Is psychopathy a hardware issue?

MRI brain scanNeuroscience continues to probe the depths of our grey matter, delivering blow after blow to that good ol’ mind-body dualism. The latest news? Psychopaths appear to have a detectable brain abnormality that “normal” folks do not. Interesting stuff, but there are some nasty implications also:

When discussions turn to psychopaths and sociopaths, talk of criminal proceedings cannot be far behind. While the study was small and has not been repeated, the mind immediately wanders to a court room where MRI evidence is given to support the conviction of someone on trial for mass murder. The controversy of the topic is likely to be heated. Could a jury be convinced with biological proof that a person’s brain is marked with the brand of a psychopath?

Given that there have indeed been recent attempts to convict people using MRI scans, it’s not an implausible scenario. But until we’re sure that the brain anomaly in question is only present in psychopaths, this is a type of scientific evidence that is probably best left outside the courtroom. [via SlashDot; image by jsmjr]

2 thoughts on “Is psychopathy a hardware issue?”

  1. Right now if a man has a provable epileptic seizure in his brain, and mows down three children because he was paralyzed for several seconds, and this can be proven in court, that man is no longer a criminal, not a savage beast, but himself victim of circumstance.

    If it can be proven that born sociopaths perform criminal acts out of incapacity we as a society

    1 – must rethink our system of attributing ‘punishment’, since anyone might face being a sociopath, after a small brain disorder. Golden rule.
    2 – we might have to look at freedeom to choose in general
    3 – small cognitive disorders we now regard as excentricities might be subject to change. Will society demand such change? Or will sufferers “be regarded as responsibile” when they knew in advance (like with being drunk)…?

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