This chapter explores criminal psychopathy and how people with the disorder diff from other offenders, including those with other mental health disorders. In particular, it stresses how a criminal psychopath is different from others, both emotionally, cognitively and behaviourally. The definition of a psychopath is provided, along with a case study of a diagnosed psychopath.
An interesting element of this chapter is the way in which it reviews the various measures of psychopathy, as this is an important consideration when studying the topic. Additionally, juvenile psychopathy is explored in some detail, as are the ethical dilemmas that this strain of the condition presents.
Perhaps the part of the chapter that I find most interesting is the one in which character traits of the psychopath are listed, according to various researchers. Although the lists differed in some ways, there were many common elements. Some examples of these are that most psychopaths are capable of being charming but also have a strong tendency towards dishonesty. Furthermore, the majority of psychopaths are described by those who know them as likable, outgoing and fun (Bartol & Bartol, 2011). This implies that a psychopath could seem perfectly safe, friendly and ‘normal’ to those around him, which is worrying as it makes it possible that people would not suspect him as being a criminal or potential criminal.
Criminal Psychopathy is an interesting topic. However, it is one that needs studying alongside other disorders regarding the larger subject of crime.
Bartol, C. R., &Bartol, A. M. (2011).Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach (9th ed.).
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education/Prentice Hall.