The Scientific Foundation of PPD

The Scientific Foundation of PPD by Vince Greenwood, Ph.D.

Because it is one of the most thoroughly researched conditions of psychopathology, psychopathic personality disorder should not be considered as just one among a number of severe and maladaptive personality organizations. Indeed, a meeting of leading researchers on personality disorders organized by the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington D.C. concluded that the convergence of biological, psychological and behavioral paradigms in the development and theory and research on psychopathy was a useful model for the construct validation of other personality disorders.

Because of the robust level of research (over 3300 studies to date), there is a good deal we can say with authority about psychopathic personality disorder. From this pool of studies, a very short list of findings would include:

(1) The condition is, to a significant degree, inherited, rather than the result of a
difficult upbringing or environment.

(2) What is inherited? An abnormal brain. Neuroscientists have found functional and structural neurological abnormalities in psychopaths that can be reliably diagnosed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). These abnormalities
are deficiencies in areas of the brain that help explain the three core traits of the

(3) The condition is stable. It surfaces in childhood and does not abate significantly
over the lifespan.

(4) The condition is immutable. There are no effective treatments for it.
Most critically, there is consensus from the scientific and professional literature over the past hundred years on the central, defining feature of the disorder: three symptom clusters or sets of traits that result in harm to others. These symptom clusters are seen in all subcultures and across history. They are constant and immutable. 

They are not a “hoax”.  They are not going to, “like a miracle, disappear.”

Vince Greenwood, Ph.D.

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