abnormalities in the vanilla world · crime and punishment · Mother Nature gets Her freak on · unexplained

How Does One Become a Psychopath? (Especially, but not Only, the Murderous Kind)

I’ve always wondered about that, as many researchers and laypeople are wont to do.  It’s probably due to the unthinkable acts they commit, then wondering “what were they thinking?” at the time.  More than this however I wonder about how it is that a person is born (supposedly) an innocent then grows up into a delusional loser…(sounds a bit like Sarah Palin – but I digress).  watch how to become a good person

Authors typically chronicle the childhood of psychopaths in an effort to discover the root of developmental psychopathy.  A few interesting non-fiction books on that subject that I’ve stumbled across include Beyond Good and Evil – Nietzsche46 science fair projects for the evil genius – bob bonnet       , without conscience – the disturbing world of the psychopaths among us – robert hare. An interesting fiction includes boy, crazy by Lisa Lahey. Apparently there are others who would agree. 

Each of these tries to describe and explain the origin of evil in the psychopath; some are more successful than others.  Lahey’s book takes information from true case killers, such as Richard Ramirez and Henry Lee Lucas, as well as non-fiction information from such titles as the aforementioned.  The result is ambiguous;  speculation by a non-expert in the field of psychology. watch are you a good person?

Clearly the argument of the nature of psychopathy includes the nurture of young children: an abusive household generally produces an unhappy, angry psychopath, or at least abuser who seeks out victims in order to justify his or her own existence. But what of children who emerge from dreadful households and who somehow become good, moral people like (we hope) most of us?  Perhaps everyone processes their experience differently.  Those with more compassion ensure they never abuse their kids, or anyone else. Those lacking in empathy (and that is the foundation of psychopathy) simply continue the cycle. watch i empathize with school shooters

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),which can be one result of childhood trauma, can be seen in some ways as the opposite of psychopathy. There is one core structure in the brain that’s over-responsive in PTSD—that’s the amygdala. This region is critical for perceiving and responding to threats. In PTSD, the amygdala is hypersensitive to threats, producing fear in situations that wouldn’t be frightening to most people. But in brain scans of callous or unemotional people there is often a reduced response of the amygdala to threat.  This doesn’t mean a psychopath doesn’t feel threatened by external stimuli; a  brain faced with overwhelming stress can respond either by becoming hypersensitive or insensitive, depending on a number of factors, including genetics. In fact callous and unemotional traits do seem to be genetic: 70 percent of the variance between people on this dimension seems to be inherited.

There is interesting speculation as to whether we are born good or evil.  Is there a genetic component of psychopathy?  read futurepundit: twins study find genetic cause for psychopathy. Are some people simply meant to be cruel due to genetic forces beyond their control?It is undeniable that mental illness, cancer, dyslexia and learning disorders run in families.  Why not psychopathy? watch educated evil

On occasion the child who is revered and “spoiled” as it were by indulgent and perhaps lazy parents, also produce a specific type of psychopath, the narcissist.  These households do not set limits, there are no rules, and morals are seldom established. When the child inevitably becomes entangled with the law, the parents resort to denial, seeing their child as a victim of persecution. watch narcissistic personality disorder: a portrait – examples of narcissism are taken from the movie The social network official trailer (facebook – zuckerberg)

In the Facebook movie, Zuckerberg doesn’t kill anyone. His tact is that of emotional and psychological victimization, and is nearly as devastating as murder to his colleagues. A burning question for me remains how did Zuckerberg become Zuckerberg?  I don’t really know about his childhood.  Clearly he was brilliant, a prodigy, but that may have little to do with his narcissism since the majority of narcissists are anything but bright.  watch how technology killed empathy

The origin of human evil has been debated for hundreds, if not thousands of years. As long as there is evil in the world that won’t change anytime soon.

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