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Analysis Of Psychopath Pathology & Behaviour
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OldTimeRadioOffline
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PostPosted: 12-11-2010 03:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

On web forums which do not permit BBCode the sparing use of all-capitalized words is necessary for emphasis.

Otherwise prognostications concerning the end of the Universe and the end of the afternoon rain tend to come off with pretty much the same import.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 08-05-2012 18:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Psychopathy linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-05-psychopathy-linked-specific-abnormalities-brain.html
May 7th, 2012 in Psychology & Psychiatry

New research provides the strongest evidence to date that psychopathy is linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain. The study, published in Archives of General Psychiatry and led by researchers at King's College London is the first to confirm that psychopathy is a distinct neuro-developmental sub-group of anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).

Most violent crimes are committed by a small group of persistent male offenders with ASPD. Approximately half of male prisoners in England and Wales will meet diagnostic criteria for ASPD. The majority of such men are not true psychopaths (ASPD-P). They are characterised by emotional instability, impulsivity and high levels of mood and anxiety disorders. They typically use aggression in a reactive way in response to a perceived threat or sense of frustration.

However, about one third of such men will meet additional diagnostic criteria for psychopathy (ASPD+P). They are characterised by a lack of empathy and remorse, and use aggression in a planned way to secure what they want (status, money etc.). Previous research has shown that psychopaths' brains differ structurally from healthy brains, but until now, none have examined these differences within a population of violent offenders with ASPD.

Dr Nigel Blackwood from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's and lead author of the study says: 'Using MRI scans we found that psychopaths had structural brain abnormalities in key areas of their 'social brains' compared to those who just had ASPD. This adds to behavioural and developmental evidence that psychopathy is an important subgroup of ASPD with a different neurobiological basis and different treatment needs.

'There is a clear behavioural difference amongst those diagnosed with ASPD depending on whether or not they also have psychopathy. We describe those without psychopathy as 'hot-headed' and those with psychopathy as 'cold-hearted'. The 'cold-hearted' psychopathic group begin offending earlier, engage in a broader range and greater density of offending behaviours, and respond less well to treatment programmes in adulthood, compared to the 'hot-headed' group. We now know that this behavioural difference corresponds to very specific structural brain abnormalities which underpin psychopathic behaviour, such as profound deficits in empathising with the distress of others.'

The researchers used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 44 violent adult male offenders diagnosed with Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD). Crimes committed included murder, rape, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. Of these, 17 met the diagnosis for psychopathy (ASPD+P) and 27 did not (ASPD-P). They also scanned the brains of 22 healthy non-offenders.

The study found that ASPD+P offenders displayed significantly reduced grey matter volumes in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles compared to ASPD-P offenders and healthy non-offenders. These areas are important in understanding other people's emotions and intentions and are activated when people think about moral behaviour. Damage to these areas is associated with impaired empathising with other people, poor response to fear and distress and a lack of 'self-conscious' emotions such as guilt or embarrassment.

Dr Blackwood explains: 'Identifying and diagnosing this sub-group of violent offenders with brain scans has important implications for treatment. Those without the syndrome of psychopathy, and the associated structural brain damage, will benefit from cognitive and behavioural treatments. Optimal treatment for the group of psychopaths is much less clear at this stage.'
More information: Gregory, S. et al. 'The Antisocial Brain: Psychopathy Matters – a structural MRI investigation of antisocial male offenders', Archives of General Psychiatry (7th May 2012)

Provided by King's College London
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LoquaciousnessOffline
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PostPosted: 08-05-2012 18:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

First person to make use of projective tests was Freud. The idea of interpreting drawings has also been around forever. I personally can't really see how this can be a scientific way of identifying possible psychopath.
The very nature of interpretation means that the analyst is putting their perceptions of it, rather than it being an objective measure. Ask 4 people to do it and you probably get 4 different answers.
Re: the difference in brain structures. A few problems here too, although it is of course a more scientific approach.
1. There will be a distinct overlap between the alleged psychopathic population and the neurotypical population. Just because someone has the abnormality does not make them a psychopath, therefore this test lacks predictive validity.
2. A bit of a chicken and egg situation too. Did their psychopathic behaviour change part of their brain - as it has been shown that brain structures can change in response to environmental influences ( e.g. Maguire (2000 ) ) or did the abnormal brain structure cause them to be psychopathic.
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PostPosted: 09-05-2012 13:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brain structures are neither stable nor uniform, as the remarkable recovery of some people with extensive brain damage has shown. (and the corresponding sad failure of some people to recover when the apparent damage is far less.)

Your brain can use different areas if linkages are broken or even if physical damage to other parts of the body alters its inputs.
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PostPosted: 09-05-2012 20:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recall reading of an individual who had just a small amount of membrane coating the inside of their skull, who did not have a below average IQ and who functioned normally. I recall reading that in a book by Anthony Peake, if I recall correctly.
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PostPosted: 23-05-2012 11:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone ever read Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test? I found it illuminating and really quite disturbing about how much power mental health professionals have in defining such. In a nutshell, if for some reason, you found yourself incarcerated in a mental health institution, you'd almost certainly have much more difficulty convincing your doctor you were sane* than if you were a psycho. There was one chap who spent ten years in Broadmoor when (he said) there was nothing wrong with him - he pretended to be a nutter at his (GBH) trial as he figured he'd go to the loony bin for a month and then get released. Finds himself in Broadmoor and finds himself unable to get out. As far as the quacks are concerned, if he co-operates with treatment, he's pretending in order to get out, and if he doesn't, well, he's stuffed anyway. A real catch-22.

*Yes, I recognise the difference between psycopathy and mental illness, delusions etc. I use the word sane for convenience....you know what what I mean.
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PostPosted: 24-05-2012 21:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally go with the Axe Test. If someone is swinging an axe at you and you really haven't done anything to deserve it, chances are they are in some way unbalanced. As my friend found out when her ex decided taking an axe to her front door was a reasonable means of getting to see her. No need for crayons to get a diagnosis there.
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Black River FallsOffline
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PostPosted: 25-05-2012 17:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

aka the "Here's Johnny" test?
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 19-08-2012 16:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Scientific explanation of psychopathy cuts jail time
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22189-scientific-explanation-of-psychopathy-cuts-jail-time.html
19:00 16 August 2012 by Jessica Hamzelou

Serial sex offender Raymond Henry Garland, considered one of Australia's most dangerous sexual predators, was officially diagnosed a psychopath last week. Psychiatrist Joan Lawrence told the Brisbane District Court that Garland had an "almost 100 per cent chance of violent reoffending." Garland has been dealt four indefinite sentences – but research out today suggests that biological evidence of psychopathy could alter the length of such sentences.

Brain scans and genetic tests are becoming a common feature of courtroom battles, as biological evidence is increasingly used to explain a person's criminal behaviour. For example, last year an Italian woman convicted of murdering her sister had her lifetime sentence reduced to 20 years on the basis of brain and genetic tests, which provided biological explanations for her aggressive behaviour.

But does the inclusion of such evidence affect the sentencing of psychopaths – people with a disorder currently thought to be untreatable? Any evidence could act as a double-edged sword, says James Tabery at the University of Utah. A so-called biomechanism to explain psychopathic behaviour could be used to argue that a person is less culpable for their actions, reducing their sentence. On the other hand, the defendant could be seen as more likely to reoffend and receive a longer sentence.

Testing the sword

To find out "which way the sword was going to cut", Tabery, together with psychologist Lisa Aspinwall and law professor Teneille Brown, also at Utah, sent out a survey to 181 US judges based in a number of different states.

Each judge was asked to sentence a convicted criminal diagnosed as a psychopath. The team's fictional character was based on Stephen Mobley, who robbed and then killed a Domino's pizza store manager in 1991. Mobley went on to brag about the crime, and even got the word "Domino" tattooed on his back. Psychologists claimed that his behaviour and lack of remorse was psychopathic and untreatable. At the time, Mobley's request to submit a genetic-based defence for his behaviour was denied, says Tabery. "The Georgia State Supreme Court said [genetic evidence] wouldn't have made any difference," he says. "He was sentenced to death."

In Tabery's fictional case, a man was found guilty of the similar crime of aggravated battery, although the victim was not killed but left with permanent brain damage. The criminal was diagnosed as a psychopath by a psychiatrist. Half of the judges were given additional evidence from a second psychiatrist, who said that the man's behaviour was the result of a genetic mutation that caused a structural abnormality in his brain. Half of each group of judges received the diagnosis as a form of defence, pleading the man's lack of control and culpability over his actions. The other judges saw the diagnosis as part of a prosecution which argued that the man was likely to reoffend.

Shorter sentences

Without a diagnosis, the judges surveyed said they would have given the man a sentence of about nine years. Once he had been diagnosed as an untreatable psychopath, however, the average sentence jumped to 14 years. When judges were presented with biological evidence of the genetic mutation, this sentence was lowered to around 13 years, regardless of whether the evidence was presented by the prosecution or defence.

"We saw both sides of the double-edged sword in play," says Tabery. "The addition of a biological mechanism slightly reduces the sentence compared to just the diagnosis of psychopathy, but it's still significantly higher than what judges said their average sentences are for aggravated battery."

Stephen Morse, professor of law and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, says that the issue of free will in responsibility for one's actions should be "beside the point" in a court room. "Having free will or not having it is not part of any legal doctrine, and needs never be proven or disproven."

But if biological evidence can swing sentences, should all psychopaths be given the option to include brain scans and genetic tests in their defence? Or should the use of such evidence be ruled out entirely? "Different states and different judges vary in how they process this information," says Tabery.

Morse thinks this variation is a real problem in the criminal justice system. "It's usually up to the judge to decide what factors to balance at sentence, how they should be weighed and what evidence to consider, and that results in very varied sentencing," he says. "I think there should be less discretion involved in sentencing, although judges hate the idea."

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1219569
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 25-07-2013 13:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Psychopathic criminals have empathy switch
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23431793
By Melissa Hogenboom
Science reporter, BBC News

Mirror neurons in the brain fire both when you watch someone in pain and when you experience it yourself

Inside the brain of a psychopath
Psychopaths do not lack empathy, rather they can switch it on at will, according to new research.

Placed in a brain scanner, psychopathic criminals watched videos of one person hurting another and were asked to empathise with the individual in pain.

Only when asked to imagine how the pain receiver felt did the area of the brain related to pain light up.

Scientists, reporting in Brain, say their research explains how psychopaths can be both callous and charming.

The team proposes that with the right training, it could be possible to help psychopaths activate their "empathy switch", which could bring them a step closer to rehabilitation.

Continue reading the main story
The study
a participant being slapped on the hand to localize brain regions sensitive to pain
Placed in an fMRI scanner, 18 criminals with psychopathy and 26 control subjects were asked to watch a series of clips without a particular instruction
The clips showed one hand touching the other in a loving, a painful, a socially rejecting or a neutral way
They were then asked to watch the same clips again but this time try and feel what the subjects in the clips felt
In the third part of the study they were slapped with a ruler to localise the pain region of the brain
Mirror neurons
The ability to empathise with others - to put yourself in someone else's shoes - is crucial to social development in order to respond appropriately in everyday situations.

Criminals with psychopathy characteristically show a reduced ability to empathise with others, including their victims. Evidence suggests they are also more likely to reoffend upon release than criminals without the psychiatric condition.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by superficial charm, pathological lying and a diminished capacity for remorse.

Now scientists have found that only when asked to empathise did the criminals' empathy reaction, also known as the mirror system, fire up the same way as it did for the controls. Without instruction, they show reduced activity in the regions of the brain associated with pain.

This mirror system refers to the mirror neurons in our brain which are known to activate when we watch someone do a task and when we do it ourselves. They are thought to play a vital role in the ability to empathise with others.

'Bleak prospect'
Christian Keysers from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and senior author of the study, said it could change the way psychopathic criminals were viewed.

"The predominant notion had been that they are callous individuals, unable to feel emotions themselves and therefore unable to feel emotions in others.

"Our work shows it's not that simple. They don't lack empathy but they have a switch to turn it on and off. By default, it seems to be off."

The fact that they have the capacity to switch empathy on, at least under certain conditions, could have a positive side to it, Prof Keysers said.

"The notion psychopaths have no empathy at all was a bleak prospect. It would make it very hard for them to have normal moral development.

"Now that we've shown they have empathy - even if only in certain conditions - we can give therapists something to work with," Prof Keysers told BBC News.

Brain activation in individuals with psychopathy was greater when asked to imagine pain (foreground)
Brain activation in criminals with psychopathy was greater when asked to empathise (foreground)
But he explained that it was not yet known how this wilful capacity for empathy could be transformed into the spontaneous empathy most of us have.

Million-dollar question
Essi Viding from University College London, who was not involved with the study, said it was an extremely interesting finding, but that it remained unclear whether the psychopathic criminals' experience of empathy felt the same as that of the controls.

"It's dangerous to look at brain activation and say that it means they're empathising. They are able to generate a typical neural response, but that doesn't mean they have the same empathetic experience," Prof Viding told BBC News.

"We know they can generate the same response but they do that in an active and effortful way. Under free-viewing conditions they don't seem to. Just because they can emphasise, doesn't mean they will.

"Psychopathic criminals are clearly different. The million-dollar question is whether we can devise therapeutic interventions that would shift them do this more automatically."

Randall Salekin, from the University of Alabama, US, who works with youth offenders said: "These findings fit with much of the treatment I am doing using a mental model program, whereby youth are informed about how the brain works and then asked to make specific plans for improving their lives.

"This study is impressive because it actually shows the brain mechanisms or neural networks involved in activating the inmates' empathy."
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PostPosted: 07-10-2013 13:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Researchers find tests meant to predict future violence by psychopaths is less accurate than chance
October 2nd, 2013 in Psychology & Psychiatry /

Predicting violence among psychopaths is no more than chance

(Medical Xpress)—A trio of British researchers has conducted a study that has revealed that tests given to jailed psychopaths to predict the likelihood of engaging in future violence, are less accurate than chance. In their paper published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Jeremy Coid, Simone Ullrich and Constantinos Kallis describe how they interviewed and gave tests to inmates in British prisons and then followed up later to see if they engaged in violent activities after release—they found that tests given to predict such behavior in psychopaths were no better than 50 percent accurate.

In order to protect the public, trained psychology professionals are often asked to assess the likelihood of an incarcerated person engaging in illegal activities when authorities are considering whether or not such a person should be released before their sentence is up. Unfortunately, giving tests and interpreting their results has not yet proved to be a reliable science. In this new study in Britain, the researchers conducted interviews and gave psychological tests to 1,396 inmates imprisoned in England and Wales, six months to a year before their release—afterwards re-offense records were studied to compare test results with future activities.

The tests given to the inmates were meant to discover if they had mental impairments, and if so, which ones—that allowed for testing of re-offending rates to see how well the tests were able to predict future tendencies. The test for assessing whether a person is a psychopath (one who is amoral) is considered to be highly reliable and is also used to predict whether a person will engage in future violent activities.

In analyzing the results, the researchers found that the tests did reasonably well in predicting behavior in people with no discernible mental illness—they proved to be approximately 75 percent right in predicting whether they would be jailed again for violent behavior. The tests were less accurate for those with mental ailments such as schizophrenia, with a success rate of just 60 percent. Predicting whether a person diagnosed as a psychopath would re-offend, sadly, was no better than 50 percent, which, the researchers point out, is no better than flipping a coin. For this reason, they suggest that courts stop using such tests when considering early release of such prisoners.

More information: Predicting future violence among individuals with psychopathy, Published online ahead of print September 26, 2013, DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.118471

Abstract
Structured risk assessment aims to help clinicians classify offenders according to likelihood of future violent and criminal behaviour. We investigated how confident clinicians can be using three commonly used instruments (HCR-20, VRAG, OGRS-II) in individuals with different diagnoses. Moderate to good predictive accuracy for future violence was achieved for released prisoners with no mental disorder, low to moderate for clinical syndromes and personality disorder, but accuracy was no better than chance for individuals with psychopathy. Comprehensive diagnostic assessment should precede an assessment of risk. Risk assessment instruments cannot be relied upon when managing public risk from individuals with psychopathy.

Press release
© 2013 Medical Xpress

"Researchers find tests meant to predict future violence by psychopaths is less accurate than chance." October 2nd, 2013. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-10-meant-future-violence-psychopaths-accurate.html
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 07-10-2013 15:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have heard the majority of psychopaths are not violent, just coldly manipulative.
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PostPosted: 07-10-2013 16:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am always wary of things that smack of thematic apperception tests - it's all far too subjective, and that's coming from someone who is a Psychologist ( although definitely not one of the Freudian persuasion ).
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PostPosted: 07-10-2013 20:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

gncxx wrote:
I have heard the majority of psychopaths are not violent, just coldly manipulative.


They're usually the ones who end up being your boss.

I kid you not.
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