Research Paper: On Psychopathy

It is vital to differentiate in between psychology and philosophy. Regrettably, much of the diagnosis for psychopathy is outward. For example, the deceptiveness and illicit conduct are products of a root: a biological materialization that presents itself in the brain, which can be observed. Fortunately, the DSM-V working party is recommending a revision of antisocial personality disorder to include “Antisocial/Psychopathic Type,” with the diagnostic criteria having a greater weight in character than action. Although unused in diagnostic manuals, psychopathy is still widely referred to by psychiatrists and the like.

Psychopathy is illustrated by features such as superficial charm, poor judgment, failure to learn from experience, impulsivity, substance-abuse, promiscuous sexual and manipulative behavior, pathological egocentricity and incapacity for love, lack of remorse or shame, poor self-control, juvenile delinquency, and criminal versatility. However, substance-abuse, promiscuous sexual and manipulative behavior, juvenile delinquency, and criminal versatility are more action-oriented products of psychological mechanics.

Of these, the poor judgment, failure to learn from experience in terms of handling repurcussions, and impulsivity stem from a lack of dread for consequence, as the psychopath is generally divorced from castigation. In a trial with Dr. Hare, it was publicized that when psychopaths’ brainwaves were observed, during which time they were aware of an approaching, painful shock, they were not largely altered. This is much like the fear-conditioning paradigm with reference to amygdala damage (more later). Impulsivity is defined, according to the World English Dictionary, as portrayed “by actions based on sudden desires, whims, or inclinations, rather than careful thought”; it is a behavioral quality that contains numerous, distinctive workings, and a huge constituent of mania, addictive, conduct, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders. I must again refer to Dr. Hare’s shock-experiment.

Although it was fathomable at that prepubescent era in knowledge that the psychopath’s brainwaves mightn’t leap at electrical threat, having not deduced it firsthand, it was absolutely expected that, after a good zap, they’d tense for the next round. Except, they didn’t. Impulsivity-related psychiatric illnesses are branded by arrears in working memory. The links in deficits haunted by those wielding any of the above suggest that recurring damage may lie beneath their aetiologies. However, a psychopath is able to learn from experience through reason, if he is not mentally blighted.

It makes sense to have the phenotype, per se, defined – the physical appearance as an analogy – but a separate category must exist to classify the agnosia behind psychopathy.

    ‘Agnosia’ is a general term for malfunction in attaching appropriate meaning to objective sense-data. It is used most regularly when the primary sense organ involved is not impaired, but this is not the case here. Emotional agnosia of a variety is still arguable, as psychopathy’s manifestation is simply a failure to integrate certain knowledge with emotions as a result of an array of neurological variances that are still being studied. Some of these include a reduction in prefrontal and right superior temporal gyrus gray matter, and prefrontal damage occurring particularly in the orbitofrontal and dorsolateral sections, along with greater neuropsychological deficits on measures sensitive to orbitofrontal dysfunction.

The dorsolateral (DL-PFC) serves as the highest cortical area liable for the connection of sensory and mnemonic information. Issues with the DL-PFC may result in problems with affect, the experience of feeling, social judgment, and the facility of lying. Research suggests that using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a method of depolarizing or hyperpolarizing neurons with rapidly changing magnetic fields, on the DL-PFC can interfere with a person’s truth-telling.     The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), on the other hand, is involved in the cognitive processing of decision-making, and receives projections from the magnocellular, medial nucleus of the mediodorsal thalamus. It is also proposed to engage in the connection of sensory information, affect, and even expectation, much like the dorsolateral. In particular, the human OFC is thought to regulate planning associated with rewards and punishments. Reconnaissance has been conducted on humans by neuroimaging both controls and those living with OFC damage. These studies reveal that the OFC is activated during intuitive coherence, and its destruction leads to a pattern of uninhibited behavior, encasing excessive swearing, drug use, and poor empathizing skills, whilst the superior temporal gyrus is used in the perception of passion in facial stimuli.

More mutations found in diagnosed psychopaths include a decrease in amygdala, posterior hippocampal volume, and an exaggerated structural hippocampal and collosal white matter mass.

    The amygdala and hippocampal complex interact during poignant situations by amending both the encoding and storage of hippocampal-dependent memories; dependent, because the hippocampus is crucial for the consolation of long-term memories by means of several protein kinases. The hippocampal complex creates episodic representations of arousing merit and influences the amygdala to rejoin. Thus, in the previously referenced fear conditioning paradigm, patients with amygdala damage did not show physiological fear to known threats. Ironically, those with only hippocampal damage presented the opposite reaction, in that they expressed a physical response, but could not intellectually identify its cause. Therefore, the amygdala and hippocampal possess unique purposes, but operate in harmony.     On top of that are adjustments to the paralimbic system, a group of interconnecting structures troubled with the processing of emotion, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which is credited with the modulation of emotion, motivation, and error detection. As with formerly mentioned parts, it pertains to decision-making, reward anticipation, and empathy.

This data suggests that psychopathy is allied with brain anomaly in a prefrontal-temporolimbic circuit, i.e, regions involved in emotion and expansion.

Naturally, then, psychopaths are more venturesome, because they lack inhibition, and they do not experience overwhelming remorse or fear. However, it is a fallacy to state without exception that the psychopath is a criminal, or even that he must proceed in a certain manner. With this assumption stems the prejudice that the psychopath is “evil.”

If one manages to attain a high rate of independence, self-esteem, drive, and is consistently able to act rationally, whatever abnormalities he may possess are irrelevant. On the quest to wellness, introspection is necessary in order to discover limits, and to grasp imperatives. Psychopaths are stereotypically apathetic to the practice of reflection and may hurt themselves along with others, but nothing in their make-up prevents them from being capable of intelligent deliberation in regards to development, should it be proffered in a diverse modality. Additionally, professionals must first establish the rigorousness of their symptoms, to see if they can be reversed. If progress is nonexistent, conversely, the psychopath should not be demonized. A cure is no longer the end to be sought, but an adaption seems practical.

Allow me to distinguish these terms. “Cure” is to say: a reverse in his dispensation. When psychiatrists attempt to cure psychopathy, they attempt to instill empathy; to coerce the psychopath into feeling what, frankly, he is not wired to feel. When this fails, the psychopath is cast aside as uncooperative and untreatable, yet it is key in the pursuit of health to embrace our minds as they are, because they cannot be rebuilt. In some cases, occupational therapy or speech therapy can improve agnosia, depending on its etiology, but, for all practical purposes, there is no direct treatment. Instead, we are to focus on correcting our interpretation and behavior. “Adaption” is to say: rather than telling the psychopath that he is spoiled goods, consequently ostracizing him for his urges, it would be to the field’s benefit to listen without immediate condemnation, and to spotlight on both recognition that the psychopath is indeed a specific way, that he cannot help it, and that he has the potential to excel, regardless.

Joshua Buckholtz, a graduate student in psychology, pronounced to the media that “a hyper-reactive dopamine reward system may be the foundation for some of the most problematic behaviors associated with psychopathy.” Dopamine (DA) is a catecholamine neurotransmitter commonly paralleled with enjoyment. It is used in the prediction of success, motivation, and cognition, and released during positive experiences, such as intercourse. Researchers at the Vanderbilt University employed positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) to measure dopamine release and the brain’s reward system. They discovered that both were heightened among those driven by psychopathic personalities. Likewise, people with high levels of psychopathy had almost four times the amount of dopamine released to the amphetamines administered during a scientific test. The obvious conclusion is that psychopaths are driven to pursue reward, but not restrained by apprehension.

    For egocentricity, the Free Dictionary describes it as “a. Confined in attitude or interest to one’s own needs or affairs. b. Caring only about oneself; selfish.” Since the psychopath is devoid of empathy, this is the expected effect. The psychopath can like others, but, emotionally, he likes them in relation to himself, thus the asservation that he is without connection. It is the resulting, chronic ennui which causes him to chase after stimulation that is so troublesome.   This information is important, because it provides statistically normal persons a fascinating insight into dealing with psychopaths. Rather than advising them against negative experiences, such as prison, they must encourage positive ones, like freedom. The psychopath is inherently selfish, and, if he desires to do what is best for himself, he must stress the importance of setting goals, and avoiding a pattern of reckless indulgence, because it is easy for him to do so, given the absence of reticence or realistic hesitation. It is momentous that he be made in tune and self-aware. What’s more, the psychopath’s lifestyle would be dramatically upgraded if a safer method of satisfying his quest for piquancy were unveiled, because the void within him is neither of his culpability, nor something which can be sensibly ignored.

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