Thursday, March 22, 2012

What happens in the brain of a sexual sadist?

La Domaine light painting 1
La Domaine light painting 1 (Photo credit: snakegirl productions)

 Sexual sadism is a psychiatric illness that makes your sexual pleasure only get affected when inflicting damage, suffering or humiliation of others. Althoughpsychology and       Forensic Medicine were able to characterize well this pathology,little is known about the neurocognitive circuits involved in it.
 However, scientists from New Mexico and the U.S. publishes data from one of the first studies that have evaluated a group affected with imaging.

 Carla Harenski, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, is the lead author. His essay shows that sadistic people,compared with those who are not, have a greater activation of brain parts when they see images that reflect suffering.
        "To understand the neural mechanisms that are behind the scenes of painobservation by sadistic people and those not, the participants were evaluated with brain imaging with fMRI while 50 images observed in which inflicting intentionalharm to others (for example, a person with a door hitting the hand of another). alsorated the 'pain intensity' of each one of them. it also showed them 25 themed images without scenes of suffering " according to the researchers listed in the latest Archives of General Psychiatry.
 The aim was to test the involvement of certain frontotemporal areas of the brain,the insula and anterior. These regions are associated with 'emotional pain'processing of emotions when you see someone suffer. We also evaluated whetherthe scenes of suffering, 'put up' other brain regions (amygdala and hypothalamus)related to sexual desire. 

The study

 The study was conducted with 15 sex offenders of which eight were suffering fromsexual sadism and the rest, no. Participants were recruited from a treatment center in Mauston (Wisconsin, USA). All had committed at least two violent sex offenses.
  The data reveal that the "sexual sadists showed, unlike those who were not,greater amygdala activation in response to images of pain compared with the scenes that did not represent suffering," the researchers determined that insist that those affected by the disorder classified the images as high-intensity compared with the unaffected and showed a positive association between pain intensity and increased activity of the insula, which is not recorded in non-sadistic "


       The data are consistent with previous research showing an increase in sexual desire during observation of pain, which shows the neural mechanisms underlying pathology.

    Although scientists acknowledge some limitations in their work, they argue that "the data do not indicate the existence of brain abnormalities (structural) in brain regions mentioned, but a greater activation of certain areas does not occur in other populations. 
   Addition the results may reflect a typical brain mechanisms for processing of pain, leading to sadism or, conversely, the disease could lead to the involvement of these areas. All these questions. 
    All these questions could getanswered in the more development work involving imaging techniques and carried out long term monitoring. "


1 comment: