If sociopathy is due to abnormal brain functioning, how can we blame them?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  zoe7 11 months ago.

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  • #42885


    So I have done a lot of research, and it seems that sociopathy/psychopathy is largely due to nature – these predators are usually born with abnormal brains, although nurture plays a smaller part.

    If this is true, how can we truly blame these (admittedly horrendous) individuals for their actions? We would not blame someone who was psychotic, whether through schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder for their actions.

    I also understand that unlike the psychotic,the sociopath is not delusional. He or she knows that what they are doing is wrong, but does the person have the capacity to stop their evil impulses? The books I have read, including neuroscientist James Fallon’s “The Psycopath Inside”, where he discovers through blind brain scans that his own brain meets the medical criteria for psychopathy, indicate the ability to put the brakes on predatory actions is limited for sociopaths.

    Psychopaths/sociopaths do not meet the current legal description of insanity regarding culpability for crimes, because they know what they are doing is wrong. The medical and legal community seems at a loss to consistently categorize these individuals and protect the public from them.

    If psychopaths/sociopaths are not insane, they are only subject to standard sentencing. However, if they cannot change their behavior meaningfully, these parasites are just going to get out after conning the parole board and victimize other people.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • #42892

    Donna Andersen

    Zoe7 – the answer comes down to the fact that sociopaths have the ability to choose their behavior.

    It is true that research is showing that sociopaths have differences in their brains. Yes, these disorders have a strong genetic component, and after that, whether the disorder actually develops is influenced by their environment when they are young, including parenting and life circumstances.

    The fact remains that sociopaths know the difference between right and wrong. They simply do not feel an emotional imperative to do what is right, and they do not feel guilt or remorse about doing what is wrong.

    So sociopaths know when they are doing something wrong, they just don’t care. And knowing what they are doing is wrong is enough for them to be guilty.

    All of us who have been involved with sociopaths have seen that they can do what is right WHEN IT SUITS THEM. They drive on the correct side of the road. They pay for meals in a restaurant. They are capable of showing up for work every day.

    Therefore, when they engage in immoral or unethical behavior, it’s BECAUSE THEY WANT TO.

    They are not delusional. They are choosing to break the law, rip people off, take advantage of partners. Therefore, they deserved to be held accountable for their actions.

  • #42911


    Thank you for your response, Donna. I have a sightly different take on it, because the research shows that when it comes to moral decision making, these parasitic individuals are truly impaired. That said, the most important thing is obviously that the public be protected from these monsters. The literature shows that psychopathy is viewed as both a sentence enhancing and a sentence mitigating factor based on neuroscience research. I am very happy that the person that victimized me is subject to an extended sentence in New Jersey based on past convictions, but if one is born with a defective brain and there is no effective treatment, that is a pretty gruesome blow for the perpetrator as well as society.

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