As we hear more and more about psychopaths, scientists continue to discover further details about the condition, beyond the stereotypes we've seen on our movie screens. They're also slowly beginning to understand what makes and causes a psychopath.
Psychopaths are defined by their lack of empathy, which can lead to lying, and in extreme cases, violence. They also have tendency to manipulate people without any guilt, to further their own interests.
Some argue that people can be innately psychopathic, that they're born that way. But more recent research argues psychopaths could be made, through their upbringing.
A nature vs. nurture debate if you will.
Aina Gullhaugen, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, carried out a meta-analysis of all the international studies published over the past 30 years that looked at psychopathic offenders, and conducted her own study of the psychological needs of high-security prisoners in Norway.
She found that every study showed that these offenders had a background of physical and/or psychological abuse. She said:
Many of the descriptions made it clear that their later ruthlessness was an attempt to address this damage, but in an inappropriate or bad way.
In the aforementioned case descriptions and my own study, it became clear that they both have the desire and the need for close relationships, and that they care. At the same time it is equally clear that they find it almost impossible to achieve and maintain such relationships
Aside from abuse, criminal psychopaths tended to have what they described as an abnormal upbringing or parenting style.
Either they lived in a situation where no one cared, where the child is subjected to total control and must be submissive, or the child has been subjected to a neglectful parenting style.