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The Mind of a Sociopath

 
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:42 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
This is a false statement. I am saying that the label is misleading. The good feeling labels help you comprehend anything is a lie.

I highly doubt the label "psychopath" has any value to helping you comprehend what's going on.


Amen. Any individual may display some, a few, or even a great many of such "traits" in a given circumstance, without there being the leas danger that said individual is either a sociopath or a psychopath. People who suffer from depression could easily display a majority of such traits when at the very depth of their despair, while still functioning in society without criminality or threats to others, and without the least shred of sociopathy or psychopathy in their characters.

That list of traits is a shotgun blast. It is so wide, and sufficiently vague, that even a clinician who relied solely upon such a list could be deceived, never mind an uneducated (in these matters) member of the public.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:48 am
@gungasnake,
Quote:
Being a psychopath is basically a birth defect like Down syndrome, although you'd fifty times rather have a kid with Down syndrome. Best book on the topic is Robert Hare's "Without Conscience". Hare notes that there are real brainwave differences between psychopaths and ordinary people and he once had a paper rejected by a scientific journal when an editor noticed several encephalograph charts and told him they weren't human.


I question that explanation. I think here we have a chicken/egg scenario. Was the child born with a sociopathic nature (Bad Seed), or is it something that develops due to inconsistent and defective parental upbringing?

Personally, I would expect that it is a bit of both. Children who are brought up by sociopaths take on some of the parents' traits. Are the brain wave changes caused by the upbringing, or are they present at birth? Or, as I would surmise, certain people have inborn sociopathic tendencies, which are exacerbated by improper parenting. IMO it is similar to genetic tendences to most diseases.

Sometimes, in a family, there are many people who are incarcerated. Then again, there is the old saw about the family where one brother becomes a cop, the other a robber.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:55 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

DrewDad... you missed my point, my intention was not a personal attack (and I apologize if my last post was inappropriate).

Remember, I am on the side of skepticism. My last post was intended as ironic joke. For the record I don't think you are a Narcissist.

I was merely trying to use humor to show that the process of labeling casual acquaintances can go awry.

No, I got your point. I think you may have missed mine, though.

I am not in the habit of "labeling casual acquaintanes". That seems to be your complaint here, but I have not advocated such.

I am in the habit of educating myself. Educating oneself about predatory behavior is, IMO, a vital role of a parent.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:57 am
If whether a person is a psychopath can be measured by their brainwaves, why don't we just invent a device to distinguish "psychopaths" from "normal people".

http://www.anti-scientologie.ch/images18/blue-e-meter.jpg
(any irony you find in the image I chose is fully intended)

Imagine how this could help the justice systems! We could lock up psychopaths before they commit crimes (and save taxpayer money with very short cheap trials to boot).
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 11:58 am
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix32890 wrote:
Then again, there is the old saw about the family where one brother becomes a cop, the other a robber.[/b][/color]

The interesting thing about this, is that many cops display anti-social tendencies. That's a case where what would normally be considered a "negative" personality trait is used for the betterment of society.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 12:07 pm
@DrewDad,
Quote:

I am in the habit of educating myself. Educating oneself about predatory behavior is, IMO, a vital role of a parent.


I am also in the habit of "educating" myself. A strong sense of skepticism is a necessary part of education. Misinformation can be dangerous, just like lack of information.

For the record, I have been successful (so far) in raising 3 decent kids.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 12:11 pm
@Montana,
Montana wrote:

Na, I don't think so. Ya never know though.

Most psychotic people look like normal every day people

Did u see the one that murdered Rebecca Schaeffer ?
Just by looking at the structure of his face,
in a non-angered condition, u can see that something is very rong.
His misdeed lived up to his appearance.


In any case, I agree with u that u never know
( except in cases like him ).
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 12:19 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

If whether a person is a psychopath can be measured by their brainwaves, why don't we just invent a device to distinguish "psychopaths" from "normal people".

http://www.anti-scientologie.ch/images18/blue-e-meter.jpg
(any irony you find in the image I chose is fully intended)

Imagine how this could help the justice systems! We could lock up psychopaths before they commit crimes (and save taxpayer money with very short cheap trials to boot).

U remind me of an episode of Star Trek Voyager
wherein time travellers from the future were involved,
one of whom was later arrested for crimes that he was going
to commit in the future.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  3  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 12:33 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Quote:
I question that explanation. I think here we have a chicken/egg scenario. Was the child born with a sociopathic nature (Bad Seed), or is it something that develops due to inconsistent and defective parental upbringing?..


Evidence indicates people are born with it. Hare notes cases of siblings raised pretty much the same way and one turns out to be a psycho with no obvious explanation. Basically a birth defect.

One other thing I'd point people to would be Julian Jaynes and his claim that the kind of psychic modeling ability involved in both empathy and the ability to compute consequences is basically new and was not part of the human condition 5000 years ago. That would make a psychopath a kind of a throwback.

JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 12:48 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Again, the use of terms is being blurred. Gunga is speaking specifically of the psychopath and you are consistently speaking of a sociopath. Gunga's position that a psychopath is a "bad seed" does not contradict your position that a sociopath is a product of his innate tendencies and his environment.

edit: I quoted a reference earlier which stated that the cross-fertilization of a sociopath with a narcissist results in a psychopath. I don't know that "cross-fertilization" is meant to infer a strict genetic component for the precursors but it could be taken that way.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 01:07 pm
@gungasnake,
This is an interesting article:
Quote:


PSYCHOPATHS: FINDINGS POINT TO BRAIN DIFFERENCES

Psychopaths are characterized by shallow emotions, impulsiveness, irresponsibility, egocentricity, and a lack of empathy or guilt. Robert Hare, who specializes in the study of psychopaths-who make up as much as a quarter of the prison population-characterizes them as "intraspecies predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs." Their egocentricity, Hare says, makes psychopaths particularly dangerous; a recent FBI study, for instance, found that almost half of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were killed by psychopathic individuals.

"Lacking in conscience and in feelings for others," Hare says, psychopaths "cold-bloodedly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret."

Traditionally, psychopathic behavior has been blamed on familial or sociological factors. Increasing evidence indicates, however, that psychopathic behavior stems not from bad parenting or a poor environment, but from fundamental differences in the psychopathic brain. Christopher Patrick et al. reported in 1995 (See related article, Crime Times, Vol. 1, No. 1/2, Page 6) that psychopaths have smaller heart rate changes and skin conductance changes in response to fear-provoking sentences than do control subjects, indicating that the processes that provoke emotions in normal subjects are defective in psychopaths. And research by Dominique LaPierre (See related article, Crime Times Vol. 1, No. 4, Page 6) suggests that the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in long-term planning and judgment, does not function normally in psychopathic subjects.

Additional studies support and extend this research, indicating that psychopaths' brains are somehow different than those of normal people. One series of studies, also by Christopher Patrick et al., compared the "startle" reaction of psychopaths and non-psychopaths.

Patrick and colleagues showed pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant slides to psychopathic prisoners. Several times during each group of slides, a loud burst of noise was delivered through subjects' headphones. Normally, the researchers note, "the protective startle reflex evoked by an abrupt, intense stimulus increases reliably during exposure to aversive or fearful stimuli, a phenomenon known as fear-potentiated startle." Thus, the startle response should be heightened when a subject views an unpleasant slide. Conversely, the reaction normally is inhibited when a pleasant slide is viewed.

In the experiments, non-psychopathic prisoners indeed reacted more strongly to the noise when they were viewing unpleasant slides, and less strongly during pleasant slides. "For psychopaths," the researchers note, "this normal pattern was not obtained. Instead of showing heightened startle reactions during exposure to aversive slides, the reactions of psychopaths were actually inhibited, relative to neutral slides."

Other studies by Patrick et al. have produced similar results. The researchers conclude that "the absence of normal startle potentiation in psychopaths during exposure to aversive pictures or warning cues signifies a deficit in the capacity for defensive response mobilization, which is the essence of fear."

The two hallmarks of psychopathy are emotional detachment and antisoical behavior, but Patrick et al. have found that only emotional detachment is linked to abnormal responses to unpleasant slides. This indicates, they say, that the "fear deficit" of psychopaths "is tied specifically to the affective/interpersonal component of psychopathy."

Left brain/right brain?

More evidence that psychopaths do not react normally to emotional stimuli comes from a new study by Rodney Day and Stephen Wong. Noting that the right hemisphere of the brain is specialized for processing the emotional significance of words, the researchers speculated that "psychopaths, who are unempathic, callous, and emotionally shallow, would rely less than non- psychopaths on right-hemisphere-based decoding strategies." Instead, they theorized, psychopaths may rely more on the left hemisphere, which "uses a more verbal-analytic strategy."

The researchers tested 20 psychopathic penitentiary inmates, and 20 non- psychopathic inmates. Participants were shown two words-a word with negative emotional connotations, and a "neutral" word-in each trial. Half the time, the negative word appeared in subjects' right visual field, and the neutral word in the left visual field; on the remaining trials, the order was reversed.

"As predicted," Day and Wong say, "non-psychopaths were more accurate and faster in processing negative emotional words in the left visual field (right hemisphere) than in the right visual field (left hemisphere). Psychopaths, on the other hand, did not show a significant visual field advantage." When negative and neutral faces were shown, however, psychopaths and non-psychopaths did not differ in their responses. This suggests, the researchers say, that the abnormal processing of emotional stimuli by psychopaths may be limited to language.

-----

"Emotion and temperament in psychopathy," Christopher J. Patrick, Clinical Science, Fall 1995, pp. 5-8; "Emotion and psychopathy: startling new insights," Psychophysiology, 31, 1994, pp. 319-330; and "Psychopathy and startle modulation during affective picture processing: a replication and extension," Gary K. Levenston, Christopher J. Patrick, Margaret M. Bradley, and Peter J. Lang, SPR Abstracts, August 1996, p. S55. Address for all: Christopher J. Patrick, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1051.

--and--

"Anomalous perceptual asymmetries for negative emotional stimuli in the psychopath," Rodney Day and Stephen Wong, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. Arlington Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7K 2H6.

--and--

"Psychopathy: a clinical construct whose time has come," Robert D. Hare, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 1996, pp. 25-54. Address: Robert D. Hare, Department of Psychology, 2135 West Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4.


I was looking for a study someone told me about that found that in most of the brains studied of those who had what was considered to be more normal criminal tendencies the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain that controls, strategizing, planning and impulse control) was smaller than in the general population, but in psychopaths, the prefrontal cortex was larger.

David - what you said about Rebecca Schaeffer's killer looking obviously different really struck a note with me. I returned to the prison I was working at after more than a year away to do volunteer literacy work and it struck me really forcibly how different (in terms of facial structure) many of the men appeared from those in the general population.
It made me wonder if their criminality may have been partially a result of being looked at and treated as different due to their somewhat odd appearance- or if it was sort of preordained and would have happened anyway as Gunga believes.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 01:27 pm
@aidan,
Quote:
I returned to the prison I was working at after more than a year away to do volunteer literacy work and it struck me really forcibly how different (in terms of facial structure) many of the men appeared from those in the general population.


All right ! ! !

Let's bring back phrenology, too.
Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 01:30 pm
The brains of psychopaths are not the same as those of "normal" people.

So it must be something you are born with a tendancy towards.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 02:04 pm
@Setanta,
Phrenology (the idea that features can be used to predict criminality) has been scientifically discredited.

That you saw differences in the facial features of prisoners says more about your psychology than theirs.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 02:09 pm
@Bella Dea,
You really believe that your kids may have been "bad" from birth?

I am highly skeptical of these studies (forgive my skepticism, I have a science degree).

How do you know that the experiences of prisoners who have been labeled "psychopathic" didn't change their brain function?

And how did they determine which prisoners were psychopathic in the first place?






wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 02:32 pm
In the early 1950's, Professor Boyd's noted study proved that environment has a greater effect than heredity on behavioral development.
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/movielady/library/bedtime_for_bonzo.jpg
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 02:49 pm
@Setanta,
Even though I know you're just here to take jabs at me Setanta I'm going to respond to this simply because I agree that it looks like I was all over the place here.
First I said most psychotic people look normal, but then Deb came and said, no they don't and I had to retract my first statement knowing I haven't known enough psychotic people to be able to say that.
However, in all the people I've know who were diagnosed as being psychotic, looked perfectly normal.
My ex had the symptoms that Deb described and was diagnosed as being psychotic, but he looked perfectly normal to anyone walking down the street, other than looking shy if he caught your eye.
The guy at work gave both me and 2 of my bosses the creeps.
Now, if he hadn't of proven himself to be psychotic, I would have never given him the label.

This thread is about awareness and not about my credability.

This is the last time I will be responding to you on anything.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 03:04 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Phrenology (the idea that features can be used to predict criminality) has been scientifically discredited.

That you saw differences in the facial features of prisoners says more about your psychology than theirs.


I suggest you go back and re-read. That's exactly the point Setanta was making.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 03:08 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

You really believe that your kids may have been "bad" from birth?

I am highly skeptical of these studies (forgive my skepticism, I have a science degree).

How do you know that the experiences of prisoners who have been labeled "psychopathic" didn't change their brain function?

And how did they determine which prisoners were psychopathic in the first place?

Now you're just being silly, or trying to construct a straw man. "Tendency" does not mean "bad from birth".

The Diathesis-stress model states that a genetic predisposition, in concert with environmental factors, produces the behavior.

Quote:
According to the model, this predisposition, in combination with certain kinds of environmental stress, results in abnormal behavior.

This theory is often used to describe the pronunciation of mental disorders, like schizophrenia that are produced by the interaction of a vulnerable hereditary predisposition, with precipitating events in the environment. It was originally introduced as a means to explain some of the causes of schizophrenia (Zubin & Spring, 1977).
Setanta
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 03:10 pm
@Montana,
I don't care if you respond to me or not, and i'm here because, after a page or two, the discussion got interesting--i'm not here either to take jabs at you, nor to provide you with a justification for your paranoia.
 

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