‘Mental Illness’

Capgras Syndrome | Is Delusion a Defense?

Capgras Syndrome | Psychology of Law and Criminal Behavior

 Capgras Syndrome Capgras syndrome is a delusional disorder, which results in those afflicted believing an impostor has replaced someone or something close to them. Capgras syndrome (CS) is one of four variations of delusional misidentification syndrome, a group of disorders in which the identity of someone or something close to the patient is believed to have changed. Capgras syndrome, the focus of this post, will be explored in greater detail in terms what it may be like to live with this condition and will mention any similar disorders as they relate to the discussion of the topic. The purpose of this is to explore the cognitive theories that have been devised to explain why delusional disorders such as Capgras develop, and how they are maintained, including: The Impostor and Brain Damage hypotheses, both one-stage models, along with different variations of the two-stage model, ending with the Interactionist model. Delusional misidentification syndrome consists of a group of delusional disorders all involving dysfunctional affective responses to external stimuli. Researchers are able to measure covert, or unconscious, familiarity through skin conductance response (SCR) tests. These disorders are worth mentioning because… Read More

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder | Criminal Behavior

Bipolar Disorder: The Highs and the Lows Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mental illness affecting people from different areas all over the world, in which a person experiences what many would call extreme mood fluctuations often for no apparent reason. Ranked seventh on the list of non-fatal illnesses, it is considered one of the most costly disorders to affect humans. This post will explore topics such as: the differences between BD I, BD II, and other similar mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder and cyclothymic disorder, what it is like to live with this illness, the structural differences of an afflicted brain, the benefits of treatment, and the prognosis of the disorder. People with BD tend to change moods more rapidly than someone in the general population, many times without warning. Many psychiatrists will refer to this as a patient’s lability. This cycling of “highs” and “lows” is a trademark symptom of someone with BD, but does not automatically mean someone meets the diagnostic criteria. Many times this might not be very noticeable; depending on the person, these moods may last for days, or even months. Both… Read More

Psychopathy & Altruism | Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Psychopathy | Altruism | Legal system

Biological Basis of Psychopathy and Altruism Origins of Social and Antisocial Behavior Psychopathy is a personality disorder believed to be affecting 1-2% of the world’s population. Those afflicted have certain personality characteristics: Shallow emotions, superficial charm, impulsiveness, and lacking any empathy or remorse, often leading to antisocial behaviors and criminal activity. The general consensus among psychologists is that most people fall towards the center of a continuum of personality traits, with the extreme cases on opposite ends. Considering one extreme to be those psychopathic traits, the other extreme, some may argue, would consist of traits relating to an altruist, someone with a sincere, unselfish concern for others. This post will review the methods, and compare the findings of two studies: “The Neural Signatures of Distinct Psychopathic Traits”, which explores the relationship of brain structure and function with self-reported psychopathic traits, as well as “Neural and Cognitive Characteristics of Extraordinary Altruists”, which explores the structural and functional differences of the typical brain to that of extraordinary altruists, defined in the study as: An altruistic kidney donor who volunteered to donate a kidney to a stranger. Researchers Carre, Hyde, Neumann,… Read More

The Insanity Defense

Insanity Defense | A legal concept

Legally Insane: The Insanity Defense The insanity defense is one of the least successful defenses in a criminal defense case. The determination of the suspect’s mental state at the time of the criminal offense, as well as at the time of trial can be a challenging task; the defense actually has the burden of proof in Federal cases, as well as most State charges, in showing the defendant to be insane. It is important to note that insanity is actually a legal term, not a psychological one. There are times when the suspect may be psychotic but still don’t fit the legal criteria of insane. The legal definition of insanity also varies, depending on which jurisdiction the charge originates. Legal tradition in the United States holds that if an individual is not aware of what they are doing or unaware of the meaning of their behavior, they should not be held criminally responsible. Mens rea is vital to charge and convict someone of a crime. According to the opinion in Durham v. United States, determining if someone is guilty and then punishing should only occur if the… Read More