The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” Anyone can cultivate empathic skills—even psychopaths.

Anyone can cultivate empathic skills—even psychopaths.

 

In daily life, calling someone a “psychopath” or a “sociopath” is a way of saying that the person is beyond redemption. Are they?

 

When neuroscientist James Fallon accidentally discovered that his brain resembled that of a psychopath—showing less activity in areas of the frontal lobe linked to empathy—he was confused. After all, Fallon was a happily married man, with a career and good relationships with colleagues. How could he be beyond redemption?

 

Additional genetic tests revealed “high-risk alleles for aggression, violence and low empathy.” What was going on? Fallon decided he was a “pro-social psychopath,” someone whose genetic and neurological inheritance makes it hard for him to feel empathy, but who was gifted with a good upbringing and environment—good enough to overcome latent psychopathic tenden.

 

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