Psychopath is used to denote a person " ... who is a cunning, bloodthirsty predator who lacks empathy, remores, and impulse control, readily violating social rules and exploiting others to get what he or she wants." The term was coined around 1850 from Greek meaning sick mind. However, what exactly was it and what was its origins?

Answers to these questions would be slow in coming. In 1941, Hervey Cleckley published The Mask of Sanity where he describes characteristics of differnt psychopaths. His conclusions made the arguement that began to move psychopathy away from being seen as a condition that was a moral issue or lack of good character.

Robert Hare, in 1960 worked in a prison when he realized he was being manipulated by an inmate. When he took a professorhip in 1963 he began his life-long investigation into psychopaths. As he ran experiments and begain to understand their personality traits he combined Cleckley's ideas with his to make a checklist to identify psychopaths. with Brain scans

Using psychoometric measures he reduced his initial list of 100 items to 22 items and in 1980 published his instrument, Psychopathy Check List. For the first time there was an instrument that could be used to rate prisoners. In 1985 his PCL-R had 20 items and was found to have a high degree of interrater reliability. Studies that used it found that 80% of PLC-R rated psychopaths reoffended within three years compared to only 20% of non-psychopaths.

Later, Kent Kiehl, a student of Hare's assessed more than 5 000 brains and found psychopaths have functional and structural differences that affect impulse control, emotions, and cognition, which lead him to believe psychopathy was a neurological disorder. If it is a neurological disorder, does that make people with it not crimanlly responsible, as people with lower IQ's?

Hare, scanned brains while he exposed the subjects to emotional and neutral words. The results were the psychopaths' brain scans showed little change between neutral and emotional words. Indicating much less brain activity as compared to the non-psychopaths' brain scans, which showed more activity for emotional than neutral words. See scans.

Are people genetically programed or are there environmental factors that create it or is it a combination of the two? Genetically programmed with an environmental trigger.

Whatever the case may be, it seems reasonable and necessary to work with children who are young and show signs of callous-unemotional traits, along with conduct disorder behaviors, such as fighting, bullying, and stealing. See Child Development Project (CDP) for suggested types of interventions with children to maintain and develop caring relationships.

Source Discover. The Psychopath & The Hare. by Danielle Egan. June 2016.

Checklist items:

  1. Glib and superficial charm
  2. Grandiose, exaggeratedly high, estimation of self-worth
  3. Need for stimulation
  4. Prone to boredom
  5. Pathological lying
  6. Conning and manipulation
  7. Lack of remorse or guilt
  8. Shallow affect, uperficial emotional responsiveness
  9. Callousness and lack of empathy
  10. Parasitic lifestyle
  11. Poor behavioral controls
  12. Sexual promiscuity
  13. Early behavior problems
  14. Lack of realistic long-term goals
  15. Impulsivity
  16. Irresponsibility failure to accept responsibility for ones own actions
  17. Many short-term marital relationships
  18. Juvenile delinquency
  19. Revocation of conditional release
  20. Criminal versatility

Source: more:


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes &