Did you know that it is estimated that between 3 and 5% of the population is psycho? 5 out of 100 people! But, luckily, not all psychopaths are like Hannibal Lecter. Today, we tell you all about psychopathy, and, above all, If the psychopath is born or made.
What exactly is a psychopath?
Psychopathy has long been considered a personality disorder. However, the latest research has shown that it is not only a personality disorder, but, really, there are differences in the brain itself.
What characterizes the psychopath is that it is unable to have emotions, and therefore, they lack regrets and empathy (essential emotions for other human beings).
But this does not mean that they are not able to understand those feelings (as happens to autistic people). They are able to understand them, but not to feel them. They analyze these feelings in a totally cold, rational and calculating way.
As you can suppose, that a person does not have regrets or empathy, but is very good calculating, in a rational way, those feelings in the other person, leads to the psychopath having a special facility to be manipulative.
And, as we said before, this does not seem to be due to an educational issue, but has a clear relationship (according to the latest studies) with the kind of brain that the psychopath has.
In fact, these studies have shown that in the areas of the tonsil and ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the psychopath there was less activity than in non-psychopaths. The amygdala is related to anxiety and fear, and the CPFVM with empathy.
Where does psychopathy come from?
We have already said in the previous section that psychopathy, to a large extent, is due to differences in the brain itself. So, You may have already had an idea that environmental factors are not as important as genetic factors.
According to one of the greatest experts in psychopathy worldwide, Dr. Kiehl, psychopathy may be due to the lack of development in regions of the paralympic system (composed of the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala). In turn, these brain regions may be less developed for genetic reasons.
Dr. Kiehl himself has found these same differences in the brain in other people who also shared psychopathic traits and were analyzed in US prisons.
Other very important studies carried out in this regard are those that compare the evolution of two twins. In these studies it has been seen that monozygotic twins have a concordance in criminal conduct of 69%, while, in the case of dizygotic, it is only 0.33%.
Therefore, it can be stated quite strongly that the psychopath is born, and that environmental factors can only enhance those traits that already existed previously.
The MAO-A gene
The MAO-A gene is, so far, the only example of how a genetic mutation can alter behavior. This gene, when altered, predisposes to have higher levels of violence.
This gene is found, quite frequently, in people with psychopathic traits, and there is usually a correlation with those who suffered child abuse. In contrast, people who have high concentrations of this gene are less likely to develop antisocial behaviors.
Another type of experiments that have been carried out are those that focus on the role of serotonin as a modulator of aggressiveness. It's known that, the greater the amount of serotonin, the less aggressive behavior (and vice versa).
That is why, not infrequently, psychopaths and others with antisocial disorders They could have some problem in the serotonergic pathways.
Other neurotransmitters that could be related to impulsive and violent behavior are GABA, nitric oxide and norepinephrine. However, studies have shown that the most important is the regulation of serotonin.
In the hormonal field
Finally, note that there are also studies that try to link (without much success) aggressive behaviors and psychopathy with low levels of glucose (and, therefore, high levels of insulin) in the blood. Nevertheless, No conclusive results have been found in this regard.
Nor with testosterone, another hormone that is usually related to violence. And, although testosterone can increase aggressiveness, it does not explain any of the characteristics that identify the psychopath.
As you can see, psychopathy is predetermined genetically and epigenetically, and there are no known methods to make a psychopath cease to be. Luckily, not everyone is a serial killer. Most of them, in fact, occupy positions of great responsibility in society.
Robert Hare's Psychopathy Test