Tag Archives | Psychopathy

A Neurobiologist on Understanding Psychopaths

Would we vote for a psychopath? I didn’t know we had any other options.

via A Neurobiologist on Understanding Psychopaths | Think Tank | Big Think

Psychopaths make up 1 to 2 percent of the American population. That’s around 6,278,000 psychopaths who live among us and use intimidation and manipulation to lord over others. In any organization of at least 35 people, one will be a psychopath. Before you start making boss jokes, take some relief in the fact that these types of individuals likely don’t want to murder you in your sleep.

James Fallon should know. He himself is a psychopath. And as a neurobiologist at UC Irvine, Fallon has made a name for himself decoding the psychopathic brain.

What should we look for to spot a psychopath? One easy method is to ask: Is the person running for office? Yes, politicians rank high on the psychopathic scale. And we continue to vote for them.

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On The Horror and Allure of Hannibal Lecter

mads_mikkelsen

Pic: Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter (C) NBC publicity.

I’ll never forget when my older sister came home distraught and shaken.  My parents asked her what was wrong and she broke down into tears and admitted she was horrified from having just seen The Silence of the Lambs.  Since then I always wanted to see it.  I was 4 at the time.  It wouldn’t be until years later that I saw the film.  It became my favorite movie at the time and Hannibal my favorite character in fiction.  He was just so classy and in charge.  Since then the Hannibal Lecter franchise has seen plenty more literary and cinematic incarnations, most of them lame, with Silence arguably standing as the unmatched artistic achievement.  That was the status quo of the Lecterverse until NBC released the television show Hannibal last year.

Over the last few months I watched and re-watched Hannibal.  I don’t watch TV, but being a sometimes very disappointed fan of the Hannibal franchise, I gave it a shot.  I remembered seeing adverts on New York City buses of a non-Hopkins mouth posing as a posh Lecter and thought that it couldn’t possibly be worth anyone’s time.  Just another money grab.  I consider myself a very jaded viewer of entertainment media.  This is likely because I’m a filmmaker, actor, editor, writer, and composer who was raised with the media-bashing antics of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew.  This means I’m not easy to please when it comes to entertainment media (I always see the strings, the plot chasms, the ham-fisted expositional dialog) and I’m far more likely to amuse myself by riffing a show or movie to death than I am to sink into the world that it’s trying to make me care about.  This is not my fault.  If you can’t rope in someone then your work needs work.  The bar is set even higher given we’re all more-or-less filmmakers, producers, and celebrities now.… Read the rest

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Hannibal Lecter Isn’t a Psychopath, But You Might Be

Robert Stroud (Birdman of Alcatraz). Mug shot ...

Robert Stroud (Birdman of Alcatraz). Mug shot 29 October 1951. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

It appears that the many forms of media may have skewed the common perception of what a psychopath is and how they appear.

via QUARTZ

Some of the most famous psychopaths of the silver screen are anything but, according to an extensive analysis by forensic psychiatrist Samuel Leistedt. In fact, you probably have the wrong idea about psychopaths in general—and you almost certainly know a few.

A psychopath, Leistedt told ScienceNews, is someone who lacks empathy. “They’re cold-blooded,” he said. “They don’t know what emotion is.” To create a cinema-based curriculum for teaching psychiatry students about psychopaths—and about how popular perception of them has shifted over time—Leistedt watched 400 movies depicting psychopaths (and “sociopaths”—some distinguish between the two, but there’s no official diagnostic difference) and diagnosed each and every one of their featured villains. Once he weeded out supernatural characters, he was left with 105 male and 21 female characters to analyze with a team of 10 forensic scientists.

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The (Psycho)path to Liberation

PSYCHOPATH'S_BIBLE_COVER(Unfair warning: If you seek to gain anything from Dr. Hyatt’s work by your own willpower and mental processes, then do not read this article, for it defeats the entire purpose of reading and rereading his book.)

“Do not take anything in this book literally! Wait, on second thought, take it all literally!” – Joseph Matheny’s quote on the back of the book.

Do you ever wonder what would be possible if you decided to completely rid yourself of limitations – social, psychological, and otherwise? Would you use such methods to assist your fellow beings, or to manipulate them for your own ends? A book for such desire exists, and to be Limitless is the goal of all who persist through it. First-time contributor Donovan, here, to share my thoughts on Christopher Hyatt’s work, The Psychopath’s Bible.

I’m a twenty-something, sheltered white-male in the middle of a state that is filled almost entirely with suburbs.… Read the rest

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Psychopaths Have Empathy Switch

a-clockwork-orange-1971Apparently psychopaths can empathize with other people, they just don’t as a general rule.

Psychopaths do not lack empathy, rather they can switch it on at will, according to new research.

Placed in a brain scanner, psychopathic criminals watched videos of one person hurting another and were asked to empathise with the individual in pain.

Only when asked to imagine how the pain receiver felt did the area of the brain related to pain light up.

Scientists, reporting in Brain, say their research explains how psychopaths can be both callous and charming.

The team proposes that with the right training, it could be possible to help psychopaths activate their “empathy switch”, which could bring them a step closer to rehabilitation.

Keep reading.

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The Energetics of Psychopathy

Picture: Anna Bal (CC)

Do you remember the scene in The Green Mile when death row inmate John Coffee is touched by murderer “Wild Bill”? After feeling some powerful negative energy, he says, “You a bad man.”

Are you like John Coffee? Would you know it if you brushed up against a cold-blooded killer? You might if you’re what Dr. Judith Orloff calls an “intuitive empath“.

I began to sense energy emanating from people when I was around 20 or 21 years old.  An interesting thing happens when a person turns 21: The prefrontal cortex of the brain matures. I think that I had always sensed energy around me unconsciously, but at this time I became conscious of it and began to investigate these experiences analytically. When I learned about Chi or Qi energy  in practices like reiki and qi gong, it was not simply an idea I accepted intellectually or on faith: It simply put a name to what I had already experienced.… Read the rest

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The Genetic Killer

Another proposed “solution” to the mass shootings in America is sure to upset many camps; privacy advocates, mental health care advocates, and even those calling for the heads of the murderers. Soon we will have the results of genetic analysis of Adam Lanza, which may be used by scientists to model genetic predispositions of violence, or by defense attorneys in their pleas. This controversial science is being criticized from all sides, condemned as “misguided and could lead to dangerous stigmatization.”

via Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks:

But the request to analyse the DNA of Lanza is just the latest in a long line of attempts to account for the behaviour of individual killers in terms of genetics.

Perhaps the first attempt was for a case that bears more than a surface resemblance to the Sandy Hook shooting. In 1998, a 15-year-old high school student called Kip Kinkel killed both of his parents before driving to school and shooting 24 students, one of whom died.

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Logical Thinking Seems to Negate Empathy

Picture: Grindilu (CC)

Disinfonaughts are likely to be familiar with Jon Ronson’s book “The Psychopath Test”. In a nutshell the acclaimed journalist discovered evidence that suggested being a psychopath is useful if you want to survive in the cold logical world of management and business. (Listen to Jon Ronson on the Disinfocast – ed.) Now PopSci reports on evidence that empathy (a quality missing from the mind of a psychopath) is difficult to maintain when processing purely logical thoughts:

A new study published in NeuroImage found that separate neural pathways are used alternately for empathetic and analytic problem solving. The study compares it to a see-saw. When you’re busy empathizing, the neural network for analysis is repressed, and this switches according to the task at hand.

Anthony Jack, an assistant professor in cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University and lead author of the study, relates the idea to an optical illusion.

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Psychopaths Deprived Sense of Smell

Divining the scent of L’Air du Temps wafting on the breeze?Scent of Psychopathy

Nosing a marlish I Sodi Chianti for plum & red currant body with notes of tobacco & cocoa?

 

Not if you’re a psychopath.

In the ever increasing range of neural dysfunction being discovered among those displaying sociopathic tendencies, impaired sense of smell has been added to the list.

In a study published in the journal  Chemosensory Perception “researchers found that those individuals who scored highly on psychopathic traits were more likely to struggle to both identify smells and tell the difference between smells, even though they knew they were smelling something. These results show that [frontal] brain areas controlling olfactory processes are less efficient in individuals with psychopathic tendencies.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120920115739.htm

Could this be a factor in lack of emotional understanding & callousness?  After all it is a familiar experience to most how deeply scents imprint memories and emotions.  If this ability it impaired would it not follow that that the displayed emotional shallowness of psychopaths could be related to such mechanisms?… Read the rest

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