Saturday, December 11, 2010

On being a Psychopath

Dr. Arthur Janov

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Being a Psychopath

We have all met them; they are the conscience-free, manipulative, unfeeling and uncaring humans (if I may say that)that leave a well of destruction wherever they go. They know nothing of love or helping and above all, of gratitude. Once you give they want more and only see you as a sucker and pigeon who can be worked for more. How did that happen?
I could quote statistics. You know that a recent study of psychopaths found that they have damage in their feeling centers; no surprise there. (see “A Brain Gone Wrong.” Scientific American/Mind. 3, Sept. 2010). But we get that. They cannot feel and they cannot empathize; they do not seem to have the capacity for it. They have the shell of a human without the internal mechanisms that gives us our humanity. They have learned how to act charming, the better to manipulate others by obtaining their trust first. But it is short-lived and then the truth comes out. They care about no one. There are partial psychopaths who have some of these traits but manage to care once in a while, sporadically and with no depth of feeling. Nevertheless, they seem to be human. They do not scam or cheat others but they are not against it if they have to. Look at the driving business man or politician for examples. They raise prices, the rent, anything, because they care about themselves and profits and not others. They need to get 10% return not matter what it means to others. They don’t hate others but they love themselves more. That is not exactly true since they really have little love to give even to themselves. The politicians care about votes and staying in power; we all know that. They will say anything to stay in office; they are master manipulators and are able to twist other’s needs to make them vote against themselves and their needs. They all care not about others. It is no doubt the sine qua non of going into politics. There are some exceptions and you know who they are. They tell the truth, which is why they cannot stay in office.
This damage to the limbic/feeling structures can happen during womblife and is highly exacerbated right afterward when there is an absence of close human contact; perhaps weeks in an incubator with little or not human warmth. Then to compound matters there is indifferent unloving parents who never touch the child. I say that there is an “emotional band missing.” They seem to be short on feelings. It can begin when the mother is chronically anxious or depressed while carrying; they baby suffers and is already damaged before coming onto this planet.
So what about morality? Psychopaths seem to be immoral, but they are unfeeling; that is what the research evidence shows. They cannot feel or empathize with others so they, as Clinton said in reverse, cannot feel their pain. So anything goes. They cheat their closest friends, a la Bernard Madoff. They don’t feel bad about this “immoral behavior” because they cannot feel the pain they are causing; cheating people out of their life’s savings without a hint of caring. Their feeling band is missing and nothing anyone can do can put it back. That is why when they are caught they can never confess to their crimes; it is always someone else’s fault. We in Primal Therapy cannot treat them because they incorporate the therapy into their psychopathy and often decide to become therapists with no training. They harm many people and advertise so well that they con many. They scream and yell (we have taken them out of prison for the court) but never feel; they go through the motions of being human without being human. We cannot give them back a full brain. The damage is too early and too severe.
A research study at King’s College, in London, came out explaining the origins of the psychopath. He remains as I have described him (and psychopaths are mostly males) but the origin of the personality disorder needs to be pushed back a few weeks. In the study,[1] the investigators used an imaging scan (MRI), on psychopaths (killers, rapists, etc.), and concluded that there were differences in their brains from those in the general population. Two of the culprits were the prefrontal area of the cortex, and aspects of the amygdala. There was an impairment between the connections in those two areas. In a normal brain, when there are emotionally stimulating events, the amygala responds. But in psychopaths there is a breakdown in this response.
The grounds for this condition, set up before birth, are exacerbated by birth trauma and lack of human contact right after birth. It would seem that in psychopaths the neural circuitry that connects feelings to higher level brain processes is deficient. Another way to put it is that feelings are not part of the conceptual, day-to-day cortical functioning. So while the person can be charming on the exterior, there are no sincere feelings underlying this facade. It is all a dumb show. Perhaps if the trauma did not exist before birth to damage the connection between nerve cells responsible for feelings and those in charge of comprehension the lack of touch after birth would not have such disastrous effects. However, when there is a pre-birth impairment of the connections between feelings and thoughts, the lack of physical contact right after birth is catastrophic. The result can be someone who not only has no control over his impulses but also has no means to experience his feelings. There may be learning but not emotionally integrated learning. The implications of the study were that psychopathy, in fact, could be a brain disease. I think it is more likely explained by epigenetic trauma.
The important lesson, though, is that psychopathy, much like other aberrations in development, bears the signature of what went wrong earlier in our lives. Memories are made indelible in our biology because they form guides to our future, instructions on how to behave in order to survive. That is, they become part of our “apperceptive mass;” always ready to serve our interest for survival. 

JAJ’s Comments on Reflections on Being a Psychopath.
Like always when I read your Reflections I try to feel what’s in it for me. I felt both good and ill and I agreed, and I disagreed. Having been a neurotic epileptic with some degree of success in business and management, I may have more experience than most therapeutists and psychologists regarding what it takes to be both successful, human and to survive. I’m no psychopath,  however, I have ocasionally manipulated and charmed my way through to achieve a result which I could live with. 
The American Dream is something, wich was born long ago, and it developed over time into an almost conditional demand for all americans to try to become a millionaire. If you threaten the fullfillment of that dream you create pain so strong that no politician can resist. Hence being a politician in your great country in times of crisis is impossible for a feeling person. They are bound to be more or less psychopathic due to the voters. You tend to blame only the politicians. The voters have in my eyes a very big responsibility and since most of them are neurotic they egoistically vote for the politicians that they believe will make their dream come true.
Madoff’s chain letter model is an old classic, and he became the badman all needed, both those who deliberately played with and kept a good face on the bad business and those who were betrayed because of their greed to make 20-30% annually, which was far above what was reasonable... Madhoff got to taste his own medicine when the tremendous American Junk Bond Bubble burst and one crime revealed another in the chain.
Psycophaths is fore sure an interesting target group and knowing that the American capitalism was built by men with many traits in common with Madhoff, they will influence us, if we allow them to, for generations to come. Your letter includes indications that in psychopaths the amygdala does not respond. However, we do not know, wether this is applicable on some of those which on alleged grounds are considered psycophaths...
We look forward to spreading an attitude among authorities, science and potential customers of Primal Therapy, which is based on the fact that prenatal pain causes later disturbances, depressions and neurotic behaviors, which through PT can be altered and healed, so why do you focus on the group of psychopaths (even if they both from psychological and medical reasons may need help) when you say: “We in Primal Therapy cannot treat them because they incorporate the therapy into their psychopathy and often decide to become therapists with no training.” 
The one who lives will find out where the evolution will take us. Competition and survival of the fittest are still valid facts worldwide. Let’s go for that mentally healthy people is a prerequisite for survival in the long run.
Jan Johnsson

When I wrote my comment re. your Reflection on Psychopaths, I felt confused over your exposition of the phychopaths’ morality. Many of them are really proud of avoiding a “immoral behavior”. Their behavior and lack of morality is according to the Webster dictonary amoral: Examples: “He is an amoral, selfish person persuing his own goals”, “A cynical and amoral way of competing for business and politics”
I suppose that many of the psychopaths you are thinking of are having both immoral and amoral behavior. However those you mentioned in connection with Primal Therapy to me belong to the amoral category. The former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer acted in an immoral way, when he used prostitues, in his moral ambition to support hes voters. He broke the american moral code. This immorality is very american, in Spain and France they are having a hard time understanding your immoral regurgitations. They look in general with
sympathy and understanding at Clinton and Spitzer with their own presidents in good memory.

Jan Johnsson

More comments on a complicated world and pshycopaths

During more than 30 years I have been working with management and recruitment in Europe and in the USA (to a lesser degree) and I have seen people covering the full range of different mentalities - from very sensitive persons with deep sympathy and respect for others to the opposite of reckless, egoistic, unsympathetic individuals with a disturbed personality. If the latter were untreatable psychopaths, I’m not the one to judge. However, these emotionally disturbed persons, after having managed to slip through the filter and being hired, after some time, were repelled almost that of a law of nature when the organization became aware of their shortcomings. The people I’m talking about were middle and top managers with responsibilities for rather extensive units. Those persons constituted an extremely small part of the total people I worked with over the years.

Why do I bother to participate in this, in a sense, fuzzy debate? Because I think the way we judge and see the world has very much to do with our background and how close we are to the different realities. I have been part of the realities which produced, sold and distributed the goods which make the world turn around and create the wealth which hopefully should be reasonably fairly divided - but it certainly is not always like that. Over half a century, I have witnessed and been part of how the whole world has changed radically three times, from agricultural, to industrial and to the present days' knowledge and digitally based economies. During this time you psychologists, as Art has stated, have continued with the same couch as usual and similar methods. However, I never heard of a serious debate in which respect therapists could change to meet the new paradigms.

The changes in international wealth creation will be even more dramatic. Art himself will not have the possibility to do much to create this new paradigm but the Primal Principle can fit very well into a universal, digitally run world. In the future you will be able to have a primal in a cottage in Aspen, where you can have all the peace you need to be private and feel and 3-4 hours later you can lead a videoconferencing in a multinational company. This lifestyle is no utopia it is already a reality.

These are the facts we need to prepare to meet and don’t let worries eat us because we cut ourselves off from realities taking place around us right now. The politicians are just a mirror of the international power change taking place. The world is not turning mad, mainly because of psychophatic politicians. Technological, educational and economic evolution and redistribution are the driving forces and in the footsteps of that we need good Primal Therapy to sustain and relive pain and to peel off neurotic behavior.

I cannot understand why it is so complicated. Why are psychologists among the most neurotic intellectual people I have met? It exist a tremendous need for practical Primal Therapy. There may be a lot of psychopaths around but at the same time there are more sane, fine, feeling and caring people on the earth than ever, who at times suffer and need help. However, Mother Earth has limited resources, and we are some inhabitants who want to survive, to get our fair share and a just treatment. We have some exiting and rough restructuring to go through during the next decades and Primal Therapy belongs to the international humanity (for which you receives evidence every day) and not only to the American West Coast, which for a long time has grabbed more than their fair share of the existing resources.

Jan Johnsson

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