Causes Of Psychopathy And Possible Treatment Solutions

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The study of the human mind, our emotional and mental constitutions have been a subject of interest in both the scientific and public alike. This is, however, not the case for psychopathy. For many years, professionals and the public were horrified but appealed to the idea of how inhuman some individuals could act. Like the famous case in the 1700’s Jack the Ripper (Begg, P., 2004;2005;2013). A case that has been in the spotlight for many centuries and used to teach the basics of criminology. Psychopaths have always been viewed as an individual who is scarred by events in their younger lives.

Now, psychopathy is established as a mental disorder (Blair, 2003). Similarly, like other mental disorders such as depression. The major difference between psychopathy and other mental disorders is that the repercussion of their actions affects more than just themselves, the victims. A deeper look into the aftermath will show an effect financially to society. Usually, those who are diagnosed are those who are currently in prisons and psychologist evaluate them using the Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL–R) (Hare, 1991) to decide whether they are a threat to society including the chances and severity of reoffending. To reduce the endless rippling effects of their actions, it is important to approach the problem at the beginning than to deal with the aftermath, as a saying goes, prevention is better than cure.


For decades, psychopathy has always intrigued the public as well as professionals. Professionals such as forensic psychologists and those individuals whose jobs deal with the law, mainly law enforcement and the judicial system. The media has always portrayed psychopaths as aloof and unsympathetic individuals which have always captured the public’s imaginations. Due to the fact that their actions are beyond societal norms, at times even more severe than what most can swallow. Viding, McCrory, and Seara-Cardoso (2014) states that psychopathy is certainly a class of personality disorder which is identified by the lack of remorse, shallow effect, manipulating of others, and violent premeditated antisocial behaviour. Individuals with psychopathy disorder tend to impact not only their environments but also society in general. Their offences tend to burden the victims emotionally and psychologically. Alongside the victims, society is also impacted by their inadequate attendance in working life and offending behaviour.

Hakkanen-Nyholm and Nyholm, (2012) focuses on the brains of individuals who suffer psychopathy. Certain brain regions have been found to be structurally deviating from that of a normal person. These would include the Amygdala and Hippocampus. In imaging studies has found an upsurge activation in some operations whereas a decline in others. On top of these findings, they were able to pinpoint abnormalities such as the corpus callosum which was neither hypo or hyper-active whereas, other regions such as anterior cingulate where ordinary.

All the above findings in structural studies were coherent of psychopathy related distinctions within functional studies. Blair (2003) studies concluded and reaffirms Hakkanen-Nyholm, and Nyholm, (2012) that the brains of individuals suffering from the disorder were abnormal compared to those who did not have the condition. It was found that psychopathy has adverse effects in two main processes that are compulsory for aversive conditioning also instrumental learning. It arises due to the amygdala dysfunction potentially intensified because of OFC dysfunction. The disfunction long with the reason for the noradrenergic dysfunction could not be identified and reasoned out. These would conceivably be known with the comprehension of the forebrain’s genetic and morphogenesis.

Causes of psychopathy

The question of whether a psychopath could be identified in a crowd is emphasized in this paper. However, before the signs can be clear, it is important to identify the traits and causes of psychopathy. Blair et al. (2006) looks into the development of psychopathy and argues that emotional dysfunction is linked to genetics. This places the individual to have an increased likelihood of exposure to the advancement of the full syndrome.

However, there are other factors which the disorder manifests; such as social factors which impact the individual. Experiences in their past such as physical and sexual maltreatment including other naturally occurring injuries such that of the faulty genes of which happened during the fetal period, causes a heave of fundamental risk functions and an increased likelihood an individual would demonstrate receptive hostility (Blair, 2003). In any case, a raised responsiveness of the fundamental risk hardware is not found in people with psychopathy but instead decreased responsiveness. This is conflicting with proposals which state that there is a conceding possibility that psychopathy is a result of the early ecological injury.

Birth complications is a chance element for vicious standoffish conduct, especially on the off chance that they happen when other psychosocial elements are available. Lamentably, as far as anyone is concerned, no examinations have assessed whether birth inconveniences and MPAs are related with an expanded hazard for instrumental or receptive hostility or both. An expanded hazard for instrumental animosity would recommend that birth intricacies and MPAs are related to the brokenness in a structure which are in charge of passionate learning.

However, we trust almost certainly, birth entanglements and MPAs are related with brokenness in frameworks in charge of the guideline of the essential danger framework (and in this way an expanded hazard for responsive hostility). Without a doubt, work with humans demonstrates that perinatal pain leads to hypofunction in frameworks in charge of the guideline of the fundamental risk framework. We accept, based on the present proof, that it is far-fetched that birth inconveniences are related with an expanded hazard for the instrumental animosity found in people with psychopathy.


Blair et al. mentions the genetic causes of psychopathy. He states that the categorization of psychopathy only a group of relatively similar people would be part of that identity unlike the diagnoses of conduct or antisocial personality disorder. A particular disorder which an original account can develop. Collection of present data points that perhaps the cause of psychopathy is genetic not a social. In the study, the types of social causes suggested such as childhood sexual or physical abuse, does not lead to the sort of reduced responsiveness seen in the condition rather it has to increase the emotional responsiveness. Genetic contribution to emotional dysfunction is found to be the core of psychopathy. However, it is not yet understood at a molecular level, rather it is found that the condition is highly caused by the neural system disruptions in the brain areas such amygdala and orbital/ventrolateral frontal cortex.

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In perspective of the cognition, disruption of the amygdala and orbital/ventrolateral frontal cortex is depicted in the ability to form stimulus-reinforcement associations and to alter stimulus-response associations as a function of contingency change. Unlike genetics, at the cognitive perspective, that the influence of social variables is apparent. The ability to form stimulus-reinforcement associations is connected directly to the unsympathetic characteristic of psychopaths and causes a child to obstruct their ability to socialize. This would cause an increased risk in the child to use the antisocial behaviour to achieve their targets.

The learning ability is reliant on the child’s social status and circumstances; an example of this is whether they are able to fund their targets in socially normal and thus do not require to learn and reason to be equipped with antisocial skills. Dysfunction in the ability to alter stimulus-response associations following contingency change is a risk factor for frustration and consequent reactive aggression. The environment determines the frequency of chance of change happening; if it is often, the individual would frequently express frustration-induced reactive aggression. There has been extensive progress in understanding the causes of psychopathy. However, it is still in infancy when it comes to genetics and molecular level. Unlike neural and cognitive levels, which had ample work by Robert Hare.

Adolescence / Childhood

Another factor in the causes of psychopathy is troubled childhood to adolescences. As we look at this, a prominent work is the Childhood Psychopathy Scale (CPS) which was created to detect and provide relevant counter action before the appearance of the full-blown disorder. CPS came about when Laynam et al. (2007) created an experiment which asses 13-year-old boys using the CPS (Childhood Psychopathy Scale) through the collection of data from their caregivers and the descriptions of the PCL-R constructs.

The experiment was a success as it gathered, that 8 of the 12 construct scales had alphas above.60, and 10 of the 12 were above.50. Reliability of the total scale was.91. CPS is essentially a two to four-item scale operationalized by 12 of the 20 PCL-R constructs, which are: glibness, untruthfulness, manipulation, lack of guilt, poverty effect, callousness, parasitic lifestyle, behavioural dysfunction, control, lack of planning, impulsiveness, unreliability, and failure to accept responsibility. Criminal versatility and juvenile delinquency were omitted.

This was due to the fact that PCS was a measuring tool for a personality that is not affected by antisocial behaviour. On top of this, six other constructs did not meet the list as they were either insufficient to be operationalized, did not correspond well with the other items due to grandiosity, or had no poor-quality childhood situations such as promiscuous sexual behavior, onset childhood difficulties, abundant short-term marital relationships, and revocation of conditional released. Hakkanen-Nyholm, and Nyholm (2012), also stands by the fact that adult psychopathic traits could be detected in children and youth as young as 3 years of age. The traits they found which are the markers of adult psychopathy such as lack of guilt, empathy and insensitive-unemotional are steady throughout their childhood and adolescences in comparison to adulthood. The line between childhood psychopathy and adult full-blown psychopathy is clearly very thin, their traits are almost parallel.


Another possible cause that criminal psychologist and researches have looked into is gender. For as long as we remembered, the human mind and society have always viewed masculinity as a source of power. Due to this, almost always we have forgotten the existence of female psychopaths. As mentioned by Hakkanen-Nyholm, and Nyholm (2012), there exists an in-depth study of male psychopaths comparatively less for female. However, it is enough to clearly state the difference of psychopathy in male and female.

Leonard (2003) finds that the likelihood of women to be predators is less likely than the chances they are to become victims. Motz (2001) also adds that when females harm others, they tend to act on the basis of their own experiences. Hakkanen-Nyholm and Nyholm, J (2012) also quoted that Salekin (2008) voiced that preadult female psychopaths are very less likely to re-offend in comparison to the preadult male counterparts. It was also found that female due to societies genderism, would hurt oneself and those who they are related to in comparison to male psychopaths who exert their masculinity towards unsuspecting random individuals.

Possible solutions

One promising strategy to therapy for psychopathy has been targeting adolescents who are on a high-risk trajectory in the direction of developing the situation as adults. In a longitudinal learn about measuring the effects of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center (MJTC) on delinquent behaviour in high-risk juvenile offenders, remedy emphasizing interpersonal relationships and social ability acquisition was once correlated with marked minimize in criminal recidivism, especially violent recidivism, in contrast to high-risk childhood who did not acquire this treatment. The MJTC software furnished intensive, yearlong, cognitive behavioural remedy and produced an extensive reduction in violent outcomes. It is not clear whether or not the application “cured” psychopathy, but it at least altered the most salient and unfavourable manifestation of psychopathy—the propensity for aggression (Caldwell,2013)

There has been little lookup in the way of cure for adults with psychopathy. Indeed, there has by no means been a single posted randomized treatment-control find out about for psychopathy. Unfortunately, there stays a pervasive understanding in the medical community that adult psychopaths are impervious to therapy (D’Silva et al., 2004). A meta-analysis of lookup on cure effects in psychopathy concluded that the enormous majority of the research performed lacked acceptable experimental layout and scientific validity (Caldwell, 2013). Accordingly, it is premature to make any conclusions involving the treatability of adult psychopathy.


After much reading, it is clear that psychopathy is not like any other mental diseases in terms of cure. Whereby there is a surge or decline in certain neurotransmitter; such that in depression where there is a decrease in serotonin levels. Many in the field are trying to prevent this condition from expanding. It is also clear that we have yet found the core cause of psychopathy.

Which relates back to the question of whether it is possible for us to detect a psychopath in a crowd, slightly disappointing that it perhaps is not possible today but only possible on the surface level such as knowing that part of psychopathy is having an antisocial personality. Clearly, more cure research is needed to pinpoint ordinary people, like the person next to us on public transport. It is, however, highly possible to detect a psychopath in a group of inmates using the Hare’s PCL-R.

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