Psychopathy: Diagnosis, Theory, and Treatment

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Psychopathy: Diagnosis, Theory, and Treatment Jama R. Young College of Saint Mary Psychopathy: Diagnosis, Theory, and Treatment What is a Psychopath? Psychopathy is a disorder, which is defined and “characterized in part by a diminished capacity for remorse and poor behavioral controls” (Blair, 2003, p. 5). Defining psychopathy gives shape to meaning behind the mental illness, but what does this mean? Those with the disorder are “ruthless social predators” (Cavadino, 1998, p .5). Persistently irresponsible, they are impulsive violators of what are considered social norms. They disregard the feelings of others, while feeling no guilt or remorse for actions they have done (Cavadino, 1998). Because psychopathy and sociopathy are often confused, it is important to differentiate between the two types of personality disorders. What makes a sociopath separate from the psychopath is “sociopathy is not a formal psychiatric condition. It refers to patterns of attitudes that are considered to be antisocial and criminal by society at large, but are seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which they developed” (Babiak & Hare, 2007, p. 26). In other words, sociopath behavior is a condition of learning and environment. Additionally, a sociopath may have the ability to empathize and have a developed conscience (Babiak & Hare, 2007). On the other hand, a psychopath’s diagnosis may be more neurologically based and are lacking in a conscience. Diagnosing Psychopathy The most frequently used diagnostic tool for determining psychopathy is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). “The PCL consists of 20 items, which are scored from 0 to 2 depending on how well each item fits an individual” (Wynn, Hoiseth, & Pettersen, 2012, p.258). Items evaluated include superficiality, lack of guilt and behavioral grandiosity, shallow
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