Studium Generale - Hylke Vervaeke

Lecture: 'Born this way? Are psychopaths human parasites?'

Psychopaths have been evoking fascination and fear for centuries. Are they cold blooded killers, using violence without remorse? Are they engaging in a parasitic lifestyle unable to really connect with others on a deeper, meaningful and emotional level? And do they really lack empathy? Are they born this way?

Can neurobiology shed some light on these intriguing questions? Do some gene-variants predispose people to anti-social behavior?Or is childhood maltreatment a better predictor? Is there a biological basis to antisocial behavior? And if biology and circumstances conspire to prime certain individuals toward violence, how much responsibility do people really bear for their actions? Should brain imaging/genetic profiling be used in legal cases? Can neuroscience assist in determining responsibility? And maybe, can we learn some valuable lessons from so-called ‘functional psychopaths’ who do not engage in criminal behavior? Is a pinch of psychopathic tendencies a good addition to the mix that defines our personality?

Poster KABK Studium Generale lecture - Hylke Vervaeke
poster design by Dayna Casey

Bio - Hylke Vervaeke (Leuven, Belgium, 1978) is a medical biologist with a wide range of interests, among which the science of sexual behaviour and human mind, evidence-based self-interventions on how to keep your brain healthy and hence your stress levels low, and the neurobiology of mental variations and disorders and the societal implications thereof. She teaches the courses ‘Brain & Mind’ and ‘Brain & Behavior’ at Amsterdam University College and is a lecturer of Neuroscience at the VU University Amsterdam.

Hylke obtained her Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences, summa cum laude, at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, with an internship at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam at the ‘Interfacultair Onderzoeksinstituut Neurowetenschappen’ on the neurobiology of addiction. In Amsterdam she received her PhD (‘Social context and behavioural aspects of ecstasy use’) from the University of Amsterdam in 2009.

Student's artwork in reaction to Hylke Vervaeke's lecture

Artwork by Brynja Steinþórsdóttir

Artwork by Brynja Steinþórsdóttir in reaction to Hylke Vervaeke's lecture
'During the making of this sculpture I was interested in what the characteristics and qualities of the object along with the presence of a motorized force brought about together. In Hylke Vervaeke's lecture on the topic of psychopaths as an example of a parasite she questions how responsible really people are for their actions if biology and external factors or circumstances shape us. In my work I do not relate this to society as a whole but rather to a fundamental way of observing elements of influence in daily life.’



28 november 2019 16.00 - 17:30


Auditorium KABK