Psychopathic Kids Don't Process Fear Very Quickly

By on May 20th, 2011 12:44 GMT

Children who have a very high risk factor for developing psychopathy are not so quick to process other people's fears as their peers are. This may be one of the reasons why they go on to develop the antisocial personality disorder.

Generally speaking, mentally-healthy humans are capable of figuring out when those they come in contact with experience fear or terror. When this type of processing does not take place, or is extremely slow, then the stage is set for the emergence of symptoms related to psychopathy.

People suffering from this type of mental illness exhibit a few traits in common, such as for example a lack of empathy towards their fellow men. However, this is veiled by the appearance of normality.

Interestingly, scientists have determined that psychopathic individuals are also charismatic most of the times, and capable of bonding with others very quickly. At the same time, they are very likely to break social norms as often as they can, and by as much a margin as possible.

This increases their risk of getting involved in crimes and other irresponsible behaviors, experts say. Their complete lack of empathy also contributes to this risk, PsychCentral reports. The new study on the issue was led by expert Patrick D. Sylvers, PhD.

“What happens is you’re born without that fear, so when your parents try to socialize you, you don’t really respond appropriately because you’re not scared,” adds the investigator, who is based at the Emory University Department of Psychology.

Experts Dr. Patricia A. Brennan and Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld were also involved in the research. The team checked to see whether something more made people predisposed to psychopathy than their inability to look people in the eye (as has been proposed).

The most important conclusion in the experiments was that attention has nothing to do with the development of the condition. But this also indicates that there's no clear avenue for research in this condition just yet.

“I think it’s just going to take a lot more research to figure out what you can do – whether it’s parenting, psychological interventions, or pharmacological therapy. At this point, we just don’t know,” Sylvers explains.

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