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Sociopath - A Criminal Enigma

NCJ Number
Date Published
19 pages
This paper profiles sociopathic offenders, identifies problems in diagnosing sociopaths, discusses the causes of sociopathic behavior, and suggests an approach for dealing with sociopathic offenders.
Sociopaths avoid relational bonds and commitments, tending to exploit people for selfish stimulation, pleasure, and personal aggrandizement. Sociopaths are apparently incapable of experiencing guilt, remorse, or moral sensitivities, but are able to portray these feelings to suit their purposes. Sociopaths commit a wide range of crimes but are difficult to catch because of their intelligence and ability to deceive. Often sociopaths are difficult to diagnose psychologically because of their ability to feign normal behaviors, attitudes, and feelings. The Freudian causation model views sociopaths as having failed to develop a proper ego structure due to an absence of love and sympathetic guidance in childhood. There is also considerable recent evidence that some sociopaths have organic brain damage. Sociopaths are incurably recidivistic until their criminal behavior 'burns out' at about 40 years of age. Some behavioral scientists advocate selectively incapacitating sociopaths until about this age. Thirty-nine footnotes and a 21-item bibliography are provided.