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Criminal Behaviour - Essay Example

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Criminal Behaviour

[The Mental Health Act 1983, 2000]
For example, most jurisdictions consider psychopathy to be an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor in determining criminal responsibility. In some states an offender convicted of first-degree murder and diagnosed as a psychopath is likely to receive the death penalty on the grounds that psychopaths are cold-blooded, remorseless, untreatable and almost certain to re-offend. But many of the killers on death row were, and continue to be, mistakenly referred to as psychopaths on the basis of DSM-III, DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria for ASPD. ASPD and psychopathy might now be more or less synonymous constructs. [Hare, 1999]
Psychopaths generally are more violent than non-psychopaths, and are more likely to engage in a variety of different types of aggressive acts, but tend to engage in predominantly instrumental (calculated) violence, threaten strangers with weapons and to be motivated by vengeance, retribution, or money. [Hart S.D., Forth A.E., Hare R.D.; 1994]
The psychopaths' profile includes such individual characteristics as sense of entitlement, disparate understanding of behaviour and socially acceptable behaviour; they are unremorseful, apathetic to others, unconscionable, blameful to others, manipulative and conning, affectively cold, disregardful of social obligations, non-conforming to social norms, irresponsible. Traditionally, affective and interpersonal traits such as egocentricity, shallow effect, deceit, manipulativeness, lack of empathy, selfishness, guilt or remorse are central individual characteristics in the conceptualization and diagnosis of psychopathy. [Cleckley,1976; Hare, 1993; Widiger & Corbitt, 1995]
In 1980 psychopathy was renamed antisocial personal disorder and is now defined by persistent violations of social norms, including lying, stealing, truancy, traffic arrests and inconsistent work behaviour. These features appear to be visible through failure to make intimate relationships, impulsiveness, lack of guilt, not learning from adverse experience. [Harris G.T., Rice M.E., Quinsey V.L., 1993]
Hare in his 'Without Conscience' (1999) defines that psychopaths charm and exploit others for their own gain, they lack empathy, sense of responsibility, they manipulate, lie and con others with no regard for anyone's feelings. Psychopathy is characterized by such traits as lack of remorse or empathy, shallow emotions, egocentricity, glibness, manipulativeness, parasitic lifestyle, episodic relationships, low frustration tolerance and persistent violation of social norms. [Hare, 1999]
Dr.Hervey Cleckley in 'The Mask of Sanity' came up with 16 traits that formed a specific pattern of perspective and behaviour, and to see the 'symptoms' of psychopathy one should connect him with the circuit of a full social life. Psychopaths miss the qualities that people depend on for living in social harmony. [Cleckley, 1976]
The psychopathic personality disorder items fall into two clusters: One cluster - Factor 1, reflects core interpersonal and affective characteristics; the other cluster - Factor 2, consists of items that reflect a socially deviant and nomadic ...Show more


A personality disorder is characterized by a history of continuous and chronic antisocial behaviour that is not attributable to severe mental retardation, schizophrenia, or manic episodes, and is also called antisocial personality. This is a synonym for antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), a category listed in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and is applicable to the majority of criminals…
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Criminal Behaviour essay example
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