Thank you for your thoughts, Emptycell. I was very interested to hear your perspectives and experience. I can't imagine how you can bear to work with violent psychopaths. I take my hat off to you.

In the course of my five decades I've encountered many of the 'just that way' type of psychopaths. They get on with their lives and don't bother others much but if you accidentally nudge them, then God help you: the sheer inhumane nastiness is a killer, completely disproportionate and utterly absent of compassion.

I believe that the official estimate of psychopathy in the population at c. 6% is woefully low.

It's very interesting that you point out the incidence of psychopathic behaviour amongst certain groups of people. These are people who are competitive, controlling and can literally as well as metaphorically kill.

I've several high level politicians and such in my extended family. Their callousness and sheer lack of respect for all others has always been a source of suffering for the rest of us. As I've realised over the years, this callousness and disrespect was almost certainly an absolutely necessary survival trait for leaders in any primitive, savage culture. It's a huge pity that we haven't yet managed to breed it out.

To my mind, this brain type shares characteristics with those who have ADHD. That's also pathologised nowadays but I suspect it was also once an equally necessary survival trait - without which the human race would never have survived.(When faced with a pride of savage sabre toothed tigers or rampaging woolly mammoths I'd far rather have someone with ADHD in my corner than a reflective shaman or cave artist!)

But now we're stuck with these people and the suffering they cause. As you say, punishment doesn't even scratch the surface. In fact, from what I've seen it's just grist to the mill. They just carry on regardless and find other ways to exploit our compassion and healthy ability to feel guilt and remorse.

If I had my way, I'd stick them all on a very remote desert island and let them get on with it together. I consider that the damage they do to others and civilization is so serious as to warrant permanent exclusion. Think: the whole global economy is now under serious threat of complete collapse - entirely because of the psychopathic behaviors of those who control it...This is indisputably a life-threatening brain type to have anywhere where near more usually configured people.

It's good that neuroscience is beginning to discover the physiological roots of psychopathy. A way to control and contain these people can't come soon enough.

But, foolishly the rest of us will probably forgo the most appropriate treatments as 'inhumane', 'cruel and unusual' etc. E.g. we know how to chemically castrate rapists but will our compassion allow us to do it...? Much to our own peril we don't.

From what I've experienced, psychopaths simply do not think or feel as we do. Our wooly values and fudgy morals just don't apply to them, they have no meaning for them. In a psychopath's world it seems to be a very clear-cut amoral question of kill or be killed, no grey areas. I suspect the answer lies somewhere in this muddle of morals and compassion that we normal (for want of a better descriptor) people indulge ourselves in. We'd do well, I think, to sort ourselves and our gray areas out first, then we'd be better able to deal with psychopaths appropriately. I think psychopaths would fully understand permanent exclusion - it would most closely resonate with the kill or be killed, black/white mindset.

Anyway, I've written far more than I ever dreamed was in my head about this problem! Thanks again Emptycell for provoking such brain cell activity.

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