Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder

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Introduction The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast the constructs of psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. The aim is to highlight whether the terms psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder reflect the same construct or whether they differ. Furthermore, recommendations for treatment of criminal behavior will be explored. For the purposes of this evaluation some definitions need to be highlighted: Criminal offence is an act that breaks a law, which relates how to behave in society. The harm caused by the act is seen to be against society as a whole, not just a specific person. Sometimes it refers to the specific law that was broken (Herring, 2009). Crime is the breach of rules or law for which some authority (via mechanisms such as legal systems) can ultimately prescribe a conviction. Crimes may also result in cautions, rehabilitation, or be unenforced (Block & Block, 1984). Mental illness – Modern psychiatric practice considers mental illness as the pervasive inability to engage reality (Mcauley, 1993). Harrower (1998) argued that there is a need to adopt a mode of analysis, to try to understand the pleasures of crime as it is clear to him that one of the major reasons offenders commit crime is because they enjoy it. In accordance, Katz (1988) studied the seductions of crime, meantime, Hodge et al (1997) referred to criminal behavior as an addiction. Winstead et al (2005), pointed out that there has been a heated debate throughout the history of psychology and psychiatry over the definition of psychopathology and its related terms such as mental disorder. Gergen (1985), questioned if mental disorder can be defined objectively using scientific criteria or if it is a social construct entirely defined by societal and cultural values. Wakefield (1999), believes that the harmful dysfunction







conception of mental disorder is strongly influenced by social and cultural values. Psychologists describe psychopathology as a synonym for abnormal behavior (Sue et al, 2003). Harrower (1998) pointed out that crime is most often associated with mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, psychopathy and mental handicap or learning disabilities. In order to provide a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders, the American Psychiatric Association (2000), published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Widiger (1997) emphasized that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders documents what is presently understood by most scientist, theorists, researchers and clinicians to be the predominant forms of psychopathology. Nevertheless, the predominant form of psychopathology has been heatedly contested by theorists with divergent opinions. For example, Rosenblum & Travis (1996), explained that psychopathologies and mental disorders are natural entities, whose true nature can be discovered and described according to the essentialist perspective. Meantime, the social constructionist believes that they are abstract ideas that are defined by people and therefore, a reflection of their values (Rosenblum and Travis,1996). Furthermore, Wilson (1993) and Kirk & Kutchins (1992), believe that the purpose of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was to permit psychiatry a means to demark its professional territory. Antisocial Behavior There have been several clinical terms used to describe antisocial behavior, including psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality syndrome, and antisocial personality disorder (Archer, 1995). Ellis & Walsh (2000) argued that antisocial behavior encompass acts that reflect a general disregard for the welfare of others. Salama & Aziz, (1988), discussed that prior to the turn of the twentieth century, antisocial behavior was considered to be moral insanity and moral imbecility. The link between criminality and antisocial behavior is that these

 

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