By Herb Wiggins, M.D.; Clinical Neurosciences; Discoverer/Creator of the Comparison Process/COMP Theory/Model; 14 Mar. 2014
Sadly, the age of psychopathology is not over, but simply getting worse, as the increasing violence of terrorisms, the jihadis, countless wars, and the institutionalizing of crime within our national and international societies abounds.
The psychological problem of the sociopath is NOT understood well enough either to give us the deeper insights we need to deal with it, or to treat it.
Essentially, the problem is in the frontal lobes of humans. When those areas are badly damaged, we see normal, socially appropriate persons develop profoundly inappropriate acts, with loss of social sense, empathy, and the ability to judge what is socially acceptable or not. Specifically, they can’t see it’s wrong to steal, kill, harm, or otherwise damage people and the properties around them.
When the basic problems of children who grow to adulthood and are not aware of what is going on, and cannot see that assaulting & harming others in any way is wrong, then the problem has NOT been solved but is in fact growing worse, as ANY look at the rising crime, violence and death rates in Chicago and Washington DC.. will show.]
The problem is lack/loss of information processing in the frontal lobes. Let me, as someone trained in psychology/psychiatry and the neurosciences, be specific about it. Sociopaths, for whatever reasons, CANNOT detect that their behaviors are wrong.
What are those specific mental mechanisms residing in their frontal lobes which have gone wrong? This is a medical structure/function disorder, which is how such conditions are scientifically approached.
It comes down to a basic understanding of understanding. We must be able to think about thinking, that is, empirical introspection. Many persons who are dementing lack the ability to see that they are losing their memories and their minds. The damage to their cortical processors is so great, they cannot USE those cortical processors to see their problems. In the same way, sociopaths cannot use their frontal lobes to perceive this problem. And what’s worse, they may be so old and brain hardwired that they cannot Learn it, nor see it, either. We cannot teach an older dog new tricks. They are set in their ways, just as personalities are set in their ways after age 21 or so. They are ignorant of their ignorance, they do not KNOW that they do not know, they are clueless, and in technical terms, they lack psychological insight.
Further, as yet another manifestation of the disease, they are narcissistic, often highly so, and the characteristic of this narcissism propounds and worsens this lack of empathy and insight also. This is often a dopamine driven disorder, too. Narcissists are further highly ego-syntonic with their pathologies and very hard to treat, or develop insight, for that matter.
Because we cannot easily undo this brain hardwiring, we are in a dilemma. We are stuck with persons who are hardwired to lie, cheat, steal, commit all manner of crimes against humanity and cannot even see that they are wrong doers, either. They sin and have no shame.
There are many solutions to this problem, but most of them very badly damaging with lots of side effects, like executions, ECT, drugs and such, but nothing yet which really can be done, because the basic mechanisms have not Heretofore been understood.
The problem is Long Term Memory, which makes those behaviors stable. We cannot get round those easily. There is no good way, yet, to reverse the specific pathologies in those umpteen millions of synapses, written and hardwired in protein.
However, due to the newest findings in fMRI (functional MRI) and MEG, we can at least begin to understand what’s going on.
We have a real existing system of social control in our frontal lobes, which has traditionally been called the conscience. This is an internalized series of prescribed and proscribed acts which we build up from operant conditioning and training in the standard morality of our cultures. It involves the ability to “see” or process acts and compare them to the standard social rules of behaviors. When this comparison processor is not working or is damaged by drugs, dementias, trauma, etc., we see medically, psychiatrically, the loss of those social behaviors.
In most sociopaths whose behaviors are likely to be developmental, rather than due to brain lesions, the problem is like that of a child, who’s 12 and is not responsible for his actions as his brain processors in the frontal lobes are not working well. We call this being below the “age of accountability”, or immaturity and wisely these kids are not treated as adults, because there is a chance that their personalities, maturing with age, will grow out of it. Which is why we don’t make solid, secure diagnoses in children of serious mental disorders before age 16, either. This is why kids don’t vote, or are not allowed to drink either, because their social processors are not likely to be working very well.
It’s simply NO coincidence that the time of age kids become mature, around 19-21 is also the time when we let them vote and marry and become adults, too, altho the onset of this maturity, while early, happens at about ages 12-14, right in line with Piaget’s child development of logic and reason.
And this is yet another clue as to why there are sociopaths. They do NOT have this ability to compare their own personal actions, Introspectively, with their consciences, if they have a conscience at all!!. They lack the fundamental training/capacity to see that, and if it’s not taken care of before age 16-21, it can become a permanent, social disability because of brain Hardwring, which prevents them from easily changing their behaviors/personalities, too. Personalities stabilize by ages 19-21, in line with motor skills, talking and walking brain programs, and speaking language and being able to learn new languages, easily. We cannot teach an old dog new tricks, in the popular parlance.
Those are the problems and are NOT being addressed. As stated before, using fMRI and MEG we can SEE the comparison processors at work when persons are asked to determine if others are stealing or harming other persons. If working properly, persons will recognize it as wrong. In sociopaths, they will not. This recognition signal is the P-300, a cortical evoked potential (CEP) which can be measured by the MEG and by EEG technologies. Thus we can SEE in normals a CEP, when normals recognize as a theft, a beating, or something socially wrong and it can be detected. The fMRI can show us where in the brain it is occurring, and we can theoretically detect a consistent, pathological absence of recognition response for a sociopath in his frontal lobes. This is the clinical correllate of sociopathy in the brain which will NOT be detected. The magnetic encephalogram (MEG) can show us at 2-5 ms. intervals where in the brain this is coming from and can be combined with fMRI data to observe these recognitions(normals or not (sociopaths) of anti-social events.
Thus, we now have the means to detect the conscience itself, to, understand/document in an objective way if a person is sociopathic, or not. We will be able to actually image the conscience at work in real time by stimulating these recognitions of social acceptability or deviancy and measure/describe them. We have, in short, the ability at present to see the conscience and the Conscience at Work!!
So in a very real sense, we can develop with the instrumentation available to us, the ability to detect sociopathy of all sorts, and learn more about it by comparing those brain patterns, to what we see going on in the brains of normal, law abiding persons. As well as to be able to detect if incarcerated persons, whether by criminal acts, or acts of insanity, are cured or will to a high degree of probability, be recidivists. We will NOT in time, need any old judge to tell us this, just accurate psychometrics.
The last key is the point magnetic stimulator of brain. This will basically shut down temporarily cortical activity by high magnetic stimulus, and abolish this electrocortical activity, non-invasively, painlessly as well. So we have the ability to shut down brain areas which perform basic functions detectable by the MEG/fMRI, too. We now have the technology to build the Magnetic point stimulator of the brain, too.
So, indeed, we will get the information just exactly HOW and WHY the sociopaths of all sorts come about, and what’s gone wrong in all the myriad ways they can go wrong. Treatment is yet another area, but the new understanding written above can create that, too. And will be addressed later, as ibogaine is the key.
We want to get rid of the jihadis & terrorists and control them? Dopamine blockers will do that. We want to prevent and deal at once with more St. Louis rioters? Aerosols of a good dopamine blocker, unlike the less effective tear gas, will stop it at once, and permanently if chosen. They will go to sleep and when they wake up, the rioting will be over. No water cannons, no tear gas, rubber bullets or real bullets are needed. Go the the SOURCE of the sociopathy and end it.
You can read more about this in my “The Praxis”.