Friday, April 15, 2011

Brain Pattern - Scientist or Serial Killer?

We here see the Brain Pattern of a Serial Killer! ...No, I mean: We here see the Brain Pattern of a Highly Respected Scientist!

I found a good little article about new, preliminary findings which confirm - or at least supports - a view that I've always been stating plays a role in psychopathy assessment, well, in all human interaction:

Psychopathy: A Rorschach test for psychologists?

* Compassion

* Empathy
* Impulsivity
* Excitement-seeking

What do these personality traits have in common?

If you are high on any or all of them, you may be less likely to rate other people as psychopathic on the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R).

The PCL-R is the most widely used measure of psychopathy in the world. But in real-world forensic settings, scores vary widely depending upon which side retained the evaluator. This finding is called the "partisan allegiance" effect.

In a new twist, these same researchers that brought you partisan allegiance have found that an evaluator's personality may impact her judgments of psychopathy. Evaluators low on compassion and thrill-seeking as measured by a widely used personality test, the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised, are more likely than others to rate criminals as psychopathic.

That’s ironic, because according to the theory of psychopathy, it's supposed to be the psychopath -- not the psychologist -- who has a deficit in empathy.

The exploratory study, forthcoming in the journal Assessment, was based on a small sample of 22 individuals who were given nine hours of training by a clinical psychologist with substantial research and forensic practice experience with the PCL-R. "The daylong session was an attempt to replicate typical PCL-R training procedures," the study authors explain.

Now how come I knew this already when I was diagnosed the first time, and yet no one would listen!?...

The researchers emphasize that their findings are preliminary and need to be replicated and extended. But if they hold up, they have intriguing implications not only for the psychopathy measure but also for other psychological tests with elements of subjectivity in scoring or interpretation.

The study did not examine the accuracy of the low versus high scorers. But if low-scoring evaluators are more empathetic, this implies that they may be more accurate in interpersonal assessment contexts.

It's interesting to notice that they take into account that some evaluators may in fact have high scores on the PCL-R!...


The video above features a scientist who has come forth about his brain's somewhat special PET scan pattern: It is the SAME as the scan result of a violent mass murderer.

Just a little something perhaps to ponder!...


(1*) - Update: The uploaded video has suddenly become unavailable. However, it is still available for viewing here on Youtube.



Anonymous said...

It makes you wonder if a man like him subscribes to self-deceit (fake moral compass).

I understand neglect and or trauma can activate those genetic tendencies, but if he has the same exact brain activity (or should I say, lack thereof) then either that part of the brain doesn't control what they think it does, or he's lying.

Now the Warrior Gene (something I've talked about in the past) is actually in 1/3rd of the American population, and in even higher rates in countries with constant warfare. The Warrior Gene is not the Psychopath gene at all, but it might be needed to aggressive tendencies (which is exactly what it does, higher aggression tendencies).

It makes you wonder what a psychopath/sociopath would be like with no increased aggression levels. The very idea sounds far-fetched.

Zhawq said...

The article I quote was not written by a scientist. It was written by a Psychologist (I think), who made some private speculations based on preliminary scientific findings, which are hardly even theory at this point.

Obviously the so called Aggression Gene plays a role in psychopathy, since psychopathy is linked to a high level of activity, and activity that is defined by a higher than usual aggressiveness.

The more 'danger' an activity requires, the higher the level of fundamental aggression must be. It doesn't mean you have to feel anger or hostility, it can be (for a psychopath, is) a latent presence.

The aggression gene relates to psychopathy in that it is more dominant in us, that's where the misconception about it being a Psychopath gene stems from.

This article was written with a tongue in cheek, a funny speculation. But it also holds an important observation that I found worthy of inclusion in my blog.

It is almost impossible as an "unknown" individual and psychopath to get through with information, no matter how fundamental and important it may be. This is common knowledge, so it would be stupid of me to not appreciate the backup when it falls into my lap. :)

Ettina said...

A non-aggressive psychopath would be a con man, I think.

Anonymous said...

«But if low-scoring evaluators are more empathetic, this implies that they may be more accurate in interpersonal assessment contexts.» - If the reasoning behind this is that these people can better understand others, then we should be talking about cognitive empathy, because emotional empathy can cloud judgement (remember psychopathy carries some stigma). If the reasoning is that scientists/psychologists may compare themselves to the patient, and that's why we shouldn't suspect that much their judgement (they'd compare and verify their level of empathy wouldn't be that much different), it would only have influence on the scoring of one item, or it could turn out to be the opposite and they would let themselves fool, thinking everyone was like them (if they lacked theory of mind) and we have to take the rest (above) into consideration. A good "scorer" would be someone with lots of cognitive empathy, fair in what theory of mind is concerned, low on machiavellianism (he/she could tend think that that was the normal way), with some emotional empathy, but capable of controling it when in a professional setting.

Anonymous said...

*correction: average on machiavellianism