Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Freudian look at psychopaths?

This was a sort of interesting, Freudian influenced approach to explaining psychopaths that may resonate with some of you, J. Reid Meloy (author of "The Psychopathic Mind: Origins, Dynamics, and Treatment") with subsequent commentary by Donald Carveth. He is a little bit more on the Hare side of his understanding (i.e. not too sympathetic), but it is a pretty decent overview of some of the more famous studies of sociopaths.


  1. Sociopath?:

  2. I just read a wonderful book about Psychopaths entitled:
    "How To Make A Serial Killer, The Twisted Development
    Of Innocent Children into the World's Most Sadistic
    Murderers," by Christopher Berry-Dee and Steven Morris.
    Their premise is somewhat akin to the "scale of evil"
    theory of Dr. Michael Stone.
    Sociopathy is a combination of nature/nurture is issues.
    Incidently, has anyone given any thought to why people need to give complecated answers to problems
    that have simple solutions? Don't scientists advocate a theory called Occum"s Razor? That is,
    the most obvious answer to a problem is the correct
    We can use two recent cases involving murdered child
    ren as an example.
    In the Jon Benet Ramsey case,an obviously phoney
    ransom letter was written by the child's mother
    Patsy Ramsey. "We are a small foriegn faction...
    Bring the money in an attache case... Don't grow a
    brain John..." etc...
    The police searched in vain for the child. She was
    found lovingly dressed in a closet in the basement
    of her house.
    F.B.I. profiler John Douglas, who virtually pioneered the science of profiling insists that the
    Ramsey parents had nothing to do with their daughter's death. He thinks an intruder was hiding in the house. But to believe that he has to disregard his own profiling theories.
    The child was carefully cleaned up, and was lovingly
    dressed, nothing that a kidnapper rushed for time
    would do. Other profilers trained by Douglas can
    see that. Why can't he. What would Ouccam's Razor
    say about that?
    And of course, we just went through the single
    greatest case of irrational complication: Casey
    Anthony. This has to be the greatest "circumstantial" case of all time.
    Starting with Casey's lies about the child's wear-
    abouts. The odor in the car. Casey's abject indiffer
    ance about the child's fate. Where the child was
    eventually found. What would the Occam's razor theory say about that? Why did many people find the
    unnecessarly complicated theory of George ductaping
    the body of a drowing victim easier to belive then
    the most obvious explaination?
    And don't think that a scientist would know better.
    Some of the most brillant scientific minds believe
    in 9/11 conspiracy theories and are Holocaust
    deniers and make very cogent arguments for their

    1. really one can theorize anything.

      Global warming...

      i had a liberal realist who believes in science tell me the other day that scientists simply don't "know' jack and that nobody really knows what is in it's future because they don't know exactly what in it's past. they said global warming prob happened long ago too, without the pollution factor and so people are looking at pollution as the wrong culprit.

    2. *what is in the world's future

    3. I friend of mine got me to read all the diverse theories on Jack the Ripper. An early attempt at profiling. I have to admit that in the end I found the sociological history of the east end much more interesting. I even found some of the scenes before they were gone.

      In any case profiling is not quite what it looks like in the movies. Maybe that is the passage of most interest here. If you want to read it all you have to go back to the first page.

      Strictly I like the KISS rule too (keep it simple stupid), but yes it does not sound as intelligent as Occam's razor. Does it?

      In any case while even the queen at one point weighed in on Jack the Ripper with her own sailor theory, none of the theories has completely satisfied me, and the files have disappeared.

  3. “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”

    ― Oscar Wilde, The Nightingale and the Rose

  4. To me, the biggest debate this program delineates is whether psychopathy/sociopathy is dimensional or absolute. Meloy's statement that the correlation between biology and severe psychopathology being higher than the correlation between biology and mild/moderate psychopathology suggests that more severe cases are less impervious to environmental interventions (positive or negative) but that lesser cases (scoring under 30 on the Hare checklist) are more amenable to environmental intervention.

    Obviously- the scariest conclusion that can be drawn (which the rebuttal addressed) was the idea that someone IS or IS NOT a psychopath in the sense that once a threshold of pathology has been reached, biological determinism takes over. Obviously, if someone turns into a irredeemable monster at a certain point on the Hare checklist, then scapegoating is a very real possibility for this demographic because they have been stripped of their humanity.

    I am very curious, ME, whether you see psychopathy from a dimensional perspective or more in a IS/IS NOT paradigm. What you have revealed about yourself suggests that you probably fall into the mild/moderate category and that your environment did play a big role in the formation of your character (both positively and negatively). From your own experience, do you believe that change is possible? What are the obstacles to change for you on a personal level?

    Finally- how do you reconcile Meloy's perspective of the primarily biological basis of psychopathy with an individual like James Fallon? Does James Fallon fall in the mild/moderate range because of biological limiting factors or environmental limiting factors? Did his genetics and not his environment ultimately prevent him from failing to reach a psychopathic threshold that would eliminate the possibility of prosocial behaviors?

    If the mild/moderate psychopath can be influenced by environment and the severe psychopath can not be, it begs the question: Are they two different disorders that need to be identified and treated as separate and differently motivated disorders that must be distinguished between by clinicians before any sort of treatment plan is devised?

    1. I too have been plagued with the nature vs nuture debate. I find the answer lies in the two labels often assigned to this condition. The psychopath as i under stand the definition is one whose thoughts appear to be rooted in genectics with or without the presence of negative extetnal forces. In short, they seem to biologically engineered that way. On the other hand, the sociopath appears to be a product of their dysfunctional environment. Although nuances seem to exist in the origins of these personalality disorders, they are often used inteterchangibly and are considered to be under the umbrella of antisocial personality disorders.

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