Is there any cure/ treatment for psychopathy if spotted in an early age?
Over the years when practicing as a clinical psychologist, I encountered a number of people diagnosed as “psychopaths.” With respect to empathy, empathy requires that one be connected to one’s heart: people with high empathy tend to act from the heart rather than head, the latter being encouraged in Western cultures. Some psychopaths are born without the capacity to connect to their hearts, and their prognosis is poor. Others’ capacity to connect to their hearts has been badly damaged through early trauma. For the latter, psychotherapy may be of benefit. I believe that the cruelty demonstrated many psychopaths is a misplaced attempt to reconnect to their hearts and feel whole again, to feel something rather than nothing. If a therapist can stomach exploring their acts of cruelty, deeply, a psychopath may well reconnect to his or her heart and develop some degree of empathy.
Wow, this is a really fascinating research that answers most of the questions I was wondering. The pessimistic view definitely plays a huge role, but I am glad that for the past years this pessimistic direction is changing and opening a place for further research and interventions.
Тhank you so much for your answer and sharing this fascinating research Vera!
You're very welcome. I'm really glad you found it insightful and reassuring.
Great question, @Natalija.
The psychopathic personality-or psychopathy diagnosis represents a patient stereotype with a brutal lack of empathy and strong antisocial tendencies. The research record and most psychiatric practices perceive diagnosed psychopaths as immune to psychiatric intervention and treatment, making the diagnosis a potentially strong discriminator for treatment amenability.
I came across a paper "Psychopathy Treatment and the Stigma of Yesterday's Research" - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336840491_Psychopathy_Treatment_and_the_Stigma_of_Yesterday's_Research that critically analyses the evidence in support of this proposition. The article explains that the untreatability perspective rests largely on erroneous, unscientific conclusions.
Recent research even suggests that practitioners should be more optimistic about the possibility of treating and rehabilitating diagnosed psychopaths.
The authors also discuss concrete ethical challenges in the forensic practice surrounding the psychopathy diagnosis, adding to a growing body of research that expresses scepticism about the forensic utility of the diagnosis.
Hi Vera, I am curious regarding the "brutal lack of empathy" aspect. Is empathy something we can train and develop in human beings or are we all born with this ability, but environmental factors have had such an impact on people with psychopathy in such a way that it inhibited empathy in them? So, in this sense, can empathy be regained?