James Fallon, a neuroscientist at UC Irvine, accidentally discovered he was a psychopath when he found an "obviously pathological" brain scan in his files that showed low activity in the frontal and temporal lobe areas linked to empathy, morality, and self-control.
It turned out to be his own.
Smithsonian Magazine has a great feature on Fallon, who is also related to seven alleged murderers — including the OG ax-lady herself, Lizzie Borden. Fallon actually got genetic testing done and found out that he had high-risk alleles for aggression and violence.
But — according to Fallon, who admits to being motivated by power and manipulation — he's "never killed anybody, or raped anyone."
“I’m obnoxiously competitive. I won’t let my grandchildren win games. I’m kind of an asshole, and I do jerky things that piss people off,” he says. “But while I’m aggressive, but my aggression is sublimated. I’d rather beat someone in an argument than beat them up.”
Fallon thinks despite his nature, he turned out to be a good kind of psychopath — a "pro-social psychopath," who lacks empathy but behaves by societal norms — because of nurture.
"I was loved and that protected me," he told Smithsonian.
He says the experience has changed his scientific focus from genetic determination to studying environmental effects.
“Since finding all this out and looking into it, I’ve made an effort to try to change my behavior... I’ve more consciously been doing things that are considered ‘the right thing to do,’ and thinking more about other people’s feelings... At the same time, I’m not doing this because I’m suddenly nice, I’m doing it because of pride—because I want to show to everyone and myself that I can pull it off.”
[image via Shutterstock]