Archives for Psychopathy

Forensic Psychology

Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy

My last post drew some comments about the use of the word psychopath when describing Joran van der Sloot, the lead suspect in the Natalie Holloway disappearance, so I wanted to clarify what I am referring to when I use the terms psychopathy or psychopath.

The age old debate of psychopathy versus sociopathy is not one that can be answered easily. This is mainly because the words are often used interchangeably, and even when the...
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Forensic Psychology

Is Joran van der Sloot a Psychopath?

The media has been abuzz in the last two weeks about the capture of Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch national charged in the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores of Peru. van der Sloot was also a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old Alabama resident who disappeared on a high school graduation trip in Aruba.

Stephany Flores was killed in a Lima hotel on May 30th, 2010; five years to the day...
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Corrections

“Odd Mental Kinks:” A 1935 Perspective on Psychopathy

Another forensic psychology blog featured an article written by Arthur Grahame in 1935. The article was published in the May 1935 edition of Popular Science magazine and discusses psychopathy. It's an interesting read, and while some of the information has been disproved, a good portion of the article describes psychopathy within similar constructs of today's standards.

Interestingly, the article also discusses the dilemma of housing mentally ill persons in prison settings while occasionally treating...
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Neuroscience and Forensic Psychology

MIT Researchers Find the Location of Morality in the Brain



Researchers at MIT have recently discovered more details about the "moral center" of the brain. They've identified the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VmPC)--the same part of the brain that deals with emotions--as the morality area of the brain.

Individuals who have damage to this part of their brain are more likely to have difficulty engaging in moral reasoning. So, when they are presented with imaginary situations in which one person intentionally attempts to kill another person, individuals with damage to this area...
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The Brain of a Psychopath: Using fMRI Technology to Detect Brain Abnormalities, Part II

In my last post, I discussed how Dr. Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist, is using fMRI technology to detect brain abnormalities in people with psychopathy. His participants are prison inmates who score high on the PCL-R, a psychodiagnostic measure used to assess psychopathy. Once he determines that the participant is, in fact, a psychopath based on their PCL-R score, he takes scans of their brains using an fMRI to determine if there are brain differences between psychopathic participants and...
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The Brain of a Psychopath: Using fMRI Technology to Detect Brain Abnormalities, Part I

Neuroscience is a fascinating field, yet one that I often find confusing to navigate. Interestingly, there has been some research in recent years attempting to find the coordinates of psychopathy within the brain. Interviews and articles about Dr. Kent Kiehl, in which he discusses his research using fMRI technology in an attempt to target the brain region involved in psychopathy, help break down the research into more manageable terminology.

Dr. Kiehl has identified a defect in the “the paralimbic system, a network of brain regions, stretching from the orbital frontal...
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