Is having the brain of a psychopath the same as being a psychopath? Does your Hare's test score really indicate your true place along the spectrum of psychopathy? We all have tendencies toward psychopathy, but what if you discovered you were one allele away from becoming Dexter? Or worse, the second coming of Hannibal Lecter.
Dr. James Fallon is a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine and Emeritus professor in the department of anatomy and neurobiology.
In addition to his experiences as a bartender, a carpenter, and a truck driver, he holds a Sloan Fellowship, Senior Fulbright Fellowship (Africa) and NIH Research Career Award. He was Chair of the UCI Faculty and Academic Senate and Chair of the UCI College of Medicine and Medical Center Faculty. He sits on numerous corporate boards and national think tanks for science, biotechnology, the arts, and the military. He is a Subject Matter Expert to the Pentagon in the field of cognition and war, Vice Chair of the American Land forces Institute, Vatican Arts and Technology Council. He is presently the Chief Scientific Officer of Cognigenics, a gene editing firm developing brain enhancement technologies. And his brain is psycho.
In 2005, Fallon was working on a project for a colleague to determine if there were any commonalities among brain scans of known psychopaths. Eureka! There were and Fallon nailed it. He also found a previously undiagnosed scan among the de-identified scans intended to serve as 'normals' - it was his own scan.
The diagnosis didn't fit. He was a successful researcher, happily married to his junior high school sweet heart, and a beloved father. In a bold move of self-evaluation, Fallon eventually endeavored to learn more about who he is and why his brain displayed so many of the markers that indicate psychopathy. He bravely revised his previously staunch position on nature vs. nurture, and determined to address how his brain influences his most important personal relationships.
Take a listen to his episode and then check out his book along the way.