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  1.  (6570.1)
    Psychopaths who kill and rape have faulty connections between the part of the brain dealing with emotions and that which handles impulses and decision-making, scientists have found.

    In a study of psychopaths who had committed murder, manslaughter, multiple rape, strangulation and false imprisonment, the British scientists found that roads linking the two crucial brain areas had "potholes," while those of non-psychopaths were in good shape.

    The study opens up the possibility of developing treatments for dangerous psychopaths in the future, said Dr Michael Craig of the Institute of Psychiatry at London's King's College Hospital, and may have profound implications for doctors, researchers and the criminal justice system.

    "These were particular serious offenders with psychopathy and without any other mental illnesses," he told Reuters in an interview.

    "Essentially what we found is that the connections in the psychopaths were not as good as the connections in the non-psychopaths. I would describe them as roads between the two areas -- and we found that in the psychopaths, the roads had potholes and weren't very well maintained."


    Link.

    Article does emphasis the timing of the potholes, when they form, are just as important as the potholes themselves. Still, psychopaths need material (ie drugs) to fill in their potholes? Interesting.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.2)
    @Spiraltwist

    Have to wonder how long it is until mandatory medication is required.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.3)
    > Have to wonder how long it is until mandatory medication is required

    Using the same legislation as for e.g. schizophrenia or depression, presumably.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAriana
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.4)
    These sorts of studies always hit news (Subclass A has something different about THIS part of the brain! Must be fixed!) -- but the reality is that there are many many differences between a "baseline" brain and that of a functioning (or non) psychopath. It may very well be that the UF has lost integrity because brain traffic has been rerouted through some other pathway, and that filling in the "potholes" will make for a very smooth but still unused road without developmental therapy, or pinpointing the timing and reason for that rerouting. It may be that it's a potentially self-correcting road that will fix itself if some other area of the brain requires that traffic.

    The news of this article is better stated in the SD version of the article: we're still in the process of making fucking maps of different brains and "It highlights that exciting developments in brain imaging such as DT-MRI now offer neuroscientists the potential to move towards a more coherent understanding of the possible brain networks."
    •  
      CommentAuthorswabyman
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.5)
    "It's not my fault! I'm a psychopath and I havent taken my pills today!"

    On my list of things to say to the rozzers if I ever get into a sticky situation.
  2.  (6570.6)
    @RenThing
    Have to wonder how long it is until mandatory medication is required.
    The rate things seem to be going, not much longer.


    @Ariana
    Hmm. I missed the article in my feed - thanks!
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.7)
    @Spiraltwist

    Indeed. The thing that gets me that Ariana points out that using drugs may not help in that the unused road as she puts it still wouldn't see any use.

    Additionally, this raises other questions for me:
    1. At what point do the potholes actually and seriously form? What about children/young adults who are diagnosed with psychotic behavior be treated to mitigate these effects through traditional therapy as well as drugs, rather than just saying, "The drugs will fill in them there potholes!"
    2. What do the brains of individuals who commit such crimes but aren't diagnosed as pychotic look like.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009 edited
     (6570.8)
    1. At what point do the potholes actually and seriously form? What about children/young adults who are diagnosed with psychotic behavior be treated to mitigate these effects through traditional therapy as well as drugs, rather than just saying, "The drugs will fill in them there potholes!"


    Children actually enjoy a somewhat protected status in terms of diagnosis of a major personality disorder (this is in the context of the American DSM, mind you, since it's the diagnostic criteria I'm familiar with). There are a few PDs that you literally can't diagnose a child with; one is Antisocial Personality Disorder, a major adult disorder, which can only be termed Conduct Disorder in youth. It's an important distinction in large part because of the stigma carried with a diagnosis of APD, and it reflects the plasticity of the youthful brain and personality and that CD might not develop into APD if you're lucky enough to find an appropriate therapy (typically a psychotherapy/drug combination).

    Literature right now shows that prescribing antidepressants for children and adolescents is dropping, but the prescription of more powerful antipsychotics and other psychotropics is rising. This is troubling, in that many of those antipsychotics significantly affect glucose metabolism and lead to short-term issues like weight gain and long-term issues like diabetes.

    Unfortunately, we're at a rather grim crossroads. Psychotherapy-oriented psychiatrists are few and far between. All the literature seems to point to the fact that drugs are increasingly being favored over talk therapy or a combination of the two. I'm in favor of legislation mandating therapy sessions if someone gets prescribed psychiatric medication by an MD, but admit that this kind of legislation is very self-serving as I'm in the middle of going to school to become a psychologist (not a psychiatrist, mind you; all I want to do is talk therapy). I also admit legislation like that will never happen. I find psych meds to be a good tool in the toolbox, but they're overused and misused in lieu of actual therapy, be it long-term psychotherapy or even short-term cognitive behavioral therapy.

    I suppose all this is kind of moot and somewhat off-topic, though. Psychopaths are incredibly hard to treat with either form of therapy.

    2. What do the brains of individuals who commit such crimes but aren't diagnosed as pychotic look like.


    I think you're asking the wrong question here. The question should be: what's the difference between those who have the reduced-integrity uncinate fasciculus and don't commit crimes and those who have the defect and commit crimes? UF deficiencies are not fatalistic determinants of criminal activity; I haven't seen a neurologic factor yet that is. So comparing people with the same UF defect who have and haven't committed crimes is important.


    When it all comes down to the wire, though, there's more than just one defect at play, and it may be a product of things like abnormal socialization, or it may produce them. Likely, the answer is both, and more.


    Edit: for those interested in psychopathy (like me), here are a few interesting tidbits I've picked up over the past year or two. I'm a bit of a journal junkie. Note that the overwhelming majority of research into psychopathy occurs in prisoner populations, thus limiting out knowledge about how they operate in the world at large.

    Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling - Interviewing a Psychopathic Suspect

    Psychopathic Prisoners have Edge in Gaining Release

    Second edit: and of course, as soon as I say that less younger people are being prescribed antidepressants, an article comes screaming down my feed to prove me otherwise.
  3.  (6570.9)
    @atavistian
    -First link , and the last link didn't work for me- can you x-post a synopsis or abstract if possible?
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009 edited
     (6570.10)
    @rootfireember - Sorry about that, I forgot that Wiley does everything through freaking cookies, which precludes linking. This link might work?

    Abstract from the first link:

    Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by affective, interpersonal, antisocial, and lifestyle elements. Studies of the association between psychopathy (e.g. as operationalised in the Psychopathy Checklist - Revised) and criminal behaviour suggest that police interviewers and interview advisors would benefit from an understanding of how psychopathic suspects are likely to behave during investigative interviews. Approaches to the identification of psychopathic characteristics in suspects are considered with reference to the P-Scan screening tool and possible indicators of psychopathic characteristics in serious offences. Psychopathic characteristics that are likely to impact upon interview behaviour are outlined in order to suggest how the effects of these may be anticipated, and how strategies may be employed to maximise an interviewee's productive participation in the interview and to minimise the interviewee's tendency to disrupt, distort, or control the interview process. The manner in which psychopathic individuals attempt to deceive others and how a psychopathic suspect's lies might be identified are discussed.

    My take on the first link.

    No idea why the last link (to Medscape) didn't work. Here's a snippet of the article:

    In the first study, published in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, investigators found that the rate of antidepressant use in the United States has almost doubled among Americans older than 6 years — increasing from 5.84% in 1996 to 10.12% in 2005, or from an estimated 13.3 million to 27 million individuals.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.11)
    @atavistian

    There are a few PDs that you literally can't diagnose a child with; one is Antisocial Personality Disorder, a major adult disorder, which can only be termed Conduct Disorder in youth. It's an important distinction in large part because of the stigma carried with a diagnosis of APD, and it reflects the plasticity of the youthful brain and personality and that CD might not develop into APD if you're lucky enough to find an appropriate therapy (typically a psychotherapy/drug combination).

    That's true of younger children but hasn't APD been diagnosed in middle to late adolescents in certain circumstances where the psychosis is bad enough to start moving into sociopathic directions (such as adolescents found to be lacking the empathy trait and also show a tendency toward cruel/violent behavior due to a lack of empathic understanding)?

    I find psych meds to be a good tool in the toolbox, but they're overused and misused in lieu of actual therapy, be it long-term psychotherapy or even short-term cognitive behavioral therapy.

    My bachelors is in psychology and that is pretty much my opinion too; drug sare great to get a person stable enough (depending on the circumstance) to where psycho therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy can help give them the systems and tools to deal with their issues but medication shouldn't be considered a cure-all, especially considering how individuals react to the medication even when they are diagnosed with the same mental issues.

    Where are you studying?

    I think you're asking the wrong question here. The question should be: what's the difference between those who have the reduced-integrity uncinate fasciculus and don't commit crimes and those who have the defect and commit crimes?

    Not necessarily although that is certainly a very important question too. I'm sure you and I agree that there would be a certain portion of the population would be all in favor of medicating people with the defect whether they commit crimes or not (you know, "Just in case."), but asking my original question I feel is important as well; if people with "normal" brains, at least in the context of this discussion regarding the defect, also commit crimes then it would further weaken the argument for involuntary medication.

    Of course, we're now getting into some fantastical, dystopian future setting where the government drugs the populace for their own good and I'm not sure how useful that is for the conversation. 8)
  4.  (6570.12)
    The most exciting question now...is when do the potholes come -- are people born with them, do they develop early in life, or are they a consequence of something else?

    This is the question that intriques me.

    It goes back to the concept of Nurture vs nature. Are psycopaths born? or created by surroundings? both? An outside source?
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.13)
    @RenThing
    That's true of younger children but hasn't APD been diagnosed in middle to late adolescents in certain circumstances where the psychosis is bad enough to start moving into sociopathic directions (such as adolescents found to be lacking the empathy trait and also show a tendency toward cruel/violent behavior due to a lack of empathic understanding)?


    I've heard of it in late adolescence, though not on a very common basis. I'd be intrigued to see information on it being diagnosed in middle adolescence, though; I haven't seen a thing about it.

    Where are you studying?


    Psych bachelors right now, with an intent to go into private practice psychotherapy after an ungodly number of more years in school, focusing on adolescent clients, especially depressive and anxiety disorders. Also slowly but surely working on some adolescent education program theories, in the vein of "what we're not teaching kids but should be."

    Not necessarily although that is certainly a very important question too. I'm sure you and I agree that there would be a certain portion of the population would be all in favor of medicating people with the defect whether they commit crimes or not (you know, "Just in case."), but asking my original question I feel is important as well; if people with "normal" brains, at least in the context of this discussion regarding the defect, also commit crimes then it would further weaken the argument for involuntary medication.


    I'll agree that your question is interesting and important, and that a certain portion of our meathead population would be all in favor of medicating those with the UF defect. I suppose it's always worth it to start building a case now against involuntary medication.

    Of course, we're now getting into some fantastical, dystopian future setting where the government drugs the populace for their own good and I'm not sure how useful that is for the conversation. 8)


    There's an interesting scifi flick called Equilibrium on this very topic. Pretty neat. Lots of shooty shooty guns and slicey swords. Worth a watch!


    @Boodoffstage:

    The most exciting question now...is when do the potholes come -- are people born with them, do they develop early in life, or are they a consequence of something else?


    The nature/nurture debate is pretty much over at this point. It was ended by the realization that environment can affect the expression of genes, the expression of genes can affect development, and development can in turn affect the expression of genes. Genotype/phenotype interaction going both ways. Thanks to this confounding pain-in-the-ass principle, the expression of genes affect how you interact with your environment, but your environment also affects the expression of genes, so the answer to the nature/nurture question is "a little from column A, a little from column B" on a sliding scale depending on the specific trait we're discussing. Development psychopathology is a neat field, but victim of politics and other constraining factors. Psychopathy isn't as sexy a topic as autism; if you want to see a rather fully-fledged nature/nurture debate, look up theories on the origins of autism (but for the love of god, ignore all the vaccine hysteria).
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.14)
    @atavistian

    I've heard of it in late adolescence, though not on a very common basis. I'd be intrigued to see information on it being diagnosed in middle adolescence, though; I haven't seen a thing about it.

    I couldn't tell you for the life of me where the info was, I just think I remember (which throws doubt on it already) reading about some cases. Could be wrong.

    I'll agree that your question is interesting and important, and that a certain portion of our meathead population would be all in favor of medicating those with the UF defect. I suppose it's always worth it to start building a case now against involuntary medication.

    Back when Cho shot up Virginia Tech a few years back and I got into a long argument with a woman on my blog about the nature of psychiatric holds. She contended that the hospital was wrong to release him based on the fact that he was "unsettling" and "weird" yet wouldn't understand that if a hospital can't involuntarily hold someone unless there is a clear sign of danger (because otherwise every weird goth kid in their teens would get held at some point; Cho was held for a supposed suicide watch but was determined to not be suicidal after a day or so). I'm totally convinced that enough men in white coats with letters after their names say, "Yes, this will completely clear those knife weilding/school shooting psychos" the general public would leap on it quick.

    There's an interesting scifi flick called Equilibrium on this very topic. Pretty neat. Lots of shooty shooty guns and slicey swords. Worth a watch!

    It's one of my favorite films.

    but for the love of god, ignore all the vaccine hysteria

    Definitely.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2009
     (6570.15)
    Definitely agree that the white-coaters and general public would love to normalize the school system and weed out anyone "unsettling" or "weird." If it's any consolation, my practice is going to be geared toward self-acceptance and confidence rather than normalization. Guess that makes me a black-coat?

    I've always been more comfortable in black.

    I fear we're sidetracking the thread at this point though, my friend.
  5.  (6570.16)
    I'm a complete layman to psychology, but here's my take based on what I've read in Hare's books and having lived with a lying, stealing nutjob.

    The picture of a psychopath that emerges in Hare's many anecdotes is of someone developmentally disabled -- their intelligence grows normally, but their emotional quotient is zilch. Like babies, they're unable to distinguish between themselves and the world or regard any difference between people and objects. Everything they know seems to be perceivable only through their own reptilian brain. Like the one-dimensional spot in FLATLAND, they're their own entire universe.

    One man's completely uninformed, untested opinion.
  6.  (6570.17)
    @atavistian
    Okay, completely ignorant on the subject. Can you explain to me in more detail what "expression of genes" means? I'm having a little trouble with the concept.


    @ brendan Mcginley." they're their own entire universe. One man's completely uninformed, untested opinion."

    This can fit nicely in the american politics thread. Glen Beck and his loyal fans.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.18)
    @Brendan McGinley

    That's sort of how it works. I know that people diagnosed with ASPD often have a fundamental lack of empathy and some people who are diagnosed as sociopaths have none whatsoever. It's not necessarily always defined as a selfish lack of empathy, where the person puts themselves first regardless of the consequences to anyone else; sometimes it can simply be that they just don't understand other people's needs and desires or how their actions can impact others.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.19)
    Hmmm.

    If you strapped a sociopath to a gurney, stuck a fine needle into this pothole-scabbed stretch of gray matter, and injected a bunch of stem cells, could the guy learn empathy?

    Would he go through an agonizing process of realizing that he was a monstrous asshole?
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.20)
    > Would he go through an agonizing process of realizing that he was a monstrous asshole?

    IMO, having a neural pathway isn't enough; it has to be connected to other things, via experience, to make sense. For example, an optic nerve doesn't let you see a tree, because until you've experienced a tree in other ways you'd have no idea what you're seeing. My guess is that at best, the existence of the new pathway creates the possibility of having experiences that weren't previously possible, and then learning (preferably with a teacher, may I say: I'm a fan of parents and pre-school teachers mediating early social interactions) socialization via those new experiences.