The Italian Job, report: Italian serial killer more normal than DSM V or PCL-R psychopaths

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In this post, we wind our way to complaining about the financial services industry, first by discussing serial killers.   An Italian serial killer is more normal than diagnosed psychopaths, according to a recent report out of Italy:

Angrilli A, Sartori G, Donzella G. Cognitive, Emotional and Social Markers of  Serial Murdering. Clin Neuropsychol. 2013 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23414440 (emphasis added) —

. . .A serial killer who murdered more than five people, KT, was administered a battery of standardized tests aimed at measuring neuropsychological impairment and social/emotional cognition deficits. KT exhibited a striking dissociation between a high level of emotional detachment and a low score on the antisocial behavior scale on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 showed a normal pattern with the psychotic triad at borderline level. KT had a high intelligence score and showed almost no impairment in cognitive tests sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Theory of Mind, Tower of London, this latter evidenced a mild impairment in planning performance). In the tests on moral, emotional and social cognition, his patterns of response differed from matched controls and from past reports on criminal psychopaths as, unlike these individuals, KT exhibited normal recognition of fear and a relatively intact knowledge of moral rules but he was impaired in the recognition of anger, embarrassment and conventional social rules. . . .

 This jibes with our theory of high-functioning psychopaths having selective brain wiring disconnects, rather than global brain wiring problems.  This particular serial killer was similar to normal controls, except in ” impaired recognition of anger, embarrassment and conventional social rules. . . ” Although we’ve seen high functioning psychopaths fail to recognize fear in others (and, additively, assume everyone else was angry), the cognitive social knowledge and general intelligence was intact. (Intact perhaps understates their proclivity toward pathological lying, which would indicate excess localized white matter, here).

Compare another report, that incarcerated men with psychopathic traits have low “emotional intelligence”:

Ermer E, Kahn RE, Salovey P, Kiehl KA. Emotional intelligence in incarcerated men with psychopathic traits. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012 Jul;103(1):194-204. doi: 10.1037/a0027328. Epub 2012 Feb 13. PubMed PMID: 22329657; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3378803 (emphasis added):

. . .Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to perceive, manage, and reason about emotions, in oneself and others. Individuals with psychopathy have numerous difficulties in social interaction and show impairment on some emotional tasks. Here, the authors investigate the relation between EI and psychopathy in a sample of incarcerated men (N = 374), using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2003) and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002). The MSCEIT is a well-validated ability-based EI measure that does not rely on self-report judgments of emotional skills. The Hare PCL-R is the gold standard for the assessment of psychopathy in clinical populations. Controlling for general intelligence, psychopathy was associated with lower EI [emotional intelligence]. These findings suggest individuals with psychopathy are impaired on a range of EI abilities and that EI is an important area for understanding deficits in psychopathy.

Now, given your loyal bloggist’s up-close-and-personal observations of non-incarcerated, high functioning psychopaths*, we observe they are more similar to the Italian serial killer than the incarcerated men having psychopathic-traits.  We could see them (the high functioning ones) being killers, if that suited their temperament/utilitarian goals. Killing in seriatim might be their thing, like, if they were Henry the VIII, and they just wanted to get rid of wives for one reason or another.  Or Mussolini, seeking power.  Maybe they themselves wouldn’t do the killing, but their agents would be so instructed, without a second thought.

This is why we view the failure to prosecute the financial services honchos as particularly galling. At one point, people were discussing the concept of “bankslaughter”  — that is, killing a bank by reckless management. We think this should be upped to criminal prosecution for banking serial murder, or even bank genocide. And, as forseeable and proximate, the killing of innocent citizens through the stress and breaking of social supports by said bankocidal maniacs.

*Our non-professional diagnosis, natch.