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Thu Apr 25, 2013, 07:10 AM

Psychopaths are not neurally equipped to have concern for others

Prisoners who are psychopaths lack the basic neurophysiological "hardwiring" that enables them to care for others, according to a new study by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago and the University of New Mexico.

"A marked lack of empathy is a hallmark characteristic of individuals with psychopathy," said the lead author of the study, Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at UChicago. Psychopathy affects approximately 1 percent of the United States general population and 20 percent to 30 percent of the male and female U.S. prison population. Relative to non-psychopathic criminals, psychopaths are responsible for a disproportionate amount of repetitive crime and violence in society.

"This is the first time that neural processes associated with empathic processing have been directly examined in individuals with psychopathy, especially in response to the perception of other people in pain or distress," he added.

The results of the study, which could help clinical psychologists design better treatment programs for psychopaths, are published in the article, "Brain Responses to Empathy-Eliciting Scenarios Involving Pain in Incarcerated Individuals with Psychopathy," which appears online April 24 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Joining Decety in the study were Laurie Skelly, a graduate student at UChicago; and Kent Kiehl, professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico.

For the study, the research team tested 80 prisoners between ages 18 and 50 at a correctional facility. The men volunteered for the test and were tested for levels of psychopathy using standard measures.


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Reply Psychopaths are not neurally equipped to have concern for others (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Apr 2013 OP
GeorgeGist Apr 2013 #1
marions ghost Apr 2013 #2

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 07:17 AM

1. It would be interesting to repeat these studies on:

1) Politicians
2) CEOs

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Response to GeorgeGist (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 08:37 AM

2. They're studying it....

"Do psychopaths make good CEOs?"


This article reviews the book, "The Wisdom of Psychopaths" by Kevin Dutton

"Another researcher, Robert Hare, sent out a psychopathy checklist test called the PCL-R to over 200 executives in 2010 and compared the results to the overall population. "Not only did the business execs come out ahead, but psychopathy was associated with charisma creativity, good strategic thinking, and excellent communication skills," writes Dutton.

So what, exactly, gives psychopaths such talent, the ability to be cool as a cucumber, even when they are staring death straight in the eye? It comes down to brains, it seems. For most of us, when we are thrown into a stressful situation, whether it's a high-stakes exam, watching a scary movie, or fighting off an attacker, the parts of the brain that actively respond to pain, panic, and other emotions kick into high gear. For psychopaths, it's the opposite. They even calm down during these moments of heightened tension.

Essentially, Dutton argues, psychopaths naturally display the kind of emotional self-control that Tibetan monks and elite soldiers spend many years developing. In this respect they seem ideally suited for a cruel, uncertain, dangerous world." (snip)

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