Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist: Was Gerald Stano a Psychopath?
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The words "sociopath" and "psychopath" are used with a relatively high frequency to describe individuals whose behavior and demeanor seem to mark them as fundamentally different from "normal" people. Neither term appears in the DSM IV, which is generally considered to be the mostly recognized standard for mental illness because clinicians have found it difficult to isolate the symptoms and patterned behavior that would constitute psychopathology on a consistent basis. Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist, provides a tool for ascertaining whether an individual can/should be considered to be a psychopath or sociopath (the terms are used interchangeaby) primarily for the purpose of adjudication. This paper examines mass murderer Gerald Stano to determine if he was a psychopath.
Gerald Stano was executed in 1998 for the murder of a seventeen-year-old girl, the only crime for which he was charged. However, he confessed to killing many more women, with his final toll somewhere between 20 and 41 victims. By the time he was arrested, about 20 years had passed between the murders that he had claimed to commit (there remains some question about the accuracy of his confessions) and there was little remaining evidence, leaving in doubt details about the crimes. Stano's early background provided the kinds of experiences that might well result in psychopathic behavior. His birth mother neglected him terribly. When he was placed into county care at the age of six