Lecture 11: Psychopathy Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Lecture 11: Psychopathy Deck (26):

Is psychopathy limited to criminals?

Psychopathy is not limited to offenders (Corporate psychopaths, political psychopaths etc.)


Whats the relationship between psychopaths and serial killers?

most serial killers are psychopaths, but most psychopaths are not serial killers. Most killers are not psychopaths, they dont meet the criteria


What is the best estimate we have right now of how many serial killers are psychopaths?

The best estimate that we have right now is that 90% of serial killers are psychopathic (is thought to be slightly overestimated)


What is the estimate for the base rate of psychopaths in the general population?



What is the estimate for psychopaths in the prison population?



What is the estimate of how many police killings have been done by psychopaths?



What is Psychopathy?

A personality disorder defined by a collection of interpersonal, affective and behavioural characteristics, including manipulation, lack of remorse or empathy, impulsivity and early onset and diverse antisocial behaviours


What is the most popular method of assessing psychopathy in adults, currently?

The hare psychopathy checklist revised (PCL-R). A 20 item rating scale that uses a semi structured interview and a review of file information to assess interpersonal (e.g., grandiosity, manipulativeness) affective (e.g., lack of remorse, shallow emotions) and behavioural (e.g., impulsivity, antisocial acts) features of psychopathy. Each item is scored on a 3 point scale: 2 indicates that the item definitely applies, 1 it applies to some extent and 0 does not apply. the items are summed to obtain a total score ranging from 0-40


What psychopathy assessment tools are available?

In my clinical opinion: Experience impressions, Not recommended
Self report inventories: MMPI, MCMI, PPI. Psychopaths may lie, be overly narcissistic
Informant rating (getting other people to report on behaviour): APSD
Structured clinical (gold standard, what everyone uses) DSM-V, PCL-R (most common), PCL:YV (youth version- conduct disorder is typically what psychopathy is called in youth)


What are some mean PCL-R scores?

Criminals on average score 21 out of 40
General population scores 4 out of 40
Psychopaths score 30 and above


How does the DSM describe antisocial personality disorder and what is the overlap between APD and psychopathy?

Must be at least 18 yrs old. Conduct disordered by age 15. Adult criteria (3 of the 7 symptoms)
Overlap between APD and psychopathy in offenders: Most APD people do not meet the criteria for psychopathy (don’t exhibit the interpersonal or affective features of psychopathy). 60-80% base rate of APD in prison population, 10-25% psychopaths


What is an example of a self report psychopathy assessment?

The psychopathic inventory- revised (PPI-R) is 154 item inventory designed to measure psychopathic traits in offender and community samples (eight content scales and 2 validity scales) and measures two factors. And the self report psychopathy scale (SRP) is a 64 item self report measure designed to assess psychopathic traits in community samples. it consists of 4 styles: erratic lifestyle, callous affect, interpersonal manipulation, and criminal tendencies


Impact of psychopathic traits: juvenile death penalty

Does the presence or absence of psychopathic traits impact layperson perceptions of what is an appropriate legal sanction. Juvenile capital defendant: Psychopathic traits (lacking remorse, callous, arrogant, deceptive)
and Non psychopathic traits: (remorseful, accepting, responsibility, respects others)
Results: Psychopath condition: More likely to select death penalty, Less likely to support rehabilitation


Psychopathy: motives for murder (woodworth & porter, 2002)

125 Canadian murderers Classified murderers as: Reactive (unplanned, crimes of passion, extreme provocation)
Instrumental (Planned, settle a score) based on High or low PCL-R score. People with a low PCL-R score committed reactive crimes more often, and people with high PCL-R scores more often commit instrumental crimes


Psychopathy and general reoffending (Hart, Kropp & Hare, 1998)

Assessed 231 male adult offenders. Release decision blind to PCL-R (retroactive assessment, based on file information). Parole (goes to parole board, pleas their case and then a decision is made)
Mandatory supervision (now called statutory release, based on legislation and less of a decision making process. Released after 2/3's of your sentence). Follow up period= 3.5 years after release. Outcome: revocation or new offense. Patterns in the graph: Across low, medium, high PCL scores the bars increase for both parole and M.S. so your chance of failing increases. The yellow bars (parole) are always failing at a lower rate than those who are getting out on Statutory release, which suggests that the parole board and decision making process is effective.


Treatment of psychopaths

What do we treat? Personality traits or behaviours? Research believes in treating the personality traits, because the behaviours can flare up again. Clinicians believe psychopaths are difficult to treat


Psychopathy and treatment (rice, harris & cornier, 1992)

176 treated patients/146 untreated patients. Follow up period=10 years. Treatment provided by Social therapy unit (not recent treatment or good treatment). Minimum 2 year treatment program (long by today's standards). Foster responsibility and empathy. Limited professional contact (this is unusual). Entry program non-voluntary (against the law now)
Failure Following Treatment: violent offences
For the non-psychopaths the untreated offenders had a higher failure rate if they were untreated than the treated ones
For the psychopaths the failure rate was higher for treated psychopaths than for untreated psychopaths
This study is very unrepresentative but it is all we have available to us


What makes them tick?

We dont know, some clues are provided by neuroscience. But we do know that it is not the sole result of abusive experiences


Psychopathy and affect language

They know the words but no the music (In contrast when we read words like rape, cancer etc. it carries with it some sort of emotional baggage) They know only the dictionary meaning of words


What is the lexical decision task?

Neutral and emotional words, and pronounceable nonwords, briefly presented in a random order on a computer screen, must select whether it was a word or a nonword. For non psychopath they are able to recognize words quicker when they are emotional words. For psychopaths rape may be the same as "eter"(a non-word) , their reaction times are relatively the same for all words


Inrator et al. (1997)

Substance abusers, Lexical decision tasks. Assessed with PCL-R. Radioactive tracer injected. Blocks of neutral. Emotional (negative) words.
-Activation in non-psychopaths is widespread and primarily anterior
-Activation in psychopaths is more localized to posterior regions
-Implies that psychopaths perform the task in a superficial manner


What is startle blink?

Startle blink
Startle reflex: Reflex occurs when something unexpected occurs. Primed if person is in negative emotional state or feeling threatened. Reduced if person is in positive emotional state


Psychopathy and startle reflex (patrick et. al, 1993)

Incarcerated offenders (Psychopaths vs. non psychopaths). Affective pictures (showing certain pictures generates certain emotional states): Pleasant (babies, pets, erotic), Unpleasant (snake, weapons, mutilations), Neutral (objects), Present startle probes (loud blasts of white noise in headphones at random times, computer picks up startle reflex and what picture was being shown at what time). For psychopaths the magnitude of eye blink reflex stayed relatively the same no matter what picture they were looking at and was lower for the positive and pleasant and unpleasant. and for nonpsychopaths the magnitude of their eye blink reflex was substantially higher if they were looking at a negative picture vs. lower if they were looking at a positive picture.


What are the psychopathic assessments used for youth?

Antisocial process screening device (APSD)- observer rating scale to assess psychopathic traits in children and Hare psychopathy checklist youth version (PLC:YV) rating scale designed to measure psychopathic traits in youth.


What does growing evidence suggest about the nature vs. nurture debate

That there is a strong genetic contribution to psychopathy. Study the role of genetics and environment through twin studies.


What is the response modulation deficit theory?

A theory that suggests that psychopaths fail to use contextual cues that are peripheral to a dominant response set to modulate their behaviour