October 15, 2017

"But simply having the [MAOA-L] gene doesn’t doom you to become a psychopath."

"A certain environment or experience is required in order to allow those tendencies to express themselves. And not all of those who have the condition are dangerous. In fact, many CEOs and others at high station are known psychopaths.... The main component is an inability to empathize with others. This can lead to unfulfilling relationships, as partners often dislike emotional distance. Psychopathic types have difficulty bonding with others, are more prone to antisocial behavior, and at the extreme wing of the spectrum, tend toward hyper-sexuality and outbursts of violence.... Previous research has shown that most children who show psychopathic tendencies don’t want to participate in group activities, are disruptive, and show little regard for the emotions of their peers. In this study, researchers showed that boys with such tendencies said they didn’t want to laugh when others did. Brain scans showed that the sounds of laughter had less of a neurological response than in other children...."

From "Kids Who Don’t Do This Might Grow up to Be Psychopaths, Researchers Find."

73 comments:

Roughcoat said...

Does psychopathy cause the behavior, or does the behavior determine/define whether one is a psychopath?

I wonder.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

My guess would be that young Harvey didn't laugh much as a child.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

31?

Michael K said...

And Obama was "cool" and didn't care about people."

“You can make the case,” Weinstein said of Barack Obama, “that he’s the Paul Newman of American presidents.”...
Paul Newman, Dowd explains, was aloof.
[T]he president does not think people should expect too much in return for paying $35,800 for an hour of his time, as they did at the Weinstein affair, or in return for other favors....

“[Obama] realized that he could stir crowds while also thinking to himself that it was all a game and posturing,” [said David Maraniss, author of “Barack Obama: The Story"]. “He is always removed and participating at the same time, self-conscious and without the visceral need or love of transactional politics that would characterize Bill Clinton or L.B.J. or even W., in a way.”...


Also true of Lenin.

Laslo Spatula said...

Wrote this in the cafe yesterday:

Just finished a good book, "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson.

It digs into the torches-and-pitchforks use of Twitter to shame people, and how it can destroy people for a moment's lapse in reason or taste.


He also has a book called "The Psychopath Test."

From the NYT review:

"At Coxsackie he meets with Emmanuel Constant, a former Haitian death-squad leader (whom Mr. Ronson interviewed years earlier in Queens, before Mr. Constant was convicted of mortgage fraud). At that time, Mr. Constant kept a large collection of plastic toys from McDonald’s and Burger King. “What impresses me about them most,” he said of the little Dumbos, Muppets, Bart Simpsons and Buzz Lightyears, “is the artistry.”

Great book.

I am Laslo.

Paco Wové said...

"many CEOs and others at high station are known psychopaths"

BZZZT. Bullshit detected, interest lost.

Laslo Spatula said...

"But simply having the [MAOA-L] gene doesn’t doom you to become a psychopath."

The ROTFL gene can be problematic, however.

I am Laslo.

Mark said...

The war on free choice of the will continues.

Nobody really chooses to harass people or be violent or rape or be a woman in a man's body or engage in sexual activity with someone of their own sex or react in angry hostility to people who have different views or any number of other things. There is no choice in any of these things. It is all because they were made that way.

Sebastian said...

"Psychopathic types have difficulty bonding with others, are more prone to antisocial behavior, and at the extreme wing of the spectrum, tend toward hyper-sexuality and outbursts of violence." Other channel it into politics and power.

"Previous research has shown that most children who show psychopathic tendencies don’t want to participate in group activities, are disruptive, and show little regard for the emotions of their peers." Like glad-handing ordinary people or fellow pols. The better to disrupt everyone else's lives.

The commentariat nailed the O profile on this blog a long time ago.

rhhardin said...

Tight genes in women is good.

rhhardin said...

"You might start by buying me a drink."

Jack Wayne said...

This article is about boys. Using the Althouse Rule can we assume that the psychopathic rating for girls was even higher? So that part of the experiment was suppressed?

Laslo Spatula said...

Perhaps evolution will develop us to a point where we all will be psychopaths.

We fear the psychopath because he is different and not curtailed by our shame and fear. The psychopath doesn't give a fuck about your shame and fear.

He does not let what others think constrain his sense of self. When the choice is to be the shark or the seal, the psychopath does not have to think twice about being the shark.

The psychopath knows what he wants and does not question the actions of getting it: there is Purity in this, there is One Life, yours.

As psychopaths, we will be at our most effective simply being ourselves.

You better make your face up in
Your favorite disguise.
With your button down lips and your
Roller blind eyes.
With your empty smile
And your hungry heart.
Feel the bile rising from your guilty past.
With your nerves in tatters
When the conch shell shatters
And the hammers batter
Down your door.
You'd better run.

I am Laslo.

Brian A Davis said...

Having the [MAOA-L] gene and being raised a psychopathological environment is not a predictor of psychopathology. According to Adlerian psychology, one must also choose to murder, main and destroy and additionally, one trains oneself to deaden the natural revulsion these acts engender.

jwl said...

I am mostly certain my father is what they call high functioning psychopath and so I have been reading about nature/nurture quite a lot this past decade. My father's father was not psychopath but one violent day in northern france during world war two he was forced to bayonet a bunch of germans - kill or be killed situation - and he said was he never same after that day. He was violent for about ten to fifteen years and then he started to mellow a bit but he was still curmudgeon.

Apparently my granda would smack my father often when he was young for misbehaviour and my dad has been a colossal asshole his entire life. He walked out his marriage to my mom when I was ten months old and my mom was pregnant with my sister. We barely saw him when we were children, both my mom and her mom were our primary caregivers and I am nothing like a psychopath because I was raised by loving, non violent people.

I have no trouble believing psychopaths often raise to high positions in society because they are willing to work sixty hour weeks and show up on weekend as well, they are superficially charming, have an easy time stabbing people in back for promotions, less reaction to stressful situations ....

Achilles said...

No matter what we learn the left is going to use it for evil purposes. They will just go from racism to genetic screening when they get the chance.

Michael K said...

The gene, also called '"The warrior Gene," does not make one evil. Just impulsive and with less restraint,

Michael K said...

"They will just go from racism to genetic screening when they get the chance."

It's more common in blacks, which will be a small problem for that.

mockturtle said...

These traits seem to represent a less extreme position on the autism/Asperger's spectrum. In my volunteer work with children I noted that lack of shared humor was profound in those with diagnosed Asperger's syndrome. Often highly intelligent, they lacked connection with others and were often disruptive. The children with whom I worked were between 5 and 8 years old so the age at which conscience and empathy usually develop had passed.

Gerrard787 said...

'In fact, many CEOs and others at high station are known psychopaths...'

Fact? Nope. No serious studies of any kind back this up.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

noted that lack of shared humor was profound in those with diagnosed Asperger's syndrome.

Maybe some things are just not as funny to some people as they are to other people.

mockturtle said...

An effective leader, say, a general in wartime, cannot afford to be empathetic. Ruthlessness is often necessary. Patton was a very good and effective leader but what empathy he may have had was not displayed in his command but was in his personal life. IN NO WAY was Patton a psychopath. Narcissistic, perhaps.

Mountain Maven said...

Another day, another "study."

Henry said...

A certain environment or experience is required in order to allow those tendencies to express themselves.

This should be in all caps & bold type. Gene expression depends on environmental influences. There are gene combinations that indicate violent behavior, but usually only with adults who went through specifically abusive situations as kids. Other people with the same gene combination may not express it at all, or express it in a different way.

There are happy drunks and mean drunks.

Michael K said...

The research on prairie voles is very interesting.

one variety has a hormone that produces empathy and mothering behavior.

In the study, which is published in this week’s issue of Science, co-authors Larry Young, PhD, and James Burkett, PhD, demonstrated that oxytocin — a brain chemical well-known for maternal nurturing and social bonding — acts in a specific brain region of prairie voles, the same as in humans, to promote consoling behavior. Prairie voles are small rodents known for forming lifelong, monogamous bonds and providing bi-parental care of their young.

Consolation is defined as calming contact directed at a distressed individual; for example, primates calm others with a kiss and embrace, whereas voles groom others. The prairie voles’ consoling behavior was strongest toward familiar voles, and was not observed in the closely related, but asocial, meadow vole.


Another variety lacks the same levels of oxytocin and has more solitary behavior.

Research in Ashberger's cases are promising.

RCTs of oxytocin interventions in autism yielded potentially promising findings in measures of emotion recognition and eye gaze, which are impaired early in the course of the ASD condition and might disrupt social skills learning in developing children. There is a need for larger, more methodologically rigorous RCTs in this area.

I suggested one of my students, who was interested in pediatric neurology, study Ashberger's and autism.

Henry said...

@jwl -- If you're of a scientific bent, I would recommend Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky. The first section is all biochemistry, followed by genetic research. It's slow going, but Sapolsky is very good at presenting evidence, even contradictory evidence without getting carried away. The latter part of the book gets into social sciences and is less careful.

Laslo Spatula said...

Harvey and his Therapist...

"Harvey, we have only worked together a short time, but I think it is safe to say you possess psychopathic tendencies..."

"Whew! What a relief!"

"You find that a relief, Harvey?"

"Sure! Then none of this is my fault!"

"Uh, I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way..."

"Sure it does. I couldn't help myself. I was COMPELLED to have women eat my asshole!"

"Harvey, you used your position of power to coerce those women..."

"I'm a psychopath -- what did people expect? I'm a psychopath that NEEDS his asshole eaten by beautiful women!"

"Harvey, you had the free will to restrain your impulses..."

"You non-psychopaths don't ever get it. There is no Free Will when the compulsion to have someone eat your ass comes over you..."

Let's try a though experiment, Harvey. You are in your office, and there is a beautiful actress there. What are you thinking...?"

"I am thinking I want her to eat my ass..."

"OK, Harvey. Now picture that woman being someone you deeply care about, like your Mother, perhaps..."

"Oh God! Mom -- stop eating my ass, Mother! MOTHER STOP EATING MY ASS...!"

"Harvey, your Mother would only be eating your ass if YOU had forced her to eat your ass..."

"I didn't force her! She just started eating my ass, and now I'm ten-years old and I just shit my pants as Mom laughs and I yell I'M NOT A POOPY BOY! I'M NOT A POOPY BOY! but she still laughs and when I grow up I will make women pay, they won't be laughing when they're eating my ass! TAKE THAT, MOM: TAKE THAT...!

"I think we're making progress, Harvey..."

"Yeah? Do you think if I had killed my mother then none of this other stuff would've ever happened?"

"That's an interesting theory, Harvey. How about we take that up at our next session..."

I am Laslo.

Henry said...

@Michael K -- The Warrior Gene is one of Sapolsky's cases where he shows what you wrote. When the gene is found in a violent person, there are almost always environmental influences that impacted the way the gene would be expressed. And it is certainly easy for people with no genetic signal to be violent.

mockturtle said...

I don't think environment is as influential in behavior as genetics. However, I do believe that, as Laslo has implied, we do have free will to decide whether or not to act upon impulses and should be held accountable for our actions.

It's been a long time since I read A Clockwork Orange but it would seem that various therapies and interventions to correct antisocial tendencies inevitably fail, short of the frontal lobotomy. Reform and rehabilitation of hardened criminals is wasted effort. Only the individual can alter his/her behavior and only if he/she has the will to do so.

Jupiter said...

"Perhaps evolution will develop us to a point where we all will be psychopaths."

As empathy is a complex behavior, it seems likely that it has been selected for. That is, the lack of empathy is a failure to develop a trait that is common in your species because it is evolutionarily selected. Of course, evolutionary pressures change with time, and evolution responds, albeit slowly. When most people have the trait, and when it begins to operate beyond the close kin group, it may actually be advantageous to lack the trait. Perhaps a society that stops hanging pickpockets is making a fatal error.

whitney said...

The study was done on all boys, all of the same ethnic group and all from the same socioeconomic background. So do you think it was Asians, blacks, what? And that line about CEO's being sociopaths I think it's BS. You have to be highly conscientious and a very hard worker to be in that kind of position. a sociopath would not last long

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ whitney and others

Psychopaths are not Sociopaths.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A bit of psychopathy would make someone an excellent CEO. Probably not very well liked....but good at the job. :-)

Assrat said...

>An effective leader, say, a general in wartime, cannot afford to be empathetic.

Very true, sad to say. Almost twenty years ago, I had to tell a guy that his software didn't work, knowing that the news would almost certainly cost him his job. I still don't like thinking about that.

After that, I saw the maps in the War Room in London. Can you imagine standing there for years, knowing that every time a line moved hundreds of freshly minted widows would be getting a form letter? I don't see how Churchill and Eisenhower survived that, and how Eisenhower wanted to be President after. I'd probably retire somewhere and take long walks in the woods until the ghosts went away, which would be never. I'm just glad they did.

Ralph L said...

Saddam Hussein's uncle beat him frequently. He probably beat his own sons, too, I'm guessing.

I went to the genetics dept of UNC hospital early this year because of 3 generations of pancreatic cancer in my family. Most cancer isn't inherited, they said.

There's a single genetic marker for pancreatic & melanoma that's accurate 16% of the time, if I understood them correctly. That is, 16% with the marker get one of them. The problem was that I had melanoma in 1991, so it would tell me nothing about pancreatic, so I went no further.

Fernandinande said...

whitney said...
The study was done on all boys, all of the same ethnic group and all from the same socioeconomic background.


Busted! You didn't read it.

mockturtle said...
In my volunteer work with children I noted that lack of shared humor was profound in those with diagnosed Asperger's syndrome.


I was going to mention that, in that if a kid doesn't laugh-along with the others, it's probably NOT because he's psychopathic, similar to the "gaydar" software and many medical tests: the errors rate is higher than the rate of what they're trying to discover.

wildswan said...

Sometimes research that seems to be hard science is really based on soft sciences. Behavior genetics in very prone to follow this pattern and develop associated errors. I mean that the category of person genetically tested is defined by a sociological category. Once the category exists, the genetics follows. Ss the Red Queen said: Verdict first, trial afterward. In our society the psychopathic personalities are found in the category of criminal or CEO, because these two groups are seen in modern mythological/sociological thinking as engaged in anti-social behavior. So criminals and CEO's don't laugh when in kindergarden, i.e., don't join the group-emotion like chimpanzees. Then research finds MRI evidence or genetic evidence that supports the sociological categorization.

But in a different society with different sociological categories a different group would be considered psychopaths for different "genetic" reasons. In our society, non-artists, (especially sociologists) are not seen as psychopaths. But in a society of artists, non-artists, (especially sociologists) are non-empathic and laugh (or don't laugh) at the wrong things. And genetic research or behavioral genetics as now done would confidently find the genetic reasons for these failures in empathy by non-artists (especially sociologists).

Just an opinion by a badgered reader.

wildswan said...

There was an interesting story in the articles connected with topic about a person called the Heilebron murder - a woman psychopath on a crime spree, killing police officers, robbing, beating and then vanishing without a trace. DNA evidence linked 40 crimes to this monster. Then they found that in the manufacturing process the DNA of a woman worker got on the on the swabs used to collect DNA at crime scenes.

Jose_K said...

"no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness,”

Fernandinande said...

wildswan said...
In our society the psychopathic personalities are found in the category of criminal or CEO, because these two groups are seen in modern mythological/sociological thinking as engaged in anti-social behavior.


Last time I looked, the definition and diagnosis of "psychopath" was based on behavior, not psych tests, and they're "seen" as criminals because that's how they get the label - by committing crimes.

The reason for interest in psychopaths is "Psychopaths consume an astonishingly disproportionate amount of criminal justice resources", because they harm people, not just because they're "different", as in not artistic.

"And of the approximately 6,720,000 adult males that are in prison, jail, parole, or probation, 16%, or 1,075,000, are psychopaths. Thus, approximately 93% of adult male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, jail, parole, or probation."

Even if those estimates are off by 50%, it's still significant.


mockturtle said...

DBQ asserts: Psychopaths are not Sociopaths.

I would argue that all psychopaths are sociopaths but not all sociopaths are psychopaths.

Chris N said...

I’d almost rather have a bunch better of chattering nincompoops discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin

whitney said...

"92 boys were recruited for the study. Each one was between the ages of 11 and 16. While 62 showed psychopathic traits such as callousness (on a range from low to high) and disruptive behaviors, 30 others behaved normally and acted as controls. All the boys were from the same ethnicity and socioeconomic background."

From the article. I did read it

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think there's any similarity with autism/Asperger's. Lying, for example, is totally foreign to spectrum disorders.

jwl said...

Henry

thanks for recommendation, I will have a look.

mockturtle said...

discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin

Haven't they figured that out yet???

Fernandinande said...

Freeman Hunt said...
I don't think there's any similarity with autism/Asperger's.


"atypical social affiliation and connectedness" is a similarity, hence not laughing-along is a similarity.

Lying, for example, is totally foreign to spectrum disorders.

True. But a difference doesn't mean there aren't similarities.

They address that: *

"However, unlike individuals with autism, they do not have difficulties taking the perspective of other people. Knowing what other people think but not resonating with their feelings facilitates the ability to manipulate and deceive others, in line with one’s own self-interest."

* So, does anyone else actually read the original papers referred to in MSM articles?

I don't know about "Big Think", but the MSM's reporting on science is usually their most blatant "fake news". It's really awful.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Most inherited traits that people observe and probably most psychological traits are not controlled by a single gene.

Fernandinande said...

I don't know about "Big Think"

Now I Know! (so to speak). "Big Think" qualifies for MSM status:

Clickbait headline - check.
No (or bad) link to study - check.
Don't understand basic concepts - check:
"Big Think": "All the boys were from the same ethnicity and socioeconomic background."
Study: "Groups were matched for IQ, age, handedness, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status." e.g. "Ethnicity: 18 white, 4 black, 9 mixed" distribution was similar for each of the three groups.

Achilles said...

The Toothless Revolutionary said...
Most inherited traits that people observe and probably most psychological traits are not controlled by a single gene.

Bingo.

But that wont stop leftists from labeling, stereotyping, discriminating and justifying. It is what they do.

Char Char Binks said...

I'm shocked that they're not calling it the Trump gene. Unless they are, of course.

Jupiter said...

"And of the approximately 6,720,000 adult males that are in prison, jail, parole, or probation, 16%, or 1,075,000, are psychopaths. Thus, approximately 93% of adult male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, jail, parole, or probation."

When a "disease" is defined in terms of behaviors, it is not at all surprising to find that most of the people who "have" that "disease" exhibit those behaviors.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

But that wont stop leftists from labeling, stereotyping, discriminating and justifying. It is what they do.

Neither will it stop right-wingers from behaving in unjustifiable ways and claiming "Victim of the vast left-wing conspiracy!" apparently.

Fabi said...

Can I send Laslo a case of good beer through the Althouse Amazon Portal?

Christy said...

Does this mean that all across America, kids that didn't laugh with their peer group and who felt a desperate need to get out of flyover country helped concentrate psychopaths in NYC and LA?

themightypuck said...

Instead of testing all these killers for CTE they should test for MAOA low repeat allele.

Freeman Hunt said...

atypical social affiliation and connectedness" is a similarity, hence not laughing-along is a similarity.

But I'm not sure the similarity is meaningful. People with Asperger's, for example, generally desire social affiliation and connectedness, but they they are excluded by others or lack the expected guile to pretend they like things that they don't like. They may have trouble seeing from other perspectives, but they are the same as typical people in wanting others to be happy. They generally strongly desire that things be fair and aren't looking to gain an unfair advantage.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

An analogy might be to pretend you have two groups of people with a tendency to get into car accidents, a group of people who are unknowingly going blind and a group of people who like to race cars on the streets. The fact that both groups tend to get into car accidents doesn't mean that they are fundamentally related.

Michael K said...

The percentage of people with the MAOA gene is about 3% of the population.

It is obviously not the answer to sociopaths but it is an interesting factor. Maybe there are other genes involved.

Genetics and behavior is very much at a preliminary stage right now.

However, Steven Pinker's work with identical twins suggests that a lot is genetic.

rhhardin said...

That's the basis of the theory that whites run the best countries. The only people amarter than whites, east Asians, don't have the cooperation genes necessary to get countries to work.

Robert Cook said...

"The gene, also called 'The warrior Gene,' does not make one evil. Just impulsive and with less restraint."

To elaborate on your point, the article does not say that psychopathy is "evil." It simply describes a personality type, a type whose characteristics--minimal or no empathy for others, impulsive, calm during chaos, etc.--can be useful in some areas of life or endeavor and can have negative consequences in other areas. Psychopaths who become murderers are simply psychopaths who become murderers. Non-psychopaths commit murder, too.

Robert Cook said...

"It's more common in blacks...."

Rich people, too!

Fernandinande said...

Michael K pontificated...
Genetics and behavior is very much at a preliminary stage right now.


Someone has been reading Time magazine!

However, Steven Pinker's work with identical twins suggests that a lot is genetic.

LOL. Pinker hasn't done any published work with twins.

mtrobertslaw said...

Can it be that science is coming close to finally destroying that quaint belief that there is such a thing as free will?

James Smith said...

I remember the genetic study on the theory that the XYY gene mutation caused men to be violent. It was done by U of Chicago IIRC. Biggest load of crap I ever saw.

rhhardin said...

Dogs have all kinds of temperaments. They're bred for it in fact.

Nevertheless you can teach them all to be good canine citizens, and refrain from the very thing they're bred for.

(The Koehler Method of Dog Training being one way. See Adam's Task by Vicki Hearne, the essay on Washoe and How to Say Fetch, for a quick explanation.)

Role models fix things for humans.

Crazy Jane said...

My kid was in preschool/daycare with another boy -- call him Michael -- who at the age of three was a mean piece of work. He hit other children. He spat. He cursed. His mother was very young, unmarried and overwhelmed. She dropped Michael off the minute the center opened in the morning and picked him up as the workers were turning off the lights. The first thing every morning, my kid would say "No Michael!" I don't know what Michael had seen at home, and I doubt seriously that he had much in the way of love and attention from steady adults. My guess is that he's in prison now, or dead.

A woman I know adopted a five-year-old girl at age 5; she had been through a lot, but an experienced social worker saw potential and recommended the adoption. From that day on, the girl was loved and accepted and welcomed by the woman and her large extended family. It was not enough. The girl couldn't love herself enough to act in her best interests, and she acted out in ways large and small. Last I heard, she was arrested for stealing a car.

We can talk all we want about genetic predisposition, but we don't know what we don't know. What we do know is that there are many ways that parents/adults can damage children. Let the scientific research continue, but until we understand the circumstances of individual childhoods, we should not generalize.

Robert Cook said...

"'DBQ asserts: Psychopaths are not Sociopaths.'

"I would argue that all psychopaths are sociopaths but not all sociopaths are psychopaths."


Actually, I believe the terms have come to be used interchangeably now as they are considered to be the same thing.

mockturtle said...

Cookie, I would contend that psychopaths are sociopaths who commit crimes against others. Many sociopaths are quite civilized in their behavior.

Fernandinande said...

mtrobertslaw said...
Can it be that science is coming close to finally destroying that quaint belief that there is such a thing as free will?


I have the subjective sensation that I consciously decided to write "Absence of free will is going to be a hard sell to the general public, which is generally emotional, superstitious and disinterested in science.

There's already some noise about the criminal justice system, which is largely science-free, addressing the absence free will, but suggested changes don't really seem to address the issue. Personally I'm not convinced that it matters."

/Subjective sensation.

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie, I would contend that psychopaths are sociopaths who commit crimes against others. Many sociopaths are quite civilized in their behavior."

This may be your casual interpretation of the terms, but I believe the psychiatric professions considers the terms to be synonymous for the same psychological profile.

mockturtle said...

but I believe the psychiatric professions considers the terms to be synonymous for the same psychological profile.

I don't think they do. This may or not reflect the profession as a whole but it's a guideline: Article