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Azula the Psychopath(?) Revisited

So some of you might remember this blog. If not, I'd recommend looking over some of the comments, as I don't want to restate all of the points discussed therein, just add some things that were recently covered in my Abnormal Psychology class. Though obviously, this should not be taken as the final word, since I'm only an undergrad, & researchers still argue about these things. Anyway, without further ado:

One of the first things that was mentioned was that you can't be diagnosed as a sociopath until you are 18. I criticized this as a technicality. It turns out that, before 18, you can be diagnosed with "conduct disorder," which is basically the "child version." I have no idea why this is. This isn't true for any other disorder. In fact, with other disorders, the diagnostic criteria are often a lot less stringent, because young children have fewer reasons to be extremely anxious, sad, etc.

Another criticism was how one knows that someone lacks empathy. I remember talking about this one a lot, mostly about the distinction between rational empathy (understanding the logic of what people feel in certain situations) & emotional empathy (actually caring). I pointed out that there are certain genetic markers associated with a lack of empathy, as well as technology to monitor brain activity. From a pure psychology standpoint, there are certain tests you can administer, which include scales to test for dishonesty.

This leads directly into another topic, what causes the disorder. As I said, people argue about this. It's known that there are genetic & environmental factors, but there are arguments about which aspect of the disorder should be more emphasized. I mentioned a few times that I am on the biological end of the spectrum. This was not covered much in the class, but it WAS mentioned that psychopaths have smaller & less active amygdalas.

Yet another criticism was about how seemingly easy it was to be diagnosed. You only need 4 symptoms, & the symptoms include things like "violate social norms." This is another case where the language is different between the common dictionary & the clinical one. In this case, most of the symptoms refer to criminal behavior, which explains why you need so few in order to be diagnosed.

I also haven't read the chapter in the book yet, so we'll see if that says anything else.

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