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Tue May 8, 2012, 02:41 PM

Study reveals psychopaths have significant differences in brain structure -- grey matter.

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3498036.htm?site=perth

Scientists at King's College London scanned the brains of 66 prisoners who had been diagnosed as psychopaths, and found significantly less. grey matter than normal in major areas of their brains.


MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: So this work that's just been published how significant do you think it is that the people who had the antisocial personality disorderliness and psychopathy, that their brains actually had less grey matter in certain areas than the other men that were studied? How significant is it to actually have less grey matter in a part or parts of your brain?

ADRIAN KELLER: The significance is that the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are critical for the development of judgement and moral reasoning and our capacity to understand the emotional experiences of other people. Therefore you might expect that a reduced grey matter in these areas could reflect a reduced capacity to develop these critical emotional skills.
...

It's certainly very powerful evidence that psychopathy is distinct from the more poorly defined anti-social personality disorder, as a more discreet clinical entity. And I think that tallies with clinical experience that the psychopathy construct is a better defined construct, it's more useful clinically, and therefore can be identified biologically in a way that anti-social personality disorder as a more global, perhaps more amorphous clinical entity cannot be defined.


http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3498036.htm?site=perth

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Reply Study reveals psychopaths have significant differences in brain structure -- grey matter. (Original post)
hedda_foil May 2012 OP
TrogL May 2012 #1
RevStPatrick May 2012 #2
Larkspur May 2012 #3
laundry_queen May 2012 #5
provis99 May 2012 #4
backscatter712 May 2012 #8
Prophet 451 May 2012 #11
applegrove May 2012 #6
Dan May 2012 #7
Prophet 451 May 2012 #12
ljm2002 May 2012 #9
Prophet 451 May 2012 #13
mojitojoe May 2012 #10

Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Tue May 8, 2012, 02:54 PM

1. Let's make a distinction between psychopaths and sociopaths

Note that the study deals specifically with "violent offenders with psychopathic symptoms".

In the Batman world, I label the countless corrupt politicians as sociopaths and the Bat-villians like The Joker as psychopaths.

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Response to TrogL (Reply #1)

Tue May 8, 2012, 03:21 PM

2. Sociopaths don't know the difference...

 

...between right and wrong.
Psychopaths know the difference, and get off on doing wrong.

That's my simplistic understanding, anyway.

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Response to RevStPatrick (Reply #2)

Tue May 8, 2012, 03:43 PM

3. I thought sociopaths knew right from wrong and didn't care about the consequences of their actions

 

Psychopaths were extreme sociopaths who acted out their violent desires.

The banksters are sociopaths. They knew that the deals they made were wrong and would hurt their clients, but they did them anyway. They were a combo of gambling addicts and con men.

Both sociopaths and psychopaths are narcissists.

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Response to Larkspur (Reply #3)

Tue May 8, 2012, 07:39 PM

5. This is my understanding.

Except that there is a theory that psychopaths activate the pleasure centers of their brains when they hurt others as opposed to sociopaths who only happen to hurt others when they lack impulse control or when it benefits them in some way. Psychopaths may hurt others because they find pleasure in it and for no other reason.

I suppose science will figure out the difference in time. And yeah, they are all, at the core, narcissists. You can be a narcissist without being a socio/psychopath but you can't be a socio/psychopath without being a narcissist. I really do think there is a continuum.

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Response to RevStPatrick (Reply #2)

Tue May 8, 2012, 04:34 PM

4. the difference is how they were created.

 

psychopaths were born that way; sociopaths are created by their horrible experiences.

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Response to RevStPatrick (Reply #2)

Tue May 8, 2012, 09:01 PM

8. No, that's the distinction between psychopaths and psychotics.

Psychopath is almost synonymous with sociopath - the only difference is that a psychopath's behavior is biologically caused, while a sociopath's is caused by social and environmental factors - nature vs. nurture. I'm oversimplifying, but I think I get some of the point across.

The different between a psychotic and a psychopath/sociopath?

A psychotic person doesn't know that what he/she is doing is wrong due to delusions, screwed up cognition, so on.

A psychopath/sociopath knows the difference between right & wrong, but just doesn't care.

Psychotic: Norman Bates.

Psychopathic: Hannibal Lecter

Caveat - Norman Bates is psychotic because of his split personality, but his Mother personality, Norma Bates (cue screeching violins) is psychopathic. Confused yet?

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Response to RevStPatrick (Reply #2)

Wed May 9, 2012, 08:51 AM

11. No, that's a psychotic

A psychotic person is anyone experiencing a psychotic break. That is, they have lost contact with reality in some way. That psychotic break can vary hugely in terms of severity. The most obvious example is the person who hears voices. After three or four days off my meds, I might well suffer a psychotic break. But it's important to point out that the majority of people suffering a psychotic break are more of a danger to themselves than to anyone else.

Psychopaths and sociopaths are incapable of feeling empathy. They comprise perhaps 1% of the population. The difference between the two is one of cause. The psychopath's is caused by biology (which we're only just starting to understand) while the sociopath's are caused by their environment (which we understand a little better). The term was coined by Robert Hare and he compiled the checklist commonly used to help diagnose the disorder (it's freely available online if you're interested). When I say that they are incapable of feeling empathy, that means they also cannot feel the emotions which come from empathy: remorse, guilt or conscience (or fear, oddly). They are not necessarily violent. In fact, most psychopaths aren't because they can fulfill their desires lawfully. There are apparently a disproportionate number of psychopaths in politics and the high levels of business because business and politics select for lack of empathy, callousness and so on. The point where they become dangerous is when psychopathy coincides with an urge which can only be satisfied illegally. Usually, but not always, sexual sadism (note that sexual sadism, the paraphilia, is quite different from consensual kink).

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Tue May 8, 2012, 08:38 PM

6. This is wonderful news. With a diagnostic tool with teeth victims will not be so isolated anymore

and crimes may not even take place if the psychopath knows they have already been identified
and will be held responsible for their actions.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #6)

Tue May 8, 2012, 08:40 PM

7. sad smile,

they could care less

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Response to applegrove (Reply #6)

Wed May 9, 2012, 08:56 AM

12. The psychopath wouldn't care

First off, the psychopath doesn't think they will be caught. That's true of most criminals (which is why no punishment will have a deterrent effect) but especially true of psychopaths because their emotional responses are muted. They don't feel fear (or, at least, not in the same way we do) so they don't fear punishment.

Secondly, the vast majority of psychopaths are not violent. For most psychopaths, they can legally fulfill their desires so they do so. They only come to the attention of law enforcement in they have a desire which can only be fulfilled illegally (usually, but not always, sexual sadism).

Thirdly, they would view their lack of emotion as a strength rather than a weakness. Talking to a psychopath is a very unnerving experience because they literally do not think in the same way you or I do.

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Tue May 8, 2012, 10:03 PM

9. I wouldn't jump to conclusions...

...as to cause and effect here. While it is possible that psychopaths occur because of differences in brain structure, it is also possible that the psychopaths' brain structures are different because of their behavior over the years -- i.e., they didn't use those parts of the brain so they atrophied somewhat or at any rate, stopped developing.

I'm not saying it's one or the other; however, it seems to me that these things are often presented as obvious cause-and-effect relationships when the truth may be more complex.

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Response to ljm2002 (Reply #9)

Wed May 9, 2012, 08:58 AM

13. True, but...

... I suspect that's because we're reading a brief news report on a study rather than the study itself. Like a lot of research, this is a starting point of enquiry, not an end result.

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Tue May 8, 2012, 10:47 PM

10. Read "The Psychopath Test" by John Ronson

A real eye-opener

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