A commonly reported anxiety dream is standing in front of an audience naked. Neuroscientist James Fallon lived this nightmare. While giving a talk in Oslo to leading researchers and a former prime minister, Fallon showed a scan of his brain to provide an example of imaging genetics. Afterwards, he was approached by a scientist who had recognized a familiar pattern in Fallon’s brain. It turns out that, after 60 years of being oblivious to the truth, Fallon was a borderline psychopath.
“I have a high threshold so many things really don’t get me mad. You can just about do anything. I’m pretty cool that way,” he says. But upon examining his behavior with the help of a psychiatrist and all too enthusiastic feedback of family and close friends confirming his psychopathic tendencies, Fallon realized that he had a penchant for getting even. His anger would drive his actions even years after suffering the initial insult. “I’ll get you. And I always do. And [people] don’t know where it’s coming from. They can’t tie it to the event,” he says. “It comes out of nowhere.”
In order to control his need for revenge and other selfish behaviors, Fallon had to embrace his inner psychopath. “I have to use my ego, my sense of narcissism to manipulate myself to handle it,” he says.
As Big Think previously reported, psychopaths make up 1 to 2 percent of the US population, and any organization of 35 people or more includes at least one psychopath. Their genetically-wired brains are driven by a need to dominate and manipulate others, but for borderline cases like Fallon's, their behavior can be controlled.
“I’m [now] 66, you know, do I really want to be that way anymore?” he says. “It’s a challenge and I think I can overcome it.”
Fallon shares his personal story and the science behind it in his memoir, The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientists Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. For more on his life-changing discovery, watch this clip from Big Think’s interview:
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.
- Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
- Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
As tempting as it may be to run away from emotionally-difficult situations, it's important we confront them head-on.
- Impossible-sounding things are possible in hospitals — however, there are times when we hit dead ends. In these moments, it's important to not run away, but to confront what's happening head-on.
- For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
- Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.