May 17, 2017

"Someone with an undersize or underactive amygdala may not be able to feel empathy or refrain from violence."

"For example, many psychopathic adults and callous children do not recognize fear or distress in other people’s faces. Essi Viding, a professor of developmental psychopathology at University College London recalls showing one psychopathic prisoner a series of faces with different expressions. When the prisoner came to a fearful face, he said, 'I don’t know what you call this emotion, but it’s what people look like just before you stab them.'"

From an excellent article in The Atlantic called "When Your Child Is a Psychopath/The condition has long been considered untreatable. Experts can spot it in a child as young as 3 or 4. But a new clinical approach offers hope."

Also: A 6-year old who practiced killing her stuffed animals, choked her 2 year old sister, and, caught before the sister died, clearly stated that she knew what she was doing would kill and, further, “I want to kill all of you.”

45 comments:

n.n said...

Choice.

eric said...

When you have these people pronouncing Trump to be out of his mind crazy, I stop listening to them.

Too much politics in this psuedo science.

Rob said...

Loved the story about little Hillary Rodham.

Expat(ish) said...

'I don’t know what you call this emotion, but it’s what people look like just before you stab them.'

I call BS on that. If that was coming from someone who was practically locked into an autistic shell I'd believe it.

Imagine the oddest person you've ever encountered while out and about. I bet they displayed more connection than that.

_XC

Quaestor said...

I watched The Bad Seed on Blu-Ray last night, which is about just such a psychopathic child. It's basically a stage play on film with only a few scene changes and locations, and consequently, it lacks that Grand Guignol characteristic we've all come to expect. Ironically it is all the more horrifying for the lack of explicitness. When Rhoda, the eight-year-old murderess, drowns out the agonized bellows of one of her victims as he roasts to death by playing a piano exercise louder and louder, faster and faster — Dracula is a mere boogyman by comparison.

Quaestor said...

I call BS on that.

Agreed. That just the kind of game sociopaths love to play. They prosper through the manipulation of their victims, by playing hopscotch with their deepest prejudices. Bill Clinton gained the White House just that way.

traditionalguy said...

So that is what they are yelling when they kill, "Allah Amygdala."

Robert Cook said...

It is so dreary when the monomaniacs here obsessively turn every fucking interesting non-political topic or article into an excuse to make witless remarks relating to their stale political obsessions. How dull you all are.

Snark said...

I have not read the piece yet but have had a loooong lay interest in psychopathy by all its names and have consumed a ton of books and other media on the subject. It is well established that fear is not felt and processed in the same way, and that can extend to recognition. Trump, incidentally, checks virtually every box and I've though since the campaign that he almost certainly certainly meets the criteria for psychopathy as defined by Robert Hare et al.

jaed said...

The Atlantic's going to be in big trouble. Don't they know that the party line is that a larger amygldala is bad, and an indicator of moral inferiority? Just google "Republican amygdala" for headlines such as "Conservatives Big on Fear, Brain Study Finds" and "Brain Study Reveals Conservatives Have Larger 'Primitive' Amygdala".

- "These findings have led some to speculate that larger and more sensitive amygdalae in conservatives may cause them to be more driven by fear and emotional rewards."
- "It is hard not to infer that fear of outsiders or those different from you—along with greater fear dispositions in general—may be related to the role of amygdala..."
-"Individuals with a larger amygdala are more sensitive to fear, which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amagdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief systems"

-

The Atlantic had best get with the program. A larger amygdala is bad! It's settled science!

Biotrekker said...

Just read the article. Basically, it demonstrates that these people are remain a danger to others and are incapable of living with normal people in society, even after years of specialized therapy and attention. That's too bad.

Fernandinande said...

Quaestor said...
I watched The Bad Seed on Blu-Ray last night,


The movie followed the book pretty closely except in the book the mom poisons the kid then kills herself but the kid is rescued in time to go live with Dad who is clueless about the shenanigans because he's been engineering in S. America. The End.

A similar show, "The Good Son", features "Home Alone" vs a hobbit.

Fernandinande said...

jaed said...
"speculate may infer may might"


That's a liberal's definition of Settled Science™.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

The movie followed the book pretty closely...

The movie version was scripted by Maxwell Anderson, a superstar playwright of the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties, who also adapted the novel for Broadway. It was the Hayes Code that prevented Rhoda from living on to the plot the death of Monica Breedlove.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Robert Cook said...
It is so dreary when the monomaniacs here obsessively turn every fucking interesting non-political topic or article into an excuse to make witless remarks relating to their stale political obsessions. How dull you all are.
5/17/17, 3:25 PM


You? YOU say this? Robert, you need to look at yourself a little closer. OMFG, "stale political obsessions." Died laughing.


.............


jaed said...
(party line is) a larger amygldala is bad, and an indicator of moral inferiority?


Ding ding ding! Winner winner chicken dinner!!!

Yes, the amygdala is linked with fear and disgust responses. What it boiled down to the last time Ann posted on this (which she has) is, if you can look at say a picture of a human consuming excrement, a fly crawling on an eyeball, things like that, without revulsion, your amygdala is withered, psychopathic, and Democratic. Oh, and proud of it.


.............



Blogger Snark said...
I have a loooong lay interest in psychopathy


We're ready to believe you.

mockturtle said...

A Clockwork Orange.

mockturtle said...

Yep, The Bad Seed was a good film. And there have been more than a few real-life examples. Scary.

Achilles said...

Robert Cook said...
It is so dreary when the monomaniacs here obsessively turn every fucking interesting non-political topic or article into an excuse to make witless remarks relating to their stale political obsessions. How dull you all are.

Sad! I agree Hillary jokes are too easy on this one. But she is a sociopath not a psychopath so the jokes make no sense.

My question would be whether socialists throughout history start out deficient or if they lose their amygdalae after achieving power.

Michael K said...

make witless remarks relating to their stale political obsessions. How dull you all are.

Yes, Robert, you should have a talk with "snark."

Then a visit to Venezuela would be in order since you are hungry for excitement.

n.n said...

This is serious. This could be the "missing link" between Pro-Choice and human conception, [class] diversity and individual dignity, congruence and equality, etc.

Josephbleau said...

This article is a mini earthquake for the holy blank slate. How are Boston progressives to perfect humanity if it is acknowledged that structures of the mind affect outputs of the mind. I don't think you get a small amygdala at 6 years old by nurture, you get it from crazy granny. There are smaller manifestations caused by smaller anomalies such as iq. Genetics is determinant up to the error of measurement.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

With the proper care and guidance, some of these budding young sociopaths will grow up to become perfectly capable Republican politicians!

StephenFearby said...

OK, for all you personality disorder types out there whose brains are wired like Trump's, here's a way to change your life. It's not cheap, and there aren't that many practitioners out there who really know what they're doing. But the hook is that it is "evidence based". Improvements in behavior are also reflected by improvements in QEEG brain maps.

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2009 Jan;40(1):5-10.
QEEG guided neurofeedback therapy in personality disorders: 13 case studies.

"...RESULTS: Twelve out of 13 antisocial personality disorder subjects who received 80-120 sessions of NFB training showed significant improvement based on SA-45 questionaries, MMPI, T.O.V.A. and qEEGlNx Link data base results, and parent interviews (mean age: 41.6, SD: 5.8).

When we compare the brainwaves of personality disorder subjects with normals we see abnormal brainwave patterns.

All the subjects with personality disorders had excessive frontal alpha, theta and beta abnormalities in their qEEG compared with normal peers through the neurometrics. Alpha, theta and beta coherence abnormalities were also noted."

'...NFB treatment is provided by psychologists who are not involved in any conversation with the subjects other than to explain how to control their brainwaves. This approach was welcomed by the subjects, and all of them admitted that this treatment was different from previous ones, because no one advised them what to do with their life, and our approach did not seem ."a challenge to them.'

https://tinyurl.com/labp3k5

Dr. Surmeli (A Turkish psychiatrist who trained in QEEG-based neurofeedback in NYC) also has this paper on schizophrenia:

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2012 Apr;43(2):133-44.
Schizophrenia and the efficacy of qEEG-guided neurofeedback treatment: a clinical case series.

"...Of the remaining 48 participants 47 showed clinical improvement after NF treatment, based on changes in their PANSS scores. The participants who were able to take the MMPI and the TOVA showed significant improvements in these measures as well. Forty were followed up for more than 22 months, 2 for 1 year, 1 for 9 months, and 3 for between 1 and 3 months after completion of NF. Overall NF was shown to be effective. This study provides the first evidence for positive effects of NF in schizophrenia."

https://tinyurl.com/l7rtuxd


YMMV

YoungHegelian said...

So, here's the moral question: what do we do with such people as this girl?

What happens now is that socially observant or lucky people learn to avoid them. The unfortunates in their orbit often get seriously affected. Often, sociopaths & psychopaths end up around each other & mayhem is the result.

What happens now? High-function sociopaths burn those around. Low functioning sociopaths end up in prison, where often 40 to 50% of the inmates are sociopathic.

Robert Cook said...

"Don't they know that the party line is that a larger amygldala is bad, and an indicator of moral inferiority?"

The obvious reality is that too small is bad and too big is bad. There's that sweet spot in the middle that is just right. In most things, extremes in either direction are undesirable and will lead to deleterious results.

mezzrow said...

Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump. (silence)

what? Oh.

Hillary, Hillary? (more silence)

Che Guevara. *ding!*

We have a winner.

DavidD said...

How does one practice killing a stuffed animal?

DavidD said...

Or, rather, how does one learn anything useful from practicing killing stuffed animals?

Robert Cook said...

@DavidD:

It's the acting out of nascent wishes, getting a sense for how it feels. It's play-acting to fulfill interior fantasies. All children do this in their play, but most aren't acting out aggressive violent impulses. Many, perhaps most, serial killers have histories of torturing and killing animals during their childhood or adolescence, which is the next stage in acting out violent wishes before actually committing murder.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Blogger YoungHegelian said...
So, here's the moral question: what do we do with such people as this girl?


Nine grams.

Bob said...

"...'I don’t know what you call this emotion, but it’s what people look like just before you stab them.'"

I wonder what a sociopath / psychopath experiences just before someone stabs them.

YoungHegelian said...

@Bob,

I wonder what a sociopath / psychopath experiences just before someone stabs them.

Nothing. That's part of the problem.

Sociopaths / Psychopaths don't have a sense of fear like sane folks do. They don't think in terms of "If I do X, this guy over there will come over & whup my ass, & that'll be very unpleasant". It's more like "I do X. Ass gets whupped" & there's no causal connection in their brain.

This is why sociopaths / psychopaths come across as so brave & confident. They really don't know the meaning of fear, even when they should.

And, this is a whole other topic, but that courage & confidence, plus the ability to lie flawlessly ("oh, sure, baby, there's only you"), makes male sociopaths very attractive to women.

Bad Lieutenant said...

To emphasize what you just said, YH, it's not courage, it's the absence of fear. Courage is the Mastery of fear. Hemingway said that courage is Grace Under Pressure. The Crazies may have Grace, but that's because they don't feel pressure. It's like these people with no ability to perceive pain. The advantages are not all they're cracked up to be.

Leslie Graves said...

Great article. That girl's mom is a saint.

Gospace said...

YoungHegelian said...
So, here's the moral question: what do we do with such people as this girl?


In the not so distant past, for this and other problem children, dad and some uncles would take the child on a fun fishing trip in a remote lake, and the child would accidently fall overboard and drown, unable to be saved.

When I was in HS there was a family in my town that had a troublesome teen. Troublesome in that he started his pol in first grade, and kept adding to it. In and out of counseling. At age 16 the parents reported to the police he had run away from home. Perfunctory notices were put up, but no one looked too hard for him, including the family. Good riddance to bad seed, as they say. 2 or 3 years later, mom and dad divorced, and the house had to be sold. A decade or so after that, the owners of the property decided they were going to reopen the old well because of drought watering restrictions on using municipal water. Opened the well cover, started digging around and found bones. Called the police. Bones were identified as a male teenager. And that was as far as they got. The old timers in the PD knew exactly what happened. Kid came home belligerently drunk one night, and dad did away with him. And stuffed him down the well. But, even Dr. Temperance Brennan would be hard put to prove murder with the conditions of the bones. And no one was around to try a DNA match. And as far as the old timers on the PD were concerned, well, they weren't. Bones were buried as an unidentified male.

From things I've heard, not read, a suspicious percentage of stranger kidnappings are of severely developmentally disabled children from poor and middle class families. I mean, if you're a kidnapper, why go after the healthy and wealthy ones you might get a ransom for when you can go after the sick ones? And the police realize pretty quickly it wasn't a kidnapping, the kid is gone, everyone in the family knows who did it, and no one is saying a word, they're all pleading with the kidnappers to bring their beloved child back. The police promise to devote all their resources to finding the non-existent kidnapper, then go back to work being police. The newspapers cover it for a bit, because they have to, but the local reporters realize what's up, and they too after a short period, stop covering the grieving family and let them get on with their lives. At that point, where is justice served?

Gospace said...

pol was supposed to be police record- wish there were an edit button....

Bad Lieutenant said...

So you think we could let it go with the milk cartons?

Ken Mitchell said...

"It's settled science!

If it's "settled", then it isn't "science"; it's "dogma".

Shootist said...

Amygdala? Wasn't that Vader's old lady's name?

lewy14 said...

Ony one problem.

Once an intervention is identified - and it will be a powerful, powerful intervention indeed - we will suddenly discover every third child is a sociopath.

And so they, you know, need to get with the program.

Matt said...

Brutal Gospace but probably true - at least partially.

What do you think about Hansel and Gretel and other Babes in the Woods?

southcentralpa said...

Dadgummit, I thought this said "amygdala", but it says medulla oblongata. Momma said, y'all... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu7A8LIzL1o (Waterboy "Alligator" scene)

Jeff H said...

So, was poverty to blame for that 6 year old trying to kill her sister? Let's wait 'til she's 24, married to a Muslim man, and pulls the cord on her suicide vest in Times Square. Then I'm sure our betters at the Old Gray Lady will inform us of her motives and the cause of those motives.

Robert Cook said...

"So, was poverty to blame for that 6 year old trying to kill her sister?"

No. Psychopathy was to blame. Did you read the article?