The psychopathic brain

An underlying cause for psychopathic behavior?

April 27, 2010

prefrontal cortexPsychopaths are known for their callousness, diminished capacity for remorse, and lack of empathy. However, the exact cause of these personality traits is an area of scientific debate. The results of a new study show striking similarities between the mental impairments observed in psychopaths and those seen in patients with frontal lobe damage.

One previous explanation for psychopathic tendencies has been a reduced capacity to make inferences about the mental states of other people, an ability known as Theory of Mind (ToM). On the other hand, psychopaths are also known to be extremely good manipulators and deceivers, which would imply that they have good skills in inferring the knowledge, needs, intentions, and beliefs of other people. Therefore, it has been suggested recently that ToM is made up of different aspects: a cognitive part, which requires inferences about knowledge and beliefs, and another part which requires the understanding of emotions.

Read the whole article.

Sociopathy

Sociopathy vs Psychopathy :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

ASBO

Robert Hare writes that the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy may “reflect the user’s views on the origins and determinates of the disorder.” The term sociopathy may be preferred by sociologists that see the causes as due to social factors. The term psychopathy may be preferred by psychologists who see the causes as due to a combination of psychological, genetic, and environmental factors.

David T. Lykken proposed psychopathy and sociopathy are two distinct kinds of antisocial personality disorder. He believed psychopaths are born with temperamental differences such as impulsivity, cortical underarousal, and fearlessness that lead them to risk-seeking behavior and an inability to internalize social norms. On the other hand, he claimed that sociopaths have relatively normal temperaments; their personality disorder being more an effect of negative sociological factors like parental neglect, delinquent peers, poverty, and extremely low or extremely high intelligence. Both personality disorders are the result of an interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental factors, but psychopathy leans towards the hereditary whereas sociopathy tends towards the environmental.

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Nature vs Nurture

“When it comes to nature vs nurture I’ll say this: 
A psychopath is born, a sociopath is created.”

Ted Bundy in custody

It is well established by scientists that psychopaths are born without the capacity for empathy. The parts of the brain and certain connections that are responsible for giving us a conscience are different in psychopaths. Upbringing and childhood experiences will affect other aspects of an individual’s personality but they do not cause this disorder. A psychopath can come from a loving family and have had a good childhood. Ted Bundy is an example. For the rest of us, it’s very important to understand how they function and to know that they will not change, no matter how kind and tolerant we are towards them. If anything, they will take advantage of a well meaning person. They regard compassion as weakness. Many of us compensate for our feelings of inferiority in different ways. Psychopaths and narcissists are different. They genuinely believe that they are superior and entitled to special treatment.

Psychopath “code of ethics”

Psychopathy

Psychopaths dominate because most people are brainwashed to be victims. There occasionally are people with partial resistance. They are isolated and the psychopaths can easily discredit and remove them.

Suppose it’s two intelligent people A and B vs. one psychopath C. First, C will eliminate the smarter one, A, while sucking up to B. Once A is gone, then the psychopath will go after B.

It’s even worse if it’s two psychopaths vs. two intelligent people. The two psychopaths will cooperate, while the intelligent people won’t understand what’s going on.

Even if the psychopaths don’t have an explicit agreement, they will always cooperate to ruin an intelligent person asking questions.

I can nearly instantly identify psychopaths. Psychopaths can also do this. A psychopath can always instantly identify fellow psychopaths.

Psychopaths can always count on each other for cooperation, when an intelligent person starts asking dangerous questions. This creates a massive highly-coordinated evil conspiracy. Two psychopaths will always cooperate, when an intelligent person starts asking questions. Two psychopaths will always assist each other in their evil goals. They can count on their fellow psychopaths to return the favor later, even if there is no explicit quid pro quo agreement. In a very real sense, there’s a “psychopath code of ethics”.

Excerpt from: Two Kinds Of Psychopaths

Psychopathy


Group norms

Conformity offers many rewards.

conformity
Shared beliefs heighten mutual respect within a group and bond its members. Consensus is perceived as validation of the group’s beliefs, which then may evolve into unquestionable ‘truths’ that need no explanations and cannot be challenged without risking loss of respect and exclusion from the group.

conformity

Our need to belong makes us subconsciously open to influence by the values and beliefs communicated to us from marketing, propaganda, charismatic leaders—who may be psychopaths—and peers. 

conformity

Beware of…

When people say that i’m not the best.

Psychopaths’ lack of empathy and guilt
allows them to lie with impunity; they do
not see the value of telling the truth 
unless it will help get them what they want.

Psychopath genetics

Genetic link to psychopaths

I think it is important to identify psychopathic behavior not just because it may be crime related. Based on descriptions of psychopaths in Robert Hare’s books, most of their behavior is not criminal. However, much of it is hurtful and damaging to their victims.When the CEO makes a bad business decision that leads to the company’s decline or collapse, they hurt the employees, the investors, and even other companies if their collapse triggers an effect industry wide.
In addition, modern corporations tend to reward psychopathic behavior and drive non-psychopaths to emulate it. Until the point of failure, the corporate psychopath is often the favored son who is groomed for and often installed in top executive positions.
The meme of the corporation functions as a responsibility relieving mechanism to let corporate psychopaths focus on ROI to the near exclusion of other interests. It drives them to sub-optimize the corporations in favor of a few metrics that reward a small class of people with an interest in the corporation. Those people get rewarded and move on to the next corporate job and the workers, investors and partners take the hit, but no crime has been committed.
A company that I used to work with has a practice that I overheard being discussed by an executive and a person who was considering moving up to an exec position. The exec told the candidate: “It is a little known secret here at [company] that management is conserved. (and, by implication, resources—meaning employees—are expended) when business failures occur.” The candidate was concerned about what would happen if his product did not succeed. The answer is that ‘leadership’ is viewed as a capability to be conserved by the company and the leader whose bad business decisions led to the failure of his/her division would be protected and moved to a new group while layoffs would take care of excess employees. [needless to say, I felt a strong desire to expend both of these leaders, however, I did not].
In the world of nature, animals are embedded in an ecosystem and cannot externalize costs and risks to hapless investors, customers and suppliers. Either they behave in an ecosystem friendly way, or, statistically, they decline and fail as a species.
Under the guidance of single ROI minded psychopathic leaders, (large public shareholder) corporations often act as if they are living alone in a sea of food and can do what ever they can get away with. With their manipulation of government to bias the rules of the economy in their favor, they often get away with it for some time.
So, respectfully, I disagree with the idea that psychopaths are only of interest if they are committing a crime.
Here is a link to a documentary:
Are you good or evil?
This science I hope leads us to be able to detect psychopathic killers before they murder people.

Physorg: Psychopaths’ brains

psychopath brain

Psychopaths’ brains show differences
in structure and function

November 22nd, 2011 in Neuroscience

Images of prisoners’ brains show important differences between those who are diagnosed as psychopaths and those who aren’t, according to a new study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers. The results could help explain the callous and impulsive anti-social behavior exhibited by some psychopaths.

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear... The study showed that psychopaths have reduced connections between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the part of the brain responsible for sentiments such as empathy and guilt, and the amygdala, which mediates fear and anxiety. Two types of brain images were collected. Diffusion tensor images (DTI) showed reduced structural integrity in the white matter fibers connecting the two areas, while a second type of image that maps brain activity, a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI), showed less coordinated activity between the vmPFC and the amygdala.

“This is the first study to show both structural and functional differences in the brains of people diagnosed with psychopathy,” says Michael Koenigs, assistant professor of psychiatry in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Those two structures in the brain, which are believed to regulate emotion and social behavior, seem to not be communicating as they should.”

The study, which took place in a medium-security prison in Wisconsin, is a unique collaborative between three laboratories.

UW-Madison psychology Professor Joseph Newman has had a long term interest in studying and diagnosing those with psychopathy and has worked extensively in the Wisconsin corrections system. Dr. Kent Kiehl, of the University of New Mexico and the MIND Research Network, has a mobile MRI scanner that he brought to the prison and used to scan the prisoners’ brains. Koenigs and his graduate student, Julian Motzkin, led the analysis of the brain scans.

The study compared the brains of 20 prisoners with a diagnosis of psychopathy with the brains of 20 other prisoners who committed similar crimes but were not diagnosed with psychopathy.

“The combination of structural and functional abnormalities provides compelling evidence that the dysfunction observed in this crucial social-emotional circuitry is a stable characteristic of our psychopathic offenders,” Newman says. “I am optimistic that our ongoing collaborative work will shed more light on the source of this dysfunction and strategies for treating the problem.”

Newman notes that none of this work would be possible without the extraordinary support provided by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which he called “the silent partner in this research.” He says the DOC has demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to supporting research designed to facilitate the differential diagnosis and treatment of prisoners.

The study, published in the most recent Journal of Neuroscience, builds on earlier work by Newman and Koenigs that showed that psychopaths’ decision-making mirrors that of patients with known damage to their ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). This bolsters evidence that problems in that part of the brain are connected to the disorder.

“The decision-making study showed indirectly what this study shows directly—that there is a specific brain abnormality associated with criminal psychopathy,” Koenigs adds.

Provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-11-psychopaths-brains-differences-function.html

psychopath brain

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Video: Defense Against the Psychopath

Defense against the psychopath See this video!

It will give you a basic psychopathy education and maybe a new perspective of humanity and why the world is the way it is.

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