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Psychopathy Into the mind of a serial killer…. Jeffrey Dahmer GuiltyNot Guilty Guilty or Not Guilty ? What’s your verdict? Born 1960 Looked for dead animals.

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Presentation on theme: "Psychopathy Into the mind of a serial killer…. Jeffrey Dahmer GuiltyNot Guilty Guilty or Not Guilty ? What’s your verdict? Born 1960 Looked for dead animals."— Presentation transcript:

1 Psychopathy Into the mind of a serial killer…

2 Jeffrey Dahmer GuiltyNot Guilty Guilty or Not Guilty ? What’s your verdict? Born 1960 Looked for dead animals to dissect as an early teen Alcoholic by high school graduation Discharged from army for alcoholism Arrested for indecent exposure in front of boys Arrested for molesting a 13-year old boy - paroled Murdered 17 men and boys between 1978-1991 Involved rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism Killed in prison 1994

3 admissibility of scientific evidence Who determines admissibility of scientific evidence ? a. Jury b. Lawyers c. Judge d. Expert witness / forensic scientist 1923 - Frye Standard says scientific evidence must be presented by “expert witness” & must have “general acceptance” 1993 - Daubert Ruling says that the judge determines validity and reliability of scientific analyses or techniques used to identify evidence Judge must use scientific methods as guidelines –Testability, standard techniques, peer review and acceptance within the scientific community

4 Many twin studies show that if one identical twin demonstrates antisocial and aggressive behavior the other one will also - More so than in fraternal twins. (growing up together or apart) What does this mean? …genes must play a role

5 Many studies show links between aggression and/or antisocial behavior contributing to violent crime and Imbalances of neurotransmitters & hormones: Serotonin, catecholamine, glutamine/gaba, testosterone

6 The brain’s aggressive, impulsive capacity to display violence may increase if… –Activity of the lower, more primitive brain stem is increased or stimulated. -or- –Moderating activity of the cortical and limbic areas is decreased.

7 However….. Not everyone that is aggressive, impulsive, or even violent…. serial killer is a serial killer !

8 Henry Lee Lucas blamed his upbringing. Jeffrey Dahmer said he was born with a part missing. Ted Bundy claimed that pornography made him do it. Herbert Mullin (Santa Cruz killer) blamed the voices in his head that told him it was time to “sing the die song”. Carl Panzram said the prison turned him into a monster. Bobby Joe Long said a motorcycle accident made him hypersexual and eventually a serial lust killer. John Wayne Gacy said the victims deserved to die. Were these people insane?

9 insane Are they insane? 1.Psychotic – Legally insane – loss of contact with reality –May hear voices, hallucinate, cannot tell right from wrong, anxious, confused –Competent to stand trial? Accountable for actions? –1% of criminals 2.Psychopath / Sociopath / (APD) Antisocial Personality Disorder – NOT legally insane (but, moral insanity?) –Can differentiate right from wrong, just don’t care –Competent to stand trial? Accountable for actions? Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) - standard classification of mental disorders - used by clinicians and researchers

10 Psychopathy Statistics 0.5 – 1 % of people are psychopaths Many, but not all psychopaths commit violent crimes 15% – 35% of U.S. prisoners are psychopaths Psychopathy is one of the strongest predictors of persistent and severe criminal conduct Psychopaths offend earlier, more frequently and more violently than non-psychopathic criminals They are 4-8 times more likely to commit new crimes on release. 40% of rapists are phychopaths

11 How is a psychopath diagnosed? Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) Twenty traits are assessed. 0-2 points each A PCL-R score between 0 – 40 Average non-psychopathic person = approx 4 Psychopath = 30 or higher 40 = prototypical psychopath –There is direct correlation between this score and likeliness to violate parole. Should this assessment be applicable to parole hearings?

12 Psychopathy… A disorder consisting of a range of interpersonal, affective and behavioral features - 4 factors:

13 Medical Advancement Brain Imaging of violent/criminal offenders –Static Imaging Techniques CT scans: X-ray from different angles = 3-D MRI’s: measures different regions of H density –Dynamic Brain Imaging – show change in activity functional fMRI’s: blood flow PET positron emission tomography: radioactive O Optical Tomography: near infra-red spectroscopy

14 fMRI study: Those with higher psychopathy scores (all 4 factors), showed reduced activity in amydala. Reduced activity in the posterior cingulate, medial prefrontal cortex and the angular gyrus corresponded to those with higher interpersonal psychopathic factors.

15 Abnormal temporal and prefrontal cortical gray matter thinning in psychopaths a.Psycopath and control - cortical thinning b.Correlation between Affective facet & cortical thinning Negative associations between Affective facet scores and cortical thickness in anterior and medial temporal regions. Consistent with fMRI studies. Link to emotional deficit, especially inability to process negative or fearful facial expression.

16 Researches have argued which dysfunction is central to the emotional and moral deficits of a psychopath. –Amygdala – fear and emotional response –OFC (orbitofrontal cortex) – crucial to learning behaviors, associating with punishment/reward Amygdala or OFC? The Amygdala & OFC are connected by fibers of the Uncinate fasciculus (UF). - white matter connections

17 A virtual dissection of the major association pathways connecting the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex.

18 Psychopaths – significantly reduced tracts in right Uncinate Tract

19 The moral-neural circuit (prefrontal-temporo-limbic) moral decision making, responds to cues indicating distress in others, fear Self-referential thinking, emotional perspective taking, recalling emotional experiences, integrating emotion into social cognition A dysfunction in any one of these regions, disrupts this processing circuit, resulting in a psychopathic personality. Different severity of facets of disorder?

20 Other associations… Decrease in posterior hippocampal volume An exaggerated structural hippocampal asymmetry An increase in callosal white matter volume

21 Crime: Nature or Nurture? Most scientists agree that there is some genetic predisposition to the development of many brain dysfunctions that cause criminal behaviors. Irregular production of hormones or neurotransmitters, etc Most scientists agree that environment affects the developmental of brain dysfunctions that influence these behaviors. Birth complications, nutrition, lack of physical touch, abuse, neglect, social environment, alcohol, injury, nutrition, heavy metals, infections The precise contribution of these two components is currently being researched.


23 Legitimate defense? If you were the judge, would you deem this evidence admissible? (according to the scientific evidence shown) Why? If you were a member of the jury assigned to these hearings, would you return a verdict of guilty or not guilty? Why? If you convicted him, what would your sentence be? Imprisonment? Death? Medical help?

24 Psychopathy – Essentially an emotional disability caused by one of many possible dysfunctions in the brain. Senseless to ignore psychopaths when they statistically pose such a threat –Should we test at early ages? Most psychopaths show signs by the age of 5. Are these assessments in juveniles reliable, as in adults? –Lock up or treat people with high psychopathic score - predisposition for crime - for the greater good? Treatment has not worked, so far, only enhanced behavior. Affect of research on criminal justice system –Defense / responsibility (disorder) – sentencing –Assessing danger or reoffending – parole, probation

25 Prevention / Treatment / Research Protective environmental influences for those with genetic predispositions / those who show early signs New treatment: Decompression Therapy –Intensive 1-on-1 therapy for juvenile offenders with psychopathic tendencies - successful so far –Much less expensive than keeping someone in jail Billions spent on depression – less than a million on treatments for psychopathy Multimillion-dollar project launched by NIMH (mental health) & NIDA (drug abuse) to gather genetic info, brain images and case histories from 1000 psychopaths, portable scanners in prisons

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