Nature, Nurture, and Psychopaths

| 2/12/2014 11:04:00 AM

Turns out anyone can cultivate empathic skills—even psychopaths.

How do we make life meaningful? That question is at the core of a growing multidisciplinary movement focused on empathy, compassion, gratitude, and how to invite them into our daily lives. At the close of 2013, a crew at Greater Good—the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center—culled and summarized the findings of ten notable happiness studies published last year. “The Top 10 Insights from the ‘Science of a Meaningful Life’ in 2013” originally appeared at Greater Good. This is part ten of ten (part nine).

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?


1/19/2015 8:40:05 AM

I am an empath. It is a separate skill from having empathy.

2/17/2014 7:28:51 PM

I'd like to join Fallon in his club, although I might need reassurance that I am overcoming my psychopathic tendencies.

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