I receive a lot of email from readers, and over the years many have asked some variation of the question: Do sociopaths know what they are? Do they realize that something is wrong with them?
The answer varies with the individual sociopath, because they aren’t all the same. Generally, though, I believe sociopaths know that they are different from the rest of the human race. However, most are not bothered by their difference. They view themselves as superior.
On Tuesday Dr. Adrian Raine, a professor of criminology, psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is coming out with a new book called The Anatomy of Violence: The biological roots of crime. Dr. Raine wrote an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about neurocriminology””using neuroscience to understand and prevent crime. The article highlights some of the latest research on the relationships between certain brain structures, psychopathy and criminal behavior.
William Burley, originally from Rhode Island but caught in California, claimed to be a cop and Navy SEAL. He convinced a humanitarian organization working in Somalia to pay him $50,000 to rescue employees who had been taken hostage.
Researchers showed prisoners, who were diagnosed as psychopaths, images of people being intentionally hurt and observed their brain reactions on fMRI scans. Parts of their brains associated with emotional learning and moral decision-making showed reduced activity.
John Brickman Wall, a pediatrician in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Uta Von Schwedler. Von Schwelder was found dead in her bathtub in September, 2011.
The oldest of the couple’s four children, Pelle von Schwedler Wall, then 18, believed his father committed the crime. Eight months after the murder he filed a petition to remove his younger siblings from John Wall’s custody. The children stayed with a family friend for months. The father regained custody of the two youngest in February 2013.
“Very erotic!” That’s how a woman whom we’ll call “Cathy” described the beginning of her relationship with “Matt.” “Sex, sex, sex,” she said, “and sweet whisperings in my ears.”
After a whirlwind romance, they married. Cathy eventually discovered that sex was all Matt really wanted. She found a duffel bag filled with hard-core porn. His sexual demands made her uncomfortable. He cheated. Yet whenever Matt did or said anything hurtful, he soon acted as if nothing had happened.
Matt turned out to be callous, deceitful, manipulative, narcissistic, hostile, irresponsible, reckless and impulsive. In other words, he was a sociopath.
Dennis Clark III, 27, fatally shot his girlfriend in Federal Way, Washington, which is south of Seattle on Sunday night. Clark shared an apartment with the woman, Justine Baez, 24. He then shot and killed three men who were in the apartment complex. Police responding to the incident encountered Clark in a stairwell. When he ignored commands to stop reaching for a hand gun, police fired and killed him.
Back in 2002, when Clark was in high school, he allegedly shot a girl with a BB gun after she broke up with him. In her application for a domestic violence protection order, the girl described Clark as controlling, and said he had an “anger problem.” Clark was not prosecuted in the case.
WASHINGTON, D.C. The Federal Trade Commission released on April 19, 2013 a statistical survey of fraud in the United States during 2011, which showed that an estimated 25.6 million adults — 10.8 percent of the adult population — were fraud victims.
“The FTC fights fraud every day by taking scammers to court and telling consumers how to avoid being scammed. Studieslike this one help us fine-tune both our enforcement and education efforts,” said Charles Harwood, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.