Badness, madness and the brain – the late 19th-century controversy on immoral persons and their malfunctioning brains
In the second half of the 19th-century, a group of psychiatric experts discussed the relation between brain malfunction and moral misconduct. In the ensuing debates, scientific discourses on immorality merged with those on insanity and the brain. This yielded a specific definition of what it means to be immoral: immoral and insane due to a disordered brain. In this context, diverse neurobiological explanations for immoral mind and behavior existed at the time. This article elucidates these different brain-based explanations via five historical cases of immoral persons. (…) The rendering of the immoral person as brain-disordered is scrutinized in terms of changes in moral agency. Furthermore, a present immoral person is discussed to highlight commonalities and differences in past and present reasoning. [via,IMG]
Same as it ever was.
CP5 = Central Park 5
This is the full page $85,000 ad Trump took out in 4 major city newspapers, in response to the CPJ case. Since the release of the new Ken Burns Documentary on the CP5, the exonerees have been traveling and giving talks about their experience.
1. Future neuropsychological and brain imaging studies should consider subgroups of sexual offenders and recruit non-sexual violent persons and non-violent individuals in order to disentangle the complex relations between brain anomalies and sexual deviance.
2. …future neuropsychological studies should consider specific subgroups of participants and measures to verify the presence of different cognitive profiles. —
I gotchu, suggestions from a 2007 & 2013 study, respectively.
Temporarily insane: pathologising cultural difference in American criminal courts -
In recent years, American criminal courts have seen the rise of the culture defence strategy or the argument that the defendant’s cultural background should excuse crime, mitigate responsibility or reduce the penalty for criminal behaviour. This paper argues that the rise and success of this strategy in practice reflects not just multiculturalism – as earlier studies contend – but the cultural impulse known as the ‘therapeutic ethic’. Using the culture defence archive as a valuable and underused sociological resource, it examines the extent to which this legal strategy embodies the therapeutic ethic. Through an analysis of actual cases, the paper traces the medicalisation of culture in courts by which cultural differences are consistently converted into psychological disorders in order to diminish criminal responsibility. It suggests that culture defence must be seen not only against changes in criminal law – such as the increase in legal excuses that rely on the therapeutic ethic – but as an instance of how ‘other’ cultures may be pathologised in multicultural legal arenas.
Another and often forgot about example of just how “flexible” our legal system’s definition of insanity is…but nonetheless interesting from a neurodevelopmental perspective leading to actus rea prediction models. The problem could be who’s doing the dx’ing.
“The narcissistic self and its psychological and neural correlates: an exploratory fMRI study”
The concept of narcissism has been much researched in psychoanalysis and especially in self psychology. One of the hallmarks of narcissism is altered emotion, including decreased affective resonance (e.g. empathy) with others, the neural underpinnings of which remain unclear. (…)Psychological and neuroimaging data indicate respectively higher degrees of alexithymia and lower deactivation during empathy in the insula in high narcissistic subjects. Taken together, our preliminary findings demonstrate, for the first time, psychological and neuronal correlates of narcissism in non-clinical subjects. This might stipulate both novel psychodynamic conceptualization and future psychological-neuronal investigation of narcissism.
Obvious next round, unhealthy subjects then ID 2 types of empathy circuits in both. boom. Also? When is the insula and ACC not involved? mmmm mm.
Afternoon off w. aatombomb and bourbon.
a new lab.
Criminal culpability of successful v. unsuccessful psychopaths
The psychological literature now differentiates between two types of psychopath: successful (with little or no criminal record) and unsuccessful (with a criminal record). Recent research indicates that earlier findings of reduced autonomic activity, reduced prefrontal grey matter, and compromised executive activity may only be true of unsuccessful psychopaths. In contrast, successful psychopaths actually show autonomic and executive function that exceeds that of normals, while having no difference in prefrontal volume from normals. We argue that many successful psychopaths are legally responsible for their actions, as they have the executive capacity to choose not to harm (and thus are legally rational). However, many unsuccessful psychopaths have a lack of executive function that should at least partially excuse them from criminal culpability. Although a successful psychopath’s increased executive function may occur in conflict with, rather than in consonance with their increased autonomic activity—producing a cognitive style characterized by selfdeception and articulate-sounding, but unsound reasoning—they may be capable of recognizing and correcting their lack of autonomic data, and thus can be held responsible. [via,img]
Fine tuning the punishment gage based on neural function underlying blameworthiness of specific neurotypes. I suspect we’d like to look at percentages of loss of function then correlate that to
treatment, I mean punishment. Almost forgot where I was.
Brain Scanning for Recidivism
So, we all love the work that neuroscientist Kent Kiehl and his group does involving fMRI and incarcerated offenders, right? He’s the only guy I know out there workin’ the beat, going door to door (prison to prison), uphill both ways,
not really. ok really (science drama), with a mobile scanner collecting brain scan data from prisoners. This week, his latest study is all over the place with headlines parading how this technique can predict who will reoffend. And it’s not way off.
The idea: it’s all about impulsivity. The data links those with low activity in the ACC and poor impulse control…and:
Inmates with relatively low anterior cingulate activity were roughly twice as likely as inmates with high anterior cingulate activity to be rearrested for a felony offense within 4 years of their release, even after controlling for other behavioral and psychological risk factors.
Correlations are cool obvs, since they allow for predictions to be made, but this doen’t imply causality or tell us anything about the underlying factors that spur the relationship. Kiehl tells us this is not where near real world use, but it will be really interesting when the results from his entire group of 3000 inmates is processed, vs the 96 for this study (which is still a lot for fMRI work). We can talk about issues pertaining to beating the scanner then. Soon, we can compare old school nelly forensic psych assessment tools to the scans for risk assessment and seeing how these findings will effect sentencing (does this negate or reinforce mandatories?), probationary proceedings or even program development. I have a feeling a matrix design is coming on.
[via, img: mine]
Presenting research at West Point with my co-author.