Psychopaths have long pricked the curiosity of philosophers; they do after all, say a lot about what it means for humans to be morally aware social agents.
But why should we presume that only human beings are psychopaths? If indeed some non-human animals are conscious beings, then it seems by the same token that some may suffer from psychopathy.
Here’s what philosopher, neuroscientist and prolific blogger Andrew Vierra had to say:
“...the DSM-5 defined psychopathy in terms of behaviors. Individuals who had (e.g.) repeatedly broken the law and pathologically lied could be diagnosed as psychopaths, without the need for a personality inventory or fMRI scan.
One interesting consequence of defining psychopathy in terms of behavior is that it is at least theoretically possible for non-human animals (or perhaps extraterrestrial beings) to exhibit the requisite behaviors sufficient for a diagnosis.”
Recent behavioral research into psychopathy was recently conducted using chimpanzees as a model. A research team led by academics from Georgia State University studied three traits in chimpanzees which they took to be indicative of psychopathy: disinhibition, meanness, and boldness.
While the paper was not intended to be a foray into animal psychiatry, it is, nevertheless, food for thought for those interested in related philosophical debates.
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