Sociology Index


There is considerable debate about whether psychopathy 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. Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized impaired empathy and remorse, and egotistical traits.

Rethinking Psychopathy, Michael R. Levenson, University Of California. An alternative approach to psychopathy is suggested, which begins with the assumption that psychopathy is not a mental disorder, but rather reflects a philosophy of life centering around the trivialization of others. It is further suggested that such a philosophy of life may be far more pervasive than is generally recognized.

The Modern Degenerate - Nineteenth-century Degeneration Theory and Modern Psychopathy Research, Jarkko Jalava. This paper illustrates the tendency of intuitively appealing psychological theories to survive through mutation their official discreditation. This is done by way of a case study, involving the theoretical continuum between the late 19th-and early 20th-century sociological, biological, psychological, literary theory of degeneration, and modern psychopathy research and theory.

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, treated conventional transgressions like moral transgressions, and were much less likely to justify their responses with reference to the victim's welfare, thus supporting the model.

Psychopathy and Responsibility, Walter Glannon.

Philosophers have argued that the psychopath serves as the ultimate test of the limits of moral responsibility. They hold that the psychopath lacks a deep knowledge of right and wrong, and that Kant's ethics arguably offers the most plausible account of this moral knowledge.

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 entirely in terms of a defect of practical reason.

I refer to empirical research to show that the Kantian model of practical reason does not provide a satisfactory account of responsibility of the psychopath in particular or of moral agents in general. On the basis of both philosophical and empirical considerations, I argue that the psychopath is at least partly responsible for his behavior.

Perfect Master or Perfect Psychopath, Erica Toren
Abstract: The author describes how she got involved with a cultic group, the exit counseling intervention her parents had arranged, her anger at her parents and husband for arranging the deprogramming, and her eventual opening up to the messages they had been trying to impart to her. She also comments on aspects of her recovery after breaking with her group.

Personality Correlates of Machiavellianism: VI. Machiavellianism and the Psychopath. - Skinner, Nicholas F.
Previous studies have not demonstrated hypothesized link between Machiavellianism (interpersonally manipulative behavior) and psychopathy. Results from two studies using college student samples revealed that 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.

Benn, Piers Freedom, Resentment, and the Psychopath.
Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychology - Volume 6, Number 1, March 1999, pp. 29-39. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Excerpt: Abstract: This paper discusses the moral responsibility of psychopaths for their anti-social actions. Starting from P. F. Strawson's discussion of our participant reactive attitudes, which stresses their indispensability for meaningful human relations, 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, however, may have an illiberal implication, in possibly 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. Abstract: The present article reports on an attempt to import the concept of psychopathy at the childhood level. Childhood psychopathy was assessed in 430 boys ages 12 and 13 years by using caretaker reports on a translation of an adult psychopathy assessment instrument.

Children with psychopathic personalities, like their adult counterparts, were serious and stable offenders, impulsive, and more prone to externalizing than internalizing disorders. Childhood psychopathy also provided incremental validity in predicting serious stable antisocial behavior in adolescence over and above other known predictors and one other classification approach. These results suggest that psychopathy has a childhood manifestation that can be measured reliably. Implications and future directions are outlined.

THE PSYCHOPATH - The Mask of Sanity
Special Research Project of the Quantum Future Group. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly 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'. It is proposed that 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, however, that is, all of him that can be reached by verbal exploration and direct examination, shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within. Nothing about him suggests oddness, inadequacy, or moral frailty.