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Antisocial Personality Disorder And Psychopathy Essay

2265 words - 10 pages

The terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” generally evoke images of villains from popular culture such as DC Comics’ The Joker and Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. However, Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder are real psychological disorders that have a rare set of symptoms and an even rarer chance of being treated successfully. Antisocial Personality Disorder is marked by the disregard and blatant violation of the rights of others (APA, 2013). Psychopathy is not an official title in the DSM-V. Rather, it is a personality disorder category that encompasses Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Psychopathy is categorized by antisocial behavior, lack of remorse, and an inability to control behavior (Hare, 1996). Although some have claimed that ASPD and Psychopathy are synonymous, there are certain differences that will be explored later. The goal of this paper is to examine research in antisocial behaviors present in ASPD and Psychopathy as well as to look at treatment options currently available.
Antisocial Personality Disorder is a fairly new diagnosis in the field of abnormal psychology, but psychopathic and antisocial traits have been discussed since the early nineteenth century (Seabrook, 2008). The French surgeon Philippe Pinel first described Psychopathy in 1801 under the term “mania without delirium” (Seabrook, 2008). Shortly after, American surgeon Benjamin Rush wrote about “moral derangement” which described antisocial behaviors as being neither delusional nor psychotic (Seabrook, 2008). Rush also noted that these traits appear early in life (Seabrook, 2008). The term “sociopath” was not used until 1930 when it was coined by psychologist G. E. Patridge (Hart, 1995). The most groundbreaking and influential clinical description of Psychopathy remains psychiatrist Dr. Hervey Cleckley’s 1941 book, The Mask of Sanity (Seabrook, 2008). The book laid out the first list of 16 traits of a psychopath including superficial charm and good intelligence, absence of delusions, unreliability, insincerity, lack of remorse or shame, incapacity for love, and failure to learn from experience (Cleckley, 1964). The traits that Cleckley and other early professionals had been documenting for decades were deemed General Antisocial Personality Disorder in the 1968 version of the DSM (Seabrook, 2008).
In the most recent version of the DSM, the DSM-V, the general criteria for a Personality Disorder are impairments in personality functioning as well as pathological personality traits (2013). These traits must be relatively consistent over time and in various situations, must not be normal for the individual’s stage of development or cultural environment, and must not be the direct effect of a substance or medical condition (APA, 2013). Antisocial Personality Disorder falls under Cluster B of the Personality Disorders, which are thought of as the dramatic, emotional, or erratic cluster (APA, 2013). To diagnose someone with ASPD, there must be...

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