The Psychopathic Personality
Psychopathic Personality is characterized by impulsive irresponsible actions satisfying only immediate and narcissistic interests without concern for curious and implicit social consequences (APA).
The following are four types of antisocial behavior –
- Sociopathic or Psychopathy or Antisocial behavior.
- Criminal behavior – delinquency and crime.
- Alcoholism and drug addiction.
- Sexual deviations and disorders.
Antisocial behavior is not only harmful for adequate personality development and wellbeing of the individual but also affects their social adjustment and pones detrimental to the society.
Sociopathic personality which constitutes is category of antisocial behavior is used to refer to the people who have no sense of responsibility or morality and no concern of affection for others. Their behavior is determined entirely by their own needs. In other words these people lack conscience.
According to DSM – II sociopaths (antisocial personality) may be defined as individuals who are basically un-socialized and whose behavior pattern brings them repeatedly into conflict with society. They are incapable of significant loyalty to the individuals, groups or social values. They are grossly selfish, callous, irresponsible, impulsive and unable to feel guilty or learn from previous experiences.
Typically intelligent, spontaneous and very likeable on first acquaintance, antisocial personalities are deceitful and manipulative, callously using others to achieve their own end. Often they live in series of present moments, without consideration for past and future.
Based on findings and writings of some well-known psychologists and sociologists like Cleckley (1959), Throne (1959), Weatonward (1963), Coleman (1964), Rosen, Fox & Gregory (1965) the common characteristics of sociopaths may be summarized as below.
- Ability to put up “a good front” to impress and explicit other and to project the blame for his own socially disapproved behavior.
- Irresponsible and impulsive behavior with low frustration tolerance.
- Rejection of Authority and inability to profit from experience.
- Inadequate conscience development and lack of anxiety or guilt.
- Inability to maintain good interpersonal relationship.
- No genuine suicide attempts.
- An unrestrained and unconventional sex life.
- Addiction to drugs and alcohol.
- Early onset and long persistence – the onset of sociopathic characteristic is usually not later than early 20s.
- Absence of symptoms of psychosis and neurosis – sociopaths apparently look like neurotics or psychotics, but sociopathy is different from these functional disorders. Sociopathy never affects the body of an individual as in neurosis or psychosis. Psychoneurotic manifestations like neurotic anxiety, nervousness etc. are absent in sociopathy. Similar irrationality, delusions, hallucinations and other common symptoms of psychosis are absent in sociopathy.
- Inadequate and improper social adjustment.
- Absence of judgment and insight – the main characteristics of sociopath is the absence of judgment and inability to reach a decision based on logic.
All the characteristics of psychopaths discussed above are not essential for identifying an individual psychopath. Some combination of these can however be found in a sociopath. The severity of the sociopathic behavior to a large extent depends upon the multiplicity and the severity of these characteristics.
Etiology of Sociopathy –
There is no well supported theory for psychopathy, many factors are involved, and that may vary from case to case. Current research focuses on biological determinants and on parent – child relationship that reinforce psychopathic studies of coping.