Characters The Following Discussion

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10:28:22 AM Mar 14th 2014
Been asked to put the question of whether Joe Carroll is a sociopath to the vote.

In Real Life he would easily meet the criteria for an Anti-Social Personality Disorder (as well as histrionic and narcissistic- having more than one disorder is not at all uncommon) and would definitely be classified as such; he'd probably be pegged as a Disingenuous Anti-Social, a sociopath with a need for attention and praise.

By the standards of this site, it seems more debatable, since the site seems to have a more strict and absolute definition of what a sociopath is. Basically he meets most of the criteria on the trope page, but he has a degree of love for his family, albeit a destructive and perverse one; he does have some principles, but that's probably just Moral Sociopathy if that, and mostly is about making murder "special". He is explicitly identified as a sociopath on the show, but that might not count here.

Think its really a question of defintions. What the trope describes is actually a psyochpath; a sociopath is a less severe but still dangerous personality that owes slightly more to nurture than to nature, and is more capable of genuine human emotions. Both are officially obsolete terms for Anti-Social Personality Disorder, which as I've said Carroll easily has.
02:29:57 AM Mar 15th 2014
Well, The Sociopath has several criteria Carroll would have to fit to be listed under that. I don't have enough context from your definition to say whether he fits or no.
12:08:46 PM Mar 15th 2014
edited by
While Joe Carroll is undoubtedly an evil and self-absorbed monster, this in itself is not sufficient for him to qualify as an example of The Sociopath. In order for a character to qualify, the trope page for The Sociopath specifies that he/she must satisfy all of the following prerequisites: (1) Lack of Empathy and Shame, (2) Consummate Liar and Manipulator, (3)Shallow Affect (4)Poor Impulse Control, (5) Need for Stimulation and a (6) Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth.

Whereas The Sociopath's "Shallow Affect" renders him/her incapable of forming ANY emotional attachments beyond that seen between an owner and a possession , Joe does in fact [1] in his own twisted way. This is made most evident in Season 1 by his heartfelt (albeit parasitic and delusional) attempts to reconcile with his family on his own terms. After having his wife,Claire, brought to the cult compound, he ultimately relents to her demand that he show her their son upon being convinced that she will continue to view him with revulsion and hatred until he does so. Similarly, despite being attracted to Emma on a physical level, he constantly expresses discomfort and guilt over having sex with her because he fears it will jeopardize his relationship with Claire whom he views along with his son, Joey, as an essential part of his existence. Additionally, whereas TheSociopath is incapable of experiencing shame, Joe is revealed in Season 2 to have lapsed into a deep depression after coming to the realization that he is not only a terrible writer but a failure as a husband and father.

Based on this evidence, he does not appear to qualify as an example of The Sociopath pursuant to its trope page.

01:18:32 PM Mar 19th 2014
edited by
He doesn't feel shame in season 2; he feels bitter and disappointed. He's stuck in the middle of nowhere hiding from the authorities after his epic Evil Plan collapsed around him. But he is adamant that he has no remorse for his actions and that he feels no need to reform. With that in mind its hard to believe that he thinks he is a failure as a husband and father in any way other than "I failed to make them love me". I wouldn't say he feels "guilty" over his sex with Emma either; he's just worried about getting caught. What he wants is for Claire to idolize him; he doesn't want to lose his possession.

Basically, a lot of this comes down to Alternate Character Interpretation- whether or not he feels guilt or something else up in the air. You think he does- I think he's just spinning a yarn.

The problem is that the criteria of the trope is much more rigid than the criteria in Real Life- Joe easily, easily qualifies for Anti-Social Personality Disorder in an actual medical evaluation.

The idea that he has to meet all of the above criteria rather than "some or most of" them is only true of the trope, not the actual condition. And that, I might add, was not part of the original trope description either. It was added last month.

And besides that, if you strip Joe for not meeting all of the criteria, then you might as well purge half the page, because as the description itself notes, most fictional sociopaths- including many of those listed as examples- are more emotional and complex than their real-life counterparts too. Guys like Bullseye and the Joker don't really qualify because they also form emotional attachments with others- granted, those others are their enemies, and those attachments are based on obsession and hatred, but that's still more than an actual sociopath (at least, as described above) would feel.

Basically, the page is not describing a sociopath. It is describing a psychopath.
08:55:33 PM Mar 19th 2014
edited by
The requirement that all of the aforementioned criteria must be met for a character to qualify as The Sociopath is not a recent development. While the sentence that you are referring to is a month old, it merely serves to clarify what has been on the page since last year at least.

After listing the aforementioned traits, the page expressly states, "Many of these traits are shared with other disorders, but it's the combination of them all that creates The Sociopath." If you check the History of the trope page, you'll find that sentence has been there at least as early as August 2013.

However, it seems that you're taking issue not only with whether Joe Carroll fits the prerequisites of The Sociopath but with the way the website has defined the trope itself. In that case, it would probably be best if you moved your argument to The Sociopath's trope page. As it currently stands, Joe Carroll simply doesn't qualify.
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