Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Self-diagnosed psychopath

James Fallon (IMAGES HERE), an award-winning 58-year-old professor of psychiatry and human behavior at University of California at Irvine, made a startling discovery in the Fall of 2005. He considered himself to be well-adjusted, had been raised by supportive parents, and had married his high school sweetheart with whom he had 3 children. But when he was reviewing thousands of brain scans – a mix of normal brains, murderers, schizophrenics, and depressives – as part of a research project on serial killers, he identified one that stood out because it showed low activity in areas of the brain responsible for empathy, morality, and self-control – characteristics linked to criminal behavior. Identified only by a code, the patient with the pathological brain that had triggered his interest turned out to be himself! He knew he was distantly related to Thomas Cornell, who was hanged in 1673 for slaying his mother in the first case of matricide in the American Colonies, and also to America's infamous murderess Lizzie Borden. But the battery of genetic tests that he subsequently underwent clearly indicated that he had an innate predisposition for aggression, violence, and low empathy. Fallon admits to being a bit of an asshole with a lack of empathy for others, but what keeps him from becoming an active psychopath is that he does not act on his aggressive tendencies. "I’m obnoxiously competitive...and I do jerky things that piss people off. But while I’m aggressive, but my aggression is sublimated. I’d rather beat someone in an argument than beat them up."

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