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Discussion On Whether Psychopaths Are Born Or Made

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To begin with, those who argue that psychopaths are born may refer to the study conducted by the scientists from ‘the Kings College London’s Institute of Psychiatry’ in which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans used to assess the levels of grey matter in the sixty-six participants brains. Twenty-two of sed participants were healthy and had no previous convictions to their names whilst the other forty-four had been convicted of crimes such as murder, GBH and rape on top of this all of the forty-four had been diagnosed with ‘anti-social personality disorder’ (ASPD) in addition, seventeen of these individuals had also been diagnosed as psychopaths (ASPD+P) – known as ‘cold hearted’ – and the other twenty-seven had not, (ASPD-P) known as ‘hot headed’. When the results of the study came back, it was clearly visible that those who had been diagnosed with ASPD+P had substantially lower levels of grey matter in their ‘temporal poles’ and ‘anterior rostral prefrontal cortexs’ two sections of the brain vital in the acknowledgement and grasp of others feelings and intentions as well as how to handle them. On the contrary those who believe psychopaths are made could possibly refer to another study in their argument, this one being published in ‘The Journal Psychological Medicine.’ The study focused on the possible link between having a psychopathic personality as an adult and having experienced disrupted parental bonding and maltreatment as a child. The study also delved into the question on whether those separated from their families in early life would have a higher chance of developing into a psychopath in later life.

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Three-hundred and thirty-three females and males partook in the study from various walks of life (some being diagnosed psychopaths and some not) and the results came back to show that the was indeed a link between relationships with parents as a child and levels of psychopathy as an adult, the most vital facet being an absence of maternal affection. Because of this they would have not experienced the important bond between mother and child and missed out on a relationship that teaches important aspects of how to interact with others, leaving them unaware of how others feel. Those on the ‘born’ side of the debate may also make mention of the study conducted by Dr. Craig alongside his colleagues at Kings College London. In the study the researchers put into practice a new method known as ‘diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging’ (DT-MRI) to take scans of nine ex-convicts-convicted of crimes such as manslaughter, rape and attempted murder-who had all been diagnosed with psychopathy. They then took sed scans and went on to juxtapose them with scans taken from healthy volunteers who were of the same age and intelligence of the psychopaths. The results displayed sizable irregularities in the ‘wiring’ of white-matter in the ‘uncinate fasciculus’ which happens to be responsible for the networking of two regions of the brain affiliated with responses including fear and aggression as well as critical decision making; these regions of the brain are known as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex. On top of this the participants diagnosed as ‘more extreme’ psychopaths displayed even higher levels of dysfunction in this field. Furthermore, those on the ‘made’ side of the argument could bring up the research conducted by Aina Sundt Gullhagen and Jim Age Nøttestad of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The pair aimed to research the possible link between parenting styles and psychopathy later in life, to do so they complimented traditional methods of evaluation for psychopathy such as the psychopath checklist and neurophysical tests with surveys used to gage Norwegian convicts social and emotional contentment. The results showed that the vast majority of parents of the ‘controlled’ group landed somewhere between ‘overly controlling’ and ‘negligent’ on the spectrum whereas the parents of those diagnosed with psychopathy came in at one of the two extremes.

The researchers claim this could have resulted in the feeling of rejection in their youth and in turn in later life they could have lashed out in violent, dangerous ways to assert a sense of control in their lives. Those who believe psychopaths are born may refer to James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the UC Irvine school of medicine, and his findings when to his own misfortune he discovered that he could in fact be a psychopath. Whilst inspecting the brains of many individuals suspected of being psychotic through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans he found that some of the genetic code displayed in psychopaths may well be biologically distinguishable. His findings showed that an uncanny amount of the subjects who partook in the MRI scans results came back to show very similar amounts of activeness in unusual parts of the brain; those being in regions of the brain involved in the regulating of emotions, impulses, aggression and morality where they displayed far less activity than expected in your average person which would explain the lack of empathy that can be found in them.

However, those on the other side of the argument may combat Fallons’ findings with the ‘NEO Personality Inventory’ a two hundred and forty item measurement which has been designed to assess personality in the realms of the “Big Five Personality Factors.” According to Neo genes can be expressed differently in different people even if they are the same due to epigenetics meaning that the deciding factor isn’t always your DNA. On top of this it also claims that negative behaviors can be picked up, possibly rewarded in childhood resulting in those behaviors being practiced more often in later life. For example, if a child was raised in a home with a psychopathic or narcissistic parent, they may believe that the only way to get attention or resources is by being manipulative.

01 February 2021

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