“When this monster entered my brain, I will never know, but it is here to stay. How does one cure himself? I can’t stop it, the monster goes on, and hurts me as well as society. Maybe you can stop him. I can’t.” Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer
We as people often assume that we all see the world the same way as everyone else, that the world means roughly the same and that we all follow the same moral code to a certain extent. Our social interactions are taken for granted and so is our social behaviour. However, for a small proportion of the society, this is not the case. There is a lack of remorse or empathy and emotions are felt on a surface level. In some of the extreme cases, it does not matter if one lives or die. Their indifference sometimes leads to them committing violent or criminal acts. Such people are called “psychopaths.”
James Fallon is a neuroscientist who stumbled upon his own psychopathic disposition at the age of 60 while analysing brain activity for killers and patients of Alzheimer’s.
He confesses about the amusement he felt when he analysed his own scans, initially thinking that there is a mistake. But upon thinking about it more, he realised that his pre-disposition did not manifest in a violent way primarily because of his upbringing. He gives the credit to his mother who knew that he was different; she had him involved in school clubs and college activities that kept him busy throughout.
A series of videos posted by Big Think elaborates Fallon’s journey of coming to terms with this new-found reality and using this to add to his ongoing research. He comments that parents acknowledge the differences they observe in their child. School activities are a great way of deferring any psycho-social disorders that generally arise or manifest during the childhood. He also talks about how it is a challenge to keep his narcissism and manipulations at bay and not spoil his social relations because of his lack of empathy.
According to James, one needs to stop every once a while and question what he/she is doing. Is it the right thing? Are my actions hurting someone? This self-reflexivity is what brought about a change. He made sure that he wasn’t pouring wine for himself first and then passing the bottle around.
Mothers often take it as a humiliation if one asks them to mend their ways while dealing with their kids and thus possibly preventing future psychopaths in the making. But keeping this difference aside, a revelation of this sort has at least got some of us talking and coming to terms with the existence of a social condition, like psychopathy. But how valid is this realisation and questioning parenthood in India? Are we accepting enough to give space to a recovering psychopath- a word thought to be synonymous with serial killers?
Jagriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV