What Is Psychopathy?

Psychopathy is among the most difficult disorders to spot. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, he lacks conscience and empathy, making him manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal. She is an object of popular fascination and clinical anguish: adult psychopathy is largely impervious to treatment, though programs are in place to treat callous, unemotional youth in hopes of preventing them from maturing into psychopaths.

Psychopathy is a spectrum disorder and can be diagnosed only using the 20-item Hare Psychopathy Checklist. (The bar for clinical psychopathy is a score of 30 or more). Brain anatomy, genetics, and a person’s environment may all contribute to the development of psychopathic traits.

The terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” are often used interchangeably, but in correct parlance a “sociopath” refers to a person with antisocial tendencies that are ascribed to social or environmental factors, whereas psychopathic traits are more innate, though a chaotic or violent upbringing may tip the scales for those already predisposed to behave psychopathically. Both constructs are most closely represented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Recent posts on Psychopathy

Atrocity in the City of Nice: An Act of Clinical Insanity?

In Europe, ‘lone wolf’ attacks quadrupled between the 1970s and the 2000s.

How to Prevent Violence

Identify powerlessness, rejection, humiliation, injustice, unimportance, insignificance and nothing to lose by dying before they combine together in violence.
C. Davis

When Good Guys Turn Bad

Even the most ordinary people can find themselves in circumstances that bring out their worst.

The Psychology of the Political Coup

One perhaps surprising yet key implication of this research is that elections have the potential to be a force for instability and change, rather than a tool of stabilization.

Sexual Trophies, Murder, And Addiction

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on July 13, 2016 in In Excess
When it comes to the collecting of ‘sexual trophies’, most research relates to more criminal sexual deviance. But what does the literature say and can it be addictive?

The Man Who Thought He Was a Cat

The true story of the boy who grew up thinking he was a cat.

Hungry vs. Loyal: Ramsay's Hounds on the Hierarchy of Needs

Game of Thrones villain Ramsay Bolton suggests that he will feed his foes to his ravenous hounds, dogs he believes loyal to himself. Can dogs follow humans' hierarchy of needs?

The Quest for Self-Forgiveness

Encumbered a lifetime with a sense of inexplicable guilt.

Naming Evil: Dark Triad, Tetrad, Malignant Narcissism

What is evil? Is malignant narcissism "the quintessence of evil"? Is the mix of extreme and maladaptive psychopathy + narcissism + Machiavellianism + sadism the recipe for evil?

The Crime and Law Quiz Once Again

Think you know about cops and crooks? Take this crime quiz and find out.

How to Know That You Are Dealing With a Psychopath

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on June 19, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
Psychopaths are unable to form emotional attachments with others or feel empathy, although they often have charming personalities.

Terrorism, the Sociopath, and Shame

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on June 17, 2016 in Shame
A bully and a domestic abuser, Omar Mateen was likely driven by a personal sense of core shame, confused with the perceived humiliation of Muslims at the hands of the West.

Ramsay Snow Bolton, a Sadist Dark and Full of Terrors

Ramsay (Snow) Bolton may be the greatest sadist in fiction full of cruel characters. What drives this villain in "Game of Thrones" and "A Song of Ice and Fire" to torture and more?
Wikimedia commons, labeled for reuse

Why Every Psychotherapist Needs to Understand Sociology

Psychology on its own presents too skewed of a perspective to truly understand the entirety of human behavior. It must be counterbalanced by other disciplines, such as sociology.

What Can Be Done to Prevent the Next Mass Murder?

By Kathryn Seifert Ph.D. on June 14, 2016 in Stop The Cycle
Reducing the unacceptably high number of mass murders and other types of violence in the US will require multiple methods. Prevention through Behavioral Health methods is one.
Notorious USA

Sibling Rivals and Murder Games

A unique case in the annals of serial murder will finally get a broader audience.

RIP Christina Grimmie: What We Know About Celebrity Stalkers

Celebrity stalkers are typically psychologically disturbed individuals who are pathologically attracted by others’ fame. Some are merely pests, but a few are deadly.

The Dark (and Ruthless) Side of Mental Toughness

We tend to believe mental toughness can be helpful in many life situations. But it can turns into ruthlessness in those with Dark Triad traits.
used with permission from iclipart

Have You Ever Wished Someone Was Dead?

Many of us have wished someone would die or disappear when we're angry. But how common is it to actually fantasize about committing murder?
K. Ramsland

To Be or Not To Be: Philosophical Serial Killers

Some serial killers find justification and solace in heady philosophical notions.

Are Corporations Inherently Psychopathic?

It has been said that corporations have "neither bodies to kick nor souls to damn." Can we diagnose psychopathy in non-human entities?
iclipart.com, used with permission

Dangerous Lies

Are there some secrets worth killing for? For two men leading double lives, the answer was yes.

"Criminals" in Classrooms: A Liability to Students and Staff

What happens when a student is disturbing others but is not “emotionally disturbed”?
Pexels / Free stock photos

Anosognosia, Psychopathy, and the Conscience

What happens if we can't recognize our bad behavior brought on by illness or disorder?

Understanding Psychopathic Criminals

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on May 09, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
Psychopathic criminals are cunning, manipulative, egotistical and cold blooded.
Carlisle

Talking to Killers

A former prison psychologist painstakingly interviews two child serial killers whose sexual fantasies formed an unrelenting addiction.
iclipart.com, used with permission

Let's Pretend You're Sick

The psyche of parents who fake their child's illness

The OCD, Super Diligent, Over-Conscientious Boss

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in A Sideways View
Being careful and detail oriented is often a very desirable at work. But is this optimal rather than maximal. Can there be too much of a good thing with regard to diligence.

Killing the American Hero, Killing the Fair Trial

When defense claims "not criminally responsible," courts must adopt a holistic view of insanity.

3 Ways to Predict a Partner Could Be Unfaithful

A partner who is faithful, all other things being equal, is one who will make you happier. This 3-part checklist will help you spot the danger signs.