Monday, September 24, 2012

Cindy M. Mitchell completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

A tale of two psychopathys: Paradigm shift for psychopathy, Cindy M. Mitchell

Beginning in ancient times when psychopaths were viewed as evil or demonic, the conceptualization of psychopathy has endured many transformations. Psychopathy has been referred to as psychopathic deviance, insanity without delirium, sociopathy, and likened to antisocial personality disorder. Empirical evidence during the past century has contributed much to the conceptualization of psychopathy. Cleckley’s documented observations marked a renewed interest in the study of psychopathy. Since Cleckley, Robert Hare developed a single construct theory of psychopathy based upon a hierarchical model in which two factors are interrelated in such a way as to form a single superordinate factor. Research demonstrating heterogeneity within the construct of psychopathy has led to the development of a bifactor model of psychopathy, in which two etiological pathways (Factor 1 and Factor 2) lead to a single phenotypical outcome (psychopathy). More recent research evaluating psychopathic outcomes opens the door for a possible alternative theory of psychopathy, in which Factor 1 and Factor 2 characteristics are representative of two separate disorders. This alternative theory proposes that Factor 1 characteristics are representative of Psychopathic Personality Disorder, and Factor 2 characteristics are representative of Antisocial Personality Disorder. In addition to outcome studies, research conducted on Antisocial Personality Disorder, successful psychopathy, and gender and cultural disparities provide support for conceptualization of the two factors as separate disorders. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a review of the literature, and evaluate how the literature builds upon itself to construct an alternative model of conceptualizing psychopathy.

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