Critically Discuss the Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives on the Aetiology of Criminal Behaviour with Specific Reference to Psychopathy.”

Topics: Antisocial personality disorder, Psychopathy, Psychology Pages: 9 (2697 words) Published: April 25, 2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION3.
2. A DEFINITION OF TERMS: PSYCHOPATHY 4.
3. BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES5.
3.1 FAMILY STUDIES; TWIN AND ADOPTION STUDIES 5.
3.2 PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORIES 6-7.
3.3. EYSENCK’S THEORY7.
4. PSYCHOSOCIAL PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOPATHY8.
4.1 BEHAVIOURAL THEORIES8.
4.2 SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY8.
4.3 MODELLING9.
5. CONCLUSION .. 10-11.
6. REFERENCES 12-13.

1.INTRODUCTION
“The biological and psychosocial perspectives on the aetiology of criminal behaviour with specific reference to psychopathy” is an age-old debate between nature versus nurture. Extensive research has been conducted in order to determine whether the genetic make-up of an individual or the environment in which they are raised is accountable for creating criminals. The result of which, is the conclusion that both genes and the environment play a role in the criminality of an individual (Bartol, 2002). Various twin, family, and adoption studies in addition to laboratory experiments have generated supporting evidence that it is mostly an interaction between biological and psychosocial perspectives that predicts criminal behaviour with regards to psychopathy. However, having a genetic predisposition to psychopathy does not determine the actions of an individual unless they are exposed to the right environment resulting in a greater chance of that individual engaging in criminal or psychopathic behaviour. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to critically discuss the biological and psychosocial perspectives on the aetiology of criminal behaviour with specific reference to psychopathy.  

2.PSYCHOPATHY DEFINED
In recent times, Psychopaths are more commonly referred to as people with antisocial personality disorder and are characteristically among the most interpersonally disparaging and emotionally harmful individuals (Passer & Smith, 2009). Psychopaths seem to lack a conscience; they exhibit little anxiety or guilt, are almost always impulsive and unable to suspend the immediate gratification of their needs. Psychopaths have a marked absence of emotional attachment to other people. A lack of capacity to care about others makes psychopaths potential dangers to society (Black, 1999). Case in point, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer failed to show even the slightest remorse for their crimes or sympathy for their victims. Despite a psychopathic individuals’ ability to verbalise emotions and commitments with great sincerity, their disturbing behaviours indicate otherwise. They often appear highly intelligent and charming, and they are very capable of rationalising their inappropriate behaviour for the purpose of seeming reasonable and justifiable. Accordingly, they are often the masters of manipulating other people and talking their way out of trouble. These characteristics can be reflected in psychological test responses such as the DSM-IV, as well as in social behaviour (Passer & Smith, 2009).

To be diagnosed as psychopathic, a person must be at least 18 years of age in addition to extensive evidence of psychopathic behaviour before the age of 15 such as habitual lying, early and aggressive sexual behaviour, disproportionate drinking, theft, vandalism, and enduring rule violations at home and school. Hence psychopathy is the culmination of a deviant behaviour pattern that characteristically begins in childhood (Kernberg, 2000).


3.BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOPATHY
3.1 FAMILY STUDIES; TWIN AND ADOPTION STUDIES
Biological research on psychopathy has focused on both genetic and physiological factors. Evidence for a genetic predisposition is shown in consistently higher rates of concordance for psychopathy among identical twins than among fraternal twins (Airey & Sodhi, 2007). Heritability is between .40 and .50 for psychopathy in children, adolescents and adults (Bouchard, 2004)....

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Airey, D., & Sodhi, M., 2007, Schizophrenia, New York: Chelsea House.
Bandura, A., 1977, Social Learning Theory, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bartol, C., 2002, Criminal Behaviour: A Psychological Approach, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bouchard, T.J., 2004, ‘Genetic influence on human psychological trait’, Current Directions in Psychological Science 13, 148- 151.
Black, D.W., 1999, Bad boys, bad men: Confronting antisocial personality disorder, New York: Oxford University Press
Blair, J., 2005, Development of the psychopath: Emotion and the brain, St. Louis, MO: Blackwell.
Cloninger, C.R, & Gottesman, I.I., 1989, ‘Genetic and environmental factors in antisocial behaviour disorders’, The Causes of Crime: New Biological Approaches, England: Cambridge University Press.
Eysenck, H.J., 1964, Crime and Personality
Gabbard, G.O., 1990, Psychodynamic psychiatry in clinical practice, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
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Kernberg, O.F., 2000, Personality Disorders in Children and Adults. Poulsbo, WA:H-R Press.
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Passer, M.W. & Smith, R.E., 2009, Psychology. (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 570-575.
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Rice, M.E., Harris, G.T. & Cormier, C.A., 1992, ‘An Evaluation of a Maximum Security Therapeutic Community for Psychopaths and OtherMentally Disordered Offenders’, Law and Human Behaviour, 4(16), 399-412.
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