Psychopathy is attributed to as a mental disorder where the affected individual manifests various antisocial personality traits (Blair et al., 2005). These traits include lack of anxiety, callousness, narcissism and impulsivity. The abovementioned characteristics drive the psychopaths in their purposeless and irrational antisocial behavior. Lack of fear makes these persons thrill seekers, often conscienceless and emotionally vacuous (Nolen, 2007). Apart from this, psychopaths tend to be cruel and manipulative with other people and may enjoy causing pain. These persons believe in their perfect nature, feel no remorse for their actions and are usually compulsive liars. Psychopaths are often associated with violent criminal behaviors due to their lack of consciousness and the feelings of guilt or remorse. However, not all psychopaths tend to be criminals as they find other ways of controlling their violent tendencies such as being manipulative to those around them.
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Individuals with the psychopathic disorder tend not to learn from any form of punishment thus never gaining a social conscience (Blair et al., 2005). They neither see any wrong in their actions nor are remorseful or guilty of their actions. They tend to be impulsive by nature and do not possess any fear of the consequences that their actions might bring, which is the reason why punishments rarely work for them. These persons are incapable of having any meaningful relationships. They view other people as the objects of manipulation and exploitations. They lack any care and concern and, therefore, enjoy watching other people suffer or be in pain.
The main forces that drive the fearlessness, callousness, narcissism, impulsivity and other traits found in psychopaths remain unknown (Nolen, 2007). However, studies conducted previously WHAT ARE THEY? have shown that the brain centers that are involved in emotions tend to be less active in individuals with psychopathic behaviors. This is mainly because these individuals tend to have little or no fear and at the same time having very little empathy. They have no regard of other people and are incapable of neither understanding others nor relating with them in any way whatsoever.
How the Brain Influences Psychopathic Traits
From the research conducted (What ARE THEY?) it is clear that psychopathic individuals are incapable of emotional learning; which is caused by the abnormalities in their amygdale. The amygdale is an area of the brain responsible for regulating emotions of a person. This part of the brain is also involved in the processing of reactions and emotions. In psychopathic individuals, the amygdale area of the brain is less reactive in some emotional situations when compared to healthy individuals (Nickerson, 2014). The amygdale is associated with emotions which psychopaths lack together with empathy, remorse and the sense of guilt, which is caused by the low reactions in the particular area of the brain.
Further, current research shows that serotonin levels are generally lower in people with psychopathic antisocial personalities and behaviors than in normal persons. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that regulates the states of aggression, moods, sleep, learning, and impulsivity (Nickerson, 2014). This explains the boredom and restlessness that is mostly common in persons with psychotic disorders. Persons who are highly impulsive and aggressive tend to have psychopathic traits and, therefore, higher brain serotonin levels.
The frontal lobe of psychotic persons brain has also been observed to be abnormal. The frontal lobe is responsible for judgment and impulse control. There are usually increased activities in the front lobe of normal people whenever they tell lies; this is not the case with psychopaths (Koenigs, Baskin-Sommers, Zeier, & Newman, 2011). Therefore, this observation tends to infer that a psychopaths brain tends to work and process information differently. Therefore, psychopathic tendencies are usually displayed in people at early ages and cannot be learnt by individuals during the adulthood.
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Brains of individuals with the psychopathic traits often have high levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical making individuals seek for pleasure rewards. The nucleus accumbents region of the brain is responsible for this abnormal dopamine production in individuals with psychopathic tendencies influencing the reward processing activities and often being implicated in the addiction to drugs and alcohol among such people (Koenigs et al., 2011). Dopamine drives psychopathic behaviors in individuals by encouraging them to pursue activities that give them a reward they might desire. These rewards are sought at any expense and without any consideration of the costs, results, or consequences of ones actions. These psychopathic individuals tend to pursue these rewards at any expense and in most cases end up hurting others. Rewards such as money, sex, and social status are the main things that psychopaths seek to get more attention. Therefore, these people tend to get involved in violent criminal activities such as rape and robbery in order to obtain the particular rewards.
The brain of psychopathic individuals may also exhibit some differences in the functioning of the mirror neurons when compared to normal people. Mirror neurons are those special neurons that are responsible for observing the actions and responses of other persons around (Koenigs et al., 2011). These neurons are involved in creating the feelings of empathy. In psychopathic individuals, these neurons function differently and hence do not stimulate the development of empathy concerning other people. Therefore, this can be viewed as an explanation why many individuals with psychotic disorders lack empathy in them.
The corpus callosum area of the brain demonstrates some abnormalities in individuals with psychotic tendencies. The corpus collosum is the area of the brain that connects the brain hemispheres. In psychotic persons, this corpus collosum is longer and thinner than usual. Therefore, the brain hemispheres of psychotic individuals have trouble in proper communication with each other. As a result, the individuals may act in a manner that is not properly coordinated by the brain. There is impairment of the brain areas that are associated with the moral sense among psychopaths. The impairment leads to a break down in neural circuits that are usually activated during ethical decision-making. This leads to poor moral judgment and bad decision making by the psychopathic individuals.
Other brain areas that attribute to psychotic behavior among such individuals include the following. Impairment of the dorsal lateral area of the brain that responses to preservation leads to the individuals failure to desist from punished behavior (Raine & Yang, 2006). This is the main cause why punishments play no role in the reformation of psychopaths. Ventral orbito frontol is responsible for decision-making and emotional control. An impairment in this region of the brain leads to poor anger control, poor behavior control and inadequate life judgments and decisions made by the psychopathic individual. The hippocampus is responsible for fear conditioning, an abnormality in this area leads to the fearlessness that is exhibited by the individuals. Temporal cortex is responsible for moral judgment and social perception. In psychopaths, this section misattributes the motives of others as well as encourages non-compliance with social and moral rules.
Because of the abnormalities that are associated with the brains of psychopathic individuals, such people lack the feeling of what is wrong and what is right (Arbuckle & Cunningham, 2012). This is further associated with the lack of guilt and remorsefulness for any of their actions. Psychopathic traits are also not learnt but influenced by genetic factors such as the brain and heredity as well as other environmental factors.