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Asperger's Syndrome and Psychopathy
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NeantHumain
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 2:55 am    Post subject: Asperger's Syndrome and Psychopathy Reply with quote

Psychopathy, also known as antisocial personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, (DSM-IV-TR) or dissocial personality disorder in the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition, (ICD-10), or sociopathy in older versions of these diagnostic books, is the psychiatric disorder best known in popular culture for its association with serial killers and other brutal people. Despite the common shortening of both psychopath and psychotic to psycho, psychopathy is not categorized by the disorganized thought, hallucinations, delusions, and cognitive deterioration of psychosis. Actually, psychopathy has some similarities with Asperger's syndrome and autism more broadly. Of course, one area of difference that can not be understated is psychopathy's association with violent crime and social manipulativeness that autististic spectrum conditions do not share. These are the traits I will explore herein:


  • Flat and blunted affect in autism and shallow affect in psychopathy
  • Theory of mind deficits in autism and empathy deficits in psychopathy
  • Impulsivity and behavior control
  • Egocentricity
  • Logical (i.e., Not Overtly Emotional) Cognitive Style


Flat and blunted affect in autism and shallow affect in psychopathy

I am sure we are all quite familiar with the fact that people with autistic spectrum conditions often show a limited range of visible emotion and unusual prosody, often a monotonous voice. Psychopaths also show unusual affect.
Quote:
Results indicated that psychopaths spoke more quietly than controls and did not differentiate, in voice emphasis, between neutral and affective words. These findings are consistent with the developing view that psychopaths are insensitive to the emotional connotations of language.

Source: Acoustic Distinctions in the Speech of Male Psychopaths
Quote:
7. SHALLOW AFFECT -- emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY -- a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

Source: Antisocial Personality, Sociopathy, and Psychopathy
Quote:
Specific deficits in nonverbal emotional processing (Kosson et al., 2002). Psychopaths show less facial expression (Herpertz et al., 2001), and reduced responsiveness to the facial expressions of sadness and fear has been implicated in the development of psychopathy (Blair et al., 2001b; Stevens et al., 2001).

Source: Emotional Sensitivity in Psychopaths

Theory of mind deficits in autism and empathy deficits in psychopathy

Many researchers carelessly claim autistic people lack empathy, which the reader can infer as having an emotional deficit similar to psychopaths'. Some researchers have attributed the empathy deficit in autism to a lack of or an underdevelopment of a theory of mind. Other researchers divide empathy into observation and mental modeling or empathy and sympathy. They state autistic people have the emotional reaction of empathy to at least some emotions but may have trouble integrating this into a coherent mental model of what that person must be thinking and feeling. They state that, in contrast, children showing psychopathic proclivities fail to sympathize with sad or injured people but have an above-average ability to make mental models. As noted above, psychopaths also have a specific nonverbal deficit in reading expressions of sadness and fear.


I will cover the rest later; it is getting late.
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Sophist
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2005 1:29 am    Post subject: ... Reply with quote

Found an interesting article proposing a neurodevelopmental basis for Psychopathy (not the general diagnosis Antisocial PD though).

Here is the web address in case you don't wish to read it in the forum format:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040311072248.htm


Psychopaths have physical abnormalities in two key brain structures responsible for functions ranging from fear detection to information processing, a USC clinical neuroscientist has found in two studies that suggest a neuro-developmental basis to the disorder.

Adrian Raine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, focused his research on two parts of the brain: the hippocampus, a portion of the temporal lobe that regulates aggression and transfers information into memory; and the corpus callosum, a bridge of nerve fibers that connects the cerebral hemispheres. "Scientists have implicated different brain regions with respect to antisocial and aggressive behavior, and all are important and relevant," Raine said.

"But it goes beyond that to the wiring. Unless these parts of the brain are properly wired together, they'll never communicate effectively. They'll never result in appropriate behavior," he said. Although the neurobiological roots of psychopathy are still being explored, the key behavioral features of a psychopath have been clearly defined. Psychopaths' criminal tendencies are typically coupled with a lack of inhibitions, emotions and a conscience. "We don't do bad things because we will feel bad about it," Raine said. "Psychopaths don't have those feelings - they do not have a conscience. That means they can be callous and manipulative. They don't care about other people. If they can get what they want from life by hurting other people, they'll do it."

That lack of emotions often means that psychopaths don't bond with other people in a normal way. "Friendship does not mean the same thing to them. They'll use the word love a lot, but they really don't know what love means. They've never properly experienced it," he said. But while psychopaths may be cold on the inside, they often can appear to be warm and endearing on the outside - a tool used to lure people in to manipulate them. "They are glib. They use words well and can be charming. That lures people into their devious net," Raine said. "Psychopaths can be the life of the party for a few minutes or a few hours, and it can actually be a wonderful experience brushing shoulders with them. It's when you get to know them in the long term that you begin to see that they are not what they appear to be."

To explore the physical roots to psychopathic behavior, Raine and his colleagues recruited 91 men from Los Angeles' temporary employment pool and gave them a battery of tests to assess cognitive ability, information processing skills and criminal history. They also were given MRIs, or brain scans.

In the study of the hippocampus, the research team expanded the scope of previous studies by comparing the brains of two groups for the first time: "successful" psychopaths - those who had committed crimes but had never been caught - and "unsuccessful" psychopaths - those who had been caught. The hippocampus plays a critical role in regulating aggression and in learning which situations one should be afraid of - a process called contextual fear conditioning. With psychopaths, contextual fear conditioning plays a part in learning the concept of what to do and what not to do, Raine said. It has been theorized that the disruption of the circuit linking the hippocampus with the prefrontal cortex could contribute to the impulsiveness, lack of control and emotional abnormalities observed in psychopaths. "It is learning what is right and what is wrong in a certain situation," he said. He tested the theory that psychopaths with hippocampal impairments could become insensitive to cues that predicted punishment and capture. As a result, he said, these "impaired" psychopaths were more likely to be apprehended than psychopaths without that deficit. Fewer than half of both the control subjects and the "successful" psychopaths had an asymmetrical hippocampus.
Ninety-four percent of the unsuccessful psychopaths had that same abnormality, with the right side of the hippocampus larger than the left.

Raine said the results suggest, but don't prove, a neuro-developmental root for psychopathy.
"Abnormal brain development in early life may cause the structural brain abnormalities that result in psychopathy," he said.

These findings were bolstered by the results of the second study, which focused on the corpus callosum.
The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, enabling them to work together to process information and regulate autonomic function. Raine explored its role in psychopathy for the first time. "There's faulty wiring going on in psychopaths. They're wired differently than other people," Raine said. "In a way, it's literally true in this case." He found that the psychopaths' corpus callosums were an average of 23 percent larger and 7 percent longer than the control groups'.
"The corpus callosum is bigger, but it's also thinner. That suggests that it developed abnormally," Raine said.

The rate that the psychopaths transmitted information from one hemisphere to the other through the corpus callosum also was abnormally high, Raine said. But that didn't mean things worked better. With an increased corpus callosum came less remorse, fewer emotions and less social connectedness - the classic hallmarks of a psychopath, he said. "These people don't react. They don't care," Raine said. "Why that occurs, we don't fully know, but we are beginning to get important clues from neuro-imaging research."

Raine's colleagues on the studies were from institutions including USC, Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The hippocampus and corpus callosum studies were published in the journals Biological Psychiatry (January 2004) and Archives of General Psychiatry (November 2003), respectively.


Enjoy!
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Puzelle
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take a look at this:

Sociopathworld: New Blow to Aspies


The owner of this blog believe Psychopathy (or Sociopathy) is an Autism Spectrum condition, and it seems to be a view that is growing.

I have observed something along these lines in my own country, though from a different - or opposite - perspective.


I'd like to hear the opinions, views, thoughts, of others with Asperger's/ASDs, since so far it seems to be mainly or only people from the other fields (Psychiatry Researchers and Sociopaths) who have stated any views in the discussion.

I can't say I have a definite view-point myself, at least for the time being. It seems obvious though that Psychopaths are not Neuro-Typical in the usual sense of the term, but to classify them as Autistic is something I don't have the knowledge or schooling to do. Still, I'm not sure this is what the blog writer at Sociopathworld.com is aiming at. He speaks of Neurodiversity, which is something I am most definitely all for. (Yet for some reason he seems to be curiously bitter that people with Asperger's finally have some recognition in some parts of the world; he probably isn't really aware of how false it really is nor the implications this holds, but that's not the point of this post).

*******

Sophist,

I've read the article you quote, and some related texts as well. It seems that there are certain associations between the two groups (Aspies and Psychoppaths - the genetic ones, that is). It's something that will be studied further in the years to come. I can't help but finding it interesting (very much so!), but in the hands of the "Reign of Normalcy" it also worries me because it's so easy to use it to justify further control and further stigmatization.
But we'll see, won't we!?... '^L^,
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"Life itself is an exercise in Exceptions!" Capt. Picard (Star Trek - The Next Generation).
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StuartN
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Puzelle wrote:
I'd like to hear the opinions, views, thoughts, of others with Asperger's/ASDs, since so far it seems to be mainly or only people from the other fields (Psychiatry Researchers and Sociopaths) who have stated any views in the discussion.


It is mainly or only people with no scientific credentials, who have never published these views in any kind of scientific journal. There are a couple of Hollywood-style fake scientists who make a career of lectures and newspaper articles about their "findings", often posthumously diagnosing criminals who were not considered autistic during extensive assessments while they were alive.

Humans, some of them autistic, do some terrible things.
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Surfman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont know many aspies, but all the bullying and enforced loneliness could make one vengeful.

What was up with that asian guy in the states who shot up the university recently? Was that just racism and loneliness or more?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surfman wrote:
What was up with that asian guy in the states who shot up the university recently? Was that just racism and loneliness or more?


If you mean Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, then it is a perfect example of posthumous media crap. He was assessed and provided an IEP in high school that excluded a diagnosis of autism. Then he was referred for counselling at Virginia Tech for anxiety / depression. Then he was declared mentally ill after being investigated for stalking female students. Despite the availability of his diagnoses (severe anxiety disorder, depression, elective mutism, possible schizophrenia), the word autism appeared in one mistranslated interview and became world headlines.

(His official, state-registered diagnosis should have prevented him from purchasing weapons, but the system of checks failed.)

Much of his psychiatric history is available in the official Virginia Tech review of the killings, which explicitly evaluates and dismisses any history of autism: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/TempContent/techPanelReport-docs/VT_Addendum_12-2-2009.pdf
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OddFiction
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Puzelle wrote:
Take a look at this:

Sociopathworld: New Blow to Aspies

The owner of this blog believe Psychopathy (or Sociopathy) is an Autism Spectrum condition, and it seems to be a view that is growing.

list of Sociopath behaviours wrote:

Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse.
A history of childhood conduct disorder
Apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others
Persistent lying or stealing
Cruelty to animals
Recurring difficulties with the law
Promiscuity
Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights
Inability to tolerate boredom
Disregard for right and wrong
Poor or abusive relationships
Irresponsible work behavior
Disregard for safety

I would say that the majority of this list does not apply to Aspies.
This blogger is promoting false ties.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The few sociopaths I knew fit those descriptions..

Their intelligence can be similar to aspies, obsessional focus and high level of competence where chosen, but morally they are corrupt. The ones I have met have been highly sexual and promiscuious, like their parents. Then they steal from their lovers and war with them, lying to others. Meth is usually a drug of choice. They can be charmers, the obsessional focus on manipulation, at play.
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huntedman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although lack of empathy is used to describe both groups, it describes different things. People with antisocial personality disorder, readily see and understand the emotions of others, they just hold no real meaning to them. Even worse they are very skilled at manipulating people into seeing and feeling what they want them to.

I think we are what the world wishes sociopaths looked like, easy to pick out of a crowd, awkward and above all nothing like them. In reality sociopaths are the kind, personable insurance salesmen that just took down all of your grandmother's personal information.
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Bluefins
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OddFiction wrote:
I would say that the majority of this list does not apply to Aspies.
This blogger is promoting false ties.
Indeed.

Autists & psychopaths are opposites in the most important way. Psychopaths are good at body language, lying etc, they just don't care about other people. Autists are clueless about body language, which might come off as uncaring, but we usually care if we realize why.
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