Are psychopaths capable of empathy?

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When I was at university we had to write an essay in our final year that was on the topic of cognitive psychology and we had to find research that used cognitive methods in order to do so. I wanted to write an essay on psychopathy – I have always been interested in mental health, the idea of “good” and “evil” and believed I had a relatively good, but brief, understanding of what psychopaths are. I knew the common theme of a typical psychopath is that they lack empathy – they don’t feel for other people, which is how they are capable of doing what they do, whether that is cold blooded murder, or becoming a successful businessman or politician. They don’t care about other people. I wanted to see if this was entirely true – surely they must feel something for other people, that’s what makes us human, right? So I gave the idea to my lecturer and, despite him having no background knowledge in psychopathy, he let me write it.

It was my most successful essay, completely boosting my overall mark of my degree,  and the most enjoyable one I’ve written throughout my academic career. I’ve decided to post it on my blog for that reason – I enjoyed writing it. I’ve edited it slightly, giving more indepth definitions to those of  you who are not psychologically or scientifically inclined, edited it from an essay structure to a blog post layout, and have taken out the majority of in-essay referencing as it’s not necessarily needed (a full reference list will be posted at the end for those who want to do some further reading).

So read on if you wish to find out the answers I discovered on my research pathway to see if psychopaths can feel empathy at all, or if they really are separate from what makes us human. Any questions? Just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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What are personality disorders?

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It’s mental health awareness week, so I’ve decided to do a blog post to make you aware of one of the most misnamed and misinterpreted mental health problems – personality disorders.
What do you think when I say “personality disorder”? Some of you will think of multiple personalities, some will think of split personalities. Well unfortunately, you’ll all be wrong. Individuals who have a personality disorder only have one personality, as do all of us. Each of our personalities is unique and it makes up what makes us think, feel and act the way that we do.  So how can someone have a disordered personality? Well, they don’t, not really. Read on and let me explain.

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Self-injury Awareness Day 2017

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Self injury, or self harm, is a very taboo subject within society. More people are slowly beginning to talk about it, but it is still a very uncomfortable conversation. For someone who is faced with self harm pretty much every day at work, I find the conversation a little more comfortable than others. Why? Because I’m used to seeing it? Maybe, but I’ll never get fully used to seeing someone hurt their own body. I think I’m more comfortable with it because 1) I have to be to be able to talk to my patients about it, but 2) because I understand it. If everyone were to understand self harm to the level that they were comfortable enough to talk to their loved ones about it, then I believe we would see a decrease in the rates of self harm not only across the UK, but across the world. So it may only be a blog post, but reading this post this can be the start of your conversation about self harm.

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What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

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Most people, especially those who work within psychology, mental health and well-being, have heard of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of therapy that encourages the client to change the way they think about situations, and therefore change the way they behave in reaction to them. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a branch of CBT which is growing in popularity alongside other behavioural therapies such as mindfulness based CBT. I have seen first-hand with the patients I work with how ACT can change the way patients think, and seen them recover from their mental health disorders to the point of discharge. So, like my post on mindfulness, this is an educational blog post in order to inform you about ACT as a type of therapy that everyone should be aware of and everyone can adapt into their lives in order to fully engage with every moment of every day.

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I wish you a mentally-healthy Christmas

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For many of us, Christmas is a joyous time. It’s a time to celebrate the wonderful year we have had, to reflect on memories, to spend time with our family, to remind those closest to us of what they mean to us, to give and to receive gifts, to drink and eat too much, and simply be happy and merry.
However, what if you couldn’t do any of that? What if, for one reason or another, you couldn’t celebrate in the way they do in the Christmas song music videos? Christmas isn’t always a happy time for people, and especially for those with mental health problems it can be a difficult time in terms of coping and staying well. So here I’m going to write three top tips on how to survive five different aspects of Christmas, whilst enjoying yourself and staying mentally well.

 

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let me know what you want me to blog about – have your say!