[p2p-research] The psychopath as peer?

Stan Rhodes stanleyrhodes at gmail.com
Mon Nov 2 01:06:49 CET 2009


Due to controversy and overlaps between clinial tools, such as the DMS-IV,
it's hard to cut through the "popular science" fluff and find the meat in
most work on these subjects.  For example, measures of "psychopathy" are
used for research only, and are not in any way clinical diagnoses of
anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).   While psychopathy and ASPD are
correlated, only a fraction of prisoners diagnosed with ASPD meet the PCL-R
criteria for psychopathy.  In fact, ASPD is almost synonymous with "someone
in the US prison system" (around 80% of US prisoners are ASPD) and given the
disproportionately large prisoner population in the US, there's a really
fishy smell to the whole business.  It's important to keep this in mind when
reviewing research articles written for the public that touch on either.

While I'm not discounting the PCL-R, I have grave doubts about it
representing a distinct taxonomic group.  It's factor 1 and factor 2 measure
very different things.  I've run across studies where one of the factors
will correlate strongly with some behavior, but the other will not.

My warning, as someone that actually studied psychology--and still does--is
take it all with a salt-shaker of salt.  This tends to be good advice across
the behavioral sciences in general.

Paul, at some point you said "Some may be genetic too," but the study you
pointed to only tested for neural activation.  Neural activation does NOT
mean genetic evidence.

-- Stan

On Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 8:47 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> A digression onto a psychopathic aspect of the current system, related to
> my previous post on changing social mythology which seems counterproductive,

> Here is some more on that theme of psychopath as "peer". :-)
> Some may be genetic too:
> "Bullies May Enjoy Seeing Others in Pain: Brain Scans Show Disruption in
> Natural Empathetic Response"
> http://www.sott.net/articles/show/195629-Bullies-May-Enjoy-Seeing-Others-in-Pain-Brain-Scans-Show-Disruption-in-Natural-Empathetic-Response
> """
> "Aggressive adolescents showed a specific and very strong activation of the
> amygdala and ventral striatum (an area that responds to feeling rewarded)
> when watching pain inflicted on others, which suggested that they enjoyed
> watching pain," he said.
>  Unlike the control group, the youth with conduct disorder did not activate
> the area of the brain involved in self-regulation (the medial prefrontal
> cortex and the temporoparietal junction).
>  The control group acted similarly to youth in a study released earlier
> this year, in which Decety and his colleagues used fMRI scans to show 7- to
> 12-year-olds are naturally empathetic toward people in pain.
> """
> I'm not saying all violent people are psychopaths, most probably are not.
> I'm just suggesting fixing the nutritional deficiencies and vitamin D
> deficiencies may help improve things in general for people who have
> psychopathic tendencies and may otherwise be impulsively violent.
> Likewise, I'm not saying all bullying people are psychopaths, again, most
> probably are not. But addressing bullying issues may help improve things in
> general for people who have psychopathic tendencies and might otherwise be
> bullying.
> Like with any paradigm, likely we will figure out how to move beyond the
> "psychopath" paradigm at some point and see some bigger picture, including
> nutrition, helping parents better match their style of parenting to their
> child's current needs, and more social supports (including a basic income,
> which would give many people the opportunity to just walk away from
> relationships at work or at home to psychopaths and in general any other
> dysfunctional relationship, or alternatively, have the resources to help fix
> the relationship).
> Might there be societies where people with the same inclinations just could
> not be "psychopaths" in terms of behavior effects because of other
> collective societal aspects? Or where better diet prevents the worst part of
> this? Maybe, even if we can't "cure" the psychopath, we can cure the society
> that lets him or her run wild, and worse, elevates him or her to positions
> of responsibility over others and major resources?
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