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A Blow to the Head

The man who allegedly shot Representative Gabby Giffords is undoubtedly a psychopath--someone who is unable to put himself in another person's shoes. Neurologists have found that people diagnosed as psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy, just like patients who have suffered frontal head injury of the type that affects football players. Does this mean we may find a way to "cure" these manmade monsters?

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that finds expression in extreme anti-social behavior and intentional harm to others, including a lack of compassion and empathy. An existing explanation for such behavior suggests inability to comprehend the existence of emotions in others. However, the fact that many psychopaths act with sophistication and deceit with intention to harm others, indicates that they actually have a good grasp of the mental capacity of others--and are even capable of using that knowledge in order to cause them harm. Researcher Simone Shamay-Tsoory says, "Our findings show that people who have psychopathic symptoms behave as though they are suffering frontal brain damage. It could be that it could benefit from similar forms of treatment."

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