inside the criminal mind
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Are criminals born or made? Do they choose to act in antisocial ways, or do they lack free will? How does crime relate to personality? Is there a criminal personality? And can they change? On today's Truth Perspective we share our thoughts on Stanton Samenow's book Inside the Criminal Mind, the science of personality disorders, violence, how thoughts determine behavior, and how it all relates to the Big 5 personality traits.

Running Time: 01:06:00

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Intro: Recording of Officer Krupke from West Side Story.

Corey: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Truth Perspective. Today is Saturday, September 1st. My name is Corey Schink and joining me in the studio today are Harrison Koehli.

Harrison: Hi everyone.

Corey: And Elan Martin.

Elan: Hello everyone.

Corey: The subject of today's show, as you might have guessed, is the intricacies of the criminal mind. The criminal regards the basic responsibilities of being an adult as Herculean tasks largely because criminals resent having to fulfil them. They take them away from more exciting things and with every determinant of responsible activity the criminal progressively gets himself and those around him into more and more trouble.

Now the term criminal is traditionally defined in terms of a person's interaction with society's justice system. Today we will be broadening that term to refer to a definite pattern of thoughts and behaviours that, even when not rising to the level of an arrestable offence, still cause tragedy and chaos to the world around them. When we look at the world today we see an abundance of criminal thinking, from the blatant lies of the mainstream media used to justify terrorism in faraway lands and corruption and mayhem in our own, to the permanent "victims" on the left side of the political spectrum who demand the world conform to their delusions rather than the other way around.

So we're going to be using at least two distinct frameworks to frame our discussion. One is based on the burgeoning field of neurocriminology which focuses on both the evolutionary and neuro-anatomical foundation of the criminal's mind. Another important source of material will be the works of the clinical psychologist Stanton Samenow who mapped the many hundreds of thinking errors manifest in the criminal's mind. These range from the extremely and flexibly high evaluation of oneself known as the criminal pride, to the criminal's basic attitude towards life which is "There is nothing I can't do that I want to do".

That said, I thought a good place to start would be looking into all of the different thinking patterns that go into the criminal's mind because a lot of those things I think a lot of us can relate to, even if we aren't committing arrestable offenses. Elan, do you want to take it from there?

Elan: Sure. That, like you said Corey, is the real value of the book Inside the Criminal Mind because Samenow is not only breaking down the thinking, behaviour and lifelong criminality of individuals that he has interviewed and had experiences with, but he's also revealing the type of thinking that, to a lesser extent, people who aren't criminals engage in.

So it's at once an education about the way criminals process their self-entitlement, their wants and acting out of desires and also a kind of stark reminder of how it is that, at our worst, at our most character disturbed, we ourselves think. So it's kind of like if you're really doing some work on it and being honest with yourself, holding up a mirror of reflection to your own worst instincts and acting out of certain impulses and selfish desires, no matter how it would address others.

But getting into more specifically what he does in this book, which is quite an accomplishment I think, given all kinds of ideas that we've been brought up to think about criminals needing understanding and given free range to vent their anger at the way they've been unjustly victimized by society, by a bad upbringing, he goes step-by-step in debunking many of the more, let's say, liberal falsities of criminal behaviour, criminal thinking and those things that go into the making of a criminal.

Where he goes with it primarily, I would say his biggest education was in the work of Dr. Samuel Yochelson who was his mentor and an individual who had worked with criminals for many years in a clinical setting and who had worked on the rehabilitation of criminals and was basically banging his head against a wall for decades to come up with a solution about how to reform criminals and came to the conclusion, as you pointed out in your intro, that it was really thinking errors that had produced the lifestyle and kind of behaviour that he had come to know.

Once you realize that it was thinking errors, patterns of behaviour that were based on assumptions, self-entitlement, things that the criminal would say to themselves, or not say to themselves, when they didn't exercise conscience, when they didn't think about the repercussions of their acts, these were the things that were sorely missing in the lives of criminals, assuming that they weren't primary psychopaths and had some measure of humanity in them, he was able to, in a clinical setting, work with them by being completely rigorous in responding to their thinking and really getting down to the nitty gritty and holding their feet to the fire in a respectful but firm way.

Now this presumed a certain amount of willingness on the part of the criminals to do the work, to subjugate themselves to this kind of review and to this rigor. So that in a nutshell is what Inside the Criminal Mind is all about. And there are a lot of case studies and a lot of information with unsparing detail that's quite disturbing in places about how the criminals have justified certain things to themselves.

So what you get with this book is a kind of way to address criminality that is unflinching and in some cases very successful.

Corey: Yeah, and it's diametrically opposed by the kinds of forces in sociology, like you said, with a more liberal bent, that had been telling everyone that people were criminals because their dad was mean, mom beat them. But Samenow and Yochelson found in their studies that it wasn't always the case that somebody was a criminal and they had a horrible upbringing. We can probably get into the neuroscience behind that in the future, but the thing is, the criminals themselves picked up on this meme, on this way of explaining their behaviour and they used it in a way that made themselves seem like victims, which is a really important part of the criminal's thinking processes, that the criminal is always the victim in any situation because that justifies whatever they have to do in order to get their way or achieve their own strange kind of criminal level of homeostasis.

They'll pick up on those ways of describing their behaviour and the justifications and they'll use them. But Stanton Samenow, when they started off discussing criminals' lives and getting all of the self reports about them and what kind of crimes they did, why they think they did their crimes, they used a psychoanalytic method. Some of them would lie on the couch and talk about their upbringing and how castration theory helps explain why they were sexual deviants and this and that.

But then over time they realized that after several months of finding the sources of the damage in their childhood or whatever, they would confess, "Oh yes I'm good. I'm saved. I'm healed. Now go ahead and let me out of jail" and then immediately return back to the exact same behaviours. It's like George Simon pointed out. The liberal way of seeing things would paint the criminal as a wounded victim when in fact he's a hardened fighter, a hardened warrior who knows exactly what he needs to say in order to survive and he has no interest in living the way of life that you think he should. You have to really understand that in the criminal's mind, this normal way of living is so ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense why you would put so much effort into doing things that aren't fun, aren't exciting. It's so much more exciting to steal a car and drive down the road, the thrill. "I could die but I'm at the top of this dominance hierarchy!"

The kind of thinking that goes into the criminal is all about self-entitlement. It's all about doing whatever one wants when one wants to do it and about achieving power. What Samenow points out is that a lot of the thought patterns revolve around these.

For instance, in the criminal's mind fear has a very different flavour than the kind of fear that most people have. For the criminal, there's a fear of death but there's more than the kind of fear of death that we have. It's more of a fear of being put down or of being disfigured or of losing one's sense of superiority over everybody else. I don't know if anybody has ever worked in a setting who manifest these kinds of symptoms, but any sense that there's any dent or damage to their self-importance, you can watch somebody melt down just like crazy into this fit of anger that, to an outside observer, there's no predicting it. You don't even know what you did but all of a sudden this person's melting down and threatening you and it's very much because, to the criminals' mind, the self is the most important thing.

Their dominance, their thrust for power is one of the most important things and losing that entails a sort of bankruptcy which Samenow describes as the zero state which is what the criminal does everything to avoid; the sense of being completely and utterly worthless in every way. To them it's so black and white that if they don't have everything or if they can't at least fantasize that someday they'll get everything that they want or that they're the best in the world or the brightest or the smartest, could have anything they wanted if they just tried, but they don't feel like trying, then they are zero.

Elan: Well just by way of a short anecdote, in high school there was a guy - we'll call him Timmy - and Timmy was your textbook Inside the Criminal Mind case. This guy meant trouble and he was just as you described. He had an inflated sense of self-worth, gigantic ego. He would start fights with people at the drop of a hat. In college I was at a bar with some friends and saw Timmy come into the bar and I said to my friends as soon as I saw him, "Let's get out of here. There goes this guy. He's a total nut job. We're going to see something in a matter of minutes." Five or ten minutes later he picks a fight with the biggest guy at the bar. It was totally frightening and this bigger guy was like, "Whoa! Let's stop."

In any case, it was the most visceral real life experience of the criminal mind that I had seen. And there were stories about this guy assaulting people and doing all sorts of things. He was a high school dropout. I don't think he ever graduated. But in any case it's very interesting to have known somebody like that or at least witnessed them in action and then to read case after case illustrating who this guy is and what informed his being and his way of operating.

Harrison: One of the questions I had after reading this book was kind of a theoretical one. Samenow describes, like you mentioned, the thinking errors that criminals as a group tend to share. One of the questions that he doesn't really answer is why they think this way. What is the source of this mind set? For years we've been looking into psychopathy which approaches things from a different angle.

So after reading the book, which I think I read earlier this year so I don't have all the details right to hand, but what I remember of it is that we have these different thinking patterns, these different thinking errors, and they're errors because these kinds of thoughts don't work in the world. So in the William James, Jordan Peterson practical philosophy type way of looking at things, if you have a motivating idea and it doesn't produce the effects in the world that you think it does or if it makes things fall apart in a certain way, it's obviously not aligned with reality, right? If you think about it in terms of evolution, it isn't adaptive behaviour because adaptive behaviour is what works. And that way of thinking can be applied at every level and in every kind of human endeavour; does it work or not? That's pretty much what it all comes down to, what are the results.

But what is the source of these thinking errors? What he shows is that parenting really doesn't make a difference. In another book that we've talked about several times, Adrian Raines' Anatomy of Violence, this is just a statistic that I've heard before but the one that he mentions that Samenow doesn't is that there does seem to be a childhood period that, again Jordan Peterson talks about, that zero to four years old, where if there isn't a certain amount of socialization done in there, by the time you're four, kids become a lost cause. There's nothing you can do to change the path that they're on.

But also, regardless of who your parents are or what their parenting styles were, you can just be a bad seed, a bad apple and there's nothing that your parents can do. In fact, as you two have mentioned, the liberal mind set that it's all nurture and society that produces these kinds of things, in a lot of cases it can actually be the opposite. So when you do have bad parenting, bad parenting can actually be a response to the child or the infant's bad behaviour. So the bad behaviour can just frustrate the parents so much that their parenting skills go out the window and they just revert to what we would consider bad parenting when actually it was the kid's personality that caused that essentially, which isn't a nice thing to think, but that seems to be the case.

If those parents had a child with a more serene and agreeable temperament, it probably wouldn't have been a problem and their parenting style would have been different. So there's this knot that we've got to figure out because if thoughts are what determine behaviour and if thoughts are basically what lead people with the criminal mind down this path of this improper or badly adjusted relation to reality which is the social sphere, other people, then how do those thoughts get there? What's the source of those thoughts?

Maybe Samenow would say it doesn't really matter because that's just the situation we're in. You've got these thought patterns. They're producing a bad result. So we have to change the thought patterns if we want to change the output. But then again there are other things to consider, one of which is that we don't really know how effective Samenow and Yochelson are statistically. So if they've got a pool of criminals, how many are they successful with? For the ones that they are successful with, are there features about those people in particular that make them susceptible to this kind of cognitive behavioural therapy or treatment? And what about all the ones that don't respond well and what are their features and how many don't respond well?

That's what I would have liked to see in his book, some more statistics to see how actually effective it is because in the one extended case study he gives at the end of the book, while it couldn't be called a complete personality transformation it definitely was a success. The guy actually came around to living a half decent if very basic life where he wasn't engaging in just extreme criminality. So there's that to consider.

But I saw some facial responses. What do you guys have to say about that?

Elan: Well I think your question is a really good one and that is, assuming that the person isn't a bad apple, assuming that the person isn't a psychopath, assuming that the person got a modicum of nurturing that would or should be enough to assist them into socialization and being adaptive and having adaptive behaviour, I wonder if there isn't a pattern that forms in thinking, in behaviour, every early on that gets rewarded to such a degree - at least in the mind of the person or child - that just self-perpetuates itself, like a kind of track that doesn't have to occur but does occur among a certain percentage of people.

Something I was wondering Corey, and I don't know if you had any thoughts on this, is whether or not there was any information in the Dopaminergic Mind since I know that you've been looking into that a little bit, that might explain why this happens among a certain percentage of people.

Corey: Well in regards to the Domaminergic Mind, Adrian Raine writes a little bit about the genes that have been associated or correlated with violence and criminal behaviours and genes that code for dopamine are right up there as well as serotonin. Now in the Dopaminergic Mind dopamine is the chemical that the author argues is responsible for driving the evolution of the human species because that's the desire chemical, the "want" chemical and it's associated with all our higher critical thinking faculties. The dopaminergic systems are hardwired to our prefrontal cortices which are themselves often seen to be either not functioning properly or damaged in terms of criminal thinking and behaviours.

So there is a role that dopamine plays in that but it's different depending on the type of criminal that you're dealing with and that's something that Adrian Raine really gets into in that book. Like you said Harrison, it's a tangled knot and there's no one answer to anything. So you can have a dopaminergic imbalance where serotonin balances dopamine in the brain so it's more about nurturing and emotional health and wellbeing whereas dopamine is more about being cold and goal-driven and pursuing all sorts of dominance type activities in order to explore the world, conquer the world, take control, explore.

In the developmental period in everybody, any sort of thing can go wrong with your genetics, firing wrong or whatever. Adrian Raine discusses the fact that the genes that code for the brain drive neurotrophic factor, which is what is responsible for the thickening and strengthening of your neurons in your head and dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters, that if these genes fire wrong or if these genes don't manifest properly, then that leads to a deformed brain structure.

So you can imagine that even if it's a small percentage in every different region that's not functioning properly, then you have someone possibly with learning disabilities or they just can't seem to understand what's going on in school. If they don't have a properly functioning amygdala or other areas of the limbic system, they have problems really connecting with other people on an emotional level and then that disrupts the socialization process. Then if they don't have a fully functioning prefrontal cortex then they have a more difficult time controlling their more primal emotional responses.

So then you get the difference between criminals who are reactive because they don't have a prefrontal cortex and anything that sets them off, that triggers them, they can't control themselves. It just happens and then they'll justify it and make up whatever reasons. Then that just sets them on a path of crime for the rest of their life and they don't really have much control over it although you could say that you could choose to strengthen those parts of yourself and arguably that's what rehabilitation for those types of individuals would probably look like I would imagine.

But then if you think somebody who has a strong prefrontal cortex and who has that strong dopaminergic drive and they're cold and calculating, then they're the ones who are going to use proactive aggression in order to get what they want and they'll use it as a tool. What Adrian Raine finds is that both of these groups of criminals have just boiling limbic and emotional systems. They're just boiling over with rage, anger and aggression. But for people who have strong prefrontal cortices, they don't get mad, they get even and they are still motivated by the exact same drives but rather than just blowing their top they will plan out and carry out a way of getting back at you for any kind of perceived slight.

Something that I found interesting in researching about dopamine and the psychopath's mind is that for the psychopath, dopamine is anywhere from four to six times more pronounced in terms of getting a stimulus, similar to cocaine or methamphetamine. Their brains react four times more than an average person's. They also don't have the emotional kinds of control to keep them from acting on whatever whim they have and so a psychopath's mind is pretty much hardwired to once they see something that they want, they cannot stop until they get it.

Harrison: Right. So not only is there disinhibition to the point where they can't really control their behaviour, they don't have the inhibitory mechanisms that go along with self control, they also have a heightened desire for satiation. So doing things they want feels better than it would normally. They've got the worst of both worlds. Not only does acting out feel better, they're worse off when it comes to being able to inhibit those desires. So like you said, it's like being hardwired to act in this way and there's not much that you can do to stop that.

So I think that's why there are no known treatments for psychopathy, to actually reform a psychopath. Nothing works, probably not even Yochelson and Samenow's method. There's just nothing that we know of that can help them. They wouldn't even consider it helping.

But back to one thing you said. It just kind of clicked in my mind a way to reconcile this is that it's very easy to get caught in either/or, or black and white thinking when looking at all these issues so one of the conflicts that's always in my mind when thinking about these things is between the thinking way of looking at it - behaviours are a product of what you think and what you choose - and then the neuro-anatomical way of looking at the brain and how you're hardwired and what a lot of researchers including guys like Sapolsky would say, "Control your behaviour. You have no free will. Criminals have no free will and that's how we should look at it."

It's neither of those. It's more of a both/and. So when you talked about neurodevelopmental disabilities and things that are actually going wrong in your brain and the structures in your brain that haven't formed correctly due to all kinds of things like anything from the food you eat to heavy metals to exposures to certain toxins, to brain damage, all these things can harm your brain, either developmentally or through a trauma or something like that and then you've got more of just a personality structure, well there are thoughts and anatomy tied in both of them.

So for a person that has a damaged frontal cortex who doesn't have the same inhibitory self control that a person who has a functioning prefrontal cortex might have, in those people, you can kind of divine a thought underlying the behaviours and the thinking error and of course that makes sense. Of course you're going to have a thinking error if your brain is messed up. You're not going to be thinking clearly. You might not be able to think clearly so there will be a certain implicit thought behind your actions that you are acting out in your criminal behaviour, say, but it's also intimately tied with that brain structure and what's actually going on in your brain.

Similarly, if you have a functioning prefrontal cortex your actions are still going to be motivated by implicit thoughts and that's just because thought is implicit in consciousness. That's the nature of consciousness to have thoughts. That's what consciousness does or at least one large part of it. So we kind of have to think it terms of both of those at the same time and try not to get attached to either side of the spectrum.

But along those lines, I also just thought of a way of thinking about this in terms of genes and other factors that go into this kind of behaviour because one of the hopes early on in the study of personality disorders and psychopathy and things like this was that, especially in the early days of the discovery of genes and decoding the genome, was that we'd be able to discover the gene for this and the gene for that. So maybe we'd be able to find the psychopathy gene. Even Lobaczewski, writing in Ponerology, thought that there was going to be a psychopathy gene that was inherited on the y chromosome or something like that.

But that's not the case. In the last 30 years we've learned a whole lot more about the genome, about genes and that is not the direction that things are going to be going. There's no gene for psychopathy. There's no gene for criminality. If anything, there is a whole network of genes that might contribute and if you look at any one of them individually it's not going to make a difference really. It has to be this whole combination. And even that is a hypothesis because we haven't discovered all those genes. We haven't discovered, "Here's the thousand genes that connect in this way to produce this behaviour". It's pretty much just guesswork at this point.

But in a similar way, there are all kinds of factors, not necessarily genetic, that we can think of that might interact in a similar way. So again, we can't reduce things to a single explanation ever because there are all these factors to consider. What I've been looking at recently has been the latest research on personality disorders because there's not just psychopathy. One of the main themes in Ponerology is that there are various types of personality disorders and he lists several of them. He distinguishes characteropathies and psychopathy being brain damage disorders and actual personality disorders. So characteropathy would be something produced by brain damage and then a psychopathy would be an inherited personality disposition.

Strangely enough or coincidentally, it seems like that's the direction that the personality disorder research is going these days. Now I'll back this up a bit. Back in the 1920s I believe, there was a German guy named Schneider who developed pretty much the system that everyone in the western world has used for personality disorders since then. He called them, like Lobaczewski, psychopathies. He listed 10 different types of psychopathy or personality disorders. Over the years and since then the names have changed a little bit, the categorizations have changed. We've refined certain ones, gotten rid of certain other ones, but pretty much it's remarkable how much we've retained his categorization of these personality disorders to the point where I think we still use to one degree or another, his descriptions of asthenic psychopathy which would be dependent or avoidant personality disorder and paranoiac and schizoid. There are a few of them that we still pretty much use over the last 100 years.

But the problem has been, as anyone who's searched the DSM knows, it's bad science. It doesn't work. One of the things that they've found in the US primarily where they use the DSM is that it's just a totally unreliable method. You have all these different personality disorders and when you actually look at the diagnoses that people give, they overlap all over the place so a person can be diagnosed with one personality disorder by someone and then another by another and you have what they would call co-morbidity where you'd have two or three different personality disorders. I think there was even a statistic when they introduced borderline personality disorder or some other categorization. It may or may not have been borderline. I can't remember.

Elan: Oppositional.

Harrison: No. It was either borderline or personality disorder. Basically 'personality disorder-we don't know what it is' and they found that with 54% of the personality disordered people that clinicians used that diagnosis. Basically they had no idea what they were talking about.

So this has been an inspiration for researchers to try to figure out what's going on. What are personality disorders? Well first of all, no one still knows exactly what a personality disorder is, why certain people have them and why not, but there has been something very interesting come out of this. That is that they are looking at these now in terms of personality disorders. What have we learned about personality over the last 30 years? Well the big 5 seems to be the most valid measure of personality.

Jordan Peterson points out all the time that this was even something that he didn't like at first. He didn't want to believe in this because the big 5 model was derived totally statistically. There was no theory behind it. It was just an accident that it was discovered. The researchers involved in discovering this, from what I remember and this might not be a totally accurate telling of the story, that they basically had all these different descriptors of personality, adjectives that describe people's qualities and using factor analysis they basically found that they all lumped into five distinct personality facets. No one has discovered a better model since then. That seems to capture a lot.

Now what they found with personality disorders is that they clump in similar ways and they clump in ways that match onto four of those five personality dimensions. So for example if we look at conscientiousness, this would people who are orderly and reliable and they're responsible. They get things done and you can count on them either in your job or in your personal life or whatever. Now that seems to be correlated with what used to be called anankastic personality disorder or what we call obsessive/compulsive. This is a disorder of conscientiousness. These people are too conscientious to the point where they want everything to be ordered and they can't control it, so ordered to the point where it disrupts their lives and even disrupts the lives of other people because you can get mean, obsessive and compulsive people who not only want to control their own environment but whoever is in their environment. So that brings it into the realm of a personality disturbance.

Now they found that there's a correlation between very low extroversion - so this would be introversion - and the paranoid, schizoid and what they call asocial personality disorders. In the UK and in Europe they use the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases but it's basically their version of the DSM. These are the terms that they're using. For the first one, in the revision that they're planning, they're going with the term "obsessional".

The next one they call detached, so this would include what we used to call schizoid or paranoid personalities. These seem to clump around the dimension of introversion. These people are introverted and detached emotionally. The neurotic dimension which is high negative emotion they found that that tends to clump with avoidant and dependent personality disorders and what used to be called asthenic personality disorder. These all tend to clump together with each other.

Then the last one is agreeableness. So the personality disorders with very low agreeableness are like antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic. So these people are all very low in agreeableness and they've discovered maybe a fifth factor. This one isn't as clear. Well first of all there are no personality disorders that seem to correlate in any way with openness dimension. That's interesting.

I was also looking on Wikipedia and found that apparently some researchers have found that the openness dimension doesn't seem to work well when you're studying Asian cultures for some reason. They think there might be a different dimension when you're looking at Asian cultures which is interesting. I'd want to look into that a bit more.

But there's this fifth personality disorder function which they're calling disinhibited. These would be people who actually externalize their behaviour. Maybe there's a correlation here with actual criminality. I don't know. I haven't looked it up. I haven't read enough to see if this is exactly what they're measuring. What they've found and what the ICD is planning in their next revision is to replace the whole model of all these different separate personality disorders with one model basically: personality disorder - you either have a personality disorder or you don't and for those that have the personality disorder it's dimensional. So you either don't have it or you've got it a little bit and it manifests in your life or to the point where it's an extreme, dangerous personality disorder where you are a harm to yourself and others.

So this is pretty revolutionary in the psychiatric community. There are some people against it and others that are for it and the ones who are for it are for it because this is the only way of looking at it that seems to have any kind of statistical validity that's actually based on research as opposed to a preordained theory, which is how everyone else has looked at personality disorders for the last 100 years.

But the kind of ironic thing is that in a sense Schneider, this first guy, was kind of right and Lobaczewski too even though Lobaczewski and the way that the Polish psychiatrists and psychologists were looking at things doesn't seem to be totally correct in the same way that Schneider wasn't correct, there still seems to be a thing that's right about it because Lobaczewski, like I said earlier, distinguished between characteropathies and psychopathies. So what he called psychopathy is now what these psychiatrists and researchers are calling personality disorder. There's one overarching category which is just personality disorder. That's just psychopathy in the old sense of the term, just personality disorder. So try not to get confused. The history of the language is confusing enough, so psychopathy in the sense of personality disorder.

Within that, the way they describe it is that it manifests in four or five different phenotypes correlated with the five factor model of personality. So still we don't know what's going on here. We don't know what the actual root of personality disorder is. Is it just being on the extreme of one of those personality dimensions that creates it? Well I don't think so. I'm not sure if there's any evidence that that's actually the case. But if not then we don't know why. We just know that when we look at people with personality disorders we can see them on the five factor model landscape and see where they land in there and that that's all that researchers have been able to do so far.

So we don't know what's actually going on but there are these very interesting correlations. A little bit more on the nature of that dimensional personality disorder diagnostic label. I think they're planning on having it go from zero to four or zero to five; zero you don't have any personality disorder and then four or five would be the extreme. But one of the problems with the previous practice of the diagnosis of personality disorders was the problem of co-morbidity. So you'd have "This person seems to have avoidant dependent paranoid and schizoid personality disorder." Well obviously you're just making shit up at this point because that doesn't make any sense.

So they developed this model to take that into account. What they found statistically is that the more disordered your personality is, the more chances that you're disordered on multiple of these four or five dimensions. That would account for what we previously thought was co-morbidity, having these different, separate personality diseases. Well no, it's just that they have more disorder on all these different dimensions of personality.

You can have a really disordered person - and that might explain some of the confusion that comes when you're looking at case studies. "Okay, this person seems to be like a paranoid but he's also got these traits that are more like psychopathy and these ones that are more kind of like neurotic." If you look at it in this five factor or four factor model, it's that they might have three or four of those personality dimensions that are disordered and express themselves in that kind of disorder.

So again, whether that is an actual disorder of that personality dimension or if it's a disorder that just manifests in that form because they have those personality dimensions, we don't really know. At this point there's no theory to explain what's going on. But it's just very interesting. Just like there may be multiple genes that contribute to a certain genetic expression that expresses itself in a behavioural and personality way, you have to look at all these different personality dimensions too, to see what's really going on.

Why might one person have several aspects of what might previously have been termed different personality disorders? I'm still working it through. Like I said, I've been reading the latest papers over the last 10 years on this and really the reason I looked it up was because I wanted to see where things have been heading in western research along the lines of the stuff that Lobaczewski was looking at to see if anyone has confirmed or denied the claims that he makes but also to explain these questions that came into my mind after years of reading about psychopathy but also this criminal mind stuff, what's really going on.

Just one other thing that came out of this personality disorder research is that over the years of trying to distinguish what was what in personality disorders, first of all they came up with axis 1 and axis 2 clusters. The axis 1 were the mood disorders like depression and anxiety, things like that and axis 2 were the personality disorders where you had all the things we consider personality disorders. But then they found that those clustered in certain ways so they had type A, B and C I think. So you had three personality disorders in each of these A, B and C clusters within the axis 2 and that's really what led to this dimensional model looking at the personality dimensions.

But what they found was that within all of these groups there were two other groups that emerged and they called them groups S and R I believe. This was a description of how these different personality disorders responded to treatment. So there were treatment-resistant groups and treatment-seeking groups. The only groups out of these that sought treatment were the neurotic type groups - the avoidant, the dependent, the asthenic. These were people who were high in neuroticism so they actually could tell that there was something wrong with them and they wanted help. But all the other ones resisted treatment.

The way that one of these researchers, Tyrer from Britain describes it was something like that they don't think there's anything wrong with them. If anything, the problem is with everyone else around them. That's the way Lobaczewski described pathological egotism. "I'm never wrong. Everyone else is wrong. You're wrong." They're very protective of their personality. They're kind of snowflakes when it comes to their personality and criticism of who they are.

So this is a description like Samenow gives of the criminal mind. They know that they're right. They know there's nothing wrong with them and if anything is wrong in the world it's with the people all around them that are telling him that he's wrong. So there's this aspect of egotism that applies to all these other personality disorders or dimensions like the detached personality disorders which would be schizoid, which may or may not have some relationship with Asbergers and the dissocial or antisocial which would include borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, psychopathic. So there's that one extra dimension in there which is interesting to consider. So now where does that come from?

But to get back to the point I was trying to make, we have this one overarching category like with Lobaczewski and Schneider, which were the psychopathies. This would be personality disorder in general. You either have a personality disorder or you don't but you also have what Lobaczewski called characteropathy and I don't think he was totally right in the examples that he gave. So far I haven't been able to find anything confirming what he thought paranoid personality disorder was but what I have been able to find is like the stuff in Adrian Raine's book. What he called characteropathy we would call just disturbances caused by certain forms of brain trauma but also some neurodevelopmental things.

So strangely, the lines might actually be blurred and overlap in a way that Lobaczewski didn't anticipate because the way Adrian Raine describes it, he argues that psychopathy is neurodevelopmental probably, that is if it starts in the womb and that there's probably a genetic component and an environmental component, it may have to do with hormones and certain environmental influences as the brain is developing from its very first days and this manifests as this personality pattern.

We can also look at the architecture of the brain itself and find certain things that we may be able to classify in the characteropathy department. So we've got the personality department. That's your five factor personality and you can have disturbances that are identifiable within that personality structure correlated between the five factor model and the four or five dimensional personality disorder model. But then we've also got this brain architecture stuff. So what you were describing Corey about the frontal damage or maybe a developmental frontal disability where you lack that inhibition, maybe that's tied to that fifth dimensional model that they're still uncertain about, the disinhibition that leads to the criminal externalizing behaviour because you can have personality disorders or disturbances along these dimensions without being criminal, without acting out in certain ways. So there does seem to be this distinction between forensic and non-forensic populations. Maybe that's where it is. It's in this brain architecture.

But then we've also got psychopathy which is another kind of mystery because does psychopathy fit within this personality dimensional model? Well it seems to in some sense but there's also tons of research pointing out the actual brain abnormalities in psychopathy. The latest book on this is the one by Kent Kiehl, The Psychopath Whisperer. He's one of the guys who's probably done the most brain imaging studies on psychopathy and his hypothesis is that the entire what he calls paralimbic system in the brain is abnormal in psychopaths. He was the first person to come up with this idea.

Previously people have identified different parts of the paralimbic system because a lot of the scientists don't even think about the brain in terms of that. They wouldn't even use the word paralimbic system. They divide it into smaller areas. But the reason he made this discovery - it's yet to be absolutely proven but I think he makes some good points and I think he's probably going in the right direction - is that he was looking at a map of Brodmann areas of the brain where Brodmann had looked at the brain in terms of the similarity between different neurons in different parts of the brain. So he categorized the parts of the brain in terms of their actual structural similarity which most people don't do when they think about different brain parts.

There's this entire system in the middle of the brain that includes the limbic system but also related parts in and around that area and all of those parts which are structurally similar have been found to be faulty in some way in psychopathy. Even if you just get frontal brain damage, for instance, you don't get the symptoms that you find in psychopathy but when you damage those portions of the brain you get those symptoms.

So again this is kind of like the overlap between the trauma-based brain damage disturbances to personality and the neurodevelopmental. They go in the same direction. They lead to the same point. Maybe you had this neurodevelopmental problem that's been developing since before birth and it leads to a certain brain, but then you can go in there and damage all those parts of the brain artificially and get the same result. So that's a very interesting way of looking at it which makes the distinction moot. It's basically what brain you've got whether you got it developmentally or through brain trauma, that's the brain you've got and it seems to lead to the same behaviours.

So that's just a really long way of showing how many different factors there are to consider and that there are personality dimensions and there are actual structural brain abnormalities and just different ways of brain functioning, it seemed to contribute to the criminal minds and in general more personality disordered minds and that there is a connection between all of those and certain thoughts. When you look at personality disorders you see certain thoughts, right. So a person with paranoid personality disorder acts in certain ways because he or she has paranoid thoughts about the world and the people around them. Obviously they're going to be behaving in paranoid ways if they're having paranoid thoughts and vice versa.

Corey: And then some people might be paranoid because they've been a criminal for so long that everybody is really out to get them. {laughter}

Harrison: Which is why you shouldn't censor Alex Jones. {laughter} Any thoughts on any of that or do you want to take off on that and go in a different direction?

Corey: Well I was just thinking in terms of what you had said earlier about there not really being an evolutionary justification for the way some criminals behave. I'm not sure if that's exactly what you said.

Harrison: I didn't mean to express that thought. I can't remember what I might have said that you thought that.

Corey: Anyway, that triggered a thought in my head from Adrian Raine's book, The Anatomy of Violence. If you use the selfish gene theory to understand some of the behaviours of criminals, that their behaviours make a lot of sense in terms of just simply spreading their genes in the population, that their orientation towards the world is on that very selfish level where they're just programmed to spread those wicked genes and violence is one of the ways to do that, violence and dominance and sexual crimes. All of those combine in a way to make sure that their genes spread, that they can spread a lot more children in the world than just a nuclear family, if you're going to invest a lot of time and money into raising your children whereas a criminal, through rape, through lying, through conning, can have many, many more children than you. From that standpoint, he's more "fit". The criminal in some ways is more fit if you look at it just on the selfish level and from that orientation standpoint for him it's a win!

But then when you look at it from a higher level, from a more constructive, orderly civilization level, obviously that's not constructive if you're looking at group selection.

Harrison: Right.

Corey: So when you see it from these two different ways of looking at it, it makes sense. It makes sense from the criminal's genetic pool. He wants to spread. He wants that pool to get as big as possible.

Harrison: Right. So you have to look at it on two levels at least. I remembered I think what I said that you were alluding to. I was talking about how in Samenow's terms they are thinking errors because they don't work. They don't lead to the results that you're looking for. So obviously that is wrong just in terms of basic survival evolution because psychopaths are more reproductively successful in the long term, just comparing a psychopath to a non-psychopath. It does work in that sense.

Where it doesn't work, like you said, is on the higher level. This gets back to what we were talking last week in terms of levels nested within levels and values nested within values. On one level of value, on the animal level, then yeah, psychopathy works. It works on a lower level. But when you look at things in terms of a higher organism and of a higher whole in terms of society itself and even just the family unit, then no, it doesn't work on the level of actual society or even just a family. It can produce lots of children but that's it really. It doesn't create a good home. It doesn't create a good family life. It doesn't create a good society and psychopaths in society just end up being parasites. They do have their reproductive success but it is at the expense of others. So in that sense it is not a really successful, practical life model.

If you're just looking at things through a telescope at one little area, then it can be successful. But when you look at things in terms of the wider context, then it is a failure.

Corey: That's interesting in thinking about Collingwood's Idea of History and what he considered history. Everything that the psychopath and these personality disordered individuals partake in would not rise to the level of history, from Collingwood's point of view. History is culture and civilization and thoughts and ideas and a lot of things that interest even the personality disordered.

That gets me to thinking about those treatment-resistant people and just why they're so treatment-resistant that they have no interest in those higher aspects, those higher values. That distinction in and of itself is like how do you convince someone if they can't see?

Elan: It's also really a question of perspective because there is no higher value for those people that does not go into their calculations. It's not a part of their makeup. So when we're address these problems it seems that that's something that we have to take into account, that among many of them there isn't a biological or physical substratum that exists to support such ideas. So then the question becomes what is the answer to a group of people in a population who are parasites or worse, who are wreaking havoc, who are agents of chaos, and how does this element spread itself in addition to the biological?

One of the most important ideas we come away with through Lobaczewski is that there is a kind of mind virus or a Wetiko as some other researchers have put it, a self-absorption that does get spread by virtue of the fact that it's been propagated in such a strong and convincing way and appeals to the emotions and the worst instincts of the population who might not otherwise be going in that direction.

So these are some of the things that we can get into next week in addition to some of the questions and frameworks that you posed Harrison, which are quite interesting.

Harrison: Any other final thoughts? We're going to end early this week. Do we want to close on that or do we want to add anything else to round out our discussion so far.

Corey: I just wanted to mention Dabrowski's idea of personality as being something that's consciously chosen and how important that seems to be in understanding personality disorders just on that theoretical level. For a lot of people, if you don't have any personality disorders - how many of us could say that we don't have any personality disorder - but it seems like that in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's the fact that that drives you, as we talked about last week in the homeostatic imperative and the negative emotions and everything. They drive you to consciously choose a personality. I don't think that you will find the personality that you choose on the checklist. It's going to be something that you have to look for and hopefully you've had role models or you find role models in history that you can look to as a model for how to develop your personality to choose to be that person that you want to me.

Nowadays there are several people out there, but like Jordan Peterson would say, you aim for the highest possible good that you can conceive of and then you develop along the way, really, is what it's all about. It's not hopeless.

Elan: Well just on that point about Peterson, he also talks about fear of failure and given the responsibility that he has assumed and carried for himself, he has shared with his audiences that he's terrified of making a terrible mistake given the level of responsibility he's given to himself for sharing the best information that he has. So there is that. There's living with the possibility of failure, of making mistakes and that's a very difficult thing to do. We all do it to some degree or another based on our conscientiousness as you mentioned a little earlier Harrison but I think that that's a very personal choice based on our level of awareness and our inclinations.

Harrison: Alright. I think next week I want to get into a bit more on that topic of personality but for this week, I think that's where we're going to end it folks. So thanks for tuning in and we'll be back next week. Just so you know, that clip that we opened the show with was from West Side Story and that's the name of it right? {laughter}

Elan: Yes.

Harrison: Good because I've never actually seen it. I'm going to have to remedy that soon. We are going to close you out today with the rest of that tune so enjoy and see you next week everybody.

Corey: Have a nice week.

Elan: Thanks for listening.