Psychopathy

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There have been many studies linking conduct disorder to antisocial personality disorder and sometimes to psychopathy as well. Conduct disorder appears in children and adolescents and involves behavior that violates rights of others and/or societal norms or rules. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), the individual’s behavior must include actions such as aggression to people or animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, serious violations of rules, as well as a clinically significant impairment in the adolescent’s social, academic, or occupational functioning. The DSM-IV states that in order for a child or adolescent to be found to be presenting Conduct Disorder he or she must present with three or more of the above listed behaviors in the past twelve months, including at least one in the past six months (McCaullum, pp. 6-12, 2001).

Those who present with antisocial personality disorder may or may not present with psychopathy. There are two main assessment devices used to evaluate the level of psychopathy that a person exhibits. The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) was developed by Robert Hare in 1980 and revised in 1991 (Blair et al, 2005). The Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD) is another device used to assess psychopathy in adults (Frick & Hare, 2001a). Both of these assessments consist of twenty behavioral items, scored from zero to two, that are used to measure whether or not a person possesses certain traits that, when combined, are common to those of people diagnosed with psychopathy.

There have been many research studies conducted over the years concerning the validity and effectiveness of the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised. One such study was aimed at assessing whether or not the level of psychopathy of an individual, as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised, was correlated to that individual’s probability of violent recidivism (Tengström, Grann, Långström, & Kullgren, 2000). The study had a sample size of 202 male violent offenders presenting with schizophrenia that ranged in ages from 16 to 67. The base rate for each individual’s Psychopathy Checklist- Revised score was 26 and the base rate for reconvictions during follow-up was 21% (Tengström, Grann, Långström, & Kullgren, 2000). Overall, this study showed a positive relationship between score on the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised and the level of violent recidivism. The implications of this research study show that the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised can be used as a tool to gauge the likelihood of reconvictions concerning violent crimes, at least when discussing male violent offenders that present with schizophrenia.

Another study, conducted by Walters and colleagues (2003), strived to determine whether the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised or the Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form (LCSF) compared to each other when assessing levels of disciplinary adjustment and recidivism. Although the results of the study showed that the two tests were similar in results, the Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form only took about ten minutes to complete while the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised takes between two and three hours (Walters et al, 2003). Therefore, it was concluded in the study that if there was a high risk of offender recidivism or disciplinary maladjustment, the Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form would possibly be a better choice due to the cost-effectiveness of the inventory. Due to the abundance of characteristics tested for in the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised, there have been many studies to assess which of those have a greater effect than others when discussing propensity to commit violent offenses. According to Blair and associates (2002), one of the specific symptoms presented in individuals with psychopathy is a reduced level of empathic response.   There has been a positive relationship found between high levels of antisocial...
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