Psychopathy is a dissocial personality disorder that has caused great community interest throughout history, both at the level of study and social alarm. Psychopaths have always been associated with great and cruel murderers which is why both the media and fiction have used this to create their own speech and your own vision of what a psychopath is, so there may be a lot of wrong or missing information in the idea that we all have about the psychopathy.
The main most common doubts and why it is convenient to begin to explain what exactly this disorder is are the following: What is a psychopath and what are its characteristics? What are the main causes of psychopathy? Is a psychopath born or made? In this Psychology-Online article we are going to answer all these questions, so if you want to learn more about the subject, keep reading.
A psychopath It is anyone who meets the requirements of the personality disorder known as psychopathy. Psychopathy was spoken of as early as the seventeenth century, but it was not until 1896 when Kraepelin's hand began to speak of it as a
- A cruel nonchalance for the feelings of others and lack of empathy.
- Marked and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and carefree by the norms, rules and social obligations.
- Inability to maintain relationships long-lasting personalities, very low tolerance for frustration or low threshold for aggressive discharges, even leading to violent behavior
- Inability to feel guilt and learn from experience, particularly punishment.
- Marked predisposition to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for conflictive behavior.
There is a specific scientifically validated and consolidated test that is responsible for establishing and diagnosing whether a person suffers from psychopathy or not: Robert Hare's PCL-R test, translated into various languages and standardized for study and application in many countries. From what we see, not everyone can be a psychopath and it is not simply someone who lacks empathy, is very intelligent and is dedicated to killing, as fiction has done many times believe.
In Psychology-Online we have created an online version of the Hare psychopathy test.
It is difficult to establish specific causes of psychopathy and there are various explanatory theoretical models, neuropsychological and psychophysiological studies carried out with the intention of explaining what exactly psychopathy. Some of the best known are the following, although there are many studies on the subject and scientific literature that we encourage you to read if you are interested:
Causes of psychopathy according to Eysenck
The psychologist Hans Eysenck proposes a biological-behavioral model. In this model, the psychopath would be a subject incapable of developing conditioned moral and social responses due to his low conditioning capacity and his extraversion. The individual would not be able to develop a solid conscience due to a bad socialization process and the lack of this conscience Morality would be the key to understanding their actions since it is in charge of making us act in a socially acceptable way and moral. Eysenck also believes that at the biological level brain lesions located in the frontal lobe (which is responsible for human behavior) and is responsible for establishing the connection between extraversion and crime typical of psychopaths.
However, Eysenck places special emphasis on considering that although there are innate predispositions at the biological factors that explain psychopathy, it is by no means the only cause nor would it be sufficient by itself to produce psychopathy. Psychopathic behavior would be determined by social and psychological factors that establish an interaction with biological predispositions.
Causes of psychopathy according to Mednick
On the other hand, we find the biosocial model of Sarnoff A. Mednick, who starts to explain from the point of instrumental learning according to which man learns through punishments and rewards derived from his actions. He talks about the neurovegetative behavior of the child and states that those who have a sensitive neurovegetative system will easily learn to act accordingly. according to the law and to fear punishment and this will become a good inhibitory system that, on the contrary, would mean little reinforcement before the behaviors prohibited. According to Mednick, the psychopath would not learn or learn poorly because of this low reaction to punishment (hereditary and congenital deficit). Therefore, the cause would be an insensitive neurovegetative system.
Causes of psychopathy according to Genovés
Another author, Garrido Genovés, provides a biosocial model where he explains psychopathy through individual biological vulnerability of some people mixed with a unique social learning system loaded with selfishness and other pathological behaviors typical of psychopathy. In short: psychopathy would be generated by an initial deficit of a biological nature enhanced by cultural and social factors.
After years of study and various conclusions, current science maintains that psychopathy is not simply given by a gene, such as blonde hair, that is inherited in the child at birth and is determined by factors merely genetic Psychopathy develops by a interaction of genetic, neurobiological, sociocultural and behavioral learning factors. That is, it is a mixture of factors that can lead to an individual acquiring a psychopathic disorder and not something determined from the moment of birth.
For example, in terms of psychosocial factors, it has been pointed out in numerous studies that living in a hostile environment with constant presence of violent events, child abuse and neglect, affects the development of the disorder in how much is mixed with a genetic predisposition - for example, impulsivity - and violent behavioral learning. However, we must not forget that there are psychopaths who have lived in a model family environment that has not would respond to this explanation just as there are people who have suffered abuse during childhood and do not develop psychopathy.
A relationship has also been found between the amygdala of individuals with psychopathy, who present a greater reduction of this, and the socialization, since this reduction makes it impossible to empathize or identify with the negative feelings of other people.
Biological studies have also found that people who test for a genetic predisposition to psychopathy have lived in hostile environments or have had experiences of abuse and / or neglect, on the other hand, this predisposition is not found in people who have not previously suffered experiences violent Therefore, it is this violence suffered that increases the individual's sensitivity to aggressive behavior and defensive responses in the form of violence.
In conclusion, the development of psychopathic disorder is given by a series of factors that intermingle throughout the life of the subject and where it influences from age up to the education that the individual receives or the violence to which he is subjected, therefore, although of course biological factors also intervene in this growth, a psychopath is made and is not born determined by any specific gene.
This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.