Book Review of The Psychology of Dexter: Part 2/3

I’m continuing my series on the non-fiction book The Psychology of Dexter which includes several essays examining some of the mental health aspects of the show. You can find Part I here.

The next essay I found interesting was Naughty by Nature, Dexter by Design by Joshua L. Gowin. This piece took a look at whether psychopaths are genetically that way or become that way through their environment. What I found intriguing was his discussion of a callous personality type and what it meant for children. Again, what follows comes directly from the text.

1. “Inheriting a callous-unemotional disposition is a significant risk factor in developing antisocial behavior and psychopathy. In most circumstances, antisocial behavior is equally the product of nature and nurture, but inheriting a callous disposition shifts the balance in favor of nature. Antisocial behavior in callous children reflects a genetic influence of roughly 80%.” Some ways to identify that your child may have this callous personality type is that they don’t soothe another child when they are crying or are insensitive to another child’s pain. They do not regret mischief.

2. “The most effective treatment was to provide positive reinforcement for pro-social behavior. Because these children tend to be fearless, punishment does not deter them, but they are as sensitive to reward as other children.” I found the discussion about fearless children in this essay pretty fascinating as well.

What do you think? Are psychopaths created by nature or nurture?

For more information on callous personalities check out the following links:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callous_and_unemotional_traits

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18489213

3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886912003431

4. http://www.mental-health-today.com/articles/pd.htm

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