Psychopathy/Forensic and clinical aspects

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Concept.png Psychopathy/Forensic and clinical aspects 
(personality disorder,  character disturbance)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Psychopaths are known to play the the victim and plead for "insanity" if prosecuted, which rarely succeeds.[1]

For the clinical definition, traits must be differentiated from habits and behaviors. Traits are 'hard-wired' and resistant to change. This does not mean that they are purely genetically determined; but they may have roots in genetic predispositions and are therefor deeply ingrained. [2]

Biology is not destiny

Psychopaths know wright from wrong - they are not psychotic - but they don't care. [3]

Psychopaths have chosen a criminal way of live, thinking and predation, be it channeled as in sociopathy or in a more crude and arrestable way. It is moderated by temperamental and constitutional factors like high aggression, low empathy and sometimes suggestibility and ease of dissociation - so called compartmentalization (of the mind).[1]

Predatory aggression

A key element is predatory aggression as opposed to reactive aggression, they are intraspecies prediators [4] . Predatory or instrumental aggression is cold and goal oriented with little or no empathy involved. Research originated from cats and how cats feel and react when they prey. Psychopaths view other humans much like a cat views a mouse - prey to be eaten and this mode of relating can be incredibly intense (i.e. psychopathic stare).

Developmental aspects

Psychopaths often survived a neglectful childhood and other interpersonal trauma, [5] but the great number of false positives suggests that what matters is how they choose to react to those hardships. [1] [6] They refuse to internalize psychic models from healthy, supportive peers and instead identify with aggressive, sadistic caretakers (primary objects) which do not get integrated in a whole self concept. This fragmentation and part object world is used for deception later on in a chameleon-like fashion, enforced by envy-centered egocentric thinking and brutal aggression. [7]

Behaviorally, from a DSM point of view, psychopaths show a mix of histrionic, borderline, narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders plus additional paranoid and schizoid features (thinking borders on delusion and transient psychosis are frequently observed). They can tell right from wrong, however, and are able to control their varying degrees of reality testing. [8] They "already see, they disagree." [9]

Biological motivational systems are fused and impulse driven, especially sexual, aggressive and attachment systems; reptilian residues might take over[4]. Relations to others are defined by a power paradigm, so that sexual and attachment needs are perverted to control and subdue others. Sadomasochistic pleasures self-enforce damaging and antisocial actions and dominate a consistent pattern of rationalization and denial. [4]

Forced teaming

Self-enforcing patterns are also found in psychopathic teaming, erotomanic, perverse "love" relationships and catathymia. Such teams become aggressive collectives namely colluding in oscillating hysteric, sadistic, masochistic and psychopathic identifications. [8]

Antisocial personality disorder

Psychopathy should not be confused with antisocial personality disorder, although these conditions overlap; the former is a largely personality-based condition, the latter a largely behavior-based condition. [2] [10]

Genetic influence

It is now understood [2] [6] that psychopathy is a spectrum ranging from normal to severely disturbed, not merely a genetic switch and that constitutional and environmental (learned) factors interact in a process, which is self enforcing via sadistic pleasure derived from deception, a psychopathic emotion called contemptuous delight [4]. Meta-­analyses reveal considerable (29–56%) genetic influence on psychopathic traits [3] , although they leave unanswered the exact nature of this influ­ence, i.e. how these genes get activated when 44-71% of children with this predisposition do not develop these traits. These findings underscore the importance of learning and free will in human development.

Devaluation and Deception

Psychopaths devalue other people to bolster their pathological grandiose self. They feel even more contemptuous delight if this devaluation is covert, manipulating the mark into harming them self.

"I am only trying to help you (ITHY)" is a mind game described by Berne [11] , when people have covert selfish motives underlying the offer to "help". Benign motives include social agency workers, hospitals, etc needing people to justify their budged; on the other end of the spectrum are black angel nurses, educational workers deriving secret pleasures from "necessary" punishments, doctors colluding with Munchausen patients and social control, even warfare disguised as "protection" and solicitousness.

Psychopaths may offer "gifts" which turn out to be rather annoying or rubbish - devaluing the mark - while playing the servant all along and expecting a great deal of gratitude in return. (Face masks and vaccines come to mind).

Projective pseudo-identification

Psychopaths engage in a special type of projection, a malignant type of dramatization, called projective pseudo-identification by Meloy. [4] It has more in common with brainwashing or mind controlling the victim, which seems to come quite natural to them: it follows from deception (aka dishonesty, a core trait[3]) and their wish for omnipotent control [7] of others - they want others to accept their will as their own (which is a core definition of mind control).

The term pseudo is important: first, they "project" feelings onto others (i.e. anxiety) which they them selves do not have. [12] They see anxiety as a weakness and as others are devalued they must - by definition, so to speak - possess devalued attributes. Second, the grandiose egocentricity encompasses the whole universe as part of their "self". Other people are possessed objects of this inner grandiose universe. It follows that projection for the psychopath is not externalization (as the concept of defense mechanism implies) but dramatization, staging, production, orchestration of his inner world.

Forced teaming [13] (so above) may be part of projective pseudo-identification, i.e forcing others into collaboration with the psychopath's orchestration of events.

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  1. a b c Samenow, S. E. (2014), Inside the criminal mind, Broadway Books.
  2. a b c Joanna M Berg, Sarah F Smith, Ashley L Watts, Rachel Ammirati, Sophia E Green, and Scott O Lilienfeld. Misconceptions regarding psychopathic personality: implications for clinical practice and research. Neuropsychiatry, 3(1):63, 2013.
  3. a b c Nathaniel E. Anderson, and Kent A. Kiehl. Psychopathy: Developmental Perspectives and their Implications for Treatment Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2014 Jan 1; 32(1): 103–117.
  4. a b c d e Meloy, J. Reid, Ph.D., The psychopathic mind: origins, dynamics, and treatment, Jason Aronson 2002. available online.
  5. The brain of the primary (fearless subtype, see: Berg, misconceptions...) psychopath, however, is less vulnerable to (emotional) stress and therefore might not be overwhelmed (traumatized) by neglectful or even abusive parenting. On the contrary, they may find abuse and punishment "stimulating" to their underaroused brains.
  6. a b Kent A. Kiehl and Morris B. Hoffman. The criminal psychopath: history, neuroscience, treatment, and economics. Jurimetrics. 2011 Summer; 51: 355–397.
  7. a b Kernberg, O. F., Borderline conditions and pathological narcissism, New York, Jason Aronson, 1975
  8. a b J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D., Violent Attachments, Jason Aronson 2002
  9. Simon, G. K. (2011), Character disturbance: The phenomenon of our age, Parkhurst Brothers.
  10. Some authors refer to psychopathy and socio­pathy as equivalent, whereas others reserve the term for a pattern of antisocial behavior produced primarily by social disadvantage or "learned" behavior. (See Berg, cit.op.) Socio­pathy is not a formal psychiatric or psycho­logical term.
  11. Berne, E. (1964), Games People Play. The psychology of human relationships, Penguin Books.
  12. For anxiety provoking behaviors as part of cult mind control, see: phobia induction. Martin Wangh names hysterical storytelling as technique to displace (externalize) fear. The psychopath will act similarly in a pseudo (as-if) fashion: Martin Wangh (1962) The “Evocation of a Proxy”, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 17:1, 451-469. avail. online.
  13. Gavin de Becker, The gift of fear, Dell, 1997.