Ice cold, hard and emotionless. Such is the psychopath — we think. Until we get a glimpse behind the mask. Researchers have for decades been almost unanimous in their accord with the popular perception that psychopaths are made in a certain way, and will forever remain that way.
But Aina Gullhaugen, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, disagrees.
Nature or nurture?
"A lot has happened over the past few years in psychiatry," Gullhaugen says. "But the discipline is still characterized by the attitude that a certain group of people are put together in such a way that they cannot be treated. There is little in the textbooks that says that these people have had a hard life. Until now the focus has been directed at their antisocial behaviour and lack of empathy. And the explanation for this is based on biology, instead of looking at what these people have experienced."
Through her experience as a psychologist, Gullhaugen has found, in fact, that there is a discrepancy between the formal characteristics of psychopathy and what she has experienced in meeting psychopaths.
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