The Importance Of Psychopaths

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The purpose of this paper is to argue, using past literature, that psychopaths do not fully grasp acts as morally wrong and as a result psychopathy should be a mitigating factor in the judicial system. Psychopaths almost always have negative associations with their behaviors and mental states. Why? Psychopaths are known to become criminally violent and have a lack of remorse; a concept which frightens the majority of people. Furthermore, society only rarely sees or hears about psychopaths unless it is through an overdramatized pop culture lens (e.g. The Shinning, Jack Torrance) or a serial killer like Jeffery Dahmer, which is highly unlikely and only accounts for approximately 1% of psychopaths. Zinger and Forth (1998) found that…show more content…
425). Although psychopathy is understood as a mental illness, psychopaths are still judged harshly and approximately 25% of them are incarcerated (Morse, 2008). Forensic psychologist and the judicial system have debated the laws surrounding psychopaths, such that if they should be able to plea insanity or get diminished/partial sentences based on criminal culpability. Cordelia Fine and Jeanette Kennett (2004) argue that since psychopaths have a deficit in fear, empathy, and emotional decision making they cannot understand what is and is not morally wrong and thus cannot be criminally responsible for their actions. Criminal culpability and the Law Criminal culpability can be defined as the person who committed an unlawful act demonstrates a presence of rationality or if there is an absence of coercion (Morse, 2008). The American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code (MPC) states that even if a person knows an act is wrong they may still be insane, however, statues following the MPC have exempted insanity pleas based on “an abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise anti-social conduct” (as cited in Paul Litton, 2010, p.…show more content…
This assessment is most commonly and widely used, but some psychologists and other professionals have questioned it. The PCL-R can measure a psychopath’s antisocial nature but does not measure a moral reasoning (Litton 2010). Furthermore, Katrina Sifferd and William Hirstein (2012) state that the PCL-R does not detect executive functioning adequately and cannot identify the varying profiles of psychopaths. Within this statement there should be two things defined: executive function and varying profiles. Executive function is the brain’s ability to follow and act on information and usually deals with self-control. Additionally, the varying profiles of psychopathy that Sifferd and Hirstein are referring to are the successful psychopath and the unsuccessful psychopath. Plainly stated, successful psychopaths do not have a criminal record and unsuccessful psychopaths do. Extensively, successful psychopaths have the ability to assess and correct their problems through a sufficient executive function, whereas unsuccessful psychopaths do not (Sifferd $ Hirstein, 2012). Moreover, “unsuccessful psychopaths have reduced prefrontal and amygdala volumes and hippocampal abnormalities, resulting in reduced executive functioning, including impaired decision-making” (Sifferd $ Hirstein, 2012, p. 134). With the technological advancements in society, neuroimaging
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