Sociology Index


Although there is considerable debate about whether psychopath is an authentic psychiatric disorder, psychopath is typically classified under personality disorder. Psychopaths tend to be lacking in what is considered conscience, are unable to form emotional attachments, neither to friends nor family, are quite impulsive, and are only self-interested.

There is also considerable debate about whether psychopaths can be changed. Leading conceptions of psychopathy originated from a clinical perspective, which assumed abnormality and sought to explain it. This perspective has led to three related potential explanations of psychopathy:  the psychopath as nonconformist, the psychopath as characterized by a deficiency in the behavioral inhibition system, the psychopath as a product of poor early socialization.

Although the theory of degeneration became obsolete by the end of World War II, its basic tenets have survived into mainstream scientific work regarding what is known as the psychopath. The Modern Degenerate - Nineteenth-century Degeneration Theory and Modern Psychopathy Research, Jarkko Jalava, Simon Fraser Univ.

A Cognitive Developmental Approach to Morality: Investigating the Psychopath. - Blair, R. J. R. Examined the efficacy of a causal model suggesting that lack of a violence inhibitor when confronted with distress cues may explain psychopathic behavior. Compared to control subjects, the psychopaths made no moral/conventional distinction about transgressions, and were much less likely to justify their responses with reference to the victim's welfare.

Personality Correlates of Machiavellianism: VI. Machiavellianism and the Psychopath. - Skinner, Nicholas F. 
Previous studies have not demonstrated hypothesized link between Machiavellianism and psychopathy. High Machs obtained significantly higher Psychopathy scores than did Low Machs, and Mach V totals for Primary Psychopaths were significantly greater than those of Secondary Psychopaths. Both experiments suggest relationship between Machiavellianism and primary psychopathy.

Psychopathy and Responsibility, Walter Glannon.
Psychopath serves as the ultimate test of the limits of moral responsibility. Psychopath lacks a deep knowledge of right and wrong. On this view, the psychopath's lack of moral understanding is due to a cognitive failure involving practical reason. It is mistaken to claim that the psychopath's moral deficiency is due solely to a cognitive failure, or that his lack of the deep knowledge of right and wrong can be explained in terms of a defect of practical reason. Empirical evidence shows that the Kantian model of practical reason does not provide a satisfactory account of responsibility of the psychopath. That the psychopath is at least partly responsible for his behavior.

Benn, Piers "Freedom, Resentment, and the Psychopath"
Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology - Volume 6, Number 1, March 1999, The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Discusses the moral responsibility of psychopaths for their anti-social actions. The paper contrasts a variety of "normal" wrongdoers with psychopaths. If psychopaths are incapable of moral understanding, they may not be proper targets of anger and resentment. This may have an illiberal implication, in excluding psychopaths from possessing certain rights.

Lynam, D.R. (1997). Pursuing the psychopath: Capturing the fledgling psychopath in a nomological net. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 425-438.
A systematic construct validation approach revealed that childhood psychopathy fits into the nomological network surrounding adult psychopathy. Childhood psychopathy also provided incremental validity in predicting serious stable antisocial behavior in adolescence. These results suggest that psychopathy has a childhood manifestation that can be measured reliably

THE PSYCHOPATH - The Mask of Sanity
Special Research Project of the Quantum Future Group.
The ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Everyone assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is effortless. 

Identity diffusion presenting as multiple personality disorder in a female psychopath
W Bruce-Jones and J Coid, Interim Secure Unit, Hackney Hospital, London. 
A female psychopath presented multiple forms of psychopathology, including features of multiple personality disorder. A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, or the psychodynamic features of borderline personality organisation, should be the exclusion criteria for this condition.

The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain - James Blair, Derek Mitchell and Karina Blair - Blackwell Publishing, UK.

The Inner Landscape of the Psychopath - by Hervey Cleckley, "Mask of Sanity", 5th edition.
Narcissism is considered a less severe form of psychopathy. The surface of the psychopath, shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within. Behind the exquisitely deceptive mask of the psychopath the emotional alteration we feel appears to be primarily one of degree.