U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

SOCIOPATH - A CRIMINAL ENIGMA

NCJ Number
47546
Journal
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 6 Issue: 2 Dated: (JUNE 1978) Pages: 135-140
Author(s)
T STRENTZ; C V HASSEL
Date Published
1978
Length
6 pages
Annotation

THE SOCIOPATHIC PERSONALITY IS ASSESSED AND IS CALLED THE MOST DANGEROUS CRIMINAL TYPE BECAUSE OF AN INABILITY TO ENGAGE IN NORMAL RELATIONSHIPS AND A TOTAL ABSORPTION IN SELF-GRATIFICATION.

Abstract

SOCIOPATHS HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL AS CHARMING, INTELLIGENT, SUPERFICIAL, OUTWARDLY FRIENDLY, AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. SOCIOPATHIC, PSYCHOPATHIC, AND ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITIES ARE ALL CLOSELY RELATED AND HAVE BEEN DEFINED AS PERSONALITY TYPES EXHIBITING A PROFOUND AND USUALLY UNTREATABLE FORM OF ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR. MANY MASS MURDERERS, RAPISTS, AND A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF HABITUAL CRIMINALS EXHIBIT THE LACK OF GUILT AND NEED FOR INSTANT GRATIFICATION WHICH IS CHARACTERISTIC OF THIS BEHAVIOR TYPE, AS DO MANY HIGH-PRESSURE SALESMEN AND BUSINESS FRAUD CRIMINALS. DEPENDING ON THE AUTHORITIES QUOTED, SOCIOPATHS MAY CONSTITUTE UP TO 35 PERCENT OF THE PRISON POPULATION AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR AS MUCH AS 80 TO 90 PERCENT OF ALL CRIMES. DURING THE PAST DECADES THE GROWTH OF COMMUNITY-BASED CORRECTIONS PROGRAMS HAS RESULTED IN A NUMBER OF THESE PERSONALITY TYPES BEING RETURNED TO THE COMMUNITY WHERE THEIR BASIC LACK OF CONCERN FOR OTHERS IMMEDIATELY LEADS TO NEW AND MORE SERIOUS CRIMES. ONE CALIFORNIA CASE IS CITED IN WHICH A SOCIOPATH WAS SENT TO PENAL AND PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTIONS FOR 6 YEARS FOR SHOOTING HIS GRANDPARENTS. A FEW WEEKS AFTER A PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION FOUND 'NO PSYCHIATRIC REASON TO CONSIDER HIM A THREAT TO HIMSELF OR ANY OTHER MEMBER OF SOCIETY,' HE MURDERED AND DISMEMBERED SIX YOUNG GIRLS, BLUDGEONED HIS MOTHER TO DEATH, AND STRANGLED ONE OF HER FRIENDS. THE CASE IS CALLED EXTREME, BUT UNFORTUNATELY NOT ATYPICAL OF THE SOCIOPATH. PRISON EVALUATORS ARE WARNED NOT TO BE FOOLED BY THEIR CHARMING MANNER, THEIR WILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE, AND THEIR EFFORTS TO WIN FAVORS AND RELEASE. TIME ALONE CAN CURE THE SOCIOPATH, OR AT LEAST TURN HIS BEHAVIOR AWAY FROM VIOLENT ACTIVITIES. LONG-TERM INCARCERATION IS URGED FOR THE PROTECTION OF SOCIETY FROM SOCIOPATHS WHO COMMIT VIOLENT CRIMES. (GLR)