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26 January 2011

Psychopathy, brain damage and empathy

People diagnosed as psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy, just like patients who have suffered frontal head injury.

People diagnosed as being psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy, just like patients who have suffered frontal head injury.

This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa. “Our findings show that people who have psychopathic symptoms behave as though they are suffering frontal brain damage,” said Dr Simone Shamay-Tsoory, who conducted the study.

Earlier research by Dr Shamay-Tsoory has examined individuals with frontal head injury, i.e., damage to parts of the brain that are responsible for emotional functioning. She has shown that people suffering this type of brain damage have difficulty showing empathy. Having observed similar emotional deficiency in psychopathic behaviour, she set out to see if there is in fact a similarity between the two cases.

 
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