Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Diagnosis sociopath: the hate

The appropriate designation for what is today known as psychopathy underwent several changes and iterations. In 1891, Koch used the term psychopathic inferiority to characterize individuals who engaged in abnormal behaviors due to heredity but who were not insane. They were determined to have moral defects, but these defects were not equated with viciousness or wickedness. This new terminology (i.e., psychopathic inferiority) described emotional and moral aberration based on congenital factors and found wide acceptance in Europe and America. However, notwithstanding Koch’s efforts, the meaning of psychopathy in subsequent years once again became something quite pejorative but also something more reflective of the internal world and personality traits of the individual.

Maudsley (1897/1977) was a British psychiatrist who asserted that persons prone to moral imbecility could not be rehabilitated in prisons. Maudsley argued that moral imbecility was caused by cerebral deficits. As such, he believed it was useless to punish those who could not control their actions and wrote the following as evidence of moral imbecility: "When we find young children, long before they can possibly know what vice and crime means, addicted to extreme vice, or committing great crimes, with an instinctive facility, and as if from an inherent proneness to criminal actions . . . and when experience proves that punishment has no reformatory effect upon them—that they cannot reform—it is made evident that moral imbecility is a fact, and that punishment is not the fittest treatment of it."

Krafft-Ebing (1904) was even less sympathetic toward those considered morally depraved[,] assert[ing] that such individuals were “without prospect of success” and commented that “these savages . . . must be kept in asylums for their own[good] and [for] the safety of society.” It was at this historical juncture that psychopathic individuals were regarded as impervious to rehabilitation and that chronic social deviance was equated with pathology.

By 1915, Kraepelin expanded Koch’s psychopathic inferiority terminology to contain categories essentially defined by the most vicious and wicked of disordered offenders. His psychopathic personalities described in detail the “born criminal . . . the excitable, shiftless, impulsive types, the liars, swindlers, antisocial and troublemaking types”. Clearly with these characterizations, Kraepelin moved the focus of psychopathy back to one of moral judgment and social condemnation.

Interestingly, as Millon et al. (1998, p. 19) note, his categories of psychopathic personalities more closely represent our conceptualization of psychopathy and ASPD today. He described these disordered individuals as "the enemies of society . . . characterized by a blunting of the moral elements. They are often destructive and threatening . . . there is a lack of deep emotional reaction; and of sympathy and affection they have little. They are apt to have been troublesome in school, given to truancy and running away. Early thievery is common among them and they commit crimes of various kinds."


  1. What i would like to know is whether people here see the difference between a Kuklinski, Wuornos and a Bundy or richard ramirez for instance. I wonder whether your observation matches mine. Apart from the fact sociopaths are often put in the same category as serial killers ( not true), the opposite happens aswell.

  2. Interesting site that in this article discusses some of the brain differences seen in S people.

  3. as regards medication,is there one best suited to control a psychopaths behaviour?

  4. Wuornos did have the successful movie depiction in Monster. Otherwise, they were all basically killing people.

  5. I believe Wuornos had a Borderline Personality Disorder.

  6. She at a minimum has an S in the family.

  7. Disney said...

    What i would like to know is whether people here see the difference between a Kuklinski, Wuornos and a Bundy or Richard Ramirez for instance. I wonder whether your observation matches mine. Apart from the fact sociopaths are often put in the same category as serial killers ( not true), the opposite happens as well.

    These are just my thoughts on the differences…

    Bundy is considered, by many, to be the typecast sociopath. He was charming, well spoken, educated, and popular. He just happened to kill women and partake in rape and then necrophilia. One judge at one of his trials even said that had he gone a different route that he would have, without question, made an exceptional attorney, meaning he could have been anything.

    That’s not exactly the sociopathic serial killer. In fact, serial killers are more often then not, on the outskirts of the social norm…like Dahmer.

    Dahmer was more or less normal, but he was a heavy alcoholic and parasitic for most of his early adulthood. That need to latch on to others explains his joining the military, which he was discharged due to his drinking and misconduct. He lived with is parents or grandparents for as long as they would allow before he was forced to live on his own, where he couldn’t keep a slew of jobs. Dahmer fits the parasitic type of the anti-social personality, but not necessarily a sociopath, since he made mention that his drinking was a way to deal with mixed feelings about his “desires”. One could argue that those mixed feelings were a form of guilt, manifesting into alcoholism, especially since it is believed that he first murdered a boy in his grandparent’s house when he was still in his teens. Sociopaths are widely thought to not express guilt, which could rule him out as one.

    Wuornos wasn’t a sociopath. She was more or less a Borderline personality who justified her crimes as acting first before someone else could kill her. She could’ve also had traits of a Paranoid and for good reason, since her profession put her at risk. I’m not sure I’d call her a quote “sociopath” but she could’ve been.

    Ramirez was a product of his environment and the media circus. He could be a sociopath, but not a natural born killer type like he said. He was most likely made sociopathic then actually born that way, and fulfilled his impulses when TV was riddled with episodes of Hard Copy and Dateline hosting hour long interview specials with Manson and other infamous types. I think he saw that, he wanted that and went about getting it.

    To me, though, Kuklinski seems like the only one you mentioned that is genetically predisposed to being a sociopath. His father is said to have been one and even his brother was also sent to prison for at least one murder. Plus, Kuklinski is known for his various crimes, not just being a hit man for the mafia, he also enforced for them, robbed or mugged for his own gain, blackmailed people, and a bunch of other crimes. There is the family history, wide range of criminal activity, the social persona, the oblivious family and co-workers at his day job. He is more along the lines of the DSM definition of a sociopath.

    But again, this is just my opinion, based on what I’ve read about all of them. You asked for differences and I named them from how I was it in my eyes. Your thoughts?

    NOTE: I didn't try to explain my thoughts on the problem with places all sociopaths in one basket. That could be done in another comment at another time.

    —Dr. Scholl’s

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