Friday, October 14, 2016

Sesame Street on Empathy

I saw this interesting Sesame Street clip defining empathy. Curiously, they never define it as feeling what another person is feeling -- only understanding or imagining what another person is feeling. I guess we would call that cognitive empathy, perhaps even just perspective taking. If that is all that is needed, then I think each sociopath here passes the Sesame Street standard? If anything, it's the autism spectrum that struggles to perspective take?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Introduction to Psychopathy

I am still surprised by the amount of disagreement about psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality disorder, etc. that you'll get from any source -- academic, pop psychology, etc. With that small caveat (nothing is definitive), I found this article on psychopathy to be a good overview with academic cites (and links in the original). Here are some selections:

While it is past antisocial behavior that is particularly important in predicting future criminal activity (Walters, 2003), it is CU (callous unemotional) traits that are at the core of developmental trajectory associated with psychopathy (Frick and White, 2008). The disorder is developmental. It has been shown that CU traits in particular and the psychopathy more generally are relatively stable from childhood into adulthood (Lynam et al., 2007; Munoz and Frick, 2007). In addition, the functional impairments seen in adults with psychopathy (e.g., in responding to emotional expressions, aversive conditioning, passive avoidance learning, reversal learning, extinction) are also seen in adolescents with psychopathic tendencies (see later).
Psychopathy is not equivalent to the psychiatric conditions of conduct disorder (CD) or antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) as defined by DSM-5 or their ICD-10 counterparts. The diagnostic criteria for these disorders focus on antisocial behaviors rather than on etiological factors such as the emotion dysfunction seen in psychopathy (Blair et al., 2005). As such these psychiatric conditions describe individuals with difficulties in executive dysfunction (Moffitt, 1993), as well as individuals with symptoms stemming from CU traits. Consequently, individuals with psychopathy are a more homogenous group than those individuals meeting the criteria for CD and ASPD (Karnik et al., 2006). It should be noted, however, that DSM-5 includes the specifier for CD ‘with limited pro-social emotions,’ which stem directly from research on youth with CD and CU traits (Pardini et al., 2010; Pardini and Fite, 2010). Furthermore, the diagnosis of ASPD now includes components of psychopathy (APA, 2013). While the disorder of psychopathy will still not be equivalent to the DSM-5 diagnoses of CD and ASPD, there will be greater overlap in diagnostic conceptualization.

Psychopathy is characterized by an increased risk for antisocial behavior (Frick and Dickens, 2006; Hare, 2003). While several psychiatric disorders and neurological conditions, including CD and ASPD (APA, 2013), confer an increased risk of reactive aggression (Anderson et al., 1999; Leibenluft et al., 2003), psychopathy is unique in that it conveys increased risk for instrumental aggression (Frick et al., 2003). 

Interestingly, an article that was cited included this assessment of treatment options: "While treatment recommendations are currently sparse, recent work has shown that previous assessments of treatment amenability in this population may have been overly pessimistic."

Also, because I had to look this up too:
"A classic measure of stimulus-reinforcement learning is aversive conditioning -- the individual learns that a particular stimulus is associated with threat. Individuals with elevated CU traits show marked impairment in stimulus-reinforcement learning. Indeed, an individual's ability to perform aversive conditioning at 15 years has predictive power regarding whether that individual will display anti-social behavior 14 years later (Raine et a., 1996)."
Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies


Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.