Psychopathy and violent crime

Authored by: Nicholas D. Thomson

Routledge International Handbook of Psychopathy and Crime

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085169
eBook ISBN: 9781315111476
Adobe ISBN:


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The current chapter reviews the history of psychopathy with a brief overview of the constructs of psychopathy used today. Next, the chapter will review evidence of the association between psychopathy and violent crime. For homicide, psychopathic offenders are more gratuitous and sadistic in their killings. After which, these offenders minimize the severity and instrumentality of their crime and manage to convince legal professionals to reduce their sentence. Regarding sexual offending, psychopathic individuals will sexually offend adults and children indiscriminately, thus presenting as opportunistic in their sexual offenses. Similarly, men high on psychopathic traits are not more likely to commit intimate personal violence only within the home, but instead they commit intrafamilial and extrafamilial violence. Assessing the link between psychopathy and assault, there is evidence to support the importance of callous psychopathic traits increasing the risk of simple and aggravated assault, even if the individual has no criminal history. Psychopathy also is an important risk factor for violence while in incarcerated, as well as post-release. In conclusion, one possible rationale for the violent propensity seen in psychopathic individuals (besides their predatory personality profile) is that these individuals positively appraise the outcome of their violent crime and minimize the negative outcomes.

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