Category Archives: Sociopaths and Emotion

Sociopathy is an Attention Disorder?

Lately I have been studying ADD/ADHD and the related disorders (Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorders) so this article made me jizz my lady pants, even though we’ve already seen this scientist here:


(Discussion of Psychopathy being an attention disorder begins around 13:20)

“Newman’s team hypothesizes that this might be because psychopathy, contrary to traditional belief, actually involves an “attention-related deficit that undermines the processing of peripheral information, including fear stimuli.”

This seems accurate about the fear. Traditional, old fashioned ADD involves three big factors, according to Dr. Hallowell, the lack of executive function (you don’t initiate anything), impulsivity (this leads to distractibility) and emotional deregulation (you act like an explosive, overly emotional asshole because you are unable to calm yourself down). Currently the emotional aspect is not included in the diagnostic criteria, although there is more than enough evidence that it should be there. It would be interesting to see how Sociopathy would be classified as an attention disorder since it doesn’t really meet any of those criteria.

“The implication here appears to be that if the Newman hypothesis proved correct, psychopathy would be treatable in a manner similar to a “learning disability”. Given the use of language such as “distraction” and “attention-related deficit” throughout the news piece, it would appear these researchers are suggesting that some ADHD-like symptoms are present in psychopaths with respect to moral feelings. This definitional move would then presumably make the condition treatable by stimulants such as Adderal and Ritalin. It will be interesting to see whether this implied turn into the pharmaceutical magisterium will be continued by further studies, and whether these taken collectively will result in psychopathy’s inclusion as a psychiatrically legitimated, treatable mental disorder in the upcoming DSM-V.”

Sociopaths generally don’t mind their disorder and some go as far as liking it. Getting them to seek treatments is extremely difficult. I think if you told them they could get legal Adderal out of the deal they’d be much more likely to seek treatment, if they are into that drug. At first I thought giving what is essentially meth to psychopaths isn’t that great of an idea. It has actually been extremely beneficial in few cases I’ve seen it used on someone with ASPD. I thought it would have the complete opposite effect but it makes them uber-productive and calm. I would recommend it for someone who suspects that their tendencies are hindering their progress at work or some other pro-social activity. Someone who is going to abuse the medication probably already has it. I don’t like throwing drugs at everyone and everything but the more I learn about ADD, the more I think medication is necessary.

How to “Fix” a Sociopath

Narcissist World featured this interview of Professor Joe Newman, who was the president of that club that I was complaining about earlier.

“Emotions don’t have any power unless you attend to them.”
Doctor Newman says the reason that psychopaths don’t act like us is because they have an attention disorder. They hyper focus on one thing and ignore all of the other information that is coming their way, like other people’s emotions and reactions and even their own. Psychopaths have emotions and consciences. They are too caught up in trying to get whatever they want that they are unable to pay attention to them but “If you can get them to pay attention to this important information they’ll use it.”

He is very hopeful about treating psychopaths by redirecting their attention early on. I like his idea but I wonder if having more information is just going to make them better at what they do? With the way the world is going, I think that those who have low empathy are going to be more at an advantage than a disadvantage. I like Dr. Newman because he is taking the evil stigma off of these types and offering a method to broaden their tunnel vision, should they want to do so.

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