lf1

A neuroscientist and his psychopathic brain

James Fallon, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry, human behavior, anatomy and neurobiology, discovered that his own brain matches the brains of diagnosed psychopaths. In this radio interview, he talks about psychopaths, their brains, and why he didn’t turn into an exploiter.

Am I a psychopath? on ScienceFriday.com.

 



29 Comments on "A neuroscientist and his psychopathic brain"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Barb says:

    Family of Origin and the ensuing aftermath

    Finally I am speaking out…



    Report this comment

  2. jm_short says:

    My comments are from the perspective of having a psychopathic son. He’s not a murderer, although there are many instances in which I was in fear of my safety around him. But he is callous, mean and dishonest.

    His father was a psychopath, and I had no idea that a pre-disposition to psychopathy is genetic. Now that I’ve experienced the creation of a psychopath, I think I might be able to impart some awareness.

    Had I not been a tea-totter, another name for a person who rarely or never drinks, I would have thought that my toddler had fetal alcohol syndrome. As a developing child, he was impulsive, explosive, and nothing, not rewards and not punishment, meant anything to him. He killed his rabbit by slamming his head into the stairs when he was about 3.5 or 4 years old. He was also cute, smart and funny.

    He was kicked out of 3 schools and the dormitory at college. At the age of 27, well beyond the stage at which he should have known better, he stole a computer monitor from Costco right under my nose. I realized what he had done once I drove him home and saw it in the back of my car. Ever his mother, I insisted he pay for the unit and took him back to the store to do so. I thought he was “difficult” and if I kept trying to lead him onto higher moral ground, eventually he’d get it. When I finally understood that his father was a psychopath, it finally made sense.

    I credit the fact that my son was raised in a nurturing and moral environment with the fact that he did not become a ghoul. Abused children of psychopaths will often become abusers. My son was abandoned by his father at age 6. He became an abandoner instead. Five years ago, he told me, “Now that I’m independent, what do I need you for?”, and I’ve barely seen him since then. In fact, it’s now three years since I’ve seen him at all.

    BTW- he’s very close to his very wealthy father. He is now his father’s Golden Child which is common in children of psychopaths. They either become the “Golden Child” or the “Scapegoat” to be mercilessly picked on. My son was the scapegoat until his father realized he’d gouged such a huge hole in his heart that he could manipulate him through it.

    I don’t believe that PET scans tell the whole story. They may indicate some of the brain functioning that can contribute to psychopathy, but I believe the chemistry of the brain is also an issue.

    Oxytocin is the nuero-transmitter that makes us trusting and caring. In her book, “Just Like His Father”, Dr. Leedom identifies that oxytocin receptors must be stimulated by parental warmth when a child is very young in order to create affective empathy. I believe both the combination of oxytocin, brain infrastructure and social impact will all affect the depth and type of the disorder that does or does not arise. If a child has brain infrastructure that is consistent with a psychopath, but receives considerable parental warmth and a warm, supportive social structure, they could avoid sliding into the depths of psychopathy and/or have a less ghoulish form of the disorder.

    Unfortunately, my ex failed to support his child from birth and I was compelled to work long hours to keep a roof over his head and food in his tummy. He had 5 care-givers before he was a year old. I wish I could go backwards in time.

    Psychopaths run the gamete of being louses, or being horrific ghouls. But the common thread is that they have very little or no affective empathy. If you fell out of your chair around my son, he would laugh. Once day we were in the hospital and an orderly tried to come on with a stretcher containing a badly injured patient who was in grave distress. My son pushed the “door close” button in order to avoid being in the same space.

    Would he murder someone? I don’t think so. Would he hurt someone? Without blinking an eye, and make it all their fault as well. While I don’t miss the havoc my son created in my life, I miss the son he could have been. I can only console myself with knowing I did the best I knew how at the time, and find some peace through understanding.

    JmS



    Report this comment

  3. revjanice says:

    This came across my facebook page yesterday, it is from Forbes Magazine. Chilling to me since my ex was clergy and studied for a year in law school.

    The Top 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths

    Everyone I have ever worked with has, at some point, called another colleague or coworker “crazy.” But does your job actually attract true psychopaths? In the book “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success,” Kevin Dutton explains that there are jobs that can attract literal psychopaths – and also jobs that are least likely to do so.

    It’s important to note that a psychopathic person isn’t necessarily one that is set out to kill others (even though you might feel as such on a Wednesday afternoon in the office.) In reality, psychopaths merely – and typically – just lack emotions and empathy, or the ability to identify with others. Dutton has said that ”a number of psychopathic attributes [are] actually more common in business leaders than in so-called disturbed criminals — attributes such as superficial charm, egocentricity, persuasiveness, lack of empathy, independence, and focus.”

    This may explain why many of the jobs attractive to psychopaths – such as CEO’s, salespeople and media types – are often found in the tech industry.

    So what jobs are most attractive to psychopaths? Here’s the list, originally published online by Eric Barker:

    1. CEO
    2. Lawyer
    3. Media (Television/Radio)
    4. Salesperson
    5. Surgeon
    6. Journalist
    7. Police officer
    8. Clergy person
    9. Chef
    10. Civil servant

    And for those looking to potentially avoid working with the least number of psychopaths, here’s the list of occupations with the lowest rates of psychopathy:

    1. Care aide
    2. Nurse
    3. Therapist
    4. Craftsperson
    5. Beautician/Stylist
    6. Charity worker
    7. Teacher
    8. Creative artist
    9. Doctor
    10. Accountant



    Report this comment

    • hope52 says:

      I like your post.

      However, I would move “creative artist” over to the other side of the page.

      This would include actors, producers, directors, musicians, and most creative areas. Since they have a different brain for their “art” I believe there is a higher probability for a mood disorder and/or a personality disorder.

      I was married to a “musician” and the arrogance and entitlement that most of these folks display is nauseating. I tired of his demands from me to flatter him endlessly. I was relieved to unload this big baby out of my life!

      Therapists should be in both columns.



      Report this comment

    • hope52 says:

      Also, I work for a company that deals with surgeons. I have never seen a LARGER group in ONE profession that is so evil.

      Selfish, arrogant, entitled, and pathological liars.

      Scary to think what they may be telling their patients! Terrifying to think of the power they have and the money they make off sick people.

      No wonder our health care system is so corrupt.



      Report this comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.