Tag Archives: Morality

Anosognosia, Psychopathy, and the Conscience

How people see and understand themselves is likely to have an impact on how they interpret interactions with others. Here, I briefly explore the brain areas implicated in anosognosia, how these areas are also relevant in psychopathy, and why anosognosia is important when considering the crime and the conscience.

ANOSOGNOSIA AND SELF BELIEF

Anosognosia is defined as the impaired ability of patients with neurological disorders to recognize the presence or adequately appreciate the severity of their deficits [1]. Torrey (2012) cites three examples of anosognosic patients; a stroke victim with a paralyzed arm claimed he couldn’t lift it because he had a shirt on; a woman with paralysis in her left arm was asked to raise it, and instead raised her left leg. When this was pointed out to her she responded that some people call it an arm, others a leg, and jokingly inquired as to the difference; the Supreme Court Justice, William Douglas, was paralyzed on his left side. He claimed this was a myth, and was still inviting people to go hiking [2].

NEUROLOGICAL FINDINGS IN ANOSOGNOSIC PATIENTS

Recent research on this phenomenon has identified deficits in the brain of the patients who in all honesty do not recognize that they are in some way impaired. By using fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and single photon emission computed Tomography (SPECT) Perrotin et al. (2015) found that anosognosic Alzheimer’s patients had a disruption in connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) [1]. Ries et al. (2007) also implicated a compromised precuneus in anosognosic patients. These midline structures are susceptible to damage in those with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and stroke victims. Anosognosia is also experienced by schizophrenic patients; according to Gerretsen et al. (2015), 60% of schizophrenic patients experience moderate to severe illness awareness, and this can lead to medication non-adherence and poor treatment outcomes [4]; they found left hemispheric dominance in the left prefrontal cortex in anosognosic schizophrenic patients and cortical thinning in the temporoparietalocciptal junction (TPO).

There is still much work to be done to determine the mechanistic and functional basis of anosognosia, and to determine the subtleties between illnesses and disorders, but research is starting to identify suspect brain regions. This is useful if anosognosia is questioned in other disorders, because neurological studies exploring the disorder can be explored and legitimate avenues of scientific inquiry explored.

RESEARCH PARALLELS WITH PSYCHOPATHY

A failure to recognize a disorder is also present in those with psychopathy. While anosognosia is yet to be explored thoroughly in those with psychopathy, there are behavioral items on the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) [5] that suggest anosognosia is present; grandiose sense of self-worth, lack of remorse, and failure to accept responsibility. The sense of self-worth and narcissistic traits of the psychopath clearly means that they think very highly of themselves. This negates the idea that the psychopath believes they suffer from a defect or a disorder; at the most they might recognize that most others are different, and perhaps inferior to themselves. If a lack of remorse is experienced, this is an explicit demonstration that they do recognize, at least on an emotional level, the consequences of their bad behavior as being wrong; if they do not believe their behavior is inappropriate, it stands to reason that they believe they behaved appropriately, and thus experience nothing ‘wrong’ about themselves. This aspect of self-belief and self-reflection is also seen in the psychopath’s failure to accept responsibility; if they are always good and right, there is little motivation to make amends.

Based upon this cursory examination of psychopathic behavior, it would seem reasonable to explore the neurological studies of psychopathy and see if there could be some overlap with previous studies on anosognosia, and in fact some of the same compromised brain areas are implicated. Many studies have demonstrated developmental differences in the PFC of the psychopath (for a review, see Umbach et al. (2015) [6]), and the white matter pathways, such as the uncinate fasciculus (UF) connecting to the PFC from the limbic regions [7]. Perrotin et al. [1] hypothesized that Anosognosia can result from a disruption in connectivity in the UF. When exploring connectivity in the frontoparietal network (FPN), Philippi et al. (2015) found reduced connectivity in those with higher scores on the PCL-R, which included the right precuneus. And to further the overlap, Glenn et al. (2009) [8] found that those with who scored high on the interpersonal factors of the PCL-R (manipulative, conning, deceitful), showed reduced activity in the PCC during an fMRI scan when having to make judgments during moral dilemma scenarios.

Anosognosia and psychopathy both demonstrate complex neurological constructs, and it is premature to conclude that the neurological basis for Anosognosia (itself still understood) would tuck neatly into the already known neurological research on the psychopath. However, given the neat juxtaposition of behavioral traits and neurological dysfunction, it is worth bringing psychopathy into discussions of Anosognosia for the following reason. The research on psychopathy is currently deeper and richer than the research on anosognosia, and behavior of the psychopath has been widely observed and studied. If we can reasonably conclude that psychopaths, particularly criminal psychopaths, are also anosognosics, their behavior can be assessed in light of what it means to recognize no disorder or defect within oneself. The parallel is further relevant with psychopathy when considering that a number of those with schizophrenia, and a minority of those with AD, have been known for antisocial, and sometimes criminal, behavior [9, 10].

ANOSOGNOSIA, ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR, AND THE CONSCIENCE

Those with schizophrenia and AD also suffer from abuse, but when they have been known to act violently, their behavior and motivations need to be understood. Torrey (2012) has documented extensively the violent acts of those with schizophrenia [2]. There is usually a history of progressively worse episodes of psychosis that can convince the patient that they are receiving supernatural or alien instructions to kill or harm individuals, and more often than not family members. Whether or not the auditory hallucinations slowly convince the patient over time of the necessity for deadly action, or whether the act is impulsive, after the event the patient often remains remorseless and attributes their behavior to necessary and mandated (often divine) reasons. This state of mind is similar to the violent psychopath, who also viewed his violent actions as necessary and fully justified. The problem is never attributed to the self; a disorder or defect is not recognized. While psychopaths are widely regarded as not having a conscience and experience only limited affect, more research is needed on the experience of conscience by schizophrenics, especially understanding the role that psychosis played in circumventing the conscience and providing them with permission to act. It is also crucial to discover how those events are remembered and felt post psychosis, perhaps when the patient has reconvened their medication.

In illnesses and disorders that can be associated with antisocial behavior or aggression, anosognosia could be a partial reason for the event of the behavior. Not recognizing any problems or defects, and thinking that one acted rightly or righteously, will affect personal judgments on the self-evaluation of behavior. This does not provide a fertile ground for remorse or responsibility, and if the behavior was aggressive, the patient could continue to remain dangerous, inflexible to a reasoned and peaceful behavioral change. This makes the search for the neural representation of anosognosia all the more crucial, treatment all the more pressing, and methods of identification all the more necessary.

© Jack Pemment, 2016

 

REFERENCES

  1. Perrotin, A. et al. (2015). Anosognosia in Alzheimer disease: Disconnection between memory and self‐related brain networks. Annals of neurology, 78(3), 477-486
  2. Torrey, E. F. (2012) The Insanity Offense, New York, W. W. Norton and Company
  3. Ries, M. L. et al. (2007). Anosognosia in mild cognitive impairment: relationship to activation of cortical midline structures involved in self-appraisal. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 13(03), 450-461
  4. Gerretsen, P. et al. (2015). Illness denial in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Human brain mapping, 36(1), 213-225
  5. Hare, R. D. et al. (1990). The revised Psychopathy Checklist: Reliability and factor structure. Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2(3), 338-341
  6. Umbach, R. et al. (2015). Brain imaging research on psychopathy: Implications for punishment, prediction, and treatment in youth and adults. Journal of criminal justice, 43(4), 295-306
  7. Motzkin, J. C. et al. (2011). Reduced prefrontal connectivity in psychopathy. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(48), 17348-17357
  8. Glenn, A. L. et al. (2009) The Neural Correlates of Moral Decision-Making in Psychopathy. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/neuroethics_pubs/55
  9. Fazel, S. et al. (2009). Schizophrenia and violence: systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med, 6(8), e1000120
  10. Lopez, O. L. et al. (2003). Psychiatric symptoms vary with the severity of dementia in probable Alzheimer’s disease. The Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 15, 346–353

Humans are the only cruel species?

Since the dawn of cave graffiti, humans have polluted their stories with personal biases, usually because they have falsely labeled all other humans into erroneous categories. And this can be entertaining, seeing how an interesting and provocative character has noted differences in the behavior and appearance of other humans (the reason, incidentally, reality TV shows like to group together conflicting/strong personalities). However, if these perceived differences become more than anecdotal stories, have no factual basis, and become an integral part of ideology and worldviews, these ideas of difference can flourish into sinister prejudices. Within the human canon, this has led to horrific lies about women and those whose skin is not white.

But humans do it with non-humans, too. We have developed a species-ism, comparing all of the things we attribute with ourselves to the gamut of the animal kingdom, and we always find the other animals lacking. Clearly, humans have decided that it is their intelligence that is so superior to rest of the animals, after all, no donkey has built a skyscraper. As an interesting side note, it is only those humans on the far side of the intelligence bell curve that achieve the things that we boast about as a species.

Anyway, to pull myself back on track, it is often said that humans are the only species that are cruel for the sake of being cruel. Humans can be cruel because they like to be cruel. Ironically, I think this is another way we have decided that humans are superior to the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s the price of being so advanced that you have to deal with other humans indulging in abject cruelty. What a strange compliment we pay ourselves!

The question of why humans engage in cruel behaviors can be debated at length, although I think there are three main categories, and they can become interchangeable over time. First, humans are forced to be cruel to other humans. Second, ideology has convinced some humans that the lives of others (usually of a particular group) are not worth as much as their own, and while they might not *like* being cruel to these people, the conscience scarcely vibrates. Thirdly, some humans derive pleasure in being cruel to others. As cruelty typically implies intent, I am ruling out devastating behavior that results from accidents.

We think that all of these reasons are missing in the rest of the animal kingdom.

However, I think it would be a tall order to rule out all of them, even perhaps the most challenging – ideology that devalues the life of others (I refer to this as sociopathy). It has already been widely demonstrated that many other animals use language to communicate with others. Given that humans use language the most to understand their own thoughts, I don’t think this can be ruled out in other species, especially the neurologically complex species. If there are thoughts, there is the potential for worldview, and thus ideology. Couple that with all the ways that animals recognize difference, particularly the use of smell, and there is the potential for very strong and motivating thoughts about those others who are different, and that perhaps provoke thoughts of a threatening nature. These ‘thoughts’ then project necessary behaviors as a response, given the immediate context in relation to those an animal does not like, and this a basis for prejudice. Do other animals value their life and the life of those similar more than those that are different? Of course they do.

What about coercion into cruel behavior?

Within other species, can some members force others into being cruel to other members of the same species? In rat colonies, there is often an aggressive struggle for domination. Aggressive neck grooming, biting, and chasing is very common. In this environment, some rats become dominant, and others subordinate. There are two types of subordinate, those that stay close to the dominant rat (betas), and those that avoid the dominant rat (omegas). If the dominant rat is removed, it has been observed that the omega rats, over the betas, are more likely to become the new dominant rat. The experience of the omega, of being dominated (a history of stress and abuse), results here in the omega now acting dominant. This is somewhat an oversimplification, but it shows how members of the same species can “groom” others into behaving intentionally aggressively to others, no doubt resulting in distress (cruelty).

How about cruelty for pleasure?

This is usually what people mean when they say that humans can be cruel for the sake of cruelty. Nobody is cruel for the sake of being cruel. That’s like the outdated idea of people being evil for the sake of being evil. There are individuals that derive pleasure by doing things that cause another pain and distress, but this can also fall into three categories. First, the pain and distress of the other might be what causes the pleasure, such as the pleasure derived from watching another cry. Second, the action(s) that result in the pain and distress cause the pleasure, such as hunting another human for sport, and thirdly, a combination of both, such as a pathological rapist.

I am willing to grant that humans might be the only species that take pleasure in the expressions of suffering and pain in others, but it is worth noting that from a perspective of power and dominance, fear in the faces of others is affirmation and validation of one’s dominance, which is perhaps *enjoyable* in other species, too.

I am also willing to wager that where you find intellectual curiosity in other species, you will also find pleasure derived in actions that cause others distress. Cats, for example, do not seem all that interested in eating the things that they kill (and in some cases, literally torment to death), such as some of the larger bugs, mice, and birds. A mouse is entertainment, not dinner. And within species, there are other apes that will kill the young offspring of females to make them sexually viable for their own sexual coercion. This is obviously an immense distress for the aggrieved mother, and it was done to facilitate the drives and desires of the murderous male, leading to his own fulfillment.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering if humans are the cruelest species on the planet, just remember that there are plenty of bastards in the animal kingdom, too.

*I also wonder if the bite delivered to human swimmers by sharks is sometimes more than a ‘curiosity’ bite. It is widely known that sharks can hone in and become excited by such a tiny amount blood in the water, and so even though biting a human wouldn’t result in a satisfactory meal, the shark has to get something akin to a buzz from the mouthful of blood. Would it be a stretch to say that at least one shark, in some place and time, enjoyed it?

** Intellectual curiosity has an interesting dampening effect on empathy, with perhaps the best example being the behavior of Nazi scientists. After the war, the scientific research community sought to protect human research subjects, and a first step was in creating the Belmont Report.

Batman and psychopathy

Bat signalI have held off writing about my thoughts on this matter for a while, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense. Clearly, Batman is a fictional character, and one that has appeared in many incarnations, but I believe his overall personality and history seems to make him a close candidate for a diagnosis of psychopath. I’m not a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist, but here is my case.

Young Bruce Wayne witnessed both of his parents murdered together in cold blood. The emotional trauma of this event and the extreme misery to follow could very easily stymie brain development in profound ways. For a child witnessing their parents die in a grotesquely violent act at the hands of a killer, that killer has also just abused the child in a very serious and disturbing way. Child abuse is one of the primary suspects for the development of serious personality disorders, including those that result in a lack of empathy. Presumably, this act also made the young Bruce develop an obsession with criminals and instill in him the need to make sure they are brought to justice.

I don’t know much about the adolescent Bruce Wayne, perhaps someone who is more familiar with the canon can let me know if he was socially deviant, reckless, and callous.

There can be little doubt that Batman himself is extremely violent. Beating villains into a bloody mess seems second nature. Other than the apparent lack of empathy, it is worth noticing that the violence dished out by Batman is very personal; it is close quarter, bone crunching, skin ripping, joint popping, and back stomping violence. In other words, it’s a very intimate level of violence. This seems to point to him getting a thrill out of hurting people, which makes him a sadist. It is widely known that Batman does not use guns (an aversion that could perhaps be explained by his parents being gunned down), but guns are very impersonal. The irony here, which helps enrich the story, is that the Joker also likes to use personal forms of violence, such as knives, on his victims.

There is also an argument to be had that the adult Wayne (and Batman) lack emotion. Batman is usually very clear-minded, cold, and calculated in his behavior. One often hears it is bad to let “emotion” get in the way of making decisions, but perhaps here, Batman has very little to get in the way. Yet clearly, there is always an explosive rage ready burst out of Batman, usually in the form of fists, feet, and head butts. Arguably, he doesn’t have much of an emotional spectrum, which is perhaps one of the reasons he cannot seem to maintain a good relationship (with the exception of Alfred).

There is a parallel between Batman, and the fictional serial killer from Jeff Lindsay’s novels, Dexter. While Batman does typically withhold from killing, he still has a code that provides the parameters for his violence. These parameters help to keep him socially acceptable, as he’s only going after the bad guys. Although, Batman’s code, like all tyrannical codes, have an element of the greater good. Any philosophy that incorporates the greater good will result in the denial of human rights to at least one, but often many individuals. Depending on the group, one could argue that the temporary denial of their rights is necessary, as politicians often do (although not in these words), but nonetheless it places people on different levels of worth. In fact, prisoners, which were at one time criminals, are an incredibly vulnerable group of individuals because they are very much at the mercy of the state, and in scientific research, the use of prisoners is heavily regulated.

Much of these ideas have already been realized in the superhero comics, especially how morality is very often a slippery slope.

Still, if I was asked to write a Batman story, and part of the story included him being diagnosed using Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist, I don’t think it would be a stretch to convince people of a score of at least 25.

While the promise of thrill seeking is enough to excite your average psychopath, the Bat Signal clearly gives Batman a raging boner.

A Sense of Future and the Act of Killing

Nietzsche future pastIt’s easy to forget how much the ideas we have about our own futures impact our daily lives. We all try to invest in our futures (financially, academically and intellectually, and emotionally and genetically) so that when ‘it’ arrives we will be comfortable and happy. Ideas of a comfortable future make us feel happy, and conversely, thoughts of a chaotic future fill us with dread and peptic ulcers. How we end up in the future is in some ways besides the point, because what we are really trying to do is feel satisfied and happy in the present – by doing what we need to do to secure good thoughts of the future.

Thoughts of the future are intimately related to our sense of morality. Take the golden rule, for example – treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. How would you like to be treated? We need to think about a hypothetical future scenario that involves us being treated a certain way and deciding whether or not we would like it. I say hypothetical future scenario, rather than simply hypothetical, because hypotheticals depersonalize the scenario, and the whole point is that you imagine an act happening to you. Imagining a future scenario overcomes this problem.

Furthermore, if we begin to lose interest in the outcome (future realization) of various activities, we will start to neglect those activities. This is not a moral issue if we no longer care to play the piano, but if we are no longer interested in personal relationships, we can start to neglect people. In fact, a common reason for romantic relationships to fail, is that at least one person in the relationship doesn’t see a future. Considering and being considerate towards your own future and the future of those you care about is clearly moral behavior.

In order to achieve these happy future thoughts, we often set ourselves certain rules and make plans governing our behavior, usually in the name of saving money, staying healthy and in shape, and maybe trying to shape the behavior of our children by being strict. All of the rules are often at the expense of fun and cheap kicks. So, every now and again, we decide to Seize the Day! and completely forget about the future. Obviously, when we do choose to forget about the future and live in the moment it’s still done in a controlled way – none of us really believe that the day to be seized is the be all and end all of our lives.

So what has any of this got to do with killing?

A point that I hope I’ve impressed upon you is that by limiting our sense of future, there is also the danger of relaxing and disregarding our own rules and ethics. I think a ‘sense of future’ actually plays a very potent role in the brains of killers. Below, I have listed what I consider to be the different types of killer (excluding military and legally sanctioned killers), and how a sense of future helps to determine their actions. I have stereotyped each one, but obviously in reality the categories could overlap to varying extents. Brains are dynamic and constantly changing, and so the act of killing only reflects a brain at one moment in time promoting the act within specific contextual cues. Clearly, other people kill in self defense, by losing their temper, or perhaps because of the psychotic symptoms of a mental disorder, and a sense of future may or may not play a role in those events. Regardless, I just want to focus on these three:

Psychopathic Serial Killer: Psychopaths lack a sense of morality and struggle to understand or empathize with emotion. It seems that most serial killers accept that abduction, raping, and killing is going to be a part of their life. Upon this acceptance, and knowing that their behavior can only be continued by evading capture and suspicion, serial killers plan out future events, and are often very meticulous in doing so. It does appear, though, that some psychopathic serial killers do have genuine empathy and morality, but it is only temporal. During these moments they are genuinely able to forge meaningful relationships and lead a ‘normal’ life. Other times, a capacity for empathy isn’t temporal and only limited or faked relationships are possible. This means that serial killers are likely to  fall on a spectrum between a dark/normal life and a dark/faked-normal life. Capture means that both lives are finished, and given the nature of the necessary dark life, a sense of future is integral to the intellectual machinations of the serial killer.

Sociopathic Killer: Sociopaths have a sense of morality, although it’s different from the morality of the parent culture. This means that the sociopath has values or a worldview that one, differs from most people, and two, includes beliefs that devalues or denigrates the lives of certain groups of people. If you hold genuine beliefs that the lives of women, those of different skin color to you, Jews, homosexuals, those of a different religion /worldview / or political ideology are worth inherently less than your own life, then you are a sociopath. Some sociopaths are willing to kill for the sake of their outlook, for their ideology to champion the parent ideology, and so in this sense some may see themselves as revolutionaries. A sociopath is unlikely to have a sense of future while the parent culture/morality remains. As we have already discussed, to lack a sense of future can lead to being unhappy and uncomfortable. A sociopath wants a different future, and may be willing to try and forge it through violence.

Spree Killer: Spree killer is a bit of an outdated term now, but it tends to describe those who arm themselves to the teeth and choose a place where they can inflict maximum casualties in a short space of time. James Holmes, the man who killed many movie goers in Aurora, CO, in July, 2012, might fit this category. Spree killers have a tendency to die in a crossfire with police, commit suicide, or hand themselves peacefully over to the police (as Holmes did). For these killers, there doesn’t appear to be any regard for their lives after the act. The act might be planned out to the nth degree, but if you intend to die in a gun battle, take your own life, or hand yourself over to police knowing that you are going to spend life in prison or receive the death penalty, you clearly have no sense of future. No sense of future – no morality.

Head injuries, brain abnormalities, and violence

While there is incontrovertible evidence that brain damage can lead to an increase in violent behavior, I can easily see it becoming an excuse for defense attorneys to claim that their clients were not acting in their “right” state of mind.

Phineas GageFrontal lobe dementia and head injuries to the frontal lobe have resulted in aggressive outbursts, such as the famous case of Phineas Gage, who ended up with a metal rod through his posterior pre-frontal cortex. It was noted that after the accident Gage was no longer himself and his behavior was more antisocial than it had been before the accident. One of our most influential neuroscientists, Antonio Damasio, has examined this phenomenon in great deal and coined the term acquired sociopathy to analogize the frontal lobe damage in these patients to the developmental errors we see in psychopaths.

Antonio Damasio

Damasio has also worked with many patients with dementia brought on by various diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s Disease, and if the dementia is in the frontal lobe, the chances for antisocial behavior do indeed seem to be higher. It is my opinion that a healthy frontal lobe allows one to adhere to a ‘superego’ or cultural morality, and so damage here seems to sever that link, destroying a crucial layer to behavioral regulation.

Charles Whitman

The autopsy of Charles Whitman, a man who shot numerous people at the University of Texas in Austin in 1966, found a tumor in his hypothalamus, an area strongly involved in many of our basic drives – fighting, fleeing, reproducing, eating, and sleeping. It might just be coincidental, but the fact that a tumor was interfering in such a powerful and crucial area it seems unlikely that the tumor can be completely disregarded in an analysis of his behavior.

Astley (left) and Fujita (right)

Astley (left) and Fujita (right)
Click photo for Crimesider article

In the news today, there is a case involving the murder of an exgirlfriend, Lauren Astley, by a guy the same age, Nathanial Fujita. They were in high school together and the murder happened two years ago, whereby Fujita strangled and stabbed Astley. Fujita’s attorney is not disputing the murder, but he is claiming that Fujita was suffering a brief psychotic episode, something that if proven could diminish Fujita’s culpability.

A forensic psychiatrist, Wade Myers, has said that Fujita could have suffered traumatic brain injuries from football, and that he suffered from a number of mental problems. On top of this there is an apparent history in Fujita’s family of paranoia, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.

This kind of defense worries me, because it seems like the psychiatrist is throwing out every reason under the Sun in the hopes that one of these issues played a causal role in Fujita’s “disconnection” from reality as he murdered his exgirlfriend. I personally think the history of paranoia, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression is irrelevant, albeit there are no doubt genetic predispositions and susceptibilities to those conditions. Connecting causal violence to all of those conditions, in this context, is tantamount to fishing with no hook.

The idea that football caused this departure from reality is also troubling to me. I think it’s far more plausible that a continued battering to the head could lead to abnormalities in behavior, but violent behavior? It’s possible, I suppose. But this happens to so many football players. Are we going to accept that when these athletes act violently towards loved ones, it’s because of their sport? Do we need to re-examine the safety and long term effects of these games?

Myers might be bang on the mark, but I suspect that in order to really know what’s going on, there might not be the knowledge or the time to figure it out, thus the avalanche of excuses.

Copyright Jack Pemment, 2013

Source

Crimesider

Evolution and the Psychopath

http://www.rudecactus.com/archives/001430.html

Since I began studying psychopathy, I have often wondered about an evolutionary basis for this dangerous disorder. Psychopathy is considered to be a developmental disorder (Blair, 2006), which means that through its normal course of development the brain experiences stresses or biochemical changes that are not conducive to proper neurological development. This idea is supported by suppositions from both behavioral psychology and neuroscience; firstly, in behavioral psychology, it is suspected that serious child abuse could be an underlying factor behind psychopathy (Kunitz et al., 1998), and secondly, in neuroscience, it has been noted that many with psychopathy show a significant underdevelopment of a number of regions in their brain (for a review see Pemment, 2012).

Read more at Psychology Today…

Copyright Jack Pemment, 2012

An interview with Bundy, the day before his execution

Bundy is surprisingly forthcoming in his attempts to explain and understand how he came to be a monster. There are a number of responses that seem decidedly un-psychopathic. He has no problem taking full responsibility for the murders and he realizes that he is very different from other people.

Bundy claims that he was from a good home and was never abused, and that it was his exposure from soft to violent pornography that made his fantasies become more and more violent; one could raise the argument that it was simply stumbling across violent pornography as a child that constituted the abuse necessary to traumatize and stymie the development of his brain.

He speaks of the need to murder (which included necrophilia) as an addiction. Keppel, one of the detectives who helped to apprehend Bundy explained that Bundy experienced the desire for necrophilia as a chemical tidal wave, like an addiction to a narcotic. It certainly seems like his frontal lobe, and the connections between it and the limbic system, failed to control and inhibit his desires.

The interview does not strike me as a manipulation or an attempt to spread lies, but of course that can’t be ruled out. He does, however, appear to respect his interviewer.

This is a good interview with Bundy, which anyone interested in the development of extreme human behaviors should watch.