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Varysblackfyre321

Would you classify Joffery as a pscopath or sociopath?

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I’d classify him as a teenage boy with too much power and a poor upbringing. He was already born of incest but he was also brought up to believe kingship was his right, not his duty. Nurture, not nature in my opinion.

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16 minutes ago, •Brandon Ice Eyes said:

I’d classify him as a teenage boy with too much power and a poor upbringing. He was already born of incest but he was also brought up to believe kingship was his right, not his duty. Nurture, not nature in my opinion.

I'm inclined to agree with you but then there are some things he does that just can't be explained away by a bad upbringing and do indicate something was wrong in his head. For comparrisons sake, I think we can all agree Ramsay is a psycopath. In contrast, I'd put Roose as a sociopath. And Joffrey's behaviour was definitely closer to that of Ramsay than Roose. How much of that is his upbringing/age/power as opposed to a mental thing is up for debate.

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Sociopaths are made, usually through abuse and trauma, so they shut down their empathy centers by subconscious reflex to protect themselves. There is often head trauma too. There are a hell of a lot of Westerosi I consider incipient sociopaths.  It's a hard world.

Psychopaths don't need abuse or trauma to act outside the norm in cruel and manipulative ways.  Joffrey's a spoiled little shit - he was born that way.  So psychopath.

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7 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I keep one of those terms to describe him like they’re interchangeable but they’re not; what would classify him as?

He was most likely suffering from a psychosis due to an imbalance of humors that was a byproduct of being a compulsive masturbator. He had the bug eyes and hair covered palms indicative of someone suffering from the condition.  Being a royal, he would have had no figure of authority that would normally intervened in the heinous acts the have plagued his childhood. He is a sad character who's depravity was never given a good leeching, or a beatdown from a significantly stronger, more agile and better skilled adversary. 

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I'd lean more towards sociopath. I don't think he was born a bad person, he was raised by the likes of Cersei after all, and Robert pretty much ignored him. Once he became King he went mad with power. 

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It is somewhat unclear what's the difference between a sociopath and psychopath in the psychology community.

There are genetic traits to this thing, but it is a spectrum. One assumes that Joff did inherit some of the narcissistic traits that are evident in Jaime, Cersei, and Tywin.

However, Joff suffered little trauma as far as we know, nor does he show many of those traits adolescent psychopaths do - like not recognizing boundaries, breaking/not understanding rules and social norms, not understanding other people's emotions, etc.

Instead, he is actually pretty good at projecting emotions and manipulating Sansa. While adult psychopaths can do that, they have to learn it because they actually do not feel emotions the same way as others, nor are they able to recognize them in others at first.

By comparison, Littlefinger is a highly functioning psychopath considering that he is both very good at reading people and able to control himself and his desires. Most psychopaths get themselves into trouble because they fail to follow the rules, causing them to have trouble in school, work, not to mention the law.

In that sense I'd say Joff is actually just/mainly a spoiled brat whose absent royal father and doting royal mother never set any boundaries. Surrounded by lickspittles and sycophants nobody ever taught him to behave as a normal human being - because he was not.

He certainly has some cruel streaks, but that's to be expected in a world run by knights. And this has nothing to do with psychopathy.

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42 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

It is somewhat unclear what's the difference between a sociopath and psychopath in the psychology community.

There are genetic traits to this thing, but it is a spectrum. One assumes that Joff did inherit some of the narcissistic traits that are evident in Jaime, Cersei, and Tywin.

However, Joff suffered little trauma as far as we know, nor does he show many of those traits adolescent psychopaths do - like not recognizing boundaries, breaking/not understanding rules and social norms, not understanding other people's emotions, etc.

Instead, he is actually pretty good at projecting emotions and manipulating Sansa. While adult psychopaths can do that, they have to learn it because they actually do not feel emotions the same way as others, nor are they able to recognize them in others at first.

By comparison, Littlefinger is a highly functioning psychopath considering that he is both very good at reading people and able to control himself and his desires. Most psychopaths get themselves into trouble because they fail to follow the rules, causing them to have trouble in school, work, not to mention the law.

In that sense I'd say Joff is actually just/mainly a spoiled brat whose absent royal father and doting royal mother never set any boundaries. Surrounded by lickspittles and sycophants nobody ever taught him to behave as a normal human being - because he was not.

He certainly has some cruel streaks, but that's to be expected in a world run by knights. And this has nothing to do with psychopathy.

Hear, hear. Wicked LF comparison.

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12 minutes ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

Hear, hear. Wicked LF comparison.

I'd say Littlefinger is actually a ideal fantasy psychopath - basically the Hannibal Lecter of ASoIaF. Such people do not exist. Psychopaths can fool many people, but if you have bird's eye view of their life then they lapses and desires and lies and crimes become visible.

Littlefinger is too good at that to be realistic. Nobody knows the corpses in his closet, and he controls his impulses and desires very well. He even controls himself with Sansa behind closed doors.

However, Littlefinger has an ideal nurture psychopathy background. Traumas push you up in the psychopathy spectrum, and Littlefinger suffered a very high trauma in the entire Catelyn-Brandon affair, seeing them as crucial betrayals and humiliations from his adoptive family (basically Cat and Edmure). That is the experience that shaped the Littlefinger we know. Had he not suffered that he would have still been a smart, sly, and ambitious man, but not the guy we know.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

It is somewhat unclear what's the difference between a sociopath and psychopath in the psychology community.

Indeed, the DSM-5 does not have either - both fall under antisocial personality disorder.  Further, a child cannot be diagnosed with ASPD until 18, but rather would be diagnosed with conduct disorder, its precursor.  From that link, the warning signs include:

Quote
  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness or theft
  • Serious violations of rules [...]
  • Disengaged, withdrawn from relationships with parents, family, peers, teachers, etc.
  • Social isolation (a sociopathic child is a loner by choice)
  • Limited affect/emotion other than impulsive anger
  • Little or no attachment or bonding with anyone
  • Unremorseful
  • Intimidating
  • Impervious to punishments, positive reinforcements, and negative reinforcements

I think it's hard to look at that list and not conclude Joffrey would be diagnosed with conduct disorder (although no property damage!).  The business with the cat/kittens is particularly suggestive.  The main thing most laypeople know about "indicators" for sociopathy and/or psychopathy at a young age is cruelty/violence towards animals - it's in all the shows and films - and Martin was sure to put that in there.

If we were to ignore the age requirement, it's interesting how quickly you can see disagreements on the distinction between sociopaths and psychopaths.  A simple good search yields one link stating "psychopathy can be thought of as a more severe form of sociopathy with more symptoms," while another describes psychopathy as a genetic predisposition while sociopaths are a product of their environment.  From the latter link: 

Quote

Psychopaths tend to be more manipulative, can be seen by others as more charming, lead a semblance of a normal life, and minimize risk in criminal activities. Sociopaths tend to be more erratic, rage-prone, and unable to lead as much of a normal life. When sociopaths engage in criminal activity, they tend to do so in a reckless manner without regard to consequences.

The bolded all seem to describe Joff (well, the last one if you believe he sent Bran's catspaw).  If you take the alternative perspective - that psychopaths are merely severe sociopaths - then I think it's safe to say Joff is "only" a sociopath, but the future would be full of possibilities.

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Joff is little more than a spoilt brat. His mother was too forgiving and nurtured his superiority complex. His father was largely absent. There was an occasion when Robert attempted discipline. Sadly, it was far too severe. I think Robert actually knocked out one of Joffery's teeth. The result of this was Cersei telling the king she'd kill him in his sleep if he ever did it again. Or something along those lines.

If it were up to Robert (and arguably, it should of been) Joffery would of been fostered elsewhere by a trusted noble. But Cersei was never going to let Joff out of her sight. The woman loathed Robert and would of wanted Joffery as both a son and a King, to be under her influence/protection. 

A lack of discipline, a lack of role models, and a lack of education combined with the powers of being a prince/king culminated into the character we know as Joffery. Oh and he's inbred. So he has that going for him too. 

Without his controlling mother, and maybe if just one of the men in his life stepped-up and gave the boy boundaries and lessons, we may of had a better King for it. I don't think he's either a psycho or a sociopath. Ramsey Bolton's introduction to the series kind of highlights this. We spend two whole books convinced that this little sh*t is the worst of them all only to realise we've been hating a 13/14 year old kid with no boundaries. And the real evil doers have been under our noses the entire time.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

In that sense I'd say Joff is actually just/mainly a spoiled brat whose absent royal father and doting royal mother never set any boundaries. Surrounded by lickspittles and sycophants nobody ever taught him to behave as a normal human being - because he was not.

Nailed it. If you actually look at the stuff Joffery does, I don’t think it’s really “typical” psychotic behaviour. He just lies and acts out and commits violence for fun. Many teenage boys with shitty parents do the same thing. The difference is opportunity – Joffery has power to do enormous damage, while most teenage boys don’t.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Psychopaths can fool many people, but if you have bird's eye view of their life then they lapses and desires and lies and crimes become visible.

Exactly. In that respect Gregor fits into that category rather well. His youthful brutality in burning Sandor is the kind of thing psychotic people do. They can't help themselves.

34 minutes ago, DMC said:

The business with the cat/kittens is particularly suggestive.  The main thing most laypeople know about "indicators" for sociopathy and/or psychopathy at a young age is cruelty/violence towards animals - it's in all the shows and films - and Martin was sure to put that in there.

That’s actually an important point. I think George is definitely suggesting Joffery was a psychopath. However, if he was I don’t think he got it quite right.

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Would you classify Joffery as a psychopath or sociopath?

Here's what GRRM recently said:

Quote

I think even during the campaign I said that Trump reminded me most of Joffrey. They have the same level of emotional maturity. And Joffrey likes to remind everyone that he’s king. And he thinks that gives him the ability to do anything. And we’re not an absolute monarchy, like Westeros is. We’re a constitutional republic. And yet, Trump doesn’t seem to know what that means. He thinks the presidency gives him the power to do anything. And so, yeah, Joffrey is Trump.

A man who has been brainwashed by his society to believe he has, and should have, absolute power, as granted by the gods, is likely to use it however he sees fit.

So classifying him in modern psychological terms derived from current real-world Western society doesn't make much sense because he simply doesn't live in that society.

Fortunately, Joffrey was wrong about having absolute power, and Olenna Tyrell reminded him of that convincingly. 

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2 hours ago, DMC said:

I think it's hard to look at that list and not conclude Joffrey would be diagnosed with conduct disorder (although no property damage!).  The business with the cat/kittens is particularly suggestive.  The main thing most laypeople know about "indicators" for sociopathy and/or psychopathy at a young age is cruelty/violence towards animals - it's in all the shows and films - and Martin was sure to put that in there.

That is certainly a hint that Joff was going down the psychopathy road, but it is just one instant of animal cruelty, and one that seems to have been motivated more by curiosity than actual cruelty/sadism.

The other thing is that Joff actually knows and experience fear the same way normal people do. He is afraid of Tyrion and he is afraid of the Blackwater battle. But fear is much reduced in psychopaths at the end of the spectrum, which is why the threat of being caught or punished simply doesn't have much of an effect on them when they really want (to do) something.

You see this very strongly in Littlefinger in ASoS. Technically he must be very afraid that Lysa is going to kill Sansa, but he can either masterfully control that emotion or he doesn't feel it as intensely as he should. That is why he can remain in control of the situation. A 'normal person' would have likely made a mistake - and would most certainly have shown more signs of terror, fear, and anger.

2 hours ago, DMC said:

If we were to ignore the age requirement, it's interesting how quickly you can see disagreements on the distinction between sociopaths and psychopaths.  A simple good search yields one link stating "psychopathy can be thought of as a more severe form of sociopathy with more symptoms," while another describes psychopathy as a genetic predisposition while sociopaths are a product of their environment.  From the latter link: 

Yeah, the terms are ill-defined. In Germany they seem to subsume the entire phenomenon under 'psychopathy'. If one wants to make a distinction then a sociopath should properly be a person acts anti-social whereas the psychopathy thing would refer to the brain/mental state - which is what's really interesting on the scientific level. That you break rules is more interesting for law enforcement and the justice system.

Overall, the difference in the brain that have been overseen in psychopaths/sociopaths are there in both cases. And they are measurable, too, in highly-functioning psychopaths - those who treat people like shit and don't have much empathy, but whose lives and careers work just fine and who thus have no inherent reason to become criminals - but could and would if they came to the conclusion that this is how they get what they want/need.

2 hours ago, DMC said:

The bolded all seem to describe Joff (well, the last one if you believe he sent Bran's catspaw).  If you take the alternative perspective - that psychopaths are merely severe sociopaths - then I think it's safe to say Joff is "only" a sociopath, but the future would be full of possibilities.

Joff definitely has a cruel streak, but that doesn't come out all the time and is also connected, in no small degree, to intoxication. He is drunk both during the Mycah incident as well as when publicly humiliates Tyrion at his wedding.

I think Joff wouldn't have become as bad as he seems to be if he had had a better upbringing. A more caring father and a less doting mother would have worked just fine. As would have giving him people as tutors and companions who could instill a proper moral code on the boy. Sandor Clegane (who clearly fuels Joff's baser instincts in AGoT) was a poor choice at that, for instance.

But the effect power and status can have on how you see yourself and the world is also to be considered here. Joff was very spoiled as a prince, but once he became king it was made clear he could actually legally do now whatever he wanted. This wasn't some fantasy or delusion on his part, it was how this society was set up. It is not surprising that Joffrey tried to exploit and test how much he could do without causing opposition.

We see a similar thing although on a smaller degree with Robb. His crown changes him. The boy in AGoT listens to his mother and other advisors, but the man we meet again in ASoS makes lonely decisions in an aloof manner. He makes it clear to the people around him that he only does what he wants, not what they tell him to do.

How uncommon it is among men getting knightly training to actually enjoy inflicting pain and suffering is very difficult to determine, but the examples of Maegor the Cruel and Gregor Clegane shows that this can really help you with your career as a knight. Westeros is a very hard and should have a larger percentage of people up the psychopathy spectrum who also indulge in their cruel and sadistic fantasies because they can do that. And the easiest way to test how far you can push things if you have such desires is when you are part of the royal family - or a powerful noble family.

2 hours ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

That’s actually an important point. I think George is definitely suggesting Joffery was a psychopath. However, if he was I don’t think he got it quite right.

One can say that he was one in the making, but he hadn't gone down that road to the very end. And he may have never done so. Psychopathy is a spectrum, and while Joff certainly has a sadistic streak, we have no idea how far this goes. He doesn't seem to be all that much into fighting considering we never see him train in the yard in KL.

1 hour ago, JNR said:

Here's what GRRM recently said:

A man who has been brainwashed by his society to believe he has, and should have, absolute power, as granted by the gods, is likely to use it however he sees fit.

So classifying him in modern psychological terms derived from current real-world Western society doesn't make much sense because he simply doesn't live in that society.

Fortunately, Joffrey was wrong about having absolute power, and Olenna Tyrell reminded him of that convincingly. 

Comparing Trump's emotional maturity to that of spoiled 12-13-year-old seems to be fairly accurate. However, we don't know how Joff would have been in his twenties or thirties. Perhaps he would have matured somewhat. Joff gives us many signs that he is still a more or less normal child despite his more dangerous tendencies.

I mean, the Mycah thing had him really trying to show off in front of both Sansa and Arya, interpreting Mycah's presumption as an attack on his betrothed's sister. When he has Ned executed he wants to show the world he is as tough a warrior-king as his father.

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15 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That is certainly a hint that Joff was going down the psychopathy road, but it is just one instant of animal cruelty, and one that seems to have been motivated more by curiosity than actual cruelty/sadism.

Sorry, I don't care if he was curious nor trying to impress his father nor how old he was, doing that to a cat means you got issues.

17 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The other thing is that Joff actually knows and experience fear the same way normal people do. He is afraid of Tyrion and he is afraid of the Blackwater battle.

That's true (and you could probably add Tywin).  He's definitely not a psychopath in terms of processing fear - plainly he's too young to as of yet.

21 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

If one wants to make a distinction then a sociopath should properly be a person acts anti-social whereas the psychopathy thing would refer to the brain/mental state - which is what's really interesting on the scientific level. That you break rules is more interesting for law enforcement and the justice system.

Not only that, the concept of "psychopaths" seems to be conceived by and of primary interest to criminal psychologists.  The whole distinction depends on one's own conception of each - and I'm hardly qualified to make any determinations other than avid amateur interest.  That disclaimer aside, most sociopaths are not criminals and don't even engage in criminal behavior, whereas most psychopaths are incarcerated.

27 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Joff definitely has a cruel streak, but that doesn't come out all the time and is also connected, in no small degree, to intoxication.

Interestingly, "fantastic or uninviting behavior" while intoxicated is identified as a characteristic of sociopaths.  I'm not entirely sure what that means - I could certainly be accused of fantastic or uninviting behavior while intoxicated - but cruel drunks have always been a red flag in my experience.

30 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I think Joff wouldn't have become as bad as he seems to be if he had had a better upbringing. A more caring father and a less doting mother would have worked just fine. As would have giving him people as tutors and companions who could instill a proper moral code on the boy.

Aye, certainly could be the case.  As mentioned, some contend sociopaths are a product of their environment.  Moreover, it's entirely possible Joff could be rehabilitated.  This is exactly why minors aren't diagnosed with ASPD; and why most believe efforts to reduce recidivism can be most efficacious with young people - because their brains are still developing.  I'm sure most readers were rolling their eyes when Robert asked Ned to help his son, but it's entirely possible Joffrey could be tempered by positive intervention.

58 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

One can say that he was one in the making, but he hadn't gone down that road to the very end. And he may have never done so.

Yep.  Overall, I think we're in agreement here.

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40 minutes ago, DMC said:

Sorry, I don't care if he was curious nor trying to impress his father nor how old he was, doing that to a cat means you got issues.

Technically, yeah, but one wonders what stableboys and butcher boys like Mycah do to other animals, and how visible suffering and dying animals must be, I doubt modern-day criteria of animal cruelty are identical to those one would use in a medieval world.

And while Tommen later has kittens as pets, castle cats are not necessarily the same thing as modern-day pets, either. They fulfill a function - keeping the vermin down, and if there are too many kittens around they are drowned, and if there is a food shortage or some other dire situations then the good people of KL actually do eat the dogs and cats (and rats, etc.).

In such an environment I don't think animal cruelty means the same as in our world.

40 minutes ago, DMC said:

Not only that, the concept of "psychopaths" seems to be conceived by and of primary interest to criminal psychologists.  The whole distinction depends on one's own conception of each - and I'm hardly qualified to make any determinations other than avid amateur interest.  That disclaimer aside, most sociopaths are not criminals and don't even engage in criminal behavior, whereas most psychopaths are incarcerated.

I'm only an amateur there, too. From what I heard it you have to suffer the traumas and experience that cause your brain to process emotions differently. If it happens thereafter, it no longer affects the growth of the brain.

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DMC knows his stuff here.

Psychopathic is not at all the same thing as psychotic.

Joffrey sounds like a psychopath in the making. We know despite “medieval sensibilities “ that King Robert, who was quite a brutal warrior, was sickened by Joffrey’s conduct with the pregnant cat. Doesn’t Joff also do a little crossbow practice with animals? And, of course, Martin doesn’t say these are the only times that he would have done things like that, it is just what is included in our story.

Then we have his treatment of Sansa to “observe”.

No doubt having Robert be an alcoholic womanizing unconnected father, a sociopath like Tywin, as a grandfather and a narcissistic mother like Cersei and you have both nurture and nature combined. However Tommen and Myrcella are quite different so perhaps they have had a better mix.

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