HAIFA, Israel, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- People diagnosed as psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy and behave as though they are suffering frontal brain damage, Israeli researchers say.
Study author Dr. Simone Shamay-Tsoory of the University of Haifa and colleagues say psychopathy is a personality disorder that finds expression in extreme anti-social behavior and intentional harm to others, including a lack of compassion and empathy.
The researchers assessed 17 people who had been diagnosed by psychiatrists as psychotic -- and not suffering from any known brain damage -- and another 25 suffering frontal lobe injury.
Each of the participants had a computerized test examining cognitive ability to recognize feelings in another and the ability to demonstrate empathy for another's emotions. They were also tested to gauge their capacity to understand another's thoughts.
Both groups demonstrated a similar difficulty in showing empathy, while two control groups both showed different results with positive empathy capabilities.
"Seeing as psychopathic behavior is similar to that of a person with brain damage, it could be that it could benefit from similar forms of treatment," Shamay-Tsoory says in a statement.