Friday, August 30, 2013

Borderline personality disorder vs. sociopathy

This was an interesting article from the Psychology Today blog relating an experiment done examining the brain activity of sociopaths and comparing it to that of people with borderline personality disorder. Why these two disorders? Apparently, sociopathic and borderline traits occur with equal frequency among violent offenders, but they reach their antisocial behavior in different ways:

Typically, antisocial offenders with borderline personality disorder are emotionally reactive, unable to regulate emotions, bereft of cognitive empathy (knowing how another person feels), rageful, and reactively aggressive. By contrast, antisocial offenders with high psychopathic traits can be characterized as emotionally detached, cognitively empathic, morally problematic, exploitative, and proactively and reactively aggressive.

The experiment:

The investigators took MRI scans of the two groups of antisocial offenders, with the aim of exploring differences in the cerebral structure of their brains. All offenders had been convicted for capital, violent crimes (including severe bodily injury such as murder, manslaughter, robbery, or rape) from high-security forensic facilities and penal institutions and were formally diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. There was also a comparison group of healthy men.

The results:

The antisocial offenders with borderline personality disorder had alterations in the orbitofrontal and ventromedial prefrontal cortex regions, which are involved in emotion regulation and reactive aggression; there were also differences in the temporal pole, which is involved in the interpretation of other peoples’ motives. By contrast, the antisocial offenders with high psychopathic traits showed reduced volume mostly in midline cortical areas, which are involved in the processing of self-referential information and self reflection (i.e., dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate/precuneus) and recognizing emotions of others (postcentral gyrus). 

I thought this was interesting. I wrote previously about the connection between sociopathy and alexithymia, or the decreased ability to identify, understand, and describe one's own emotions. This trait has been linked to a lack of empathy, the idea being that if you are unable to understand your own emotions, you don't stand much of a chance of understanding the emotional worlds of others. I feel like I don't understand my emotions, that they feel out of context to me, like I'm getting only snippets of a movie played backwards. This feeling probably contributes to my weak sense of self. This brain scan study seems to comport with this theory -- that sociopaths suffer from an ability to process self-referential information and to self-reflect, and that consequently sociopaths have flexible understandings of not only morality, but basically every human trait.

18 comments:

  1. Some people claim that sociopathy is Psychopathy
    "light" and that sociopaths DO feel emotions and CAN
    get agitated. Therefore, they claim that socipathy
    is the accquired triat and psychopathy is the BORN
    trait.
    We've seen this in some of our high profile trials.
    It seems that many of these defendants have perfected
    the ability to cry a single tear out of one eye.
    They don't get terribly distrought and keep their
    cool.
    It would seem that sociopaths are victims of mal-
    nourishment and psychopaths never recieved any
    nourishment at all.
    It's easy to see why M.E. was turned off by her
    father's phoney "empathy." It is true that many
    empathic people ARE hypricates. This is why we call
    them "common sickies." The "super sickies" are the
    vicious psychopaths that can NEVER be reformed.
    Don't waste your time on them.
    But if sociopathy IS an accquired trait, it could
    be dropped. They could be among the ranks of the
    "common sickies." In fact, some sociopaths might be
    easier to help then the self decieving empaths.
    Visit "New life Foundation" (Based in Arizona) for
    a means of escape.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. panderama time.

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    2. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 26, 2013 at 5:14 PM

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  2. BORN psychopaths have emotions (to a degree of course).
    It seems a little presumptuous to make a claim based upon a binary supposition that stems from the study of extreme cases (individuals, who CHOOSE what is wrong from the society's perspective).
    Isn't empiricism supposed to be all compassing, when describing the nature of things?
    Don't forget, that the human brain has developed over hundreds of thousands of years, to allow great degrees of plasticity in case certain areas of it under perform, or are damaged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Don't forget, that the human brain has developed over hundreds of thousands of years, to allow great degrees of plasticity in case certain areas of it under perform, or are damaged." - Makes me think: Evolution by natural selection. What trait is selected varies over time, depending on the variable environment the given individuals of a group live in. When hunger and cold weather over long periods of time occurs with less chance of good shelter, individuals that have a larger body weight will have an higher degree of survival compared to others. Under other conditions might speed and agility play a role on hunting prey and therefore surrvival and mating chances with female members of the group. Lighter and faster individuals might then have the traits to be naturally selected, one of the different trait that is selected. A groups total survival ability is judged by its total number of different traits and variety of individuals, so that no one occurance of a environmental variable can wipe the whole group out. Evolution is sometimes just trial and error, where traits occur as random mutation and live on in our offspring if these mutation create benefits for survival. Any characteristic might be a benefit under any different number of conditions. In barbaric times when warlords fought over kingdoms, clearly sociopathic tendencies would benefit them. These men then mated with any woman they liked, and had hundreds of bastards. If you check islendingabok.is you will see the worlds most complete family tree for a whole nation, only local citizens can access. They say that any given psycho that was a co-founder of that island (Iceland) is today a forfather for great parts of todays population. This is no different in any of the other scandinavian countries, where kings and warlords often took what they wanted. There is psychpath genetics dormant in almost any Scandinavian today. I read an article once that stated that male Y chromosomes in arabia are identicasl enough between all individuals to assume that only a few men mated with most women in theyr ancentral times. Same thing went on there. Now what we are like is as plastic as whatever, all mixed by a thousand conditions and and insame number of individuals before us. Plastic.

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    2. Very well observed and pointed out.
      I would also like to bring about another observation about the so called "aspies" (been diagnosed as one among other things).
      They tend to be very sneaky and cunning (even back stabbing), when forced to survive in a social environment (that includes the spoiled and over-doted ones).
      There is a general misconception about the connection between PD's and neurophysiological/anatomical "anomalies" of the brain.
      Only recently has the scientific community started to understand these with regard to sociological factors.

      Delete
    3. POLYGAMOUS VEGITOPATHSeptember 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM

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    4. POLYGAMOUS VEGITOPATHSeptember 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM

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  3. "This makes me wonder about the "empathy switch": if by default it is off in sociopaths, but can be turned on, can empaths switch it off?"

    They can but only to a certain degree and in specific circumstances. I think what you retweeted on the issue is absurd and doesn't show people who experience empathy.

    "When criminals were drawn and quartered, it didn't draw crowds of sociopaths to jeer and cheer. They were all empaths"

    Also a load of bullshit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They only jeered and cheered because they believed the one being drawn and quartered was a socio/psychopath! YAY!!!!

      Delete
    2. POLYGAMOUS VEGITOPATHSeptember 26, 2013 at 5:17 PM

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  4. I can change if it helps fall in love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVESeptember 26, 2013 at 5:18 PM

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  5. It isn't the intent but the action

    ReplyDelete
  6. I suffer from BPD and the parallels and differences between BPD and sociopathy in my life have been muddy at best. I don't want to be abandoned, but I will cut people out of my life as easily as I would kill a rodent in the basement. I'll go to great lengths to keep people in my life, but usually through blackmail and by toying with their empathy. I have scars on my arms from when I would self-mutilate in order to draw people closer via their misplaced sense of concern. The list goes on and on. It like the "disorders" fuel each other. (Not that everyone with BPD is sociopathic or vice-versa)

    I've read Barbara Oakley's book, Evil Genes, and her passages on those she calls "borderpaths", but the magnitude of her examples reached into near-parody territory and did not clearly define the relationship between the two syndromes for a more "mild" case.

    Isn't the idealization and demonizing of a person just the natural ebb and flow of being objective in seeing what another brings in the moment? Is my BPD impulsivity just a manifestation of my sociopathic need for stimulation? Is the "inappropriate anger" of BPD just another instance of "poor emotional response"? These are rhetorical questions of which the answer does not particularly matter.

    Being diagnosed as a sociopath was one of the greatest things in my life - it allowed for a clearly identity to take root. With BPD, identity is often weak at best. With a diagnosis of sociopathy, I was able to coalesce the features of my personality into an entity: 'me'. It has been interesting how much my BPD symptoms have decreased since the diagnosis. I never knew that my search for identity would lead me to sociopathy, but it did and I am a better, more focused, person as a result.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are what we choose to be, but some things never change.
      Labels we are slapped with can and do affect us, but do not make us what we are.
      All real change comes from within.

      Delete
    2. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 26, 2013 at 5:19 PM

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  7. You mean you changed your thoughts?

    ReplyDelete

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