Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Psychopath Definition:

An individual with an abnormal personality charterised by irresponsibility, lack of emotional control, impulsiveness resulting in unstable adaptations to environment.

Related Terms: Sociopath, Moral Insanity

Levitt suggested:

"Psychopath: a person with an abnormal personality charterised by irresponsibility, lack of emotional control, impulsiveness resulting in unstable adaptations to environment, eg. marriage, occupation, social life.

"... the psychopath is unable to profit from experience, and is contunually coming into conflict with others and especially with authority."

In her 2011 article, Nic Dam wrote that psyhopathy was an:

"... antisocial personality disorder (ASPD - which includes) sociopathy and psychopathy. According to the DSM-IV (the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ofMental Disorders), to be classified as suffering from ASPD a person must show a 'pervasive disregard for and violation of the rights of others' as indicated by three or more of a list of several characteristics including a failure to conform to social norms, deceitfulness, impulsivity and lack of remorse.

"To be diagnosed as having ASPD, a person must also be over 18 years of age - which presumably shows the influence of concerns about legal responsibility rather than any underlying medical reality....

"Psychopathy is primarily diagnosed using Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist - Revised (PCL-R) which is a 20 item list containing items relating to both personality and antisocial behaviour. Factor analysis of the list of diagnostic items in the PCL-R has identified two factors.

"Factor 1 consists of a set of affective/interpersonal features including shallow affect, failure to accept responsibility, callousness and lack of empathy, grandiose sense of self-worth and glibness or superficial charm.

"Factor 2 relates to antisocial or impulsive behaviour, including poor behavioural controls, lack of realistic long-term goals and early behavioural problems.

"Apart from these cognitive and emotional deficits, discussed in more detail below, psychopaths can be clear-headed, rational and highly intelligent."

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