The Good Kind of Psychopath


Neuroscientist James Fallon, fascinated by serial killers' brains, experienced a seminal career moment in 2005 when he realized his own brain scan was a dead-on match for a typical psychopath's. Subsequent self-examination revealed him to be, he said, a "pro-social psychopath," displaying traits similar to a killer's (aggressiveness, low empathy) and different ("killing" opponents only in games and debate, with little compassion for their haplessness). "I'm kind of an asshole," he admitted, according to a November report by The Smithsonian, "and I do jerky things that piss people off." Fallon failed to break bad, he guesses, because he "was loved [growing up], and that protected me." He figures he hasn't kicked his pathology but rather strives "to show to everyone and myself that I can pull [this balancing act] off."

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