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Cognitive and Behavioral Symptoms of Criminal Psychopathy

Psychopathy somewhat falls under antisocial behavior disorder, and I will discuss the difference between the two later in this paper. Psychopathy reduces the tendency of guilt and cares for others’ rights, resulting in violent behavior or playing tricks on people to get mandatory or secondary gain. Not all psychopaths show criminal conduct it varies from person to person. Some develop antisocial practices such as leaving the restaurant without paying, argumentative, uninhibitedness, and lack of regret; others have more aggressive and impulsive behavior e.g. becoming sex predators, murderers, etc.

There are three categories of psychopaths: primary, secondary, and dissocial. The primary psychopath as the name suggests is the actual psychopath with behavior showing different mental, emotional, psychological, and biological variances from other criminals. The primary psychopath definition also includes neurological aspects and is not restricted to behavioral pointers. A secondary psychopath is more on an emotional roller coaster and has an inner conflict, commits antisocial crimes, and is often known as an acting-out neurotic. Studies showed that a secondary psychopath is emotionally unstable and more impulsive than a primary psychopath and has more aggressive behavior. The reason secondary psychopaths are more emotionally disturbed than primary psychopaths is associated with parental abuse and rejection. Dissocial psychopath shows signs of aggression and antisocial behavior learned from their subcultures or surroundings for example from their friends or families. The behavioral or background similarities between a primary psychopath and a dissocial psychopath are few (Patrick, Bradley & Lang, 1993).

Another term often taken in the same context as psychopathy is antisocial personality disorder (APD).   Antisocial personalities (ASP) are those individuals who fail to follow the social customs concerning permitted behaviors. They may frequently execute actions that are grounds for detention, such as property destruction, harassment, theft, or doing illegal jobs.


Patrick, C. J., Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (1993). Emotion in the criminal psychopath: startle reflex modulation. Journal of abnormal psychology, 102(1), 82.



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