A new study finds that two common drugs—an antidepressant and a treatment for Parkinson’s disease—can influence moral decisions, a discovery that could help unravel specific mechanisms behind aggression and eventually help researchers design treatments for antisocial behavior.
Previous research has linked two neurotransmitters, the brain’s signaling molecules, to our willingness to inflict harm. Serotonin appears to help keep us civil; it’s reduced in the brains of violent offenders, for example. Dopamine, meanwhile, has been shown to prompt aggression in animals, and it’s elevated in a certain part of the brain in people with psychopathic behavior.
What if people with these anti-social disorders were given the serotonin-enhancing antidepressant drug citalopram on a regular basis. Would their behaviors swing back to the normal range?
Further, what if science could develop a test for children early on that could measure the serotonin/dopamine ratio of their blood? If those children with a ‘bad’ ratio could start a regiment of citalopram to ameliorate their anti-social behaviors, then their actions later in life would be ‘normal’ and society would reap the benefits along with the individual and his family.
As a result, the individual would accrue fewer black marks on his Get to Heaven scorecard and God as well as judgmental folks would be much happier.
I wonder, though, if the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behavior is merely a ratio of two neurotransmitters, why are some people programmed at birth to be ‘bad’? Seems unfair.