Research Proposal

Topics: Crime, Psychopathy, Criminology Pages: 5 (1556 words) Published: April 29, 2013
Operational Definitions
In short, psychopathy is an emotional disorder, which, if it develops into its full form, puts the individual at risk of repeated displays of extreme antisocial behavior. This antisocial behavior can involve reactive aggression but it is important to note that psychopathy is unique in that it is a disorder that is also associated with elevated levels of instrumental aggression. Psychopathy is a disorder in urgent need of understanding. Without understanding, we will remain unable to efficiently treat it.

Although there is an operational definition of psychopathy for this essay, there is no scholarly consensus on who exactly is a psychopath. 20% of the prison population in the US comprises of psychopaths who are responsible for 50% of violent crimes. However, if one is a psychopath it does not necessarily mean that they are criminals. Statistics show that one in 200 people in the US is a psychopath. According to Hare, there are three types of psychopaths namely, the primary, secondary and dysocial psychopaths. This classification is almost based on the causes of criminal behaviour. Primary psychopaths, who are in fact ‘real psychopaths’ according to Bartol and Bartol ( ), are those that are biologically born psychopaths. These primary psychopaths are rare and they constitute quite a small fraction of criminals and they are usually non-violent. Secondary psychopaths……….. Dysocial psychopaths…….. The crucial aspect of psychopathy is not the display of antisocial behavior. Instead, it is the emotional impairmentThe advantage of the concept of psychopathy is that it identifies a population who share a common etiology, a dysfunction in specific forms of emotional processing. Psychopathy is a disorder that consists of multiple components ranging on the emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral spectrum. Factor analysis is a means of examining how the items of a given construct hang together. For example, while the PCL-R consists of 20 items that are all thought to contribute something unique to the set of criteria, overlap will exist among items. Consequently, items that correlate with each other can be grouped together to form a cluster of traits, or a factor, that refers to a more general facet of the disorder. The origins of the current description of the syndrome of psychopathy can be traced back to the work of Cleckley. In his book, The Mask of Sanity, Cleckley delineated 16 criteria for the diagnosis of psychopathy (Cleckley, 1941). These include superficial charm, lack of anxiety, lack of guilt, undependability, dishonesty, egocentricity, failure to form lasting intimate relationships, failure to learn from punishment, poverty of emotions, lack of insight into the impact of one’s behavior on others, and failure to plan ahead. From these characteristics, and his own clinical impressions, Robert Hare developed the original Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) (Hare, 1980), a formalized tool for the assessment of psychopathy in adults. This has since been revised: the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R) (Hare, 1991). Following the development of the adult PCL-R, assessment tools for the assessment of psychopathy in childhood and adolescence have also been developed.

Biological Perspective on criminal psychopathy
According to the biological perspective, the determinants of criminality or criminal behaviour in an individual is predominantly a result of brain dysfunction since it is part of the mind and the core of an individual`s personality. This school of thought posits that the core determinants of a person`s behavior are constitutionally or genetically based. Visible race and gender differences in frequency and crime typologies are probably a result of biological differences between males and females or between certain racial groups. As a result, such mechanisms of human behavior are relayed to the subsequent generations. Human behavior is based on instinctive responses...
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