• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Discovering One’s Hidden Psychopathy

James Fallon explains the genetics and the neuroscience behind hidden psychopathy. He also narrates how he discovered that he’s a borderline psychopath.

My book, The Psychopath Inside, is a memoir and it’s a mix of a personal story and what the science is, that is, the psychiatry and the genetics and the neuroscience behind what the subject is which is hidden psychopathy. But it’s really a story about somebody, me, who at 60 finds out he’s not really who he thought he was all along in his whole life. And not until I had just by serendipity, by chance, started to run across biological evidence first from PET scans, positron emission tomography scans, that I was involved with — acted as a control in one study in Alzheimer’s disease and also had my genetics done. So it was just as a control and to compare to other people with Alzheimer’s. And so it was through that about, oh, seven years ago that I found out something very strange. And this something strange both in terms of my brain pattern and genetics happened to run, it intersected with another study I had been doing — a minor study on looking at PET scans and FMRIs, another kind of brain scan, and SPEC scans of killers, really bad murderers.

And these are particularly bad hombres and some serial killers, et cetera. And I had looked at these and had been asked to analyze them over the years from the early 1990s onward. And about the same time, 2005, when I was doing my own scans for this Alzheimer’s study I had a whole group of these killers and also hidden psychopathy and looked at a pattern. I said, “My God, there’s a pattern in the brain for these guys.” And so I started to talk about it, give talks and, you know, at academic institutions and psychiatry departments, law schools, et cetera, just to kind of vet the idea. But at the same time I got this pile of scans back that included my own and these other controls. And I was looking through — I got to the last scan of that study of the Alzheimer’s and I looked at it and I asked my technician. I said, “You’ve got to check the machine because this is obviously one of the killers.” One of the murderers. It looked like really a severe case of brain activity loss in a psychopath.

And so when I ultimately they said, “No, this is part of — it’s in this control group.” And I had to tear back the name on it because I always do everything blind but this was like something’s really wrong. And it turned out to be my name. So it was like, you know, Gandalf shows up at the door and you’re it. So that started this whole trajectory. Now at first I laughed at it and I just didn’t care. We were so busy working on the genetics of Alzheimer’s and also schizophrenia and I had just started an adult STEM cell company. And so I was so busy with stuff I kind of let it go for a couple of years really — about a year and a half. But then the genetics came back and I had all the genetic alleles, the forms of the genes that are associated with a high aggression and violence, hidden psychopathy, and a low kind of empathy, that intrapersonal emotional empathy. And low anxiety.

And when I got that back I started to take a little bit of note but I still didn’t care about it. And it wasn’t until I ended up giving a talk. I was asked to give a talk with the ex-prime minister of Oslo who had bipolar disorder. And so I went to Oslo to give a public talk with him, the clinician, on bipolar. You know, what’s the brain patterns. And I had to use my own example of how you do imaging genetics. Take imaging of the brain, genetics, put it together in a mathematical model and how we figure it out so it can be used for all sorts of psychiatry medicine. And in the audience were all these psychiatrists there and I went through my own pathologies if you will and near clinical syndromes and my genetics and my brain scan. And at the end the head of the department there said, “You don’t even know this I bet but you’re bipolar first of all because you don’t have the kind of bipolar in the United States that they use, one of the kinds.” So this is interesting.

330 Mindfulness Worksheets

Download Simple Steps Anyone Can Follow

50% Off

  • Instantly download all of our best worksheets, categorized by 8 topics
  • Writable pdf's for you to print or share
  • Includes writable fields to write your reflections, answers and journal entries
  • Organized by meditation, health, relationships, career, self-discovery, purpose and more. Complete Index included
  • Evidence-based 
200 MEDITATION SCRIPTS

Guiding Meditations Just Got 200x Easier

50% Off

  • Instantly download our best guided meditation scripts, categorized by topic
  • Easy-to-follow pdf's for you to print or share
  • Step-by-step instructions for guiding a wide variety of mindfulness meditations
  • Deepen your own meditation while helping others
  • Evidence-based for increasing calm, care, confidence, connection, self-compassion, embodied presence and resilience

Teach mindfulness.
Make a difference.

Become a certified mindfulness meditation teacher and make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

__CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"62516":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"62516":{"val":"var(--tcb-skin-color-0)"}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
Learn More

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Try Our Free 100-Day Mindfulness Challenge

Free Mindfulness Exercises Delivered Each Day

Receive daily mindfulness meditations, worksheets and infographics to help you start each day mindful.

>