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Psychopathy is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is commonly misunderstood as the condition of criminals, and many people believe the best cure is simple confinement for those who ignore society’s laws. Psychopathy, though, is a genuine condition with a genetic basis that manifests itself through neurotransmitter system disruption and hormone imbalances. Psychopathy has a serious neurological impact on an individual, with impairments largely focused in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, as well as overall negatively affecting the limbic system of the brain. Together, the total impact causes issues with that individual’s ability to empathize, to experience emotions normally, to develop a true sense of morality, and other similar consequences to one’s moral and emotional self. Considering the effects of psychopathy, it does not benefit society to undermine its validity as a genuine neurological condition or to simply define it as untreatable. Confinement and traditional treatment options do not prove substantial choices for working with the core problems of psychopathy, either, as prior cases with psychopathic criminals show. For these reasons, a review of research of psychopathy as a condition and of the use of neuroplasticity in treatment shows neuroplasticity as an increasingly valid treatment option that could be applicable to psychopathy. Neuroplasticity, specifically cognitive rehabilitation, non-invasive and deep brain stimulation, and neuropharmacology, has been proven to successfully treat an array of neurological diseases and disorders. Developing a comprehensive treatment program based on neuroplasticity could prove the most effective option for treating psychopathy, and would also have further applications as a modified plan to help treat psychopathic tendencies in children before the condition becomes full-blown psychopathy.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Biomedical Engineering


Biological Psychology | Mental Disorders

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Professor Mary Boyes


© The Author(s)

Developing a Neuroplasticity-Based Treatment Program for Psychopathy: Treatment Foci and Options