chapter  5
33 Pages

Psychopathic disorder – useful concept or moral judgement?

I trust that these five quotations will help readers to concentrate their attention on the key material in this chapter. For me they represent the confusion, semantic disputes and apparent intractability of the condition known in many quarters as psychopathy, and held by some observers to be the ‘Achilles Heel’ of psychiatry (Prins, 1988). One of the key characteristics of the condition is the psychopath’s failure to register and respond to the needs and wishes of others. This is why in the fourth edition I entitled the chapter on psychopathy ‘A Failure to Register’. Readers should be aware that in the present chapter I am dealing with the criminal psychopath. There are those who exhibit psychopathic characteristics

but who have not come to the attention of the forensic mental health and criminal justice systems; they are described in very interesting fashion by Board and Fritzon (2005). Earlier descriptions may be found in Cleckley’s magisterial book The Mask of Sanity (1976).