Manifestations Of Psychopathy: Brain Factors Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Psychology Type: Term Paper Paper: #12372252 Related Topics: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Serial Killers, Abnormal Psychology
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Brain Factors That Influence Psychopathy

Psychopathy is among the conditions that burden the performance of most global states in the current contemporary society. A variety of factors causes psychopathy. The factors include biological, environmental, and brain factors. Psychopathy presents with different symptoms including, violence, deceitfulness, aggression, irresponsibility, lack of guilt, and impulsiveness among other symptoms associated with it. Significant researches conducted in the past have failed to create an understanding of the brain factors that cause the psychopathy. Therefore, the following essay presents an analysis of the brain factors that cause the psychopathy. The analysis presents results obtained from studies conducted to create an understanding of the relationship.


According to Verona, Sprague, and Sadeh (2012) psychopathy refers to a condition characterized by diminished abilities for remorse and low abilities to control behaviors. Cale and Lilienfeld (2002) show in their definition that defining psychopathy should not only focus on the antisocial behaviors an individual presents with but also the emotional impairment such as lack of guilt. Individuals with psychopathy present with a variety of symptoms such as impulsiveness, irritability, lack of guilt, bullying, and irresponsibility among other symptoms. The risk factors associated with psychopathy include parental inconsistency, family dysfunction, history of individual abuse, and family history of the disorder among other risks factors. Therefore, this essay presents an analysis of the brain factors that have a high relationship with psychopathy.

Brain factors that cause psychopathy

While significant evidence has shown psychopathy to be associated with criminal behaviors such as murder and rape, Anderson et al., (2014)...


For instance, few researches have been conducted to bring an indulgence of the association between the impaired function of particular regions of brain and psychopathy. According to Cale & Lilienfeld (2002), psychopathy occurs due to the impairment of the amygdala. Amygdala regulates instrumental learning and aversive conditioning alongside sad facial expressions and fearful behaviors. However, impairment in the functioning of the amygdala results in psychopathy due to the functional impairments associated with it. A study conducted by Anderson et al., (2014) confirmed the involvement of the amygdala in causing psychopathy. In the study, two modern imaging studies showed that reduced amygdaloid volume is associated with high rates of psychopathy. Similarly, individuals with reduced amygdaloidal volume caused low-PCL-R scores during the processing of verbal words of negative valence (Anderson et al., 2014).

Significant evidence has that individuals presenting with psychopathy have dysfunctional neural systems. As such, basing on the above, imaging studies reveal that psychopathy and its related behaviors such as violent offending are associated with dysfunction of the frontal cortex. Volumetric MRI study performed by Coid and Ullrich (2010) showed that individuals who presented with psychopathy had reduced prefrontal gray matter volume. The authors postulated that a high correlation exists between the reduced size of the prefrontal cortex and psychopathy between the participants. Moreover, the failure of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been highly linked to symptoms among psychopaths. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) performs the responsibility of receiving extensive projections from the cortex and sends them to the amygdala. It also regulates instrumental learning and reversal responses that are often impaired in individuals with psychopathy (Verona, Sprague, & Sadeh, 2012). As such, impairment of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) causes psychopathy.

Similarly, lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) have shown a great association with psychopathy among the patients presenting with psychopathy. Lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex cause a neurological condition referred to as acquired psychopathy that is evidenced by aggression and socially undesired behaviors. Moreover, lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) cause impairment of the basic brainstem modulating mechanisms that control flight-flight responses to threat, thereby, psychopathy. Verona, Sprague, and Sadeh (2012) found that the pathology affecting the noradrenergic system could cause severe dysfunction of the amygdala. Therefore, there is a high relationship between the pathology of the amygdala functioning, orbitofrontal cortex, and noradrenergic and psychopathy.

Moreover, the individual's lifestyle has a high relationship with psychopathy. Significant evidence shows that one's lifestyle might exacerbate neurological impairments that cause the psychopathy. For example, substance abuse causes apparent impairment due to the disturbance of the functions that are mediated by the orbitofrontal cortex. Similarly, chronic amphetamine abuse results in OFC dysfunction, thereby,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, J.L., et al., (2014). Examining the Associations between Section III Antisocial Personality Disorder Traits and Psychopathy in Community and University Samples. Journal of Personality Disorders, 12(3), 1-23.

Cale, E.M., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2002). Histrionic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder: Sex-Differentiated Manifestations of Psychopathy?. Journal of Personality Disorders, 16(1), 52-72.

Coid, J., & Ullrich, S. (2010). Antisocial Personality Disorder Is On A Continuum With Psychopathy. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 51(4), 426-433.

Harmer, C., Perrett, D., Cowen, P., & Goodwin, G. (2001). Administration of the beta-adrenoceptor blocker propranolol impairs the processing of facial expressions of sadness. Psychopharmacology, 154(4), 383-389.

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