) is a mental disorder
characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness. Psychopaths are highly prone to antisocial behavior and abusive treatment of others, and are very disproportionately responsible for violent crime. Though lacking empathy and emotional depth, they often manage to pass themselves off as average individuals by feigning emotions and lying about their past.
Until the 1980s, the term formally referred to a personality disorder
characterized by the inability to form human attachment
and an abnormal lack of empathy
, masked by an ability to appear outwardly normal. The publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
third edition (DSM-III) changed the name of this mental disorder to antisocial personality disorder
, and also broadened the diagnostic criteria considerably by shifting from clinical inferences to behavioral diagnostic criteria.
However, the DSM-V
working party is recommending a revision of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) to include "Antisocial/Psychopathic Type", with the diagnostic criteria having a greater emphasis on character than on behavior.
diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization
also lacks psychopathy as a personality disorder. The 1992 manual included dissocial (antisocial) personality disorder
, which encompasses amoral
, antisocial, asocial, psychopathic, and sociopathic personalities.
Despite being currently unused in diagnostic manuals, psychopathy and related terms such as psychopath
are still widely used by mental health professionals and laymen alike. In particular, NATO
has funded a series of Advanced Study Institutes on psychopathy, both before and after the publication of DSM-III. Researcher Robert Hare
has been a particular champion of the term; his Hare Psychopathy Checklist
is the standard tool for differentiating between those with antisocial personality disorder and the subset who are psychopaths. According to this scale the prevalence of antisocial personality disorder is two to three times that of psychopathy.
According to a chapter about treatment in Christopher J. Patrick's Handbook of Psychopathy
, there is little evidence of a cure or any effective treatment for psychopathy; no medications can instill empathy, and psychopaths who undergo traditional talk therapy
might become more adept at manipulating others and more likely to commit crime.
Others suggest that psychopaths may benefit as much as others from therapy, at least in terms of effect on behavior even if not on the central personality traits.
According to Hare
, the consensus among researchers in this area is that psychopathy stems from a specific neurological disorder
which is present from birth,
although a 2008 review indicated multiple causes and variation between individuals.
Hare estimates that about one percent of the US population are psychopaths.
Despite the similarity of the names, psychopaths are rarely psychotic