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Neurobiological Component Causing The Behavior Of Psychopaths

2245 words - 9 pages

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition; American Psychiatric Association (2013), a personality disorder is a persistent stable pattern of behaviors and experiences that differ drastically from the norm of an individual’s culture; starts in adolescence or early adulthood, and leads to impairment or distress (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Antisocial personality Disorder (A.P.D.) falls under the personality disorder umbrella. A.P.D. consists of a persistent pattern of not following rules and violating the rights of others starting before the age of fifteen; as show by three or more of the following symptoms: failure to conform to society norms (i.e. performing behaviors leading to arrest), deceitfulness, impulsivity, irritability, aggressiveness, recklessness, consistent irresponsibility and a lack of remorse. Additionally, the individual must be at least age eighteen upon diagnosis and previously exhibited evidence of Conduct Disorder (CD) with an onset before the age of fifteen while the antisocial behavior is not occurring during the course of Bipolar or Schizophrenia (DSM-5, 2013).
The aforementioned disorders are relative to our topic of discussion: psychopaths (psychopathy), whom fall under a special heterogeneous category of A.P.D. affected individuals (Anderson & Kiehl, 2012). To clarify how rare a subgroup psychopaths are consider that 75% of prison inmates meet the criteria for A.P.D. but only 3% of that 75% meet the criteria to be called a psychopath (Weber, Habel, Amunts, & Schneider, 2008).The full clinical manifestation of what is called a psychopath, sometimes referred to as psychopathy is seen in less than 1% of the general population (Anderson & Kiehl, 2012). Today, the most widely accepted and utilized instrument to measure psychopathy is Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) which is based on two factors: emotional detachment (i.e. callousness, manipulativeness, remorselessness) and antisocial behavior (i.e. fearless, impulsiveness, violence) (Anderson & Kiehl, 2012; Weber, et al., 2008).
Despite being within the same family, A.P.D. and psychopath y have some differences. When distinguishing between someone with A.P.D. and psychopathy a key difference is assessment scores. A.P.D. individuals would only score high on factor two, antisocial behavior, of Hare’s PCL-R checklist while someone with psychopathy would score high on both measures (emotional detachment and antisocial behavior) of the checklist (Weber et al., 2008). The goal of this paper is to argue that there is a neurobiological component causing the behavior of psychopaths, specifically deficits within the limbic system and surrounding structures leading to a lack of fear and lack of empathy. This absence of fear and empathy may essentially lead to unacceptable behavior and in some cases higher rates of aggression in this population. Some deficits that will be discussed are within the amygdala,...

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