Psychopaths Have Feelings: Can They Learn How to Use Them?

Could neuroscience help a Jeffrey Dahmer or a Ted Bundy become... better people?

Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange. Public Domain.

Psychopaths have long captured the imagination. The names of famous psychopaths, such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, evoke a morbid curiosity. The crimes committed by these men are so vicious, so unfathomably cruel, that it’s impossible to imagine how someone could do such a thing. The severed heads kept as mementos in Bundy’s apartment or the partially eaten body parts stowed away in Dahmer’s refrigerator are the result of simply inexplicable personalities. So it makes sense that the psychopath is often portrayed as cold-blooded and fearless, and, most of all, as a predator incapable of human emotion. However, research is growing to suggest that this might not be totally accurate.

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