Re: Sociopaths (was Re: Reforming Education)

Madame Ubiquitous (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 03:04:33 -0400


>From the APA DSM IV

                          Antisocial Personality

                          Diagnostic Features

                          The essential feature of Antisocial
                          Personality Disorder is a pervasive
                          pattern of disregard for, and violation
                          of, the rights of others that begins in
                          childhood or early adolescence and
                          continues into adulthood.

                          This pattern has also been referred to
                          as psychopathy, sociopathy, or
                          dyssocial personality disorder. Because
                          deceit and manipulation are central
                          features of Antisocial Personality
                          Disorder, it may be especially helpful to
                          integrate information acquired from
                          systematic clinical assessment with
                          information collected from collateral

                          For this diagnosis to be given, the
                          individual must be at least age 18 years
                          and must have had a history of some
                          symptoms of Conduct Disorder before
                          age 15 years. Conduct Disorder
                          involves a repetitive and persistent
                          pattern of behaviour in which the basic
                          rights of others or major
                          age-appropriate societal norms or rules
                          are violated. The specific behaviours
                          characteristic of Conduct Disorder fall
                          into one of four categories: aggression
                          to people and animals, destruction of
                          property, deceitfulness or theft, or
                          serious violation of rules.

                          The pattern of antisocial behaviour
                          continues into adulthood. Individuals
                          with Antisocial Personality Disorder fail
                          to conform to social norms with respect
                          to lawful behaviour. They may
                          repeatedly perform acts that are
                          grounds for arrest (whether they are
                          arrested or not), such as destroying
                          property, harassing others, stealing, or
                          pursuing illegal occupations. Persons
                          with this disorder disregard the wishes,
                          rights, or feelings of others. They are
                          frequently deceitful and manipulative in
                          order to gain personal profit or
                          pleasure, (e.g., to obtain money, sex,
                          or power). They may repeatedly lie,
                          use an alias, con others, or malinger. A
                          pattern of impulsivity may be
                          manifested by a failure to plan ahead.
                          Decisions are made on the spur of the
                          moment, without forethought, and
                          without consideration for the
                          consequences to self or others; this
                          may lead to sudden changes of jobs,
                          residences, or relationships. Individuals
                          with Antisocial Personality Disorder
                          tend to be irritable and aggressive and
                          may repeatedly get into physical fights
                          or commit acts of physical assault
                          (including spouse beating or child
                          beating). Aggressive acts that are
                          required to defend oneself or someone
                          else are not considered to be evidence
                          for this item. These individuals also
                          display a reckless disregard for the
                          safety of themselves or others. This
                          may be evidenced in their driving
                          behaviour (recurrent speeding, driving
                          while intoxicated, multiple accidents).
                          They may engage in sexual behaviour
                          or substance use that has a high risk for
                          harmful consequences. They may
                          neglect or fail to care for a child in a
                          way that puts the child in danger.

                          Individuals with Antisocial Personality
                          Disorder also tend to be consistently
                          and extremely irresponsible.
                          Irresponsible work behaviour may be
                          indicated by significant periods of
                          unemployment despite available job
                          opportunities, or by abandonment of
                          several jobs without a realistic plan for
                          getting another job. There may also be
                          a pattern of repeated absences from
                          work that are not explained by illness
                          either in themselves or in their family.
                          Financial irresponsibility is indicated by
                          acts such as defaulting on debts, failing
                          to provide child support, or failing to
                          support other dependents on a regular
                          basis. Individuals with Antisocial
                          Personality Disorder show little
                          remorse for the consequences of their
                          acts. They may be indifferent to, or
                          provide a superficial rationalization for,
                          having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from
                          someone (e.g., "life's unfair,' 'losers
                          deserve to lose," or "he had it coming
                          anyway"). These individuals may blame
                          the victims for being foolish, helpless,
                          or deserving their fate; they may
                          minimize the harmful consequences of
                          their actions; or they may simply
                          indicate complete indifference. They
                          generally fail to compensate or make
                          amends for their behaviour. They may
                          believe that everyone is out to "help
                          number one" and that one should stop
                          at nothing to avoid being pushed

Basically, this disorder is not just about the subject rejecting societal morality systems in favor of one's own, but rather a demonstrably harmful disregard for the welfare of others and of him/herself. Such a person, I would argue, is in fact incapable of constructing a coherent moral system of his/her own. Moral systems are formed out of a system of actions and consequences, and what actions are appropriate for a situation based on the results. Those suffering from antisocial personality disorder are not capable of putting any meaning to the consequences of their actions to themselves or others.

Reportedly, the major theory as to the genesis of the disorder is based on inconsistent, abusive and/or negligent parenting. Those with the disorder are often themselves abusive and negligent towards their own children. Thus creating the vicious cycle.

Some people just shouldn't have kids.

Eileen C. Krasowski