Essay Psychopathy: Personality Disorder

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“Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by an inability to form human attachment, aggressive narcissism, and antisocial behavior defined by a constellation of affective, interpersonal and behavioral characteristics, most of which society views as pejorative” [1]. Some of these characteristics include irresponsibility, grandiosity, cunning, deceitfulness, selective impulsivity, sexual promiscuity, lack of empathy, etc. People who are psychopathic display not only antisocial behavior but also emotional impairment such as the lack of guilt. They are able to prey on others using their charm, deceit, violence or any other methods that allow them to get what they want. A strong feature of most of the behavior
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Due to its primary role in processing memory and emotional reactions, over the last decade and a half psychologists have been linking the amygdala to psychopathy. It is involved in aversive conditioning and instrumental learning and is thus involved in all the processes that, when impaired, produce the same functional impairments displayed by psychopaths. Two famous studies conducted by Tiihonen and Kiehl respectively have confirmed this. Tiihonen used a volumetric MRI to test and confirm the positive correlation between low amygdaloid volume and a high degree of psychopathy in violent criminals (measured by the Hare checklist-revised) while Kiehl used a functional MRI to prove reduced amygdala response during an emotional memory task in individuals who scored high on the Hare checklist-revised. However, both these studies along with numerous others were conducted using violent offenders as subjects rather than individuals with psychopathy. Although many psychopaths do exhibit violent tendencies, not all violent offenders are necessarily psychopaths. A study conducted by Raine is one of the few that did focus only on individuals exhibiting psychopathy. In his study Raine was able to show reduced prefrontal grey matter in his test subjects. Unfortunately though, he was unable to differentiate between grey matter in different regions of the prefrontal cortex. It is however clear that there is one region of the frontal cortex that could be
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