Friday, October 28, 2011

The Heritability of Psychopathy: Implications and Considerations

If a person inherits the sickle cell gene from one parent but not the other, that person has immunity from malaria with no side effects. In the tropics, it's like winning the lottery. However, if a person inherits that gene from both parents, he/she has sickle cell anemia, and it's a death sentence.

If a person inherits the homosexual gene(s) from one parent but not the other, that person is bi-sexual, and has a significantly higher probability of successfully reproducing. However, if a person inherits that gene(s) from both parents, he/she is a homosexual, and has much lower chance of reproducing.

[Technical note: this is called "rate-limiting".]

Similarly, if a person inherits the psychopath gene(s) from both parents - let's call him a "Double-Dose" - he (and the Double-Doses are all male) is the conventional understanding of the word "psychopath." They are the ones who rape, torture, and/or murder with their own hands. Most of the literature on psychopaths has come from studying these Double-Dose ones. They are 1% of the population.

However, if a person - male or female - inherits the psychopath gene(s) from one parent but not the other, that person is a "Half-Path." As the name implies, the Half-Path is only half as psychopathic as the Double-Dose; this has given rise to the word "sociopath." This is a misnomer, because it is an inherited defect, not the result of socialization. No-one who did not inherit the psychopath gene from either parent can be tortured or abused into being a psychopath; anyone who received the psychopath gene(s) from either or both parent(s) will develop the psychopathic personality no matter how they are raised. They are another 4% of the population.

Unlike the Double-Dose, the Half-Path does not typically rape, torture or murder with his/her own hands; like the Double-Dose, the Half-Path cannot feel he/she has done anything wrong. They are the white-collar criminals who caused the financial crisis. They are the politicians who feel just fine about pretending to be whatever the voters seem to want at any given time, then once in office do whatever they want. They are the higher-ups in the Catholic Church who, when they learn a priest has been molesting children, move that priest to another church and don't tell anyone at the new church that he was molesting children at the old one, thereby protecting and facilitating Evil.

The psychopaths - Double-Dose and Half-Path - are White, Black, and Asian; they are rich and poor; they are Republican and Democrat; they are Conservative and Liberal; they are Capitalist and Communist.

Unless and until you learn about the great science that's been done on the subject, you cannot act in favor of the good future:

Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley (out of print but available free online)

Without Conscience by Robert Hare

Snakes In Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert Hare

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

and the fMRI work of Adrian Raine (proving their brains are different).