Psychopathy


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Related to Psychopathy: antisocial personality disorder

Psychopathy

 

(pathological personalities, psychopathic constitutions), a group of mental disorders belonging to minor, or borderline, psychiatry, manifested by a disharmonic personality, as a result of which the individual may cause harm to himself or society. There is no clearly defined line between psychopathy and variants of normal personality types. Classifying psychopathies as mental diseases is arbitrary: unlike diseases that develop in a regular way (onset, course, outcome), psychopathies are stable and lifelong—although the degree to which the pathological traits are manifested may vary—and are usually not associated with delirium, hallucinations, or other symptoms of marked impairment of mental activity. Psychopathies are caused by hereditary factors, intrauterine injuries to the fetus, birth traumas, infections and poisonings in infancy, improper upbringing, and negative social influences.

The manifestations of psychopathies are varied. Several clinical types are distinguished according to the particular personality traits that are dominant. For example, asthenic (impotent) psychopaths are highly impressionable, excitable, and easily fatigued. They tolerate physical and mental stress poorly and are indecisive and depressed. Psychasthenic psychopaths are extremely suspicious; they are filled with perpetual doubts as to the correctness of their judgments and actions and are incapable of making decisions. Excitable (explosive) psychopaths have extremely strong emotional reactions and are unrestrained and inclined to aggressive actions. They have drives and are often addicted to alcohol, which markedly intensifies the manifestation of pathological traits. Paranoic psychopaths are inclined to develop exaggerated ideas that dominate all their impressions and emotions; whatever is not in conformity with these ideas is ignored. Paranoic personalities include pathologically jealous and litigious persons and fanatics. Hysterical psychopaths tend to indulge in fantasies, which, as it were, substitute as reality for them. The behavior of hysterical psychopaths is characterized by affectation and theatricality. There are also other types of psychopathies. Conditions similar to psychopathies may result from schizophrenia and organic brain disease.

Psychopathies can be prevented and treated by proper upbringing in childhood and the constant corrective influence of the family, school, and fellow workers. Psychotherapy and psychotropic agents are indicated in decompensation of psychopathies and in situations where psychopathies make day-to-day living difficult.

REFERENCES

Gannushkin, P. B. Klinika psikhopatii: Ikh statika, dinamika, sistematika. Moscow, 1933.
Kerbikov, O. V. “K ucheniiu o dinamike psikhopatii.” In Izbr. trudy. Moscow, 1971. Pages 163–87.
Leonhard, K. Normale und abnorme Pers ö nlichkeiten. Berlin, 1964.

M. I. FOT’IANOV

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While Cleckley's 1941 publication made a notable impact on the field, empirical research on the syndrome did not gain a solid foothold until the development of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) in the 1990s (Edens, Skeem, & Kennealy, 2009).
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