My very first contemplation of criminal behaviour was trying to uhh put together a plan… of getting away with murder And I was going to kill my brother. I knew that every Sunday he‘d jump on his bike and he’d head down the road to join up with some other fellows, and he loved that bike, and he used to tell me, “You ever touch my bike, I’ll kill you.” So, this Sunday morning, while he’s working, I take his bike. I knew if I provoked him just a little bit more then he would chase me, so I gave him a couple of kicks and took off on a dead run for a tree that was right beside my grandfather’s barn. And I went up onto the roof and on the opposite side of the barn, there were cutter rakes. And sure enough he chased me up there and as he topped the edge of that roof I kicked him off it… …and he fell onto those rakes. Some court people came and got me. There are few more emotive words in the English language than ‘psychopath’, a clinical term for a condition that only recently has begun to be properly defined. It describes a dangerous pattern of behaviour which, although it’s been recognised for the best part of the century, is little understood. Every decade has produced its own particular brand of psychopaths, whose horrific crimes have defied any kind of rational explanation. Recent research into psychopathy in Britain and America is encouraging scientists to believe that they’re close to discovering the root cause of the condition. Now we can literally look inside the mind of a murderer. We can look inside the brains of psychopaths. And begin to see things that nobody else has ever seen before. What the scientists are discovering suggests that psychopaths are born, not made; that their condition is the result of a specific malfunction of the brain. The complexity of psychopathy has made it difficult to treat. But now, that could all change. I think the general public would characterize a psychopath as somebody who does really nasty things, and in fact, the public view of the psychopath is that he or she, primarily he, is a serial killer. The general public is not wrong in that respect, but what has happened is that they have ignored the fact that there are tens of thousands of other people out there who are psychopaths but are not serial killers. Psychopaths simply do not experience emotions in the same way that we do. They don’t experience empathy in the way that we do, they don’t experience love in the way that we do and because of this they are more likely to stick a knife in someone to get what they want, because they just don’t care about the other person. I stabbed my first man. I, uhh, stabbed him. He lived. But it sent out a word, a clear word to the rest of them that uhh, you don’t want to be messing with this kid. He’ll stick ya. Psychopaths can sing the lyrics but they don’t respond to the melody… the melody of, of normal human interactions and emotions. There is something missing. He has no compunctions. He kisses or kills without a thought. They are dangerous, without conscience, and all around us. In Britain it is estimated that one in every 200 of the population is psychopathic, and by far the vast majority are neither criminal nor in prison. But the kind of harm that psychopaths can cause at home and in the workplace is deeply damaging and costly in every sense. We must be concerned on their impact on families when they’re out in the community. They move from relationship to relationship. They have multiple children who they abandon. They engage in spousal assault, and a whole range of behaviors which are unacceptable. David Cook is a forensic psychologist of the Douglas Inch Centre in Glasgow. He’s made a close study of psychopaths in prison. They tend to be very versatile in their criminality, so they don’t tend to engage in one particular type of crime. They’ll engage in a whole variety. So they may engage in violent crime, cunning and manipulative crime. They may engage in sex crime, property crime and so forth. So they cover the whole range of criminal behavior. In the workplace, they often disrupt and destroy the good working of the business or an operation, because they’re interested in what’s in it for themselves. I think it’s a very important condition and we do need resources put into treatment to see if we can find anything that works. The only psychopaths who are readily available for possible treatment and research purposes are those who are locked up in prison. They’re a minority of the prison population but they’re special. There is a growing realization that the range of their crimes coupled with the disproportionate amount of damage they cause, makes them public enemy number one. The population in which you’d find a bigger concentration of psychopaths than anywhere else, uhh, is amongst convicted criminals, but a majority of people in prison are not psychopaths. Psychopaths are a minority, but a minority who are particularly likely to re-offend. David Thornton is a senior scientist with Her Majesty’s Prison Service. He develops treatment programs for serious offenders, and recidivist psychopaths are now a major concern of his. Further criminal behavior harms the victims of that criminal behavior. Umm, it also costs the country a lot of money in terms of police time, in terms of the time of the courts, umm, and in terms of what society spends in relation to people being hurt by crime. You only have to change the re-offence rates by quite a small amount, and you actually save quite a lot of money, if you’re thinking in purely economic terms. Before you can tackle the high cost of psychopathic crime, first you must reliably identify who are the psychopaths. Recently, this has become easier. The major breakthrough, I think, has been the development of the Psychopathy Checklist, by Robert Hare and his colleagues. And that has allowed uniformity in the diagnostic process, so when a researcher in Canada talks about a psychopath defined by Hare and one in Scotland talks about a psychopath defined by Hare’s criteria we all know we’re talking about the same sort of disorder. In Vancouver, the person who has contributed most to helping everyone get a better handle on psychopathy is Robert Hare. From the start, Hare recognized the central problem of defining a condition about which we know little, other than it’s symptoms. If you’re going to deal with a particular condition psychopathy in this case, or schizophrenia or any other condition, you’ve gotta make sure that you can record and measure these particular disorders reliably and validly. From the scientific perspective, psychopathy is a combination of characteristics, inferred personalities traits, and behaviours that hang together, and for this reason, we had to figure out a way to make this, this idea of psychopathy as scientifically valid as possible. And we spend the next 15 years trying to develop an instrument that would actually do this job, and in fact the measuring tool, that was not made out of rubber. The measuring tool that Hare devised is called the Psychopathy Checklist. It’s become the industry’s standard internationally for identifying psychopaths. In a carefully structured interview, an expert using the checklist, which defines character traits closely associated with psychopaths, can determine the extent to which someone is or is not psychopathic. Many of these characteristics are not uncommon, but points are awarded out of 40, and a score of 26 or higher is required to identify the true psychopath. Whenever I list the characteristics that define a psychopath, people will say, “Well I know somebody who’s got two or three of those characteristics. Are they psychopaths?” I’ll say, “Of course not. What you’ve got to do is have a cluster combination of characteristics that hangs together.” In the present climate of the United States, prison therapy programs are no longer fashionable. But Vermont State Penitentiary is an exception. Behind its high security fences, in a special unit, they have some of the most difficult criminals in the country, including psychopaths. This particular unit represent the uncontrollable, the undesirables, the ones that refuse to program. It’s what they refer to as “the most disruptive”. I’m here serving a 5 to 20 years sentence for sexual molestation of four boys, the ages of 4 to 12. Wayne has been here for more than 10 years, and perhaps has 10 more to do. He scored 40 on the Psychopathy Checklist. It’s the maximum possible, and extremely rare. The authorities here believe that time and money spent trying to reform psychopaths like Wayne is a worthwhile investment. I hope that the tools that I’ve learned in this program and other programs like it, umm I can… Head of the therapy program, Tom Powell, knows he’s working in relatively uncharted territory, and Hare’s Checklist is invaluable. Dr. Hare has provided us with uhh, some significant advances and understanding in detail, the syndrome that is now known as ‘psychopathy’. He’s validated a scheme that’s quite, quite uhh uhh, good in terms of looking at a set of anti-social behaviors, as well as, as uhh interpersonal traits which distinguish these folks. What can you tell us about your early years, where you grew up? Okay, uhh, well I’m uhh, I just turned 45, uhh the 23rd of January. Wayne’s sessions with Tom Powell are little more than conversation therapy, for no one yet has any real idea what works in the treatment of psychopaths. But Powell is discovering the complexity of the personalities he’s dealing with. Uhh, I keep to myself, I do a great deal of studying, I do a great deal of reading, I do a great deal of writing. Psychopaths can be wondrous in many ways, and one of them is their ability to engage otherwise knowing and well-informed therapists about their, their sincerity and their desire to change. And, uhh I have found it very easy to be seduced by the, uhh, the tone, and the affect, and the engagement of a psychopath who, with great earnestness tells me that he’s finally found the light and has seen the error of his ways. The therapists are wonderful I learn a great deal from them. Sometimes it can be hard. I suppose that’s the way it’s supposed to be when you’re growing up. Uhh, I’m ready to go now. I know that decision will come from others who have already seen, they’ve seen my change. Carl is another serious psychopath in the Vermont program, a 36 on the checklist. I had statutory rape on a minor, 15. I was arrested for an aggravated sexual assault, on a female child, she was 4 years old. I think it’s very important when therapists undertake to work with psychopaths, and they know the entire record, and that they not be deceived into believing that they have therapeutic magic they can work with these individuals. It’s not good for me to be around any female child, whether it be a young child or a teenager. In this gentleman, we see a striking shallowness of affect. He speaks a language of treatment that is quite articulate in many ways. He’s able to talk about his uhh risk factors, his past in what appears to be a deceptively open way. One of my main concerns is that when I someday return to society, is that I’m gonna have to be very careful where I’m at at all times and who I’m around. If one looks beyond the words, and gauges the affect and the emotion, the feeling that goes with them, at that point you start to see a disconnect, with what he’s saying and what he’s experiencing. And I think that is characteristic of psychopaths. Critics and commentators in the past have said that “To study 1% of the general population seems to be a waste of time. Why not spend our time studying criminals in general? There are far more criminals than there are psychopaths.” And uhh, even when we get them into prisons, they will really talk with 15 or 20% of the prison population. Is it worth really paying attention to them?” It sure is. And the reason is, there may only be a small number of psychopaths in the population, but the damage they inflict on society is very widespread, and in fact I would estimate that the 15 or 20% that I’m talking about are responsible for at least half of the violent crime in our society. So we’ve got to understand this particular disorder. And what about those who are NOT behind bars, the “successful” psychopaths who are still out there… wreaking havoc? In America, it’s estimated that 1 in 100 of the population is psychopathic, but psychopaths make up 20% of the prison population. And this criminal 20% is responsible for half of all violent crimes. It’s a fact that law enforcement agencies take very seriously. *Gunshots* (FBI! Don’t move!) (Don’t move.) (Don’t shoot.) Officers in the line of fire are now given special training in dealing with psychopaths. (Don’t shoot.) (Turn around, face the building.) We deal with primarily the most violent of violent crimes, the most horrendous of all the crimes in the world. (One gun on the ground.) In this kind of work, perhaps most of the offenders that I see ARE primarily psychopaths, and, and for me, the, the importance of people in law enforcement, whether it be in parole, or corrections, umm, in a state agency or in a federal agency, to be able to understand these people is really critical. Now perhaps a patrol officer won’t encounter a psychopath every day, But when they do, it may be in that one terribly important case, or in that one very violent crime, and if they miss it, the crime can go unsolved, umm, the body can go un-located, the victim can go umm, for long periods of time without being found, so these people, when they do act out violently, umm, can cause just an enormous amount of trouble, and problems, and heartache. The nature of some of their offenses can be so unbelievable, that to normal people, we have to have an explanation for that, and one of the most common explanations, is “They have to be crazy.” But psychopaths are not crazy. They know right from wrong, and, and if you’re standing on a street corner and they’re next to a uniformed police officer, and they wanted to commit a robbery, they would know not to do it as long as the police officer is there. Psychopaths may not be insane, but they’re certainly capable of irrational and unexpected behavior. In 1995 in Los Angeles, where the bizarre is always several sizes larger than life, an extraordinary incident shocked the city and challenged the police. As we’re on the San Diego freeway, heading towards the off ramp that became famous as to where he exited on Sunset Boulevard, there is literally hundreds of people standing on the freeways and the overpasses, waiting for him to come by. Millions watched, mesmerized, as the prime suspect in a murder case was pursued by police on prime-time television. The fact that he was a national hero didn’t exclude the possibility that he was also psychopathic. (Back up! Please. Get out of the way!) (Get back here.) (You got any *unintelligible*) (Please step back, please step back.) (Have you been told you’re under arrest, OJ?) OJ Simpson suddenly has some of the features of psychopathy, he is glib, he’s superficially charming, he has a grandeur sense of worth he’s impulsive, he’s certainly committed spouse abuse. He’s committed anti-social acts like a psychopath, he had the history of being a juvenile delinquent early on in his life. He certainly seems to show a lack of emotional depth, the type of features that go to make a cold-blooded killer. Our task was the same, no matter if it was OJ Simpson, a gang member, a husband who’s had a fight with his wife, our task is the same: to resolve the situation, peacefully, and talk him into our custody. Peter Weireter was the police officer who had the delicate task of talking OJ Simpson out of his car, and into handcuffs. He had the support of most of the Los Angeles Police Department. But those who advised him how to deal with a suspected psychopath were vital. Dr. Mohandie and I have been on numerous incidents together, he’s the one who gives me a profile of the person we’re dealing with. It allows me to stay away from certain subjects that might trigger the rise, when I’m really trying to get a calming effect, and downward, and that’s what he really lends so much support to. I see my role, in these situations when I’d go out with Pete, is in terms of helping, umm, the hostage negotiation team understand what motivates this person, and if it happens to be a psychopath, there are different things to do in that situation, based upon that knowledge. Here you have an individual who we categorized as having some extreme need to have his ego stroked, there was a pretty big ego that we’re dealing with, a person that’s used to being put up on a pedestal by others, which some people might characterize as narcissistic. And towards that end, face-saving is an extremely important issue, and anything that you can do to protect that person’s ego from getting any more injured, that pride from getting any more harmed, uhh, is what we would tend to support, and I think our task was to come up with a face-saving way for this individual with strong narcissistic and grandiose tendencies, to give him an “out” that’s gonna save face. And in fact, that is what we did. There are many psychopaths in society that actually, we know virtually nothing about. These are the psychopaths who don’t necessarily commit homicide, commit serious violence, or even come to the attention of the police. They may be successful businessmen, they may be successful politicians, they may be be successful academics, they may be successful priests; they exist in all areas of society. There is a growing awareness that psychopathic behavior is around us in all walks of life. There are tell-tale signs in road rage incidents, and in the violence that surrounds sport. But it’s in the cut-and-thrust of the business world, an arena where traditionally ruthlessness verges on a virtue, that it’s becoming increasingly worrying. Paul Barbiak, a personnel consultant, has had his own daunting experiences with psychopaths… in suits. I was brought into an organization to work on a team-building project, there had been some conflict amongst people on this particular team. And as I interviewed them, half of them identified one person as the source of the conflict, but the other half of the group thought this person walked on water, was absolute a dream, and even future leader of the company. As I interviewed him, I found that I personally liked him very much, however over time he began to do things that were very bizarre. He would accidentally bump into a vice president, and then once he realised who it was, of course he already knew who it was, he would start praising this individual and fawning after him, and ingratiating himself with the vice president. Others would see him with the VP and think he had some sort of influence which he really didn’t have. Then he would take this perception in their mind and pretend that he did have secret information about what was going on in the organization. As he did this with different people, they were more willing to share information with him that they had because they thought that he was in the know. He discovered that one of the vice presidents was having an affair with one of the individuals in the office. He became very good friends with this individual, a young lady, and began to give her not only positive information about himself, because he was very gracious and charming but he also spread negative rumors about his boss, the person who he really wanted to replace *Ringing* I called Bob Hare, he sent me a copy of the Psychopathy Checklist. I was shocked by the results. This person came out to thirty out of forty. I called Bob back and he said to me that “Yes”, in fact I had been dealing with a psychopath. He referred to this person as a “sub-criminal psychopath” I now refer to them as “industrial psychopaths” The notion of industrial psychopaths rising through the ranks to become captains of industry could mean that the character traits are a positive business asset. You take the Robert Maxwell example, it may be that he was able, through his energy and drive and lack of concern for other people to develop a business, uhh, effectively. But, the damage he did to people along the way was quite considerable. Very considerable. I find it hard to think of any clear examples where people have positively contributed because of their psychopathic traits. Recognising psychopaths early on may limit the damage they can cause. But their natural ability to be both manipulative and beguiling makes it difficult. One of the things that the medical students, with whom I’ve worked, have noted is that, their shock at how normal psychopaths uhh, look, and how engaging they are. I do not know one clinician who hasn’t at one time been taken by a psychopath. It happens to the best of people. I knew that I had to get in touch with some… deeper level of inter-connection, so that I could identify with humanity. We’re all born with a conscience. We learn not to touch the stove because it’s hot. Until we touch the stove, and get burned, then and only then, we don’t touch the stove again. Compassion and empathy is a learned process, it starts off at a very early age. They are very gifted at being able to convince you, “I’m harmless, I did not do it” there’s absolutely no way I’m responsible for this crime.” These are very good actors. They can read an audience, or an individual, as well as anyone that I’ve ever seen. While they appear to be speaking about themselves, they are constantly monitoring the facial expressions, the responses, and they will then tailor what they say, to see if they can get the kind of response that they want. My idol is John Lennon. And of course on the other side of the tracks, we have Willy Nelson. He represents freedom in different ways. “Love, peace, harmony” Uhh, togetherness, connection” with the polar bears and uhh, freedom in general. Culturally, we find some difference between United Kingdom and North America. Our psychopaths tend to be less overt in their glibness, their superficial charm, and so forth. These things are not so obvious as they are in the North American, umm, prisoners, for example. We’ve done studies where, Canadian prisoners and Scottish prisoners have been rated by Canadian and Scottish raters, and we can show that the Canadian prisoners are more extroverted, more glib, more superficial, more charming, than our Scottish prisoners, who tend to be a bit dour, as they would say. And of course, the feathers represent freedom, and uhh, the leaf represents uhh, changing of the times. And uhh, this is something, some little thing that I stuck together, and my philosophy is “It’s our life, and we have a right to cry if we want to.” A lot of people, particularly those who tend to believe in the goodness of humanity say, “The problem with a psychopath is that uhh, he or she was not properly treated as a child, and actually never learned to be empathetic, you know, towards other people, and uhh, really, never learned to become attached or bonded with somebody else, a caregiver, and that’s the problem and we can resolve it in adulthood simply by giving them a hug, maybe a musical instrument, and a puppy dog and they’re all gonna be okay. Give them lots of love and understanding.” With a psychopath, I would argue that emotion is like being colorblind for them, and nothing we can do is actually going to instill a sense of empathy, this is really a waste of time. I think that biologically, or neurobiologically, the mechanisms that should impart affect or emotion to one’s cognitions and thoughts and attitudes, are not working properly in psychopaths. But are psychopaths born? Or shaped by their environment? Is it nature or nurture that has so distorted their emotional make-up? There are some individuals who come from fantastic home backgrounds, dedicated parents, all advantages in the world. And yet, they grow up to become these psychopathic, violent monsters later in life. And you ask the question, “How the heck did they get there?” *Roller coaster noises, screaming* If you were a scientist, as an experiment, you decided to try to create a psychopath, by, by actually having all the right circumstances that you thought would create one, I suspect you’d fail at that. It’s not something that one can actually cause, environmentally. But there are those who argue that deeply traumatic influences in early childhood will surely have a damaging effect on an otherwise normal child, possibly causing psychopathy. People are going to see, “If you’ve been abused as a child, if you’ve been deprived as a child, if your environment has been so shocking, then inevitably that’s going to have consequences in the way that you impact on your environment and on other people.” But it’s just not enough, it’s an inadequate answer. If you look at areas of deprivation in the world, if you look at third world countries, you look at children who’ve got nothing, who’ve been abused, they don’t turn automatically into psychopaths. This is something which is innate to the child, which the child is born with, not, I would stress, directly inherited, it’s not that dad’s a psychopath, and you’re a psychopath, but much more to do with a combination of genes working together, or not working properly together, that create a predisposition for this. Martin Smedley works with seriously disturbed children at a leading London hospital. He’s certain there are signs of psychopathy in some of them who are very young, but current medical practice forbids him to diagnose it. You can’t call a child a psychopath; you can’t call a child somebody with a personality disorder. One is still of the view that children can change, that actually change can take place over time, and that personality disorder is something that you have as an adult and not as a child. I think there also sort of ethical considerations for taking a small child and saying, “Well this person is a psychopath.” It has a certain sense of inevitability about it, of incurableness about it, and one doesn’t want to look at children in that way. I think one needs to intervene as early as possible if there is any suspicion that this child is likely to develop a personality disorder, that is likely to become psychopathic, or is showing signs of psychopathy. One needs to be able to identify what those signs are and intervene. In Britain, medical ethics forbid the diagnosis of personality disorders in juveniles; therefore, treating psychopathy at an early age, however advisable, is difficult. And anyway, remedial intervention when the root cause of the condition is unknown, at best can only be guesswork. We’re a complex mix of social, familial, genetic, and biological processes, but we’ve almost entirely excluded biological processes from our understanding of crime violence and psychopathy. I’m absolutely convinced by the research, by the science, that there is a biological basis to psychopathic violent behaviour. A biological basis to the condition raises the question: “Can psychopaths fairly be held responsible for their actions?” As scientists move closer to pinpointing the cause, it’s a moral issue that society will have to confront. There is a growing consensus among the experts that psychopathy is a specific biological condition, the result of a malfunction in the brain. Bob Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist is the accepted benchmark for identifying psychopaths. It could also be the key that unlocks the cause of the condition. A lot of people say that this concept of psychopathy is nothing more than a myth, and people have said that it’s a moral judgement masquerading as science. Well, if we define people according to this cluster of characteristics, do they have brain images for a particular task that are different from those of other individuals? And the answer is definitely yes. Hare has been using brain-scanning techniques to determine whether the mental processes of the psychopath are different from those of the non-psychopath. If they are, it could be revealed in brain images. Some of the brain imaging research that my group and other groups in several parts of the world are now conducting indicates that it appears that the psychopath has difficulty in actually processing, understanding, and using emotional material. Now is this because they are biologically put together differently, or they are wired differently right from birth? Or are the brain differences that we observe the result of using different strategies to perform the tasks that we use? We just don’t know that yet. In one experiment, a psychopath’s response to emotive words is tested, and the brain activity it produces is compared to that of a non-psychopath. The difference is significant. The white areas denote parts of the brain that are actively processing an emotional response to the words. In the brain of the non-psychopath there is considerable activity; in the psychopath’s brain there is far less. It seems that there is less emotional involvement. Hare’s research into the workings of psychopaths’ brains is encouraging. It’s clear that there are striking differences in areas that are associated with processing emotions. We’re interested in, what parts of the brain are activated when you’re looking at something neutral in connotation, an ordinary picture of a person or an object, or looking at something that has intense emotional connotations, something that is very negative, very, very disturbing to most people. And our prediction is of course is that the psychopaths will not show the same activation of the same brain regions that we would observe in normal people. There’s a lot of current interest in the limbic system. The limbic system is extremely important in processing and producing emotional material. One part of the limbic system that plays an extremely important role in emotionality is the amygdala, and one could argue that the amygdala is the problem, there’s something wrong with the way the amygdala functions. James Blair lectures on developmental psychology at University College London. His research into psychopathy has focused on the part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is a small structure that is housed underneath the temporal cortex, almost in the middle of your brain. It’s crucial for emotion and particularly emotional learning. It’s most important for the generation of fear, and also seems to be very crucial in processing sad faces. From some of the imaging work we’ve done, we’ve shown that if you show a sad face to another human being, you see activation of the amygdala. I’m just showing you some pictures on this screen over here, and whilst I’m showing you these, I’m going to be measuring your emotional reactions with these electrodes. Basically what they do, is they pick up the degree to which you are sweating when you’re looking at the pictures. Blair is convinced that his research shows that the cause of psychopathy is in the amygdala, that it functions differently in the psychopath from the non-psychopath. When you’re looking at pictures, you have to give a score between 1 and 10 1 being that you hate the picture, never want to see it again, 10 being it’s an excellent picture and you wouldn’t mind having that picture on your wall. And that’s it. One. Three. Five. There is various strands of evidence there, all pointing towards the fact that there may be some problems in amygdala functioning in psychopathic offenders. They perform very poorly on a range of tasks that directly assess how well your amygdala is functioning. It’s definitely a biologically-based condition, in the sense that the amygdala is functioning poorly. The degree, or where that, umm, impairment comes from, whether it’s genetic or whether it’s early trauma, or whether it’s some sort of social variables that are affecting the development of the amygdala, that’s what we can’t tell. But it’s clear that it is, there is pathology in the brain of these individuals. Bob Hare is not convinced that it’s that simple. Our own research indicates that it’s more complex than that. The amygdala certainly is important, as it would have to be if you were dealing with emotionality. We’re now beginning to find that there are anomalies in the frontal cortex, temporal cortex, maybe the connections within and between different parts of the brain are extremely important. There are those who believe the answer to psychopathy is in the brain but not necessarily with the amygdala. At the University of Southern California, Adrian Rain is comparing how the prefrontal cortex functions in the brains of psychopaths with those of non-psychopath student volunteers. The prefrontal cortex is involved in regulating and controlling behaviour. It’s the part of the brain that says to us: “Hey, let’s stop and think about this before we actually go through with things.” If you like, it’s the emergency brake. It’s a restraining mechanism that psychopaths seem to be lacking. We’re using the continuous performance task because this is the task that we use to challenge or activate the prefrontal cortex in our murderers. We were applying it to psychopathy in our community study here because again what we want to do is activate or challenge the prefrontal cortex in psychopaths. We suspect that the prefrontal cortex is dysfunctional or potentially damaged in psychopathic individuals. Adrian Rain and James Blair may both be on the right track, for there is an important relationship between the pre-frontal and orbito-frontal cortex regions of the brain and the amygdala. In healthy brains, there are massive interconnections between the amygdala and the orbito-frontal cortex. One interesting possibility is what might be occurring is that because the amygdala is not working properly, it’s beginning, over time, to have long-term consequences for how the orbito-frontal cortex functions. Research today into psychopathy is contributing greatly to a new understanding of a very old condition, and it brings with it the possibility of an effective treatment for this dangerous minority who cause so much harm. I believe in science, I believe in the study of the mind, but it’s very complex. I’m not sure if there will be, in my lifetime, any ground made on that, and so for the time being we have to look at what we have in regards to forms of prevention. We have to protect people; we have to protect society and I understand that today. (The program’s a sham. You lie to these people. The program sucks.) I don’t want that life anymore. Current therapy programs for psychopaths in prison are not proving very successful. Indeed, the extraordinary fact is that there is a higher incidence of reoffending among those who have received treatment than those who’ve not. Not only does the treatment not work; it seems to exacerbate the condition. By the time you get to adulthood, I think the cause is pretty lost actually. If you think about trying to shape or reshape your own behaviours, behaviours perhaps that you might find to be, or other people might find to be irritating or unacceptable and you make a conscious effort to, you even get therapy, for these behaviours, actually trying to change even the most trivial behaviour that you’re well used to, where the pattern’s very well established, is extremely difficult. If you are talking about a pre-set mental condition that’s been operating since birth or before birth, how on earth are you going to be able to attempt to change that? The standard programs are ineffective because they’re targeting the wrong thing. They’re trying to target increasing one’s capacity for feeling empathy towards somebody else, or they try to develop a flabby conscience into one that is fairly strong. Well this is a waste of time… with the psychopath. Since we seem to be, umm, picking up these indications of poor amygdala functioning, what we can hypothesize is that any sort of pharmacological agent that may help boost the functioning of the amygdala may help, umm, these individuals and make them safer to be around. The fact that attentions are turning to new methods of treatment when the cause of psychopathy is yet to be firmly pinpointed, suggests that its discovery may not be far away. When it happens, the question is whether we will be prepared to administer a treatment as radical as that which Adrian Rain predicts. We’re not too far away in the future where what we’ll be able to do is replace dysfunctional brain mechanisms with microchips. This sounds like science fiction, and clearly it’s not here yet, but within the next 10 years we will have the first microchip brain implant. And it raises an important moral and ethical question in society. Do we intervene with psychopathic offenders who we can’t currently treat? And change them completely, reshape them entirely, change their brains, make them a new person? Is it really right of society to go into the holy of holies, go into a person’s brain, their essence, and change the neural wiring and structure of their brain? Now I think there are two ways of looking at that: At one level we can say, “No, we must not change the self, it’s the one thing that’s God-given, we mustn’t interfere with that. Biological research, biological manipulations of people are out. We must not do that. We mustn’t change the nature and essence of what is God-given.” Another approach is to say, “Look, psychopaths are creating major problems in society and we have to do something about that no matter how radical it may be. We have to do something about reducing the rate of crime, violence, and murder in society. Psychopaths exponentially are responsible for the horrific things that happen to people, innocent people, in society. Systematically, treatment approaches have simply failed to alter psychopathic behaviour, and we can’t wait much longer.” It’s certainly true that until a concerted effort is made to eradicate psychopathy, one of the most dangerous forces of our times will continue to plague society. The solution must lie in effective treatment. If surgical intervention in the brain proves to be the best option, it will surely polarize public opinion, but it’s a decision we cannot put off. The cost of evasion is far too high. There will always be moral difficulties in deciding whether to treat criminals or not, and that is really an issue for society as a whole and politicians and people who have expertise in ethics and so forth. I think the scientists have to provide the evidence, which other people can then use.