Essay Sample on Psychopathy in Abnormal Psychology

Published: 2023-01-02
Essay Sample on Psychopathy in Abnormal Psychology
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Mental health Mental disorder Psychological disorder
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 999 words
9 min read

Psychopathy is a mental disorder whereby the person has no compassion for others (Hooley, Butcher, Nock, & Mineka, 2016). Such an individual will engage in frequent abuse, manipulation, conning, abandoning, murdering, and deceiving other human beings. The manipulative characteristics of psychopaths make them behave like actors. Their appearance is different from who they are in reality. Pretense makes them look, and people will mistake them as observant and charming. However, they are human chameleons who quickly adapt to the social environment. The purpose of this essay is to examine psychopathy within the realm of abnormal psychology to establish the characteristics of psychopathic people, their thinking, signs, and symptoms of psychopathy as well as treatment.

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Characteristics of Psychopathic People and their Thinking

There are four models of understanding people with psychopathy disorder based on the Cleckley criteria, including interpersonal, affective, lifestyle, and antisocial dimensions (Hooley et al., 2016). The interpersonal psychopathic people present the traits of conning and manipulating others, pathological lysing, a profound sense of self-worth as well as glibness (Wolf et al., 2015). The affective psychopathic people are characterized by a lack of guilt, empathy, not accepting responsibility for an individual's behavior, and shallow effect. The lifestyle dimension of psychopathy describes people with such disorders to lack reasonable long-term goals, live a parasitic lifestyle, easily bored, irresponsible, and increased impulsivity. The antisocial dimension describes psychopathic people as having poor controls of behavior, having behavior challenges at an early age, criminality, and delinquent.

Based on the clinical picture in psychopathy, people with this type of mental disorder pose specific characteristics that are worth noting. However, it is not a must to present all the traits at the same time. In that case, psychopathic people may have a small development of their conscience (Hooley et al., 2016). They have a lower understanding of ethical values and only accept them verbally. Claims of adhering to moral standards by psychopathic people do not connect directly to their behavior. Therefore, their conscience level is retarded, and this makes their thinking behavior not to meet the legal and social regulations in society. Psychopathic people are also irresponsible and presenting impulsive behavior associated with the lifestyle and antisocial dimensions (Kiehl & Hoffman, 2011). More often, they take than giving, are prone to seeking adventure, deviant, and presenting an unusual behavior. They tend to break the law anyhow without caution of the consequences. Their ability to impress and exploit others is a different trait that explains their antisocial behavior.

Signs and Symptoms

Generally, a diagnosis of psychopathy is predicted by the patient presenting the predicting symptoms of violence and recidivism (Hooley et al., 2016). Psychopathic people are violent and tend to re-offend frequently. Kiehl and Hoffman (2011) associated the symptoms of psychopathy with its presenting characteristics. Therefore, a person suffering from the psychopathic disorder will present the symptoms of poor planning and decision-making, impulsivity, lacking empathy, remorse, and guilt, are irresponsible and have a shallow effect. These signs as symptoms are confirmed using the Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) scale to obtain the accurate diagnosis of the psychopathy disorder. The clinician assesses interpersonal and affective deficiencies, as well as illegal behaviors. Interpersonal defects such as manipulation indicate symptoms of psychopathy disorder. An affective, such as the inability to empathize is a sign of psychopathy. Based on the PCL-R scale, psychopaths present emotional/interpersonal symptoms that must be confirmed for a correct diagnosis. For psychological/interpersonal traits, the patient must show a lack of empathy, remorse or guilt, shallow emotions, deceitful, glib, egocentric, superficial, grandiose, and manipulative. The social deviance signs of psychopathy include impulsive, need for excitement, adult antisocial behavior, poor behavior controls, irresponsible and early behavior problems (Hare & Neumann, 2009).


The treatment of the psychopathy disorder requires an understanding of the cause of the disease to prescribe medication that targets the origin of the disorder, whether genetic or environmental. However, there is a challenge in treating psychopaths since they do not accept that they are sick and needed treatment. Effective treatment for psychopathy is long-term imprisonment. Punishment of psychopathic people helps them to decrease their antisocial behavior as they age. Treatment programs to improve social skills have been partially helpful in treating psychopathy to reduce criminal recidivism (Caldwell, McCormick, Wolfe, & Umstead, 2012). However, social skill acquisition has been associated with adult people gaining more skills to con people deceive, and manipulate (Hooley et al., 2016). Therefore, it is not adequate to treat psychopathy in adults.

When treating adults with psychopathy, it is crucial to focus on convincing them to utilize their talents and abilities in meeting their needs (Hooley et al., 2016). Biological treatments are not useful, while patients are not motivated to consume pharmacological medicine to treat psychopathy. Cognitive therapies of psychopathy are the best and effective as they target teaching in anger management, change of antisocial attitudes, increase victim consciousness, self-control, and self-critical thinking. The patient also gains a shift in social perspective taking, and cure in drug addiction.


In conclusion, psychopathy is an abnormal psychology disorder characterized by violence and recidivism. An individual is manipulative, and social behavior is contradictory to what they say. The research findings reveal that clinicians need to identify the specific emotional/interpersonal and social deviance symptoms to diagnose psychopathy correctly. Some treatments that are effective for young psychopaths and do not work for older offenders. The procedure for this disorder requires the therapist to understand the cause and determine the most effective treatment depending on the age of the person.


Caldwell, M., McCormick, D., Wolfe, J., & Umstead, D. (2012). Treatment-related changes in psychopathy features and behavior in adolescent offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39(2), 144-155. doi:10.1177/0093854811429542

Hare, R., & Neumann, C., (2009). Psychopathy: assessment and forensic implications. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 791-802.

Hooley J.M, Butcher J, Nock M, Mineka, S., Abnormal psychology. 17th Ed., Pearson ISBN-13: 978-0-133852059

Wolf, R., Pujara, M., Motzkin, J., Newman, J., Kiehl, K., Decety, J., ...& Koenigs, M. (2015). Interpersonal traits of psychopathy linked to reduced integrity of the uncinate fasciculus. Human brain mapping, 36(10), 4202-4209. doi:10.1002/hbm.22911

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