The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
“Compelling, essential reading for understanding the underpinnings of psychopathy.” — M. E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath
For his first fifty-eight years, James Fallon was by all appearances a normal guy. A successful neuroscientist and professor, he’d been raised in a loving family, married his high school sweetheart, and had three kids and lots of friends. Then he learned a shocking truth that would not only disrupt his personal and professional life, but would lead him to question the very nature of his own identity.
While researching serial killers, he uncovered a pattern in their brain scans that helped explain their cold and violent behavior. Astonishingly, his own scan matched that pattern. And a few months later he learned that he was descended from a long line of murderers. Fallon set out to reconcile the truth about his own brain with everything he knew as a scientist about the mind, behavior, and personality.
came upon a large garden party at a comely mansion and decided to enter through the back gates and as I roamed through the party I came into a cavernous main party room, a sort of dark wood-lined beer hall. Someone asked me what I was looking for and I said, half jokingly, “the truth.” . . . I offered that my sense of love and truth and beauty had been a somewhat opaque mishmash until my wife had developed lymphoma. I then became infused into the imagery from where I spoke. As I continued, Diane
to analyze PET scans of particularly violent murderers, including serial killers, who had just been convicted in court, and were subsequently starting the penalty phase of their trials. It is during this stage of the legal process that a murderer typically agrees to undergo a brain scan, often in the hope that a finding of brain damage will lead to a more lenient sentence. As I’ve already mentioned, we know very little about psychopathy, but without scanning technology, we’d probably know
obvious than personality. A person’s true character can only be determined when he is placed in a quandary, a stressful situation that forces him to make a hard decision. Scientists tend to think of personality as more genetically driven and immutable, with the character more malleable to stressors, experience, choice, and belief. The character arc of heroes in novels and film is one such example of deep character change for the better. Our beliefs in religion, government, family, and
danger at the pass. That’s one reason why I originally gave little thought to my brain scan. I had had a happy childhood, and it wasn’t until I started reflecting on certain episodes in the context of my research and personal discovery that I started to see indications that I was not like the other boys. I was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, at 7:07 a.m. on October 18, 1947, weighing seven pounds and seven ounces. Although I’m not a superstitious person, my lucky number by default has
adventure. He trusts me with personal information, but he doesn’t trust me to always do what I’m expected to do workwise (I blow things off sometimes), and when it’s playtime he knows when not to get involved. I sat down recently with my close friend Leonard, a psychiatrist who knows just about everything about me, to ask him what my most chronic psychopathic behaviors are. He agreed that my willingness to skip an uncle’s funeral, a friend’s wedding, a graduation, a bar mitzvah, First