You do not have be enlightened to realize that there is something different about serial killers. Clearly, the horror stories from victims and police reports will soon have you believing that something has to be very different about these people for them to do what they do, and whatever that something is has to be encoded in the brain somewhere, somehow. I would like to talk through some of the psychological disorders that could be behind the possibility for serial killing, but firstly, I would like to clarify what I mean by ‘encoded in the brain.’ I simply mean that at any one moment in time our brains have developed in one particular way and that way controls the statistical likelihood of certain behaviors occurring under certain circumstances, in this case, serial killing.
Read more at Psychology Today…
I have just finished reading this fantastic book and already know that I will be consulting it again and again in the future. Baron-Cohen very tactfully explores morality on the personal level and from historical examples of heinous acts, such as the Holocaust. His expertise with those who characteristically have no/little empathy, such as psychopaths, those suffering from borderline personality disorder, narcissists, and those suffering from varying degrees of autism is used to construct two views, zero-negative and zero-positive. Zero-negative represents those with no empathy and their actions can only be detrimental to themselves or/and others, whereas zero-positive represents those with autism, who have a remarkable propensity for memorization and logic.
His ideas about empathy are grounded heavily in the brain, where he discusses the brain regions involved, and how nature and nurture clearly help to shape the brain’s moral capacity. Baron-Cohen challenges his readers to think about “evil” in light of neurological scholarship in the field of empathy, helping us to see empathic actions as part of a bell curve, rather than polarizing actions into good and evil.
I am about half way through Simon Baron-Cohen’s “The Science of Evil” or “Zero Degrees of Empathy” in the UK, and it is really very good; he manages to explain pretty complex neuroscience terminology in a very palatable way.
I am now convinced that understanding empathy is the only way we can really understand the spectrum of human behavior, from the evil to the insanely benevolent. Baron-Cohen talks about the three types of zero-negative personality types (those that have no/limited capacity for empathy), those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, psychopaths and narcissists.
There are at least ten centers in the brain that appear to be involved in moral decision-making and moral awareness. I’m really interested to see where these studies go.
I highly recommend this book!