Psychopathy: A Diagnostic Analysis

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Psychopathy is a syndrome that consists of a constellation of behavioral and interpersonal characteristics that are generally harmful to other people specifically, and society in general. Some of these traits can broadly be described as a lack of conscience or empathy for others, pathological lying, antisocial behavior, and egocentricity (Hare, 1993). Though psychopathy is not and has never been an official disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (Crego & Widiger, 2015) it is most similar to Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Hare, 1993). A common measurement of psychopathy is the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), which was created originally in 1980 by Dr.…show more content…
As an evolutionary coping mechanism, psychopathy permits an alternate life history and mating strategy when the usual one is not possible because of a lack normal development due to inadequate parental care, individual genetic differences, or both (Glenn et al., 2011). Theoretically, this lack of basic human emotional connection is what allows for all of the predatory, manipulative, and egocentric behaviors we associate with psychopathy (Murphy & Stich, 2000). That is, while psychopaths cause a disproportionate amount of misery for the rest of society (in the form of exploitative behavior and non-care for their offspring), they do so at an advantage to their own reproductive success (Ellis & Bjorklund, 2012). What may seem destructive to us, then, is actually enormously beneficial to the psychopath from an evolutionary point of…show more content…
So, some - and possibly a large amount of - “successful” psychopaths never come to the attention of law enforcement (Varga, 2015). As a third problem, studies on female psychopaths - who may constitute one-third of all psychopaths (Nickerson, 2014) - are rarely done in any context (Weiler, 1996). Additionally, some psychopathic behaviors and traits (such as ruthlessness and superficial charm) are often considered desirable for success in industries such as law and finance, and these and other psychopathic behaviors – for example, lying about the financial prospects of a company in order to get investors – are harmful to others but not necessarily illegal in and of themselves (Murphy & Stich, 2000; Varga, 2015). Even when they are illegal, non-violent crimes of this nature are often hard to prove, and those who do get caught for white-collar crimes do not usually spend much time in prison (Murphy & Stich, 2000; Varga, 2015). There is a compelling case to be made that many of these “successful psychopaths” are more dangerous than those who end up in jail, because they are able to control their
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