The Brain of a Psycopath

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Psychopathy refers to a complex condition that encompasses affective and interpersonal traits like lack of behavior control, guilt, remorse, lack of empathy promiscuity and glibness (Kiehl). A lot is known about psychopathy assessment however, little is known about the associated brain disturbances. It’s a severe mental disorder and believed to affect about 1% of global population (Kiehl). This paper discusses three areas of psychopaths brain including amygdala, the prefrontal cortex and extended paralimbic structures.

Psychopaths have minimal activity both in the amygdala, that is, where fear is handled and the areas where decision making takes place.

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It explains why persons with antisocial personality condition have about 18% less volume in their brain’s front areas (Kiehl). Recent studies on brains of psychopaths indicate little activation on the amygdala when looking at pictures depicting dreadful faces or moral violations.

Another key region of a psychopath’s brain is the prefrontal cortex. The areas are critical in monitoring human behavior, gauging the outcomes and integrating the emotions in future decisions. Psychopaths have little prefrontal cortex and thus anything they learn by emotions would not determine their future decisions and therefore they may just take too lightly the outcomes of their actions. The higher the level of psychopathy, the higher the deficiency of prefrontal cortex (Kiehl).

Lastly, psychopathic brain dysfunction extends past just the limbic system to the regions near the limbic system generally showing more cognitive disorders. The volume reduction in the brain’s other regions is associated with loss of memory and experiences. It indicates that psychopaths see their memories unlike others and also view their role in such memories differently. The gap in emotions among psychopaths is related to the reduced grey matter capacity in other areas of their brains.

Work Cited

Kiehl, Kent A. “A cognitive neuroscience perspective on psychopathy: Evidence for paralimbic system dysfunction.” Psychiatry Res (2012): 107 – 128. Web.`

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The Brain of a Psycopath. (2019, Oct 24). Retrieved from