It sometimes happens that certain terms of academic or scientific origin are used colloquially and that their original meaning ends up being lost, confusing ordinary mortals as to what is really meant when one speaks of one of them. .
Somehow it happened with the characterization of a person as a “psychopath”, which has sometimes been used interchangeably with terms such as “psychotic” or “crazy”. But psychopathy has a real and specific meaning. I will try to explain this in this article.
What is psychopathy really?
The psychopath has sometimes been defined as an individual incapable of empathy. However, a psychopath can show empathy in the sense that he can understand if another person is happy, scared or angry; that is, you can read the other person’s emotions or feelings.
Many times the psychopath may use this information to manipulate or take advantage of othersbut don’t show empathy in the sense of feeling what the other is feeling: you won’t be sad to see that another person is suffering.
One of the main differences between a psychopath and an ordinary person is that while the latter may feel compassion, guilt or repentance in understanding how their actions can affect the lives of others, the former will carelessly bring them: the psychopath sees others as an object, as a means to an end.
Are all psychopaths criminals?
One conclusion that can be drawn, logically, after understanding the psychopathic nature, is that there must be a direct connection between this personality type and the crime. Well, this link is real. Corn This does not mean that all psychopaths are criminals.or that all criminals are psychopaths (even violent ones).
First, a psychopath can be a highly functional person who understands that committing crimes can increase their chances of experiencing negative consequences, compared to live a legal or at least peaceful life. In fact, this is the case for most psychopaths: it is estimated that they represent about 1% of the population.
These subjects will simply be people who surely do not want to have a boss or a partner, but who in many cases do not present major problems for society.
On the other hand, Many violent criminals may engage in antisocial or violent behavior without necessarily being psychopaths, since violence has many causes and the perpetrators of violent criminal acts do not always have the same psychological profile. While these behaviors are not excusable, they do not necessarily imply that the person performing them is completely devoid of compassion or meaningful connections to other subjects.
There is, in any case, a type of criminal where psychopaths are overrepresented: serial killers.
A serial killer is a person who, following a certain characteristic modus operandi, pursues a certain type of target victim (people of a certain sex, profession, age and/or ethnicity, for example), focuses on calming his instincts murderers.
A multiple killer is not the same as a serial killer. If a criminal kills one person in cold blood to rob them, and two others in a bar fight, a serial killer doesn’t. Serial killers are mostly psychopaths (although there have also been cases where the attacker had a psychotic profile).
Is psychopathy a cure?
No “cure” is currently known for this type of disorder. The fact that there are organic differences with others is a fact to bear in mind: with the help of a brain scan, we can see that there is less connection between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (area of the brain responsible for feelings like guilt or empathy) and the amygdala (responsible for fear or anxiety).
This is one of the reasons why it is considered almost impossible for this type of people to function in the same way as other human beings: they are biologically incapable of doing so. In addition to this, research shows that psychopathy is something innate, although cultural aspects may define, in part, how this disorder manifests. However, not all psychopaths are criminals, let alone violent criminals.
In the case of the latter (serial killers or not), the hope of obtaining an effective treatment for this condition lies in scientific advances: it is possible that at some point, some kind of drug will be administered to these people who reduce their most problematic impulses. and allow them to live peacefully in society.
This treatment model may remind you of the plot of A Clockwork Orange, where Alex, the protagonist (a dangerous criminal), is part of a violence aversion therapy, administering certain drugs that make you feel pain whenever these urges appear.
In any case, it remains to be seen what type of drug (or other) treatment will appear, if any, in the years to come to treat this disorder.