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. 2012 Jul;90(3):228-33.
doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.03.015. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Somatic Aphasia: Mismatch of Body Sensations With Autonomic Stress Reactivity in Psychopathy

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Free PMC article

Somatic Aphasia: Mismatch of Body Sensations With Autonomic Stress Reactivity in Psychopathy

Yu Gao et al. Biol Psychol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Although one of the main characteristics of psychopaths is a deficit in emotion, it is unknown whether they show a fundamental impairment in appropriately recognizing their own body sensations during an emotion-inducing task.

Method: Skin conductance and heart rate were recorded in 138 males during a social stressor together with subjective reports of body sensations. Psychopathic traits were assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) 2nd edition (Hare, 2003).

Results: Nonpsychopathic controls who reported higher body sensations showed higher heart rate reactivity, but this verbal-autonomic consistency was not found in psychopathic individuals. This mind-body disconnection is particularly associated with the interpersonal-affective factor of psychopathy.

Conclusions: Findings are the first to document this body sensation-autonomic mismatch in psychopaths, and suggest that somatic aphasia - the inaccurate identification and recognition of one's own somatic states - may partly underlie the interpersonal-affective features of psychopathy.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Heart rate (± SE) during the rest, social stressor, and recovery periods for high and low body sensation groups in controls and psychopaths.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Skin conductance levels (± SE) during the rest, social stressor, and recovery periods for high and low body sensation groups in controls and psychopaths.

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