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Psychopathy - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Psychopathy. The Evolution of the ”Bad Seed”. What is Psychopathy?. Personality disorder, characterized by Callousness Lack of empathy Self-centredness Remorselessness Persistent antisocial behaviour “Against” society, social norms. Psychopathy Checklist-Revised.

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Psychopathy l.jpg


The Evolution of the

”Bad Seed”

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What is Psychopathy?

  • Personality disorder, characterized by

    • Callousness

    • Lack of empathy

    • Self-centredness

    • Remorselessness

  • Persistent antisocial behaviour

    • “Against” society, social norms

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Psychopathy Checklist-Revised

  • Measures criminal psychopathy

  • 20 items, scores range from 0-40

  • Items include glibness & superficiality; impulsive behaviour; lack of remorse; early behaviour problems

  • Two-factor structure

    • Selfish, callous, & remorseless use of others

    • Chronically unstable & antisocial lifestyle

Hare (1991)

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Two Case Examples

  • John Wayne Gacy was a contractor, Junior Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year,” Pogo the Clown, and raped and murdered 32 young boys

  • Kenneth Bianchi was one of the “Hillside Stranglers,” who raped, tortured, and murdered 12 women, & fooled experts into believing had had multiple personality disorder

Hare (1996)

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Historical Perspectives (1)

  • Pinel: Manie sans délire

    • Construed psychopathy as “moral insanity”

    • Began the “mad or bad” debate

  • Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity

    • Most influential of the classical texts

    • Described the syndrome of psychopathy and gave the impetus for the research that followed

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Historical Perspectives (2)

  • Psychopathy vs. Antisocial Personality Disorder

    • Considerable overlap between constructs

    • APD is over-inclusive

    • If scored similarly, they correlate highly

  • Psychopathy vs. Sociopathy

    • Psychopathy is not synonymous with psychosis

    • “Sociopathy” differs with regard to etiological underpinnings

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Theories of Etiology

  • Developmental delay

    • EEG pattern similarity between psychopaths and normal adults

  • Early brain damage or dysfunction

    • Primarily to frontal lobes

  • Poor socialization and psychological trauma

    • Poverty, emotional instability, inconsistent punishment, abuse

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Evolutionary Theories

  • Adaptationist perspective on psychopathy

    • Not a result of pathology, but an adaptive strategy (obligate genetic causes)

    • Antisocial behaviour is maintained in the population through frequency-dependent selection

    • Taxometric analyses reveal discrete classes

  • “Genetic Dregs” hypothesis (Figueredo, 2002)

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Recent Research (1)

  • Psychopathy is related to a general tendency to deceive, not just in sexual arenas (Seto et al, 1997)

  • MAOA polymorphism moderates antisocial behaviour in maltreated adolescents (Caspi et al, 2002)

  • Antisociality is correlated with earlier sexual experiences; unrelated to neuro-developmental insults (Krupp, 2001)

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Recent Research (2)

  • Two-path model

Neuro-developmental Insults

Antisocial Parents

Criminal Violence


Harris, Rice, & Lalumière (2001)

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Risk Assessment

  • Canada is at the forefront of risk assessment research


    • Psychopathy appears to be an important predictor of recidivism

    • Considerable debate surrounding

      • Clinical judgment

      • “Static” vs. “dynamic” factors

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  • Most therapeutic intervention has been unsuccessful with psychopaths

    • Therapeutic community had an iatrogenic effect in one study (Harris et al., 1991)!

  • The model of psychopathological behaviour is problematic; rather, psychopathy appears to be a life-history strategy

  • Perhaps most appropriate therapy will focus on self-interest of psychopaths

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The Wrap-Up

  • The construct of psychopathy defined

  • Historical perspectives

  • Etiological theories

  • Psychopathy as a frequency-dependent, life-history strategy

  • Recent evolutionarily-relevant research

  • Risk assessment and therapy

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Things to Come

  • Pedophilia

    • Definitional and practical issues

    • Etiology

    • WHR and pedophilic sexual preference

    • Implications