Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology & The Work

Altair

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Finished reading Anatomy of Violence.

Basically the author describes different factors (biological, genetic, social) which shape human behaviour and specifically can lead to violence. He also describes how these factors, especially "selfish genes" make people unconsciously follow different survival strategies. Additionally he breaks down different parts of the brain malfunctioning of which can lead to violence in humans.

Here are some interesting quotes.

The central thesis in his landmark book was that “successful” genes are ruthlessly selfish in their struggle for survival, giving rise to selfish individual behavior. In this context, human and animal bodies are little more than containers, or “survival machines,” for armies of ruthless renegade genes. These machines plot a merciless campaign of success in the world, where success is defined solely in terms of survival and achieving greater representation in the next gene pool.
About importance of balanced neurotransmitters:

Change the level of these neurotransmitters, and you change cognition, emotion, and behavior. Genes that influence neurotransmitter functioning can therefore result in aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Take dopamine, for example. Dopamine helps produce drive and motivation. It is critically involved in reward-seeking behavior. Aggressive behavior can be rewarding, and in animals dopamine receptors help code for this rewarding property of aggression. When dopamine is experimentally increased in animals it fuels aggression, while blocking dopamine decreases aggression.
Why would low serotonin result in violence? Serotonin is a mood stabilizer, which has an inhibitory function in the brain. It is thought to be one of the biological brakes on impulsive, thoughtless behavior. It innervates— or lubricates— a part of the brain called the frontal cortex, which... is critically important in regulating aggression. The less serotonin you have, the more rash you may be.
About importance of proper functioning of prefrontal cortex:

1. At an emotional level, reduced prefrontal functioning results in a loss of control over the evolutionarily more primitive parts of the brain, such as the limbic system, that generate raw emotions like anger and rage. 4 The more sophisticated prefrontal cortex keeps a lid on these limbic emotions. Take that lid off, and the emotions will boil over.

2. At a behavioral level, we know from research on neurological patients that damage to the prefrontal cortex results in risk-taking, irresponsibility, and rule-breaking. It’s not far to go from these behavioral changes to violent behavior.

3. At a personality level, frontal damage has been shown to result in a whole host of personality changes. These include impulsivity, loss of self-control, and inability to modify and inhibit behavior appropriately. 6 Can you imagine these types of personality traits in violent offenders?

4. At a social level, prefrontal damage results in immaturity, lack of tact, and poor social judgment. From here we can imagine how a lack of social skills can result in socially inappropriate behavior and poorer ability to formulate nonaggressive solutions to fractious social encounters.

5. At a cognitive level, poor frontal functioning results in a loss of intellectual flexibility and poorer problem-solving skills. These intellectual impairments can later result in school failure, unemployment, and economic deprivation, all factors that predispose someone to a criminal and violent way of life.
About hippocampus:

The hippocampus is also part of the neural network that forms the basis for the processing of socially relevant information, and it is involved in recognizing and appraising objects. Disruption to such a system could in part relate to the socially inappropriate behavior shown by some violent individuals, as well as the misrecognition and misappraisal of ambiguous stimuli in social situations that can result in violent encounters.
Yet there’s more to the hippocampus than memory and ability. It is a key component in the limbic circuit that regulates emotional behavior, 39 and it has been implicated in aggressive, antisocial behavior in both animals and humans.
About amygdala:

...individuals with high psychopathy scores showed reduced activity in the amygdala during emotional, personal moral decision-making. While the amygdala, the neural seat of emotion, shows a bright glow in normal people when faced with emotion-provoking moral dilemmas, this emotional candle is barely flickering in highly psychopathic individuals.
Very interesting study comparing executive functioning of normal people, unsuccessful and successful psychopaths:

We also tested our psychopaths and controls on a measure called “executive functioning.” It involves all the cognitive functions that you would like in a successful business executive— planning, attention, cognitive flexibility, and, importantly, the ability to change plans when given feedback that one course of action was inappropriate. How did our three groups do? The controls performed significantly better than unsuccessful psychopaths— that’s something you might expect. But take a look at how the successful psychopaths performed. They not only outperformed the failed psychopaths— they also performed significantly better than the normal controls.
See figure 4.3 in attachments.

Very interesting description of System 1 or at least of its part:

A good mind makes good decisions, and to do so it has to rely on “somatic markers” produced by the body. These somatic markers are unpleasant autonomic bodily states produced when one is contemplating a risky action or a difficult decision— the pounding heart and the perspiration. These somatic markers have flagged negative outcomes in the individual’s past, and are stored in the somatosensory cortex. This input is then transmitted to the prefrontal cortex, where further evaluation and decision-making takes place. If the current situation has been previously linked to a negative outcome, the somatic marker for that past event will sound an alarm bell to the decision-making areas of the brain— no action will be taken. This process may act at either a conscious or a subconscious level and can be thought of as helping to reduce the range of options in decision-making. It is similar to classical conditioning and the anticipatory fear that deters us from conducting an antisocial act previously associated with punishment.

We had always assumed that in order to make good decisions, we need to be removed from our emotions— to be cool, calm, and collected. The revolution Damasio made in cognitive and affective neuroscience was to argue that instead, emotions importantly guide good decision-making. Without emotions and somatic markers, we will not make good decisions.
It is so called Somatic marker hypothesis formulated by Antonio Damasio:

The somatic marker hypothesis provides a systems-level neuroanatomical and cognitive framework for decision making and the influence on it by emotion. The key idea of this hypothesis is that decision making is a process that is influenced by marker signals that arise in bioregulatory processes, including those that express themselves in emotions and feelings. This influence can occur at multiple levels of operation, some of which occur consciously and some of which occur non-consciously. Here we review studies that confirm various predictions from the hypothesis. The orbitofrontal cortex represents one critical structure in a neural system subserving decision making. Decision making is not mediated by the orbitofrontal cortex alone, but arises from large-scale systems that include other cortical and subcortical components. Such structures include the amygdala, the somatosensory/insular cortices and the peripheral nervous system.
Turning to the successful psychopaths, we see that they show intact autonomic stress reactivity and anticipatory fear. They have a mind-body connectedness that allows for somatic markers to help form good decision-making. That translates into superior executive functioning. And I would argue that that is why successful psychopaths are successful.
We have seen from MRI studies that antisocial individuals in the community have structural brain impairments. We have also seen from the clinic that patients with head injuries causing prefrontal structural damage develop antisocial behavior and a loss of somatic markers, resulting in poor decision-making and maladaptive social behavior.
About superior verbal skills of psychopaths:

In many of us, the left hemisphere is largely responsible for language processing— language is strongly lateralized to the left hemisphere. But in psychopaths it’s more of a mix of both left and right hemispheres. This might be why they seem to be so adept in their verbal skills. They have two hemispheres— not one— that they can utilize for language processing. This in turn could be due to a larger, better communicating corpus callosum.
An example of flexing of the brain by mental efforts:

Practicing lying in childhood might particularly enhance prefrontal white matter. But even in adults, extensive practice has been found to correlate with brain structure. London taxi drivers have to undergo three years of extensive training to learn their way around 25,000 convoluted city streets. MRI studies have shown that these taxi drivers have a greater volume of the hippocampus compared with matched controls, and also compared with London bus drivers, who do not undergo such extensive training. Just as working in the gym can build up your muscles, mental effort can flex your brain.
About importance of Omega-3:

Omega-3 has two important components— DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). What does DHA do? It is known to play a key role in neuronal structure and function. Making up 6 percent of the dry cerebral cortex, it influences the functioning of the blood-brain barrier that regulates what gets into your brain from your bloodstream. It enhances synaptic functioning, facilitating communication between brain cells. It makes up 30 percent of the membrane of your brain cell and regulates the activity of membrane enzymes. It protects the neuron from cell death. It increases the size of the cell. DHA also stimulates neurite outgrowth. There is more intricate dendritic branching in the neurons of animals fed a diet rich in omega-3 compared with those fed a normal diet. Dendrites of the cell receive signals from other brain cells, so this dendritic branching translates to more connectedness between cells. The axon that transmits the electrical signal to other cells is longer and has a better sheath to conduct the electrical impulse. DHA regulates serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters... We also know that DHA is involved in regulating gene expression, so in theory it can help turn on genes that protect against violence— or turn off genes that increase the probability of violence.

...Omega-3 enhances both brain structure and function.

...Joe Hibbeln, a leading figure in the field, explained to me that the half-life of omega-3 in the body could be about two years— it stays in the body ready for re-uptake and it can make a lasting change in the brain.
About interaction of social and biological factors:

Social factors interact with biological factors to increase a propensity for violence. They also moderate the relationship between biology and violence.

[...] In the first-ever functional MRI study of any antisocial group, I found that violent offenders who suffered severe child abuse showed the greatest reduction in right temporal cortical functioning. 30 Another study found that if you have high testosterone levels and a deviant peer group you may become conduct disordered — yet if you have that same high testosterone and circulate in a non-deviant peer group you are instead led to become a leader.
So far we’ve seen that when a biological risk factor interacts with a social risk factor, the outcome is an exponential increase in violence. But “moderation” is another way that social and biological factors can influence each other. A social process can “moderate”— or change— the relationship between biology and violence. That is exactly what the conditioning experiment had demonstrated— that home background moderates the relationship between fear conditioning and antisocial behavior.
About negative effects of stress and Transmarginal Inhibition:

We see here that it’s not just direct social experiences like physical child abuse that can change a child’s cognitive functioning. Even in the dark shadow of social experience, something indirect in society can affect your brain. An insidious effect of social experience can profoundly change neurocognitive functioning.

We know that excessive release of cortisol in response to stress is neurotoxic to pyramidal cells in the hippocampus— a brain region critical for learning and memory. It kills them off. It seems reasonable to hypothesize that children who hear about a homicide around the corner get scared out of their wits. Is this going to happen to their family? Can they walk to the store safely? Are they going to be next? That fear and stress can translate into temporarily impairing brain functioning and cognitive performance.
Adults who lived close to the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001— and thus were exposed to very significant environmental stress— showed a reduction in hippocampal gray-matter volumes when brain-scanned three years later. From environment to brain— and, at least in some— to ultimate destructive violence.
Effects of environment on gene expression:

I know this is controversial, but it is also critically important to recognize that the social environment is far more important than many have ever imagined, and complicated in ways we’re still trying to understand. Jonathan Kellerman as a clinical psychologist and scientist in Los Angeles was decades ahead of his time when he published a paper in 1977 documenting how environmental manipulations can reduce oppositional and destructive behavior in a seven-year-old boy with XYY syndrome. The environment can overcome genetics.
We often conceive of genes as fixed and static, but they are much more changeable than commonly believed. True, the underlying structure of the DNA— the nucleotide sequence— remains relatively
fixed. But the chromatin proteins that DNA wraps itself around may be altered by the amino acids that make up these proteins. Proteins can be turned on— or turned off— by the environment. That alters how the DNA is transcribed and how the genetic material is activated. Methylation— the chemical addition of a methyl group to cytosine, which is one of the four bases of DNA— can also increase or decrease gene expression.
So the environment not only changes gene expression in the individual— it also has permanent effects that transmit to the next generation. The exciting concept here is that although 50 percent of the variation in antisocial behavior is genetic in origin, these genes are not fixed. Social influences result in modifications to DNA that have truly profound influences on future neuronal functioning.
Finally he presents his "Functional neuroanatomical model of violence highlighting cognitive, affective, and motor processes" (see figure 8.6 in attachments):

You may also wonder how violence in particular arises from these cognitive, affective, and motor forces. I view violence at a dimensional, probabilistic level. The greater the number of impaired cognitive, affective, and motor neural systems, the greater the likelihood of violence as an outcome. If, for example, you make poor decisions and you don’t feel guilt and you act impulsively, then that will exponentially increase the likelihood of violence— all other things being equal.
Very interesting example of using biofeedback or "mirror" to enhance brain functioning:

The first clinical evaluation confirmed excessive slow-wave activity in Danny’s prefrontal cortex— a classic sign of chronic under-arousal. Then came thirty sessions of biofeedback. Danny sat in front of a computer screen with an electrode cap on his head, which measured his brain activity as he played Pac-Man on the computer. Danny controlled Pac-Man, trapped in a maze, and his task was to move around, gobbling up as many pellets as he could. He could only move Pac-Man by maintaining sustained attention— by transforming his frontal slow-wave theta activity into faster-wave alpha and beta activity. If his attention lapsed, Pac-Man stopped. By maintaining his concentration, Danny was able to retrain his under-aroused, immature cortex, which had constantly craved immediate stimulation, into a more mature and aroused brain capable of focusing on a task. It was hardly a quick fix. For Danny, the biofeedback training lasted for nearly a year. But a metamorphosis took place over the course of his thirty treatment sessions. He was radically transformed, from an inattentive, F-grade teenager on a downward spiral toward prison into a mature, straight-A, career-oriented student who ended up passing his exams with distinction.

...By feeding back to him his brain activity, he was able to learn how to increase activation of the prefrontal cortex. That gave him agency and the ability to better regulate his behavior.
About importance of meditation:

It’s not just that meditation changes the brain during the time of meditation. People who have practiced meditation over a long period later show that at rest— in a non-meditation state— their brain has shifted toward increased attention and alertness as measured by gamma activity— a form of high-frequency EEG activity involved in consciousness, attention, and learning. The more hours of practice, the greater the brain change taking place. Meditation is producing long-lasting positive effects on the brain. Mindfulness practice changes not just brain function but also brain structure. One study scanned subjects before and after an eight-week mindfulness course, with controls again being put on a waiting list. The mindfulness group showed a significant increase in the density of cortical gray matter after treatment— a tangible physical change. Enhanced areas included the posterior cingulate and the temporal-parietal junction, areas involved in moral decision-making. The hippocampus was also enhanced, an area critical for learning, memory, conditioning, and aggression regulation and that is impaired by extreme stress. So even though the hippocampus reaches full maturity early in life, its structure can still be enhanced through later environmental change. Another brain-imaging study documented that extensive meditators have increased cortical thickness in the prefrontal cortex compared to controls. Mindfulness remodels the brain— physically.
Meditation enhances left frontal brain activity. That meshes with the fact that enhanced left frontal brain activation occurs when people experience positive emotions and is associated with reduced anxiety. It also increases frontal cortical thickness, and we know that this area is not just important in emotion regulation, but is also structurally and functionally impaired in offenders. Note also that meditation enhances brain areas important for moral decision-making as well as areas involved in attention, learning, and memory.
 

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Thebull

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#2
Re: Raine's Anatomy of Violence & Psychopathy

Thank you for the excellent summarisations of this book. I have just started reading the book on my kindle app and I’m finding it really interesting . I enjoy reading and I do find it difficult to keep the information locked in so I’m taking it slowly.

I was quite violent in my late teens/early twenties and I’m beginning to gain clarity on how and why this happened. I wasn’t a social outcast back then and it’s interesting for me now to explore what triggered this behaviour in my personal environment back then. Although I have regretted my actions and without doubt I’ve been sorry. Maybe my lack of knowledge and my own harsh judgement I’ve had on my actions has stopped me from processing clearly why it happened.

I believe now which I probably hadn’t realised with complete clarity that until my thirty’s I was more or less an Automaten, completely mechanical. I don’t know why this surprised me , maybe it’s just something I haven’t been able to accept on a deeper level. Now I’m part human, part machine so some small progress. I shall continue reading in my own time and we’ll see how I go.
 
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Re: Raine's Anatomy of Violence & Psychopathy

Thank you for sharing a summary of this book, Altair! :)

A rather informative look into how different factors, such as biological, genetic and social, affect future expressions of behaviour.

I shall add this to my reading list. How have others compared the information so far to the book Character Disturbance, or Inside the Criminal Mind , to cite 2 out of a number of examples?
 

Laura

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Re: Raine's Anatomy of Violence & Psychopathy


For me, the important thing about this book was the fact that, even though the discussion was framed in terms of extremes, there were many clues as to how the ordinary, healthy person can be completely off in their thinking because one or another part of the brain is allowed to hold sway over the rest. I think the most important take-home message in this book is the extreme importance of the good functioning of the frontal cortex and ATTENTION to reality. Various issues that interfere with this process, or conversely, can enhance it, are also discussed.
 

Anthony

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Re: Raine's Anatomy of Violence & Psychopathy

Laura said:
For me, the important thing about this book was the fact that, even though the discussion was framed in terms of extremes, there were many clues as to how the ordinary, healthy person can be completely off in their thinking because one or another part of the brain is allowed to hold sway over the rest. I think the most important take-home message in this book is the extreme importance of the good functioning of the frontal cortex and ATTENTION to reality. Various issues that interfere with this process, or conversely, can enhance it, are also discussed.
The book shows that by purposeful effort one can really change for the better, despite genes, biology etc. There needs to be a desire to change (as Samenow noted), knowledge of how the brain functions as well as an objective view of the self via the network, and then that knowledge can be applied. Raine shows that the brain regions that are most often involved in these extreme cases are the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala (along with several others). He also notes how diet, exposure to toxins and many other factors can contribute to various pathologies or alleviate them.
 

Altair

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Re: Raine's Anatomy of Violence & Psychopathy

SMM said:
Thank you for sharing a summary of this book, Altair! :)

A rather informative look into how different factors, such as biological, genetic and social, affect future expressions of behaviour.

I shall add this to my reading list. How have others compared the information so far to the book Character Disturbance, or Inside the Criminal Mind , to cite 2 out of a number of examples?
Anatomy of Violence deals mostly with serial killers, sex offenders and so on. If you want to know more about more common types of psychos you can encounter in the everyday life, Character Disturbance is a must read. I haven't read Inside the Criminal Mind yet.

Note that this book was recommended as a part of series of books which should be read in a certain order. You may want to check these threads:

Collingwood's Idea of History & Speculum Mentis
Hyperdimensional Politics
 

Divide by Zero

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Re: Raine's Anatomy of Violence & Psychopathy

The Psychopath Inside by Fallon was very interesting and gave more info on successful psychopaths.

Fallon found that his brain scanned like a psychopath's brain, yet he had none of the violence.
But after consulting friends and family, he realized that he lacked empathy and was a quite impulsive, adventure seeking person.

So, he gave us an inside view of how a psychopath thinks/senses and explained how he could use cold cognition to calculate but warm was not there as the brain scans showed.
 

Laura

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Re: Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology

I thought I'd change the title of the thread so we can discuss all three authors in here since each gives a slightly different perspective on the same issues.
 

aragorn

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Re: Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology

Reading the summary by Altair, I started wondering about this part:

Turning to the successful psychopaths, we see that they show intact autonomic stress reactivity and anticipatory fear. They have a mind-body connectedness that allows for somatic markers to help form good decision-making. That translates into superior executive functioning. And I would argue that that is why successful psychopaths are successful.
I don't quite understand, how can psychopaths have things like 'somatic markers' and 'mind-body connectedness' when they supposedly don't feel stress and fear, at least not the way normal people do? I'm sure they have their own 'markers', with the help of their excellent skill of "reading" people. I could imagine them having somatic markers in the way a predator feels aroused when they are closing in on the target.

Well, I probably should read the book first... :cool2:
 

Laura

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Re: Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology

Aragorn said:
Reading the summary by Altair, I started wondering about this part:

Turning to the successful psychopaths, we see that they show intact autonomic stress reactivity and anticipatory fear. They have a mind-body connectedness that allows for somatic markers to help form good decision-making. That translates into superior executive functioning. And I would argue that that is why successful psychopaths are successful.
I don't quite understand, how can psychopaths have things like 'somatic markers' and 'mind-body connectedness' when they supposedly don't feel stress and fear, at least not the way normal people do? I'm sure they have their own 'markers', with the help of their excellent skill of "reading" people. I could imagine them having somatic markers in the way a predator feels aroused when they are closing in on the target.

Well, I probably should read the book first... :cool2:
Yeah. This was about a very particular population of psychopaths. It's something that needs discussion when enough people have read the text and can offer different views. I admit that I was a bit nonplussed about it. I should mention that I also read Raine's new Psychopathy textbook which focuses on that disorder pretty exclusively.

All of these books give us very good information about what can go terribly wrong with the brain either via nature/genes or environment, or an interaction between them. At the same time, it gives some yardsticks for what is normal as well as some clues about what might work in terms of work on the self.
 

Keyhole

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Re: Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology

I am a third of the way through Anatomy of Violence. One point which stood out for me so far was the section dedicated to the "Warrior" gene, monoamine oxidase-A. For those unfamiliar with this gene, it codes for a enzyme (MAO-A) which breaks down dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. If there is a defect/polymorphism here, then the enzyme may slow down, meaning that the can be "excess" levels of these neurochemicals in the brain. This can predispose someone to aggressive and antisocial behaviours.


I think the reason this interested me so much was because I personally have a defect in that gene, which means that I have a harder time breaking the chemicals down, and ultimately am "predisposed" to aggression. As a child, consistent feedback from my parents was that I would often behave aggressively toward them.

This has always been a prominent feature for me, all up until I came across Laura's work and began attempting to change my ways of thinking and behaving. I think I have made much progress in this regard, and the aggression is no longer a common issue in my relationships. So, as per my experience, I am "proof" that a genetic predisposition can be bypassed through sustained effort, awareness and a willingness to change. Also changing my diet and lifestyle probably helped in.

However, the on the days where I do not get adequate sleep, or when I consistently eat crap, or when I am going through an intensely stressful period, the aggression can quite easily manifest. This is something I try to keep a close eye on, because my genetics will probably always draw me toward that end!
 

Laura

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There is one thing that comes up repeatedly in Samenow that bears mentioning and that is the danger of dissociating into thinking errors. This comes up again and again in another book I just finished: "Whoever Fights Monsters" by Robert K. Ressler, the famous FBI criminal profiler. It seems that "fantasizing" can be deadly in more ways than we can imagine and highlights the Cs statement that the achilles heel of STS is "Wishful Thinking."

Never before has this been so clear to me, and exactly how it works. So anybody who has problems with dissociation into wishful thinking about ANYTHING should read Samenow and Ressler.

It's not that imagination is the bad thing but it's the "taking of the self into a fantasy world" that is damaging to the psyche. This is also discussed in some detail in Stout's "The Myth of Sanity".

So, after a few of you have these books under your belts, we can discuss that, too.
 

nature

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I don't quite understand, how can psychopaths have things like 'somatic markers' and 'mind-body connectedness' when they supposedly don't feel stress and fear, at least not the way normal people do?

Based on my personal experience with my ex, I think they feel stress and fear only and exclusively for themself. They don't feel the stress and distress of their prey. They even believe that their prey likes what they (the psychopath) do to them as they like it themself.

For example, (if I don't mistake, from what I've read on Dr Salter's interview) some rapists believe that the girl is enjoying too. They don't see the cryings as distress because they don't want to see objective reality, they want to see only what they would like to see: that the other personne likes torture as they themself (the psycho) jubilate in the suffering they inflict to the other personne.
Wishfull thinking + rejecting the fact that they could be considered monsters?
So, they indeed seem to have 'somatic markers' and 'mind-body connectedness', but wired in another fashion, reversed to ours, or neurotransmitters in reversed proportions.

Well, I probably should read the book first. So do I :) . We have got some basic knowledge but not enough to get the hole picture (mosaic view)
 

nature

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Re: Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology

Keyhole said:
[... ] This has always been a prominent feature for me, all up until I came across Laura's work and began attempting to change my ways of thinking and behaving. I think I have made much progress in this regard, and the aggression is no longer a common issue in my relationships. So, as per my experience, I am "proof" that a genetic predisposition can be bypassed through sustained effort, awareness and a willingness to change. Also changing my diet and lifestyle probably helped in. [... ]
Congratulations, Keyhole!
It reminds of Laura's advice: work your frontal lobes +++
 

Altair

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Re: Raine, Samenow, Fallon: Neuropsychology

Aragorn said:
Reading the summary by Altair, I started wondering about this part:

Turning to the successful psychopaths, we see that they show intact autonomic stress reactivity and anticipatory fear. They have a mind-body connectedness that allows for somatic markers to help form good decision-making. That translates into superior executive functioning. And I would argue that that is why successful psychopaths are successful.
I don't quite understand, how can psychopaths have things like 'somatic markers' and 'mind-body connectedness' when they supposedly don't feel stress and fear, at least not the way normal people do? I'm sure they have their own 'markers', with the help of their excellent skill of "reading" people. I could imagine them having somatic markers in the way a predator feels aroused when they are closing in on the target.

Well, I probably should read the book first... :cool2:
Yes, that struck me, too. As far as I undertstood it is the case only for a minority of all psychopaths (successful ones). Functioning properly somatic markers mean better "gut instinct". I may be wrong, of course, but here is the full excerpt:

Now let’s turn back to our unsuccessful psychopaths. They have blunted emotions and lack the appropriate autonomic stress response. We can think of that as reduced somatic markers— a relative disconnection between mind and body. That mind-body dualism, according to Damasio, would result in bad decision-making, and certainly incarcerated offenders make many bad life decisions.

Turning to the successful psychopaths, we see that they show intact autonomic stress reactivity and anticipatory fear. They have a mind-body connectedness that allows for somatic markers to help form good decision-making. That translates into superior executive functioning. And I would argue that that is why successful psychopaths are successful.

Recall that we define success here in terms of not being convicted for an offense. Imagine that the successful psychopath is on the street, contemplating robbing a 7-Eleven store. His brain— consciously and also subconsciously— is processing the scene. He’s consciously checking up and down the street for specific signs of surveillance— but his subconscious is also forming a gestalt of the whole scene and putting it together. He’s about to proceed— but at the last minute he pulls back. There was something about the whole setup that he did not like the look of. He cannot put his finger on it, except that it just did not “feel good.”

A somatic marker warning bell had been rung, warning him that previously in a similar situation he was nearly caught. Perhaps it was the same time of day, the same number of people in the shop, the fact that he had also just had a couple of drinks, or a combination of these visual and somatic cues that triggered the warning bell. The heightened autonomic reactivity is giving him an edge over his unsuccessful psychopathic counterpart who does not hear the somatic warning-bell sound and instead ends up hearing the police siren. So the failed psychopath has reduced autonomic reactivity to cues that signal danger and capture. The successful psychopath has relatively better autonomic functioning and hence is better able to escape detection by the authorities.
 
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