Science & Tech

These are four defining traits of a psychopath, according to a neuroscientist

These are four defining traits of a psychopath, according to a neuroscientist

A neuroscientist has explained four key traits linked with psychopathy.

During a virtual seminar from The Science and Information Exchange, Georgetown University psychology professor and neuroscientist Abigail Marsh explained that the illness exists on a spectrum and shared four characteristics: pitilessness, remorselessness, an inability to love, and insensitivity to the possibility of harm, linked with the condition.

Speaking about pitilessness, she said: “When someone close to a psychopath feels sad or fearful, they can’t understand the emotion, because it’s something they don’t feel themselves,” she said.

On love, she said: “They do not experience close, loving bonds with other people in quite the same way other people do. More than one child or adolescent I’ve interviewed said they don’t love anybody, not their family, not their friends.” She added that they may think of loved ones as “associates” who can help them but are beneath them.

“They’re really insensitive to the possibility of future harm. In the words of one girl we studied, ‘Nothing scares me, nothing,’” she added.

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Finally, speaking about their lack of remorse, she added that she studied a boy whose mother checked in at a mental health facility due to the stress of caring for him. When Marsh asked the boy how he felt, he said it didn’t affect him.

“He said, ‘The things I do hurt her, but she doesn’t really say how much, so it doesn’t have any effect on me.’ He was blaming his mum for his total absence of remorse, for all the negative effects that had occurred because of his behavior,” Marsh said.

So that’s psychopaths, in a nutshell.

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