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Transcript: Interview with a Psychopath Neuroscientist Entrepreneur

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This is the first half of the transcript of my podcast broadcast December 18, 2013

Thanks to Dick Overfield for transcript checking

R.K.: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township, New Jersey reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey. My guest tonight is James Fallon. He is the author of the book, The Psychopath Inside; A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. Welcome to the show.

J.F.: Rob, thanks for having me.

R.K.: Now you're a brain researcher, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

J.F.: Yeah, I have multiple sorts of endeavors, research endeavors and one which is long lasting has to do with adult stem cells for treating long-term stroke, Parkinson's, that's one. And I have a company that was just created for that and I have other work in imaging genetics. That is the use of brain imaging plus genetics and psychiatry in order to understand schizophrenia, addictions, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, but also a small parallel study that I've been doing since the early to mid 90's on murderers and psychopaths, serial killers.

R.K.: Now what University are you at? Where are you?

J.F.: I'm in University California, Irvine, at the medical school here. California.

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R.K.: I apologize, I usually have it all prepared and I was reading until the very end of your book and just finished it as I called into the conference line that we use to record the call. I started to say it off the recording and I wanted to say it on. It's a great book, it's riveting and it drew me right through from the first page to the last page.

J.F.: Oh great.

R.K.: And as an interviewer, I try to do a good job and get a good feel of what a books about, but there aren't that many psychopaths. M.E. Thomas was the author of the book, Confessions of a Sociopath, but in the book she disclosed that she has been scored by the Hare scale which is the gold standard for measuring psychopathy as a psychopath. And now, you've taken that, has somebody scored you on that test because it would not mean anything if you took it yourself?

J.F.: Right. I've been scored and also on the PPI and I've had multiple personality tests and I have worked closely with a psychiatrist who studied this for many years who know my behavior. I actually take their sort of analysis more so because they know my behavior so well and they are long in the tooth psychiatrists who are used to it and one, also a neurologist, who is now retired and so I really go more off of what they had to say about me which was a little surprising but that sort of long term analysis seems to really work best because I can't fool them. You know what I mean? And it's hard to fool the interviewers on the Hare test but you can but somebody who really knows intimately your behaviors is really a great way to do it.

R.K.: And that's interesting because you say near the end of your book, "So, am I psychopath? The categorical answer is no." But then right after that you say, "...but a better answer is that I am a pro-social psychopath" and a couple of lines later you say, "I'm a lucky psychopath." So, it kind of sounds like you're ambivalent about whether you are or not and that comes through more and more as you go through the book and your journey of discovery really.

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J.F.: Sure. Rob, that's based on a couple of factors. One is that really in psychiatry, nobody really agrees that there is such a thing as a psychopath let alone a sociopath. We know the traits are there but that categorical definition overlaps in traits so much with narcissism and even some sadism and things like that. So it's not really accepted as a thing in itself. You know what Bob Hare did which was terrific. He was working on, or more interested in the criminality part of it whereas many researchers now look at core psychopathy as not necessarily having evolved so much as the antisocial personality disorder having to do with criminality.

R.K.: You know one of my favorite quotes is from Ben Franklin which basically says that the beauty about rationalization is you can rationalize anything. And you're a really bright guy. You've disclosed you've got over a hundred and fifty IQ and that means that you're really, really good at rationalizing whatever you want to think. So-

J.F.: Absolutely. Yeah. That's true. Which is why more and more I had to externalize this and really ask everybody close to me, including psychiatrists who knew me so well, really what they thought of me and what I do because I couldn't really trust myself. First of all I did not know, until a few years ago, that I was, really had these traits that were so off-putting. I thought I was always a great guy and so I had to go to great measures and went all the way back to my childhood and high school and everything and people who are now psychologists who knew me when I was much, much younger to really sort it out because in many sense people won't tell you the truth and you certainly create a whole narrative for your life which I did. And so, yeah, I think I have to keep watching myself because I keep saying you're probably kidding yourself. Like you're saying, you're probably rationalizing something. So trying to cut through that has taken a couple of years, I'll tell you.

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the

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My first impression: grandiosity. ... by Dan Baron on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6:23:18 PM
And, I forgot: narcissism. Do you think that mayb... by Dan Baron on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6:53:14 PM
A very interesting interview Rob. Thank you for tr... by Daniel Penisten on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:22:21 AM
Good try, Bob. But I didn't see anything that coul... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 3:46:53 AM
What happened here? The interview is fascinating a... by lynn Faulkner on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 8:11:58 AM
Lynn and Daniel, the second half of the interview ... by Rob Kall on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:02:55 AM
'bringing a lot of science into this piccture...' ... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 9:50:44 AM
Mark, please explain what specifically you see as ... by Rob Kall on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:04:20 AM
I do not want any confrontation here but I thin... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 11:01:58 AM
Oh, it would be only fair to mention that I do not... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:20:34 PM
How dare you, Mark? I laugh aloud! You haven't the... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 2:50:38 PM
Don't you realize, that the last place a person wi... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 3:09:51 PM
I hope this whole rant is a joke ... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 7:09:33 PM
Yes, a joke. My humor is such, that I say the oppo... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 7:35:53 PM
I figured it out as it shows in my comment about C... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 6:19:19 AM
A new cottage industry. Proclaiming (or almost) on... by Dan Baron on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 6:48:17 PM
In the tone of the comment:If doctor Who here ac... by Mark Sashine on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 7:18:06 PM
2009-11-08 The boss of Goldman Sachs claimed ye... by Dan Baron on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 12:05:58 AM
(continued)****************Like many other banks, ... by Dan Baron on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 12:10:44 AM
On the subject of the psychological make-up of peo... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 5:56:51 AM
But again, I had been saying this all along like ... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 6:21:29 AM
I think that two visual indicators of narcissism i... by Dan Baron on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 8:20:48 AM
Daring and fantastic interview, thank you! It call... by Daniel Noel on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 11:20:24 PM