Sultan goes to stay with one of his knights. The Sultan falls in love with the knight’s wife and sends the husband away to a far off land, much as King David did with Uriah so that he could have his way with Bathsheba. When the Sultan declares his love for the knight’s wife, she promises the Sultan that he can have his way with her, if only he will provide the answer to a question: what is the best character quality a man can have?
The Sultan travels the world searching for the right answer, and finds it when an old man shares that shame is the most important character quality a man can have. The sultan returns and tells the virtuous wife he has found the answer, and that the most important virtue of a man is shame and that shame is the mother of all the other virtues. The wife responds by repeating that she will indeed keep her promise, but first wants to know if there is anyone in the world more honorable or fair than the Sultan. The Sultan replies that although he is embarrassed to admit it, there is no one more honorable or fair than he.
The wife proceeds to inform the Sultan that in view of his two statements – shame is the most important virtue and the Sultan is the most honorable and fair man – he cannot possibly want to hold the wife to her promise. The Sultan realizes he almost made a grave error, and releases the wife from her obligation, then recalls her husband and gives them both much honor and wealth.
Oh, if only little children could be so wise and crafty, and pedophiles so honorable. But that is the main problem – little children are innocent and the pedophile is without shame. And the lack of shame, remorse, and guilt is one of the key characteristics of a sociopath. Sociopaths are also pathological liars. Couple the lack of shame with the absence of a conscience, and you have a guilty person capable of passing a polygraph. An accomplished liar who does not feel guilty, like a sociopath, does not have the physiological responses to indicate a lie with a polygraph. The sociopath knows right from wrong and knows what he does is wrong, but he just doesn’t care.
Donna Andersen was kind enough to let me use the image at the top, from her web page called Love Fraud. Most of you know by now I like the heart, which I discussed in The Heart and The Heart – chapter 2. In my first post on Bad, Worse, Horrible Love I shared photos of a counterfeit coin, from the time of the Book of Good Love, minted in Sevilla – the city of “he has not abandoned me.” Love Fraud is a lot like Counterfeit Good Love. Donna has a page on the key symptoms of a sociopath, showing how it is sociopaths who are responsible for the most severe cases of love fraud. Her page on the inner triangle explains that sociopaths have faulty development in three areas: ability to love, impulse control and moral reasoning. Another page states that sociopaths (psychopaths) are not insane, they “certainly know enough about what they are doing to be held accountable for their actions.”
This post is much longer than normal, so I’ll wait until next week to explain some of the other links and my interests in Don Juan Manuel. In Spain there is a saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you fatter, used when you find a hair or bug in your food. We say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I talked about that in Good Friends Share Good Love, and A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for (to help in) adversity. – Prov 17:17. Until death, there is always hope. I know that in at least four of the examples mentioned in my first paragraph, the victim found that a personal relationship with Jesus could transform them. That transformation includes removing shame that doesn’t belong, recognizing it’s not the victim’s fault, and putting the past behind you. God even has the power to transform a sociopath or a pedophile, giving him the shame of doing wrong, the shame that Don Juan Manuel says is the most important character quality a man can have.