One of the most memorable books I’ve read is “The Psychopath Inside,” by James Fallon, a neuroscientist studying brain scans of serial killers to find anatomical patterns correlating with psychopathic tendencies.

As he looked at anonymous scans of murderers mixed in with schizophrenics, depressives and other, normal brains — including those of himself and his family — he saw a scan that was obviously pathological: low on empathy, morality and self-control. He was shocked to find that the psychopathic brain was — his own!

Fallon revealed it, delivered a TED Talk, agreed to be interviewed and published his book in 2013. What makes this fun to read for the nonscientist is how open and charming Fallon is.

Although charm probably goes with psychopathic tendencies, openness doesn’t.

Fallon admits that he tends to manipulate others, even his wife, but he appears to have a functioning, “happy” personal and work life anyway. He makes an effort to rein in his tendencies, admitting that he does so out of pride, not just to be a nice guy.

I found this self-awareness and confession, plus his zesty personality, to be fascinating. He keeps the science at a readable but credible level for this nonscientist, and I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movie made. Yet.

Joan McGrath, Minneapolis

 

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