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and the empathy-altruism hypothesis

This part is dedicated to an interdisciplinary investigation of the leading emotions that play a role in the context of gifts and altruistic behavior: empathy and gratitude.

Porter, S. (1996). Without conscience or without active conscience? The etiology of psychopathy revisited. (2), 179-189. doi:10.1016/1359-1789(95)00010-0 Despite an impressive body of research spanning seven decades, the causes of psychopathy and psychopathic violence remain enigmatic for mental health professionals and society as a whole. A keystone of the disorder is the absence of normal human emotional experience. In recent years, a predominant view has been that a genetic predisposition is essential to its formation while environmental factors determine the course of the disorder. The present paper proposes an alternate, less common pathway to psychopathy in which environmental factors are critical ("secondary psychopathy"). Clinical and empirical evidence is reviewed supporting the hypothesis that negative childhood experiences can profoundly affect emotional functioning in adulthood. Specifically, certain individuals who are severely traumatized or disillusioned by loved ones might over time learn to "turn off" their emotions as an effective coping mechanism, later emerging as psychopathic personality disorder. It is argued that, with continued validation of the hypothesis, secondary psychopathy should be considered a distinctive dissociative disorder based on this detachment of emotion and cognition/behavior. . . . distinguished between two variants of psychopathy based on different etiological pathways, one (primary) being predominantly congenital and the other (secondary) primarily environmental. . . . This article suggests the possibility that over time negative environmental experiences can sometimes contribute to deactivation or vitiation of normal human emotion and eventually lead to a type of secondary psychopathy - a dissociative disorder.. . . . Despite absence of empathy for others, the volition of secondary (and fundamental) psychopaths is presumably perfectly functional. If the secondary psychopathy category receives continued validation, the salient implications relate to intervention. These individuals might represent a population for which early intervention or treatment in adulthood might be beneficial for society.

“Putting the Altruism Back into Altruism: The Evolution of Empathy.”

Empathy altruism hypothesis essay

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We hypothesize that ‘empathy’ for the pain and suffering of dehumanized social groups is automatically reduced because, as the research we review suggests, an individual's neural mechanisms of pain empathy best respond to (or produce empathy for) the pain of people whom the individual automatically or implicitly associates with her or his own species.

Patrick, C. J. (2007). Antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. In W. T. O'Donohue, K. A. Fowler, & S.O. Lilienfeld, (Eds.). (pp. 109-166.) Thousand Oaks CA: Sage. Provides a comprehensive review of the concept in DSM. DSM-I was modeled loosely after the sixth revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD: World Health Organization, 1948), which for the first time included a section devoted to the classification of mental disorders. The initial edition of the DSM contains a category of mental disorders termed "sociopathic personality disturbance;" following earlier conceptualizations of psychopathy, this designation included a broad range of syndromes encompassing sexual deviation of various kinds, addictions, and delinquency. Included among the disorders in this category was a syndrome referred to as "sociopathic personality disturbance: antisocial reaction," intended to capture the aggressive, criminally deviant individual who repeatedly violates the norms and laws of society. (The use of the term "reactions" throughout DSM one is attributable to the lingering influence of Adolph Meyer, who viewed mental disorders as reactions of the personality to biological, social, and psychological factors.) The second edition of the DSM was developed to line even more closely with the version of the ICD in place at the time, ICD — 8. In DSM-II, the term "reaction" was eliminated as a descriptor for disorders. Sexual deviation, addictions, and delinquent personality types were grouped under a category entitled "personality disorders and certain other non-psychotic mental disorders." Within this category, the term antisocial personality was used for a syndrome corresponding to psychopathy. The diagnostic features of the syndrome closely resembled those proposed by Cleckley and included weak socialization, incapacity for loyalty, selfishness, callousness, irresponsibility, and absence of guilt. A serious limitation of DSM-II was that the basis for diagnostic classification consisted of prototypical descriptions of each disorder rather than specific, behavior-oriented diagnostic criteria. As a result, the reliability of clinical and research diagnostic classifications used in DSM-II was generally poor. . . . . the criteria for antisocial personality disorder in the DSM-III was strongly influenced by the works of Robins (1966), who conducted groundbreaking research on the development of "sociopathy" by following up a large sample of individuals (N = 524) seen as children in a treatment clinic for juvenile delinquents. Following Cleckley, Robins's initial criteria for sociopathy included items relating to lack of guilt, remorse, and shame, but (due in part to problems in assessing them reliably) these criteria failed to differentiate significantly between sociopaths and non-sociopaths in her study, and thus were discarded as indicators in the criterion sets developed subsequently by Feighner et al. and Spitzer et al. Consequently, the criteria for APD adopted within DSM-III focused exclusively on behavioral indicants of deviance in childhood and adulthood, including such things as truancy, delinquency, stealing, vandalism, irresponsibility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, recklessness, and lying. As a function of this change, the DSM-III diagnosis of antisocial personality proved to be highly reliable. Nevertheless, influential investigators in the area (e.g., Francis, 1980; Hare, 1983; Millon, 1981) were quick to challenge the diagnostic validity of the DSM-III criteria for APD on the grounds that they excluded many of the features Cleckley determined central to psychopathy, including superficial charm, absence of anxiety, lack of remorse or empathy, and general poverty of affect. Some effort was made to respond to these criticisms in the revised third edition of the DSM by the addition of lack of remorse (i.e. "feels justified in having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another," p. 346) as an adult criterion for APD.

JSTOR: Viewing Subject: Psychology

Mullins-Nelson, J. L., Salekin, R. T., & Leistico, A. R. (2006). Psychopathy, empathy, and perspective-taking ability in a community sample: Implications for the successful psychopathy concept. International (2), 133-149. This study examined the relationship between psychopathy and two components of empathy including a cognitive component (e.g., perspective-taking ability) and an affective component (e.g., compassion) in a community sample. The Psychopathic Personality Inventory Short Form was used to assess psychopathy and several psychological measures were used to test empathy including the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy-2, and the Test of Self Conscious Affect -3. Across instruments, psychopathy (as a unitary construct) appeared to be negligibly correlated with perspective-taking scales and negatively correlated with the affective components of empathy. Findings indicated that the emotional deficits were noted most prominently for the behavioral component of psychopathy. Results also showed that higher psychopathy scores in community participants were linked to higher levels of antisocial conduct. . . . The findings from the current study roughly fit the clinical theory of psychopathy provided by Cleckley (1941) suggesting that psychopathic individuals may be able to use their emotions to guide their own behavior and to read the emotions in others. However, the deficits in affective empathy depend on the type of psychopathy evaluated (e.g., factor scores) and the gender of the individual. . . . The current study suggests that those individuals who may very well be considered "successful psychopaths" also act out in deviant and unlawful ways. Understanding the way in which psychopathic individuals function on an interpersonal level can provide numerous avenues for prevention and intervention programs that can serve to aid both the individual and the field of psychology. Early intervention might help reduce the likelihood that individuals with psychopathic characteristics will break the law and as a result, prevent such individuals from ending up in forensic mental health settings.

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Book, A. S., & Quinsey, V. L. (2004). Psychopaths: cheaters or warrior-hawks? (1), 33-45. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(03)00049-7 From a life history perspective, psychopaths can be thought to pursue both social cheating and warrior-hawk strategies. The Cheater Hypothesis suggests that psychopaths would exhibit more indignation, and less empathy and altruism than nonpsychopaths. According to the Warrior-Hawk Hypothesis, psychopaths should also be more aggressive. Questionnaires measuring empathy, altruism, indignation, antisociality, aggression, and behavioral activation and inhibition were administered to 37 psychopathic inmates, 40 nonpsychopathic inmates, 42 community recruited volunteers, and 38 undergraduate students. Both hypotheses received some support: psychopathic participants scored significantly higher than other participants on measures of indignation and aggression. Consistent with both hypotheses, psychopaths also had a lower ratio of behavioral inhibition to activation than other participants. Contrary to expectations, psychopaths did not score lower on measures of empathy or altruism. . . . "Cheater-Hawk Hypothesis" While cheating is a part of the psychopathic repertoire, the Cheater Hypothesis does not explain psychopaths' tendency to rely on violence to get what they want. Similarly, the Warrior-Hawk hypothesis does a good job of dealing with the latter, but ignores cheating and manipulative tendencies.

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