|| Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior
||Theodore Millon, Erik Simonsen, Morton Birket-Smith, and Roger
||Guilford Publications, Inc., ©1998
72 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
This 476-page book is the result of an international meeting on psychopathy
sponsored by the Institute of Personality Theory and Psychopathology. The
contributors, who come from Scandinavia, Great Britain, the United States,
and Canada, present varied perspectives on the concept of psychopathy. The
book is divided into five sections: history and viewpoints, typologies,
etiology, comorbidity, and treatment. References follow each chapter, and
the book ends with a subject index.
Although psychopathy has been recognized for a long time, there is a renewed
interest in the concept, since psychopaths, who are characterized by their
egocentricity, incapacity for love, guiltlessness, lack of remorse and shame,
lack of insight, and failure to learn from experience, are responsible for
a disproportionate amount of violent crime and social distress. This book
reflects the diversity of this renewed interest. Several researchers have
proposed various typologies of psychopaths and there are discussions of
how psychopathy relates to other personality disorders and to alcoholism,
narcotic addiction, and pedophilia.
Some of the concepts are controversial. There is disagreement as to whether
psychopathy is better seen as a discrete trait or taxon, or as lying on
a continuum. One author maintains that "psychopathic" is a moral
term that is used to reject and vilify rather than help these patients.
In a chapter titled, "The Case for Parental Licensure," David
Lykken argues that, since parental malfeasance is resulting in increasing
numbers of children who are at high risk for sociopathy or psychopathy,
biological parents should be legally required to meet the same criteria
demanded of persons who wish to adopt a child. In the chapter on psychopathy
in the pedophile, Darwin Dorr claims that the majority of pedophiles are
The chapter by Robert Hare provides a short overview of his conception of
psychopathy and the assessment technique he devised, the PCL-R and PCL-SV.
These rating scales have proven to be extremely useful in that the psychopathy,
as measured by the PCL-R is highly correlated with criminal recidivism.
Other chapters deal with a wide variety of topics, including indicators
of organic dysfunction in psychopathic children, cross-cultural aspects
of psychopathy, psychopathy and psychiatric comorbidity, sadistic personality
in murderers, and management of treatment for psychopathy.
This book is an excellent resource for any professional who must deal with
psychopaths or perform risk assessment in forensic populations.
Reviewed by Hollida Wakefield, Institute for Psychological Therapies.