Monday, September 9, 2013

Mind blame

Nobel Prize winning neuropsychiatrist writes an op-ed for the NY Times "The New Science of Mind" about the biology of mental disorders. He first uses the example of how psychotherapy and anti-depressant pharmaceuticals both change the structure and functioning of the brains of depressives, but one works better than the other depending on the neurological roots of the patients' depression. He also uses the genetic example of how an extra copy of genetic sequence means an increased risk of autism and its accompanying anti-social tendencies or a missing copy of the same sequence leads to Williams syndrome and its accompanying intense sociability.

Our understanding of the biology of mental disorders has been slow in coming, but recent advances like these have shown us that mental disorders are biological in nature, that people are not responsible for having schizophrenia or depression, and that individual biology and genetics make significant contributions.

The result of such work is a new, unified science of mind that uses the combined power of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to examine the great remaining mysteries of mind: how we think, feel and experience ourselves as conscious human beings.

This new science of mind is based on the principle that our mind and our brain are inseparable. The brain is a complex biological organ possessing immense computational capability: it constructs our sensory experience, regulates our thoughts and emotions, and controls our actions. It is responsible not only for relatively simple motor behaviors like running and eating, but also for complex acts that we consider quintessentially human, like thinking, speaking and creating works of art. Looked at from this perspective, our mind is a set of operations carried out by our brain. The same principle of unity applies to mental disorders.

In years to come, this increased understanding of the physical workings of our brain will provide us with important insight into brain disorders, whether psychiatric or neurological. But if we persevere, it will do even more: it will give us new insights into who we are as human beings.

Like most other mental disorders, sociopaths are characterized by both genetic and neurological differences that distinguish them from neurotypicals. I'm not saying that sociopaths aren't responsible for their actions, but they're certainly not responsible for being sociopaths. 

19 comments:

  1. But nothing ever seems to get solved does it?
    With all this knowledge, you would think that
    workable approaches could be developed.
    If the powers that be found it profitable to solve
    the "riddle" of sociopathy they would do so. But
    more money flows into greedy hands when a problem
    persists and is "managed" rather then cured.
    We see this with most physical diseases. Big
    pharamacy pushes the drug route. The fact is, most
    physical problems can either be prevented or cured
    with the nutrivate route and would cost much less.
    But the don't-raise-the-bridge-lower-the-water
    principle works here as well. Confuse people's minds
    provide misinformation, fleece the flock and lead
    them to distruction.
    The biggest problem of all for some people would be
    if people would wake up and there would be no
    problems for them to exploit.

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    1. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:23 PM

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    2. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:24 PM

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    3. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:25 PM

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    4. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:43 PM

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  2. http://www.missyomodel.com/Klow-Gouldthorpe

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    1. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM

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  3. I agree with your statement that while sociopaths are responsible for their actions they are not responsible for being sociopaths. That being said, if you are going to use brain imaging and genetic research to prove your point, then it would be inconsistent to ignore all recent studies on neuroplasticity, and the fact that if an individual is psychologically sophisticated enough to experience metacognition (the ability to evaluate ones own thoughts and discern the internal biases brought to the equation). The likely ability of a person to become more sociopathic or less sociopathic (alternately more or less prosocial) is partially connected to that individual's choice to move in one direction or the other. Science does not provide a free parking pass to sociopathically wired individuals. Ultimately a smart sociopath has to decide which side of his/her own nature to feed.

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    1. "Ultimately a smart sociopath has to decide which side of his/her own nature to feed."

      Reminiscent of Jekyll & Hyde. Interesting optimism - every person having both 'good' and 'evil' within them; and choosing which one to yield to.
      So using manipulative/impulsive/fearless tendencies to the benefit of others, whilst not harming anyone in the process is the idea? While "more... or less sociopathic" would be referring to the less considerate behavioural tendencies of sociopaths?

      Simply saying a person that is "psychologically sophisticated" should be able to "become more sociopathic or less sociopathic" is somewhat questionable. In the least, it would require a lot more than simply a change in perspective to accomplish this. Saying that it is a choice of how sociopathic one chooses to be is like asking an autistic person to please be less autistic. One cannot necessarily alter someone's characteristics, but one can try to 'train' someone if it's to the benefit of a society, I guess. Perhaps 'training' a sociopath to be more considerate could lead to the neuroplastic brains eventually grasping consideration.

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    2. not "psychologically sophisticated" globally- only in the sense of engaging in metacognition. ME's entire book is an act of metacognition. ME definitely knows how to modify her behavior to play to her environment. Therefore- the capacity to act in a mindful way is possible for a sociopath.
      As far as choosing good vs choosing evil I am talking more in terms of having the self aware ness to recognize that when prosocial habit patterns are created, a behavioral positive feedback loop is established, and that feedback loop, if enacted enough actually does affect the brain on a structural level.
      Morality does not have to enter in. That's not what I'm saying. And I agree- to say that would be similarly obnoxious to telling an autistic person to grow a pattern of mind. What I'm saying is that a self aware sociopath is capable of choosing prosocial behavior (no matter what her motivations are) and that the prosocial habits eventually change the way ME functions. Not totally, but on an incremental level, at least.

      A great book for socios and nonsocios alike- "The Power of Habit"

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    3. friend of the devilSeptember 9, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      thank you.

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    4. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:24 PM

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    5. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:25 PM

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    6. VEGITOPATH MADLY IN LOVE WITH MONICA AND UKANSeptember 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM

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  4. You wrote: "Like most other mental disorders, sociopaths are characterized by both genetic and neurological differences that distinguish them from neurotypicals. I'm not saying that sociopaths aren't responsible for their actions, but they're certainly not responsible for being sociopaths. "

    Maybe this is true to the extent that we come with certain genetic baggage already in place, but it's been my experience that actions eventually equal state of being. In other words, you can't just say, "Well, I'm a sociopath, can't help it, guess I'll go manipulate someone...." Every time you make an action--or a thought--you are reinforcing certain neural pathways. This is one of the assumptions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy mentioned in the article above. I wouldn't make the leap from "people aren't responsible for having schizophrenia" to "people aren't responsible for acting like a sociopath." If I've read some of your other articles correctly, sociopaths know darn well what is considered decent, humane behavior. To a greater or lesser degree they will make choices through free will, REINFORCING their behavior and reinforcing pathways in the brain. In other words, you ARE responsible to some degree for being a sociopath--through your actions.
    Here in NY

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    1. I wanted that lesbo to win.

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  5. ya, drugs don't help socio's....too bad. There MUST be something..oh, yeah, they don't want it~~nuttin' wrong wit me...

    ReplyDelete

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