Predictors of Violence – A Neuroscientific Perspective
The promises of social neuroscience include the realization of Sigmund Freud’s vision of being able to match psychological processes to specific neurobiological correlates. Violence, a special variant of aggression, is heterogeneous in terms of its causes and how it is exacted. The fear and pain systems are of particular neurobiological importance in the manifestation of violence. Interpersonal relationships and one of their neural correlates – the empathy systems – inhibit the use of violence as long as existing relationships are not perceived as at risk. The empathy systems consist of two components: i. the mirror neuron system and ii. the prefrontal self-networks. The psychological and neurobiological maturation of these components requires the experience of empathy during childhood and adolescence. The experience of neglect, fear and violence leads to serious disturbances in the development of the empathy systems. But the experience of violence can even destroy the empathy systems subsequently. Accordingly, scientific analyses of the background of violent criminals show significant traumatization during childhood and adolescence and a lack of social attachment.
MD, Ph.D., professor of psychoneuroimmunology, specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapist. He received the Organon Research Award from the German Society for Biological Psychiatry for his outstanding research. Joachim Bauer is the author of highly acclaimed non-fiction books. His book “Schmerzgrenze – Vom Ursprung alltäglicher und globaler Gewalt” (Pain Threshold – On the Origin of Everyday and Global Violence)” specifically deals with the subject of violence. Joachim Bauer lives, teaches and works in Berlin.