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Psychopathy is a critical factor for many assessment tools. Psychopathy refers to a personality disorder that includes antisocial behavior, lack of empathy towards others and a lack of remorse for harming others. Those with high levels of psychopathy have a higher likelihood of committing crime. Treating someone with a moderate to high level of psychopathy can be difficult and may require a secure setting. Two measures of psychopathy are discussed here: The Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) and Levenson Self-Report Scale of Psychopathy.

A clinician administers the Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R). The clinician conducts a semi-structured interview with the individual and relies on a checklist of 20 items. The clinician provides a score of either 0, 1, or 2 to each item, depending on the interviewee's response. Given that the clinician chooses which score to assign to responses, the clinician should be well trained with appropriate credentials for performing psychological examinations (Hare, 1991).

The first factor measures personality characteristics of psychopathy and includes an interpersonal facet and an affective facet. "Interpersonal" refers to a person's ability to communicate with others. This includes the following components: glibness (i.e., superficial charm), grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, and cunning/manipulative. The second facet, "affect," refers to a person's display of emotional states. This includes lack of remorse or guilt, emotionally shallow, callousness/lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions (Hare, 1991).

The second factor measures antisocial behavior and includes the third and fourth facets. The third facet includes lifestyle. The lifestyle facet includes need for stimulation/proneness to boredom, parasitic lifestyle (living off of someone else's work, wealth, etc.), lack of realistic, long-term goals, irresponsibility, and impulsiv- ity. The fourth facet reflects antisocial factors and includes poor behavioral control, early behavioral problems, juvenile delinquency, revocation of conditional release, and criminal versatility (Hare, 1991).

In addition to the four facets, a few other items are also included in the checklist: successive, short-term marital relationships and promiscuous sexual behavior. All of these items are relied upon for a clinician to assess the degree of psychopathy (Hare, 1991).

The Levenson Self-Report Scale of Psychopathy was developed in 1995 by Michael Levenson. The scale includes 26 items in a self-report survey (Levenson, Kiehl, & Fitzpatrick, 1995). For each item, an individual responds to what extent he or she agrees with the item, from agree to disagree, on a five-point scale. Sample items are:

  • • Success is based on survival of the fittest; I am not concerned about the losers.
  • • My main purpose in life is getting as many goodies as I can.
  • • I let others worry about higher values; my main concern is with the bottom line.
  • • People who are stupid enough to get ripped off usually deserve it.
  • • When I get frustrated, I often "let off steam" by blowing my top.

The scores are totaled for a final score between one and five on primary and secondary psychopathy, where primary refers to the emotional aspects of psychopathy and secondary refers to antisocial aspects of psychopathy.

An example of a sex offender who exhibited psychopathic traits is described in excerpts from a news article below:

Serial sex offender and convicted killer William Chandler Shrubsall is still too dangerous to be released from prison, the Parole Board of Canada decided ... "You are noted to be able to camouflage your deviant behaviours" the parole board wrote ..." Mr. Shrubsall used a bat to attack a clerk in a Halifax waterfront store during a robbery ... Mr. Shrubsall beat, robbed and sexually assaulted a 21-year-old student in a Tower Road driveway. He repeatedly smashed her face on the asphalt. That woman's injuries were so severe that she required surgery to have her contact lens removed ... He was also found guilty of aggravated sexual assault - choking and confining a 26-year-old woman he'd met at a Halifax nightclub in June 1998 ...

"You admit to being extremely sensitive to slights, especially slights by females with whom you have a romantic interest," the parole documents said. "You admit to low self-esteem and take criticism as a personal attack ... It was noted that you lacked empathy with your primary focus tending to be your own victimization. Of note, you indicated you were willing to forgive your mother and 'didn't know how.' "

(The Chronicle Herald, 2014, n.p.)

The sex offender in this description adheres to many of the criteria of psychopathy: lack of empathy, impulsivity, low self-esteem, and extensive criminal behavior.

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