For those of you who want to skip around:
6:00: Non criminal psychopaths are characterized by weak urges breaking through even weaker restraints.Newman thinks psychopaths are in some ways more likely to help a stranger than a normal person, which I think is correct in that the psychopath is just as likely to act impulsively doing good things as bad, and certainly doesn't see things in terms of "good" and "bad" anyway. (I talked a little bit about this lack of distinction here). I also think that there may be something to his theory that a lot of the emotional differences between psychopaths and normal people stem from the way that emotions are dealt with or attended to. If I focus on an emotion, I can greatly amplify its force far beyond what it should be. I frequently do this with pleasant emotions, but will also do this with "negative" emotions because there is pleasure in pain and I want to keep a flexible emotional repertoire (emotional yoga). For feelings that I don't care to feel, I just tune them out. I'm so good at compartmentalizing that it's easy to ignore anything I don't care to consider.
9:10: What happens when "guiding light" is absent is not necessarily consistent across all psychopaths, so psychopathy cannot necessarily be defined by behavior; behavior will depend on gender, age, social role, etc.
10:32: "The ones who break the law or who are violent, or commit criminals acts, those are the ones that are going to make it into my studies"
11:00: Do psychopaths experience emotions? If they do, are they less "deep" emotions? Sociopaths say they have emotions, will go out of their way to help others, capable of responding to affective materials.
13:53: Conventional wisdom regarding psychopaths and emotions being that psychopaths are fearless, incapable of emotions or general emotion deficit.
14:07: Newman's "attention deficit" theory -- "emotions don't have any power if you don't attend to them," psychopaths are not attending to the emotional cues that would elicit certain emotional responses.
16:12: "Emotions are there, to some extent, to the degree you pay attention to them"
16:48: Sociopaths are not obsessed in that the drive to do something is so strong, it's just that they are not considering other contrary info; but "if you can get them to pay attention to this information, they'll use it."
21:51: Treatment options using fear conditioning.
This video showed up on LoveFraud recently, leading to the following insightful comments from "Redwald" (excerpts):
It’s easy to understand this idea with an auditory or visual analogy. Suppose we’re in a room where a party is in full swing and there’s lots of noise. Now and again the noise can “interfere,” but on the whole the auditory signals are strong, and we can discern multiple signals. We can not only hear what a companion is saying to us, but we can also pick up snatches of other conversations around us, besides identifying any music that’s playing. In the visual field, we can easily recognize several people we know in a group of people nearby. There’s Ted, there’s Tom, there’s Sally. We can see all of these multiple people clearly and individually.
Conditions are different if the signals are “weak.” If there’s music coming from somewhere in the distance, and murmurs of conversation from the next room, we’ll have a harder time recognizing what’s being said, or played. More relevant here, trying to recognize it calls for an effort of concentration. If we’re straining to hear what’s being said next door, we may not even notice there’s music playing somewhere else. Or if we’re trying to hear the music, we may not notice the conversation at all, let alone make out what’s being said. Similarly, if we spot a group of people some way away, they may be hard to recognize at a distance. Quite possibly we’ll focus on one person who looks vaguely familiar and ask ourselves “Is that Ted or isn’t it?” But while we’re focusing on him we’re not focusing on the other two, so we may never recognize them. In short, we only pick up some of the many things going on around us, and miss others altogether.
Regardless of how strong (or weak) the emotional signals are in absolute terms, much of the problem with psychopathic behavior is still how strong (or weak) these signals are in relation to one another. If psychopaths’ perception of their “urges” is weaker than in normal humans, bad behavior can still result if their “restraints” (such as “conscience”) are weaker still.
I think the point being made is that because psychopathic behavior is not well regulated emotionally in any constant fashion, it tends to be impulsive. One characteristic of “impulsive” behavior is that it’s likely to be inconsistent from one time to another. It may even be somewhat RANDOM in the direction the impulse takes from one occasion to the next. The psychopath is a “loose cannon” whose behavior may be hard to predict.
Given this built-in inconsistency, it’s credible enough, at least in theory, that a psychopath acting on impulse could behave helpfully, even generously toward others at one time, and at another time, acting just as uninhibitedly on a very different impulse, be guilty of an act of sheer cruelty or predation.
For the reason I mentioned above, people observing these contrasting behaviors are likely to discount the psychopath’s acts of helpfulness or generosity and characterize him or her chiefly by the acts of cruelty. But people go further. They attempt to see (as Polonius put it) “method in the madness,” where sometimes there may not BE any “method”! People expect “consistent” behavior out of others, and they look for a pattern. If a psychopath appears helpful and generous to them at first sight, they’ll start off believing “this is a kind, caring person.” If the psychopath then turns round and treats them badly or exploits them, eventually they’ll decide “this person is a villain after all.” But they may still try to reconcile the contradictory behaviors in their own mind by trying to find a common motive or purpose behind both. Then they may conclude that the behaviors they saw as “kind” and “caring” were deliberately contrived by the psychopath in order to “take them in” and “put them off their guard.”That may well be true in some cases, but in other cases it may not be true at all. The contradictory behaviors may be largely random and impulsive, not part of any greater “scheme” or purpose.