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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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The Evolution of the

”Bad Seed”

what is psychopathy
What is Psychopathy?
  • Personality disorder, characterized by
    • Callousness
    • Lack of empathy
    • Self-centredness
    • Remorselessness
  • Persistent antisocial behaviour
    • “Against” society, social norms
psychopathy checklist revised
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)

two case examples
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)

historical perspectives 1
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
historical perspectives 2
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
theories of etiology
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
evolutionary theories
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)
recent research 1
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)
recent research 2
Recent Research (2)
  • Two-path model

Neuro-developmental Insults

Antisocial Parents

Criminal Violence


Harris, Rice, & Lalumière (2001)

risk assessment
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
  • 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
the wrap up
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
things to come
Things to Come
  • Pedophilia
    • Definitional and practical issues
    • Etiology
    • WHR and pedophilic sexual preference
    • Implications