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."