Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lexicon of Madness -- Psychopathy

Psychopathy: A chronic, pervasive personality pathology characterized by impulsivity, irresponsible behavior, egocentricity, callousness, and empathy deficits. The estimated prevalance of psychopathy in the general population is 1%. About half of all law enforcement officers killed in the line of dury are murdered by people with psychopathic personalities. The term "antisocial personality" captures the psychopath's stance against society, but risks painting all habitual criminals as psychopaths. The term "sociopath" suggests that early social influences alone caused or influenced the adult deviant behavior. There are constitutional, biological, and genetic contributors underlying psychopathic traits, but psychopathy cannot be said to be genetically determined. David Lykken's low fear hypothesis suggests that psychopaths behave as they do, in part, because they do not fear the consequences of violating social norms as much as other people do. They are outgoing and have low social fear, which can help them to be charming con men. Under laboratory conditions, they are less likely to exhibit anticipatory anxiety in the face of punishment, and less likely to correct their behaviors after being punished. Failure to learn from punishment could explain why psychopathy is the best predictor of violent recidivism. Psychopaths are not psychotic, and they are not necessarily sexually sadistic serial killers. Psychopathic traits are more likely to be found among bank robbers and special forces operators.

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