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Cognitive and Behavioral Symptoms of Criminal Psychopathy

Psychopathy somewhat falls under antisocial behaviour disorder, and I will discuss the difference between the two later in this paper. Psychopathy reduces the tendency of guilt and care for others’ rights resulting in violent behaviour 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 behaviour e.g. becoming sex predators, murderers etc.

There are three categories of psychopaths named primary, secondary and dissocial. The primary psychopath as the name suggested is the actual psychopath with behaviour showing different mental, emotional, psychological and biological variances from other criminals. Primary psychopath definition also includes neurological aspects and is not restricted to behavioural 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 behaviour that is more aggressive. 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 behaviour learned from their subcultures or surroundings for example from their friends or families. The behavioural 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 behaviours. 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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