"Horizon" is a longrunning and respected BBC documentary series that focuses on science. I have watched it avidly since I was a child. This week it was about psychopaths. Here are some interesting facts:
Psychopaths lack the chemical in the brain that enables us to empathise with others. There brains are markedly different to those of non-psychopaths and this difference shows up clearly on cat-scans. They are born psychopaths. The condition is genetic but does not effect everybody in a family line.
If a psychopath has a happy non-abusive childhood they will not grow up to be killers. If they have an unhappy childhood they will definitely grow up to have the potential to kill. Although, in theory, it is possible for psychopaths who are potential killers to stop themselves killing it is extremely difficult for them to do this.
Babies who are not psychopaths are not only born innocent they are born with the knowledge of what is a good action and what is a bad action. They automatically approve of selfless actions in others and disapprove of selfish actions.
Psychopaths of all propensities are often found in positions of power in business organisations. Although about half of their staff will view them as good leaders they are not and they are not good at business either. They are just very good at persuading people they are.
There are far more psychopaths among us than we had ever previously imagined. You might be one. I might be one.
This is all very fascinating and begs lots of questions about the way we punish psychopaths when they do what psychopaths do. It shows clearly the importance of nurture in the formation of an individual's adult destiny. It also scuppers the Western Christian doctrine of "original sin."