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  • My book, The Psychopath Inside, is a memoir and it's a mix of a personal story and what

  • the science is, that is, the psychiatry and the genetics and the neuroscience behind what

  • the subject is which is psychopathy. But it's really a story about somebody, me, who at

  • 60 finds out he's not really who he thought he was all along in his whole life. And not

  • until I had just by serendipity, by chance, started to run across biological evidence

  • first from PET scans, positron emission tomography scans, that I was involved with -- acted as

  • a control in one study in Alzheimer's disease and also had my genetics done. So it was just

  • as a control and to compare to other people with Alzheimer's. And so it was through that

  • about, oh, seven years ago that I found out something very strange. And this something

  • strange both in terms of my brain pattern and genetics happened to run, it intersected

  • with another study I had been doing -- a minor study on looking at PET scans and FMRIs, another

  • kind of brain scan, and SPEC scans of killers, really bad murderers.

  • And these are particularly bad hombres and some serial killers, et cetera. And I had

  • looked at these and had been asked to analyze them over the years from the early 1990s onward.

  • And about the same time, 2005, when I was doing my own scans for this Alzheimer's study

  • I had a whole group of these killers and also psychopaths and looked at a pattern. I said,

  • "My God, there's a pattern in the brain for these guys." And so I started to talk about

  • it, give talks and, you know, at academic institutions and psychiatry departments, law

  • schools, et cetera, just to kind of vet the idea. But at the same time I got this pile

  • of scans back that included my own and these other controls. And I was looking through

  • -- I got to the last scan of that study of the Alzheimer's and I looked at it and I asked

  • my technician. I said, "You've got to check the machine because this is obviously one

  • of the killers." One of the murderers. It looked like really a severe case of brain

  • activity loss in a psychopath.

  • And so when I ultimately they said, "No, this is part of -- it's in this control group."

  • And I had to tear back the name on it because I always do everything blind but this was

  • like something's really wrong. And it turned out to be my name. So it was like, you know,

  • Gandalf shows up at the door and you're it. So that started this whole trajectory. Now

  • at first I laughed at it and I just didn't care. We were so busy working on the genetics

  • of Alzheimer's and also schizophrenia and I had just started an adult STEM cell company.

  • And so I was so busy with stuff I kind of let it go for a couple of years really -- about

  • a year and a half. But then the genetics came back and I had all the genetic alleles, the

  • forms of the genes that are associated with a high aggression and violence, psychopathy,

  • and a low kind of empathy, that intrapersonal emotional empathy. And low anxiety.

  • And when I got that back I started to take a little bit of note but I still didn't care

  • about it. And it wasn't until I ended up giving a talk. I was asked to give a talk with the

  • ex-prime minister of Oslo who had bipolar disorder. And so I went to Oslo to give a

  • public talk with him, the clinician, on bipolar. You know, what's the brain patterns. And I

  • had to use my own example of how you do imaging genetics. Take imaging of the brain, genetics,

  • put it together in a mathematical model and how we figure it out so it can be used for

  • all sorts of psychiatry medicine. And in the audience were all these psychiatrists there

  • and I went through my own pathologies if you will and near clinical syndromes and my genetics

  • and my brain scan. And at the end the head of the department there said, "You don't even

  • know this I bet but you're bipolar first of all because you don't have the kind of bipolar

  • in the United States that they use, one of the kinds." So this is interesting.

  • He said, "I want to talk to you afterwards." So I met with these psychiatrists afterwards.

  • They said you're probably borderline psychopath too looking at all this. Well this was kind

  • of a real surprise. It's the first time I took it seriously because I -- not only the

  • biological evidence but these people didn't even know me. They were just looking at the

  • data, you know. And they could see my behaviors and in talking to me for a couple of hours

  • after that talk at somebody's house they said you probably do. So when I flew back to the

  • United States what I did was I started asking the psychiatrist, the neurologist that I knew

  • really well for many years and who know my behaviors including my not so nice behaviors.

  • And I said, "You've got to tell me what you really think of me." And each one of them

  • had said, "Well, you know, we've told you for many years you're, you know, you do psychopathic

  • things. You're probably a borderline psychopath."

  • I said, "No, no, no. You said I was crazy." They said, "Well we never said you were crazy.

  • You're not crazy. But you're like a borderline psychopath." Then I asked all my close friends,

  • my wife, the people in my family and they all had the same thing to say. And at that

  • point it was really kind of hit me. I was like well this is maybe true. And I started

  • to take the test for psychopathy and I came up borderline, a borderline psychopath. That

  • is a very high score without being what's called a categorical full blown psychopath

  • which contains these -- a lot of antisocial and criminal parts of it. And since I'm not

  • a criminal -- I've had conversations with the police many times but I was always able

  • to kind of talk my way out of it, get them to laugh, you know. But I have no record or

  • anything. But I've done some fun things.

  • Now and so at that point -- and I was just sitting with these two psychiatrists and I

  • said, "You've got all this evidence in front of you. I mean, do you see what's going on?"

  • And I'm telling you I didn't care. I didn't care at all. And they said, "That's the point.

  • You don't care." And so at that point, you know, I had started to -- I gave a TED talk

  • and then a MOTH talk, science festival. And then I got contacted by some people that did

  • different crime shows, you know, want to be on Criminal Minds and things like that. But

  • after that I got contacted by -- the same day by three literary agents in New York and

  • they said you ought to write a book about this. And I said, "Are people really interested

  • in this?" And it was personal too.

  • When I wrote the book I really, you know, had a heart to heart talk with my whole family

  • because this is going to be -- could be embarrassing, you know, for all of us. There could be some

  • exposure and risk. But they were sort of heroic about it. I just had to count on my own narcissism

  • to drive it. Like I can do this. I can beat this. I can write this. I'm tough. And so

  • I kind of used some of the traits to drive it forward. So actually coming out like this,

  • it also assured that I couldn't get away with things anymore, you know. When you tell people

  • what you're doing like I do in the book, many of the things, they're looking for it. And

  • so it's like, you know, my game's up in a sense. But I'm also 66, you know, do I really

  • want to be that way anymore. I still have fun with it but it's just a challenge, right.

  • It's a challenge and I think I can overcome it.

  • So I have to use my ego, my sense of narcissism to manipulate myself to handle it, you know.

  • And but it was really my family that said go for it. My mother is still alive and she'll

  • say you're saying too much. You're saying way too much. And, of course, I said, "Ma,

  • you don't know the half of it." Of course I said as long as you're alive and my family's

  • alive, my kids, you know, I'm telling a piece of the story but I give a fair amount in the

  • book more than in my talks. But I asked the psychiatrist who has known me for many years

  • what behaviors that are not so obvious that I do to people that would be psychopathic.

  • And he asked me about revenge and my getting even. Now everybody gets mad, right. Somebody

  • ticks you off, you get mad. You get mad for 5 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute -- everybody.

  • It's a normal thing. And your serotonin kicks in after about 5 minutes and it cools you

  • down.

  • In psychopaths it doesn't happen. It stays on boil -- it stays on a hard boil. But even

  • though you can control it you're still angry. You can stay angry for extremely long periods

  • of time. And that is sort of set up in utero because those areas of the brain that respond

  • to serotonin are altered by these so called warrior genes. So they don't respond when

  • you get older when the serotonin would have made you calm. And so psychopaths will get

  • very angry but they'll stay angry. And in the case of mine what I told two of the psychiatrists

  • who are very close to me. I said when I get mad I don't show it to anybody. I said I could

  • be furious at you and you'd never know it. I show no anger whatsoever. I don't show anxiety.

  • I said first of all you'll never know. And I said I can sit on it for a year or two or

  • three or five. But I'll get you. And I always do. And they don't know where it's coming

  • from. They can't tie it to the event and it comes out of nowhere.

  • And something dramatic happens in their life but I'm very careful. Almost pristine about

  • it. That it's a fair response. It's a proportional response. So if somebody does something -- you

  • can do a lot, you know. You can say anything to me and I won't get mad, really. Those things

  • don't get me mad. Somebody's trying to get me -- it's like another psychopath or another,

  • you know, somebody's trying to mess with me. I have a high threshold so many things really

  • don't get me mad. You can just about do anything. I'm pretty cool that way. But if you really

  • do then I always get even and I'll make sure it's the same sort of intensity that their

  • initial damage. And I said I can stay cool and it'll happen and they'll look around -- what

  • happened with their job, what happened with their family, what happened -- they won't

  • know. And they both said that's psychopathic. That's exactly it.

  • And so some of the, you know, the people at the BBC in Australia who I talked to, some

  • science writers said that's what Dexter is. So really when I saw Dexter I absolutely understood

  • it because he was being fair, he was being fair to the universe and the world of ethics

  • of the universe he's absolutely fair. Morality wise not so much but I could really understand

  • that behavior.

  • One of the surprises for me starting about six years ago and for the few years until

  • now -- when I said, you know, something's really wrong that I was not cognizant of -- I

  • didn't know I had this. And even though other people did they won't tell you, you know.

  • Once I asked they said of course you're that. But so people protect people close to them.

  • They protect their tormentors. It's kind of a family Stockholm effect. And I interviewed

  • some really dangerous bad guys in prison and they protect their tormentors. And so a lot

  • of times you won't find this out. You have to ask and you have to say I'm not gonna get

  • even with you. Just tell me the truth and you say it to enough people that they know

  • you're doing it. Then you'll find that out. So when that happened and I started to think.

  • I said well how can I change this without anybody knowing. So I just started with my

  • wife a couple of years ago. I started and every time I was about to do something with

  • her, you know, we're pouring a glass of wine or eating or going to a show -- anything.

  • I would stop for one moment and I would say what are you doing. And I noticed that every

  • time I was about to do something with her it was absolutely the most selfish thing.

  • And for regular behavior it's like you pour yourself the wine first, you serve yourself

  • first, you try to get out of some duties even though you make it look like you're cleaning

  • up. But also it gets worse than that. So doing, you know, for birthdays or if there was a

  • big party going on and there was a death in the family, an uncle or an aunt, and I thought

  • there's another party -- I'd make up an excuse to go to the party. I would just blow off

  • those things.

  • But it would extend it to everything I was doing. You know, and even to people who are

  • close to me -- not only family. And I noticed that, and I said, geez, everything I'm doing

  • is maximally like selfish. So I have to slow myself down now and try to just do the correct

  • thing -- very small. You know you have to start small because that's where you have

  • to start because the other stuff's too traumatic to really try to change yourself. But I tried

  • doing this and I noticed that -- and I didn't tell her I was doing this and other people.

  • And they said I like your behavior, you're different, what happened. And I told them,

  • I said you know I don't really mean it. And they said -- my wife said I don't care. You're

  • just treating me better. And I went -- I couldn't believe it. I thought -- see I had taken the

  • whole thing of empathy and meaning beyond what people behaviorally are asking for.

  • And everybody in my life they said who knows what people's motivations are. If you're treating

  • me well it means you're trying. That's all that matters. This blew me away and I really

  • still don't understand it but I keep trying to do that, right. And so but I have to stop

  • myself in each one of these -- anytime I do something I say what's the right thing to

  • do. When you do that and you're somebody like me you realize your whole day is spent thousands

  • of times doing the most selfish things.

My book, The Psychopath Inside, is a memoir and it's a mix of a personal story and what

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Discovering One's Hidden Psychopathy

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    稲葉白兎 posted on 2014/11/07
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