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Neuroticism and psychopathy

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Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby vcrpamphlet » Sat Nov 16, 2019 1:02 am

Neuroticism is a Big Five personality trait alongside openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness. According to wikipedia, individuals who score high on neuroticism "are more likely than average to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness."

It's not often discussed in this environment with objectivity, but it plays a visible role in how posters sometimes conduct themselves - of which I can be a salient example myself - and the way certain 'social chemical reactions' seem to occur on occasion.

Most definitions of neuroticism make it sound unappealing, hardly very stoic or warrior-like, but found this article from Big Think taking a different perspective: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science ... psychology

Big Think wrote:In the environment that we evolved in, the consequences of being harmed were dire — breaking a leg from a fall, having a meal stolen by another animal, or being attacked by a predator would often result in death, and, as a consequence, the end of your genetic line. Neurotic individuals tend to interpret ambiguous stimuli as dangerous and react more quickly and strongly to negative stimuli, which would make them less likely to expose themselves to dangerous environments or to take risks. Although the modern world is fairly safe, we can still see this mechanism at play; individuals who partake in extreme and dangerous activities like, say, climbing Mount Everest, tend to score unusually low in neuroticism.

The same mechanism applies to social interaction as well. Human beings are highly social animals, and one of the hallmarks of neuroticism is self-consciousness and shyness, traits which at first blush don't seem beneficial to a social life. Today, they certainly aren't, but in our past, a highly neurotic individual wouldn't be likely to cause any major waves in their group and would be very wary of engaging in a negative social interaction. Thus, ostracization would be less of a threat, and, with the support of their group, they would live longer, providing them with more chances to reproduce.


That anonymous internet forums have an attraction for the neurotic mind, is a no-brainer; the social-emotional risk roughly that of a carrier pigeon being sent from a fortress. Hence each cluster B subforum presents a disproportionately neurotic representation (of its respective PD) than you'll likely find in the general population - and I've come to learn the same can be said about the ASPD forum (even though it mightn't be common to self-identify that way), with surprising emphasis.

Neuroticism v. Emotional sensitivity

How does one influence the other; are the two traits more distinctive than they first seem; how can someone be psychopathic and neurotic at the same time (and is it even possible); how do each of those traits interact with psychopathic boldness - can one overwhelm the other, etc.

Is the notion that "primary psychopaths" (with genetically subdued amygdalas) are devoid of neuroticism simply a myth, or could it just be the presentation is more subversive and less surface-noticeable?

If a psychopath's system is held-up by narcissism then it's probable threats to image integrity would affect them in this way - just, they may struggle to find value in admitting such things (which can extend to their own consciousness in many cases). The point to how attractive acutely-unstable people find them is how emotionally stable they seem, so it's probably the last thing they'd explore openly. They may even find it insulting to be associated with such a label (which, ironically, would be an entirely neurotic response); but this is a Mental Health Support community after all, and in terms of appearing psychopathic, there's a sense of posters sometimes kicking beneath the surface to maintain their composure, and I'm wondering how much this applies to psychopathy on an in-person basis -

i.e. is there just a whole bunch of near-psychopaths out there identifying as full-blown psychopaths that are skewing the consistency of the condition (and therefore that primary-genetic Psychopaths are genuinely different, experiencing the lowest form of neuroticism possible, or no neuroticism at all) or is it the more psychopathic a person is, simply the more in denial about their less-strong-seeming-qualities they become?

To be fully un-neurotic and to remain logically objective to each and every emotional stimulus, I think, would require full absolution from the self - something like that achieved through hardcore Buddhism. Certain "psychopaths" seem to have that quality, but it's seemingly a minority that are truly like that compared to the number claiming they are. I don't see any issue with neuroticism myself; just part of what makes us human. As Greebo and others have said, we tend to like people for the more vulnerable-seeming idiosyncrasies they have. If there were no sadism to worry about, I doubt people would care so much whether they were perceived in this way.

What are your thoughts on neuroticism in terms of psychopathy?

How do you feel about openly neurotic people?

How do you relate to it personally?
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby Jonna » Sat Nov 16, 2019 1:46 am

That's a very convoluted post. These are complicated subject matters and not just for anyone.
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby Reaper » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:02 am

I don't think psychopaths in general would ever be considered neurotic for the simple fact that they don't experience emotion the way most others do and enjoy risk and danger. I can certainly relate to that.

While a healthy level of neuroticism is probably good for most people, an openly neurotic person can be very annoying, because they're generally more emotional and more likely to display their insecurities, making them look weak and pathetic.
Last edited by Reaper on Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby solemnlysworn » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:04 am

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... ode=wcsa20 may be of interest :

According to their study, psychopaths are characterized by elevated neuroticism sub-scores of angry hostility and impulsiveness, but lower sub-scores of anxiety, depression, self-consciousness, and vulnerability.



Who said that psychopaths are not neurotic? They are less emotionally reactive to moral stimuli is what I've seen in studies like this one: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19246323 and this unfortunately is a measure of both agreeableness and neuroticism in some Big 5 tests so we get some false negatives. The other study shows areas in which a psychopath is subject to neuroticism in relevant sub-domains.

Your post hints towards self-consciousness and vulnerability factors being the ones secretly masked but there are probably 2 things to consider:
1. Yes, as you said, people may accidentally or willingly misidentify. We ought to look towards the data if we want to get a better picture but, then, following from this point:
2. The research never scores with a probability of 1 and so what do we do with the outliers to the majority? There may be deviation or there may be misdiagnosis. I don't know how to make an authoritative judgement on that or how anybody really can on whether we trust the data or the theoretical constructs or what defines a psychopath. Too hard to say and these are only the surface questions. Jonna is right in that there are too many moving parts.
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby vcrpamphlet » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:27 am

Talking more towards the broader meaning which implies it's meant for instability management. Don't think psychopaths have ever been isolated to moral stimuli; they're known as adrenaline junkies. But whether that kind of "psychopath" would find themselves neurotic and stimulated by comments about their abstract forum presentation is probably doubtful - wouldn't you agree?

Reaper wrote:I don't think psychopaths in general would ever be considered neurotic for the simple fact that they don't experience emotion the way most others do and enjoy risk and danger. I can certainly relate to that.

While a healthy level of neuroticism is probably good for most people, an openly neurotic person can be very annoying, because they're generally more emotional and more likely to display their insecurities, making them look weak and pathetic.


Would you say sociopaths are different? (I've started combining the two terms as they're used interchangeably in Aussie prison systems I've noticed)
Like, your POV is consistent with Kevin Dutton's psychopaths but not with the view off SS. The difference between those two perspectives is what I'm interested in.

Jonna wrote:That's a very convoluted post. These are complicated subject matters and not just for anyone.


Your face is a convoluted post.
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby solemnlysworn » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:30 am

Don't think psychopaths have ever been isolated to moral stimuli;


Yeah they were in the link I posted. They were shown pictures of morally disturbing scenes and weeded out. Sure, we can't reduce a psychopath to that, because frustration, angry hostility and impulsiveness are all aspects of neuroticism that psychopaths have been studied to feel.

Talking more towards the broader meaning which implies it's meant for instability management.


So not the Big 5 version you quoted? In which case what are we going off when we make these claims?
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby vcrpamphlet » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:40 am

Did you read it though?

Abstract
Functional neuroimaging has identified brain regions associated with voluntary regulation of emotion, including the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. The neural mechanisms underlying individual differences in emotion regulation have not been extensively studied. We investigated the neural correlates of neuroticism and psychopathic personality traits in the context of an emotion regulation task. Results showed that amygdala activity elicited by unpleasant pictures was positively correlated with neuroticism and negatively correlated with a specific psychopathic trait related to emotional underreactivity. During active attempts to decrease emotional responses to unpleasant pictures, superior and ventrolateral prefrontal activity was positively correlated with psychopathy, but not with neuroticism. In contrast, dorsolateral prefrontal activity was positively correlated with neuroticism, but not with psychopathy. Psychopathy was also negatively correlated with medial prefrontal activity in response to pictures depicting moral violations, suggesting reduced emotional responses to moral stimuli in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits. These results demonstrate dissociable influences of different personality traits on neural activity associated with responses to emotional stimuli and on the recruitment of regulation-related brain activity during the active down-regulation of responses to negative emotional stimuli. These results have implications for the etiology of trait-based psychopathology involving emotional dysregulation.


^Bolded part is explaining how psychopaths weren't neurotic at all: they had "superior and ventrolateral prefrontal activity" which was absent in neurotic people.

Paper is even titled 'Neuroticism and psychopathy predict brain activation during moral and nonmoral emotion regulation' :wink:

So not the Big 5 version you quoted? In which case what are we going off when we make these claims?


The big five version is the topic of the article posted which links to the broader meaning I said.
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby solemnlysworn » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:42 am

Yeah that’s exactly the point. The aspects of neuroticism related to reactions to moral stimuli are low but other aspects are high (anger, etc). I think I said that in my first post.

Your definition includes the frustration a lot of the psychos here apparently feel too as very high levels
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby Reaper » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:49 am

vcrpamphlet wrote:Would you say sociopaths are different? (I've started combining the two terms as they're used interchangeably in Aussie prison systems I've noticed)
Like, your POV is consistent with Kevin Dutton's psychopaths but not with the view off SS. The difference between those two perspectives is what I'm interested in.


I couldn't say for sure if sociopaths are different or not. I personally don't think there's any real noticeable difference between a sociopath and a psychopath if you don't know their history, and even if you do, psychopaths can come from an abusive home environment too, so who is to say who is what.

If there are distinctive differences between the two I'd like to know what they are. There's information online about it, but most of the websites about that kind of stuff don't come from a verifiable source.
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Re: Neuroticism and psychopathy

Postby vcrpamphlet » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:51 am

solemnlysworn wrote:Who said that psychopaths are not neurotic?


The article you posted shows their neuroticism is controlled such that it's not a definable part of their person (not in intense enough a manner to be brought up socially), so you kind of answered your own question here. The moral/unmoral stimuli stuff is subset to the main point, and not sure what you're talking about.
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