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Personality disorder and psychopathy: Conceptual and empirical integration

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The classification of personality disorders originated from German concepts of psychopathic personalities as abnormal personalities whose abnormalities cause personal or social distress, but antisocial personality disorder owes more to a British tradition that defined personal abnormality in terms of social deviance. The recent concept of psychopathy is a mixture of these traditions, but a focus on the psychopath as a criminal type has obscured its relationship to the broader class of personality disorders. Research with the PCL-R shows that it relates as closely to narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders as to antisocial personality disorder, and that psychopathy and these disorders reflect a common underlying dimension of personality disorder. Dimensions of personality disorder can be conceptualized as variations or exaggerations of normal personality dimensions, and recent findings indicate a hierarchical organization in which psychopathy represents one of two superordinate dimensions underlying normal and abnormal personality. Personality traits are critical treatment targets in high risk offenders.
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Keywords: DSPD; PCL-R; Personality disorder; psychopathy; risk assessment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Liverpool, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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