I had been kind of making a joke about it in class. I was trying to distinguish the meanings of “sociopath” and “psychopath,” which had arisen some time ago in a reading passage in another class the kids had and so they’d asked me.
So I said, “well, Sangjin here is a sociopath, while Jinu, well, he’s a psychopath.” The kids seemed to find this entertaining to think about, as I explained the way the two boy’s personalities seemed to match these concepts somewhat: Jinu is kind of a “wild boy” and rather impulsive and easily distracted, and Sangjin is more just the quietly watching and muttering type, talking about things to himself, but then doing these very charming speeches and showing surprising charisma.
Later, Sangjin came into the staff room.
“Do you really think I’m a sociopath?”
I couldn’t figure out if he was offended or pleased with the idea, so I equivocated.
He said, “I think maybe I am.”
“Well, you don’t have to be,” I said, not sure what tone of seriousness to assume. He’s a very smart kid, but there is something a little bit dark about his personality, for an 8th grader. He’d be a goth if he was an American teen.
“I want to be a sociopath,” he insisted, like a cross between a movie villain and cheerful puppy.
“Hmm. Well, just try to be nice to people,” I said, feeling out of my depth.
I didn’t really know where to go with it. He’s the sort where maybe he was just testing my reaction. If he was willing to work harder, he could be in our highest group of TOEFL students, but he’s not really interested in academics. He draws pictures of explosions on his note paper. This isn’t really particularly disturbing to me – I remember drawing a lot of explosions at that age.
I told him he was very smart, and should come in my TOEFL class.
“That is too much work,” he sighed. We’d had that snippet of conversation before.
[daily log: walking, 7 km]