Murder and Psychopathy



  • Mental disorder that involves ASB, low empathy and remorse, and impulsive and egotistical characteristics

  • Diagnostic tools…

  • DSM

  • Hare Psychopathy Checklist (revised PCL-R)

  • All have differences in the criteria for diagnosing psychopathy

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Hare Psychopathy Checklist / PCL-R

  • Factor 1 = interpersonal / affective

  • Glibness

  • Superficial charm

  • Grandiose sense of self worth

  • Conning / manipulative

  • Lack of remorse/ guilty

  • Callous / lack of empathy

  • Shallow effect

  • Promiscuous sexual behaviour

  • Criminal versatility

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Hare Psychopathy Checklist / PCL-R

  • Factor 2 = social deviance

  • Need for stiumaltion, prone to boredom

  • Poor control over behaviour

  • Impulsivity

  • Irresponsibility

  • Juvenile delinquency

  • Revocation of conditional release

  • Many short term marital relationships

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Difference between a Psychopath and a Sociopath

  • Psychopath = innate, biological basis, no capacity to feel remorse, guilt or empathy

  • Sociopath = can be result of environmental factors e.g. poverty, negligence, exposure to extreme violent behaviour, lack empathy, guilt and remorse towards most people, however will feel attachments towards others

  • Both have lower inhibitory capacity

  • Violence tends to come after a prolonged exposure to aggression, through observation and/or being involved

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Predictor Factors

  • Factors that can predict these behaviours…

  • Low resting heart rate

  • Farrington 1997 discovered that boys with low heart rate were more likely to become violent offenders if they had a bad relationship with their parents, and if they come from a large family

  • Raine 1993, Raine and Buchsbaum 1996, Henry and Moffitt 1997 all did reviews on brain imaging studies on violent and psychopathic populations

  • Discovered that violent offenders have functioning deficits to the anterior regions of the brain, particularly the frontal area

  • Frontal deficits to the brain, prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher level functioning, like social behaviour and self-control

  • Early health factors: complications at birth, physical anomalies, malnutrition

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  • Desensitisation to violence

  • Decrease in the psychological and physiological reaction to  witnessing and engaging gin aggression and violence

  • Exposure to violence desensitises individuals

  • When the above is paired with acting aggressively the individual becomes capable of more extreme acts as time goes on

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