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Are There Lost Souls?

s-anthony
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7/20/2015 7:35:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Two saturdays ago, I was listening to one of my favorite programs on the radio called "Snap Judgement". On this particular episode, they were telling the story of a researcher who did PET scans of the brains of psychopaths in the early nineties. Not long after that, he went on to scan the brains of people who suffered from Alzheimer's and used a copy of his own brain as the control. In reviewing the copies of the brains of people who had suffered from Alzheimer's, he came across a copy of that which appeared to be one of a psychopath. He peeled back the film to see the name hidden underneath only to realize it was a copy of his own brain.

Of course, he thought there was some mistake. He had never killed anyone. How could he be a psychopath? He sought the opinion of other professionals only to confirm his finding. On telling his wife and his brother, neither one of them was surprised; in fact, they suspected as much. His brother said he (the researcher) would make fun of other people even to the point of total humiliation. Once, while at a clinic in Africa, treating people with the Ebola virus, one of the researcher's brothers paid him a visit. He decided to take his brother to a cave in which many bats infected with the virus roosted; knowing their feces were contaminated, he told his brother not to come in contact with the feces but neglected to tell his brother the reason for his warning. His brother contracted the virus and hasn't spoken to him in years.

He said he knows he should feel empathy for other people but doesn't. He tries to pretend to care about others but feels miserable doing so. He compares his lack of empathy to someone who empathizes with others: Just as most people do not force themselves to empathize with those for whom they feel sorry (It simply comes naturally,) he cannot force himself to be empathetic; it's just not his nature.

In telling this story, it reminds me of "Frankenstein". No matter the extent of Dr. Frankenstein's desire to salvage his creation, it was still a monster. He started off with a damaged brain, and unless he could get his hands on a healthy, vibrant brain, his creation remained damaged goods.

As science uncovers the hidden workings of the mind and realizes we are merely genetically predisposed to behave the way we do, people instead of being more forgiving of one another's shortcomings, I believe will start to think there is no hope for those who are sick. Instead of seeing everyone through the eyes of redeeming grace, we will start to see those who are sick as damaged goods.

I know you may say, "Science is our redemption," "We can treat, therapeutically, that which is broken;" and, by all means, that may be true. But, can we treat people who refuse to realize they are sick? Can we treat people against their will?

The only alternative is to incarcerate the psychopath. However, if we have knowledge through genetic testing a particular fetus has the predisposition for psychopathy, are we morally obligated to abort the unborn child?
Saint_of_Me
Posts: 2,402
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7/20/2015 8:23:24 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/20/2015 7:35:10 PM, s-anthony wrote:
Two saturdays ago, I was listening to one of my favorite programs on the radio called "Snap Judgement". On this particular episode, they were telling the story of a researcher who did PET scans of the brains of psychopaths in the early nineties. Not long after that, he went on to scan the brains of people who suffered from Alzheimer's and used a copy of his own brain as the control. In reviewing the copies of the brains of people who had suffered from Alzheimer's, he came across a copy of that which appeared to be one of a psychopath. He peeled back the film to see the name hidden underneath only to realize it was a copy of his own brain.

Of course, he thought there was some mistake. He had never killed anyone. How could he be a psychopath? He sought the opinion of other professionals only to confirm his finding. On telling his wife and his brother, neither one of them was surprised; in fact, they suspected as much. His brother said he (the researcher) would make fun of other people even to the point of total humiliation. Once, while at a clinic in Africa, treating people with the Ebola virus, one of the researcher's brothers paid him a visit. He decided to take his brother to a cave in which many bats infected with the virus roosted; knowing their feces were contaminated, he told his brother not to come in contact with the feces but neglected to tell his brother the reason for his warning. His brother contracted the virus and hasn't spoken to him in years.

He said he knows he should feel empathy for other people but doesn't. He tries to pretend to care about others but feels miserable doing so. He compares his lack of empathy to someone who empathizes with others: Just as most people do not force themselves to empathize with those for whom they feel sorry (It simply comes naturally,) he cannot force himself to be empathetic; it's just not his nature.

In telling this story, it reminds me of "Frankenstein". No matter the extent of Dr. Frankenstein's desire to salvage his creation, it was still a monster. He started off with a damaged brain, and unless he could get his hands on a healthy, vibrant brain, his creation remained damaged goods.

As science uncovers the hidden workings of the mind and realizes we are merely genetically predisposed to behave the way we do, people instead of being more forgiving of one another's shortcomings, I believe will start to think there is no hope for those who are sick. Instead of seeing everyone through the eyes of redeeming grace, we will start to see those who are sick as damaged goods.

I know you may say, "Science is our redemption," "We can treat, therapeutically, that which is broken;" and, by all means, that may be true. But, can we treat people who refuse to realize they are sick? Can we treat people against their will?

The only alternative is to incarcerate the psychopath. However, if we have knowledge through genetic testing a particular fetus has the predisposition for psychopathy, are we morally obligated to abort the unborn child?

Hi! I am currently working on my MA degree in Psych, and I work in the mental health field. My special field of emphasis has been Criminal Psychology, so your post is interesting to me.

A lot of people misunderstand the clinical definition of a psychopath. Or a sociopath.

Both those terms are nowadays are used in a synonymous fashion; they are interchangeable. That is, by many folks in the mental health field. (Personally, I prefer a slightly different meaning for them both, but that is only my opinion.)

For matters concerning the most common symptoms, I prefer Sociopath. And you certainly do not to kill anybody, or even run afoul of the law to be one. Or even be socially inept, or a social outcast. In fact, the ones that ARE those things--that commit violence--are the vast minority.

Many Sociopaths thrive in society. They are CEO's; professional athletes; MD;s; attorneys; captains of industry; salesman. What primarily distinguishes them from "normal" people is their inability to feel empathy, sympathy,or compassion. Oh, they are often very adept at faking or mimicking these emotions, but at heart, they feel nothing. We have hooked them up to different types of brain imagery devices, like the PET scan, and seen this phenomenon vividly portrayed.

They were shown pictures and videos of graphic violence; rape; disaster victims, and other images that most people find disturbing. And the thing is, the parts of the brain that "light up" when you or I or a person imbued with the amount of compassion that is inline with societal norms sees these images, well, they do not light up for a Sociopath. They remain dark. The primary part of the brain that shows this is located within the limbic center. Which many shrinks call "the seat of our emotions."

They are almost always Narcissistic, thus a true sociopath is really dually-diagnosed. As they have NPD as well as sociopathy. They posses strong and often absurd feelings of entitlement, believing that rules are made for others, and not for them. And they will always be able to tell you why this is so.

And, when they DO act in an aggressive manner: try to 'get back" at somebody they fell has slighted them, they usually do so in not a confrontational manner, but rather in a passive-aggressive one.
Science Flies Us to the Moon. Religion Flies us Into Skyscrapers.
Vox_Veritas
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7/20/2015 10:55:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/20/2015 7:35:10 PM, s-anthony wrote:
Two saturdays ago, I was listening to one of my favorite programs on the radio called "Snap Judgement". On this particular episode, they were telling the story of a researcher who did PET scans of the brains of psychopaths in the early nineties. Not long after that, he went on to scan the brains of people who suffered from Alzheimer's and used a copy of his own brain as the control. In reviewing the copies of the brains of people who had suffered from Alzheimer's, he came across a copy of that which appeared to be one of a psychopath. He peeled back the film to see the name hidden underneath only to realize it was a copy of his own brain.

Of course, he thought there was some mistake. He had never killed anyone. How could he be a psychopath? He sought the opinion of other professionals only to confirm his finding. On telling his wife and his brother, neither one of them was surprised; in fact, they suspected as much. His brother said he (the researcher) would make fun of other people even to the point of total humiliation. Once, while at a clinic in Africa, treating people with the Ebola virus, one of the researcher's brothers paid him a visit. He decided to take his brother to a cave in which many bats infected with the virus roosted; knowing their feces were contaminated, he told his brother not to come in contact with the feces but neglected to tell his brother the reason for his warning. His brother contracted the virus and hasn't spoken to him in years.

He said he knows he should feel empathy for other people but doesn't. He tries to pretend to care about others but feels miserable doing so. He compares his lack of empathy to someone who empathizes with others: Just as most people do not force themselves to empathize with those for whom they feel sorry (It simply comes naturally,) he cannot force himself to be empathetic; it's just not his nature.

In telling this story, it reminds me of "Frankenstein". No matter the extent of Dr. Frankenstein's desire to salvage his creation, it was still a monster. He started off with a damaged brain, and unless he could get his hands on a healthy, vibrant brain, his creation remained damaged goods.

As science uncovers the hidden workings of the mind and realizes we are merely genetically predisposed to behave the way we do, people instead of being more forgiving of one another's shortcomings, I believe will start to think there is no hope for those who are sick. Instead of seeing everyone through the eyes of redeeming grace, we will start to see those who are sick as damaged goods.

I know you may say, "Science is our redemption," "We can treat, therapeutically, that which is broken;" and, by all means, that may be true. But, can we treat people who refuse to realize they are sick? Can we treat people against their will?

The only alternative is to incarcerate the psychopath. However, if we have knowledge through genetic testing a particular fetus has the predisposition for psychopathy, are we morally obligated to abort the unborn child?

Even a psychopath should have a choice before being condemned. A choice to become a monster or to live quite decent life without hurting anyone. The researcher in question never killed anyone; what reason is there to lock him up? If he doesn't hurt anyone, he should be allowed to continue in his condition; being subjected to cleansing neuroscience should be done to him only if he chooses it.
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s-anthony
Posts: 2,582
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7/21/2015 8:27:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Even a psychopath should have a choice before being condemned. A choice to become a monster or to live quite decent life without hurting anyone. The researcher in question never killed anyone; what reason is there to lock him up? If he doesn't hurt anyone, he should be allowed to continue in his condition; being subjected to cleansing neuroscience should be done to him only if he chooses it.

I agree wholeheartedly: a person is not a criminal until he, or she, commits a crime.

However, it is well known psychopaths have a greater propensity to violent behaviour. That which is not known, with any certainty, is the reason some psychopaths commit acts of violence while others do not. Nevertheless, as science uncovers this mystery with greater predictability, at which point do we go from being merely bystanders to being complicit? In other words, if a doctor knew the child your wife was carrying had either a 100% chance or nearly a 100% chance of being born with a debilitating and fatal disease with an early onset of death is the doctor wrong for not notifying you and letting the two of you as parents make an informed choice?