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Sociopaths or Psychopaths A Genetic Link
Can You Identify a Psychopath?
There are numerous types of personality disorders. The symptoms of the various disorders vary, but in general, these disorders involve thoughts, behaviors and feelings that do not allow these afflicted individuals to adapt to work or social settings. The symptoms of becoming a psychopath seem to appear during adolescence, but they cannot be diagnosed until the age of 18. An MRI can determine if a person is a psychopath. Approximately one percent of all people are psychopaths, but four percent of them are business leaders.
These are a few of the better known personality disorders:
- Antisocial personality disorder – Sociopath
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
As you can see there are a variety of types of mental disorder, and they are not always easy to treat, Some patients don't tolerate the medications, or they won't stay on them when they start to feel better, assuming they don't need them anymore.
Definition for Sociopath
The antisocial personality disorder (sociopath/psychopath) has specific behavioral features. The features include lack of impulse control, fearlessness, and their interpersonal skills are made up of aggressive social relations, rebelliousness, self-centeredness, manipulation, and they tend to externalize blame for their actions. Most researchers believe sociopathy and psychopathy are the same disorders, but not everyone agrees.
There are several personality tests that were designed to diagnose this type of antisocial personality. A person with sociopathic personality will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Frequently angry, arrogant and violent
- Has the ability to be charming and act witty
- Be very good using flattery to manipulating people’s emotions
- Easily agitated
- Repeatedly breaks the law
- Disregards the safety of themselves and other people
- Often have substance abuse problems
- Lies, cheats and steals
- Never shows guilt or remorse
- Typically does not have close friends
- Usually not capable of maintaining a romantic relationship
Genetic Component versus Environment
Mental Health professionals have studied this disorder to determine whether it is a genetic disorder or due to the environment. A twin study was completed where the twins were raised in separated homes. The result showed that if one twin had a personality disorder; then, the other twin often has a similar condition.
Obviously, identical twins are the same genetically. The study concluded that there were two classifications: the people with a genetic influence are also callus, and those people that were not callous acquired their personality disorder from the environment.
Researchers have also noted a specific gene expression in individuals with antisocial personalities (ASP). Researchers use gene mapping to try to understand the cause of many mental disorders. These are genes that regulate neurotransmitters in the body that regulate thinking, the mood and behavior. Two neurotransmitters, monoamine oxidase and serotonin, which are involved in behavior and mood, are lower than normal in people with ASP.
In addition, individuals with ASP, when tested, showed impairment in stimulus-punishment and stimulus-reward learning. This strongly implies that the amygdala of the brain is impaired, which controls fear and anxiety levels. There is a great deal of evidence that there is a strong genetic link, therefore, a biological disorder in most cases.
Some people with this disorder have experienced child abuse, had two alcoholic parents or parents that were also psychotic. Many of these children end up on the foster care system. Not all children that are raised in these types of environmental situations develop any type of personality disorders, so the researchers conclude that there is a biological disorder. In addition, children that have been adopted, who have a psychopathic parent often inherit psychopathic tendencies. This occurs even when the child is reared in an otherwise normal environment. In a recent study, these individuals had the abnormal level of brain chemicals.
What is Sociopathy
Sociopathy is a syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms. Sociopaths are difficult to diagnose as they exhibit a wider variety of symptoms. They are typically diagnosed when they exhibit several of the common symptoms. Any individual who is living with a sociopath usually has a difficult life. The best advice is to get away from any individual that exhibits these symptoms. Their lack of empathy and their manipulative mannerisms make it impossible to have a rewarding relationship when this individual does not have the capacity to love.
Psychopaths are not Usually Treatable
Treatment for Sociopaths
While there is no known cure and the effectiveness of most treatments is controversial, mental health professionals are looking for answers. One of the difficulties lies in the belief of the psychopath that there is nothing wrong with them. Long term studies are difficult if you cannot get the cooperated from the patients. Psychiatrists try to get sociopaths to quit drinking or using drugs.
There are some anti-psychotic medications being used in cases when the patient is willing to cooperate. These drugs include Lithium for mania, anticonvulsants and antipsychotic drugs have shown to be effective in reducing aggressive behavior and having fewer arrests. There is no drug that can make a sociopath empathetic or loving. The purpose of the drugs is to eliminate danger.
Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test.
Ted Bundy is a well-known psychopath as he raped and bludgeoned to death at least 30 women. Bernie Madoff and Michael Milkin were not violent, but they stole millions of dollars from unsuspecting people. Most killers are sociopaths. Anthony Hopkins was very convincing in his role of Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs." Some people say OJ Simpson and John Edwards are sociopaths. There so many different symptoms that it is difficult to say if someone is a sociopath unless they are tested.
It is really quit sad that most psychopaths cannot control themselves due to the genetic component. Of course, when you hear of a serial murderer or someone stealing all the retirement money from hard working people, it is difficult to feel much compassion. It is quite possible that researches will determine some way of treating these people through their research of the brain. The brain is really the last frontier.
Sociopaths and Psychopaths
Do you personally know anyone that you suspect is a psychopath?
© 2013 Pamela Oglesby