The psychopath: Facts and research resources

Of the many disorders represented in film, books and other media the psychopath, and the condition of psychopathy, is perhaps one of the most misunderstood. Psychopathy is an extremely complex, and often controversial, issue. Debates rage in terms of its’ diagnosis and treatment. For example psychopathy is, according to the American Psychiatric Association‘s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) a subset of Anti-Social Personality Disorders. However Blair (2005), argues that the two may be completely separate conditions.

So what are the facts? I thought it would be useful for the writers, students and other interested parties out there to give a brief overview of psychopathy and also provide some links so that you take your own research in this area further. As always, let me know if this has been useful it’s great to get some feedback.


  1. The estimated prevalence of psychopathy varies in studies between 0.2% and 2%. The most commonly cited estimate is 1%.  A study in (2009) of prevalence in a UK household population found the presence of psychopathic traits in 0.6% of the sample (Coid et al., 2009: Link below).

 2. The condition is more commonly found in males than females. Grann (2000), for    example, found the rates of psychopathy for violent offenders to be only 11.0% for women versus 31.0% for men.

 3. According to Robert Hare the key symptoms of psychopathy can be summarised under two clusters:


  • glib and superficial
  • egocentric and grandiose
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • lack of empathy
  • deceitful and manipulative
  • shallow emotions

Social Deviance

  • impulsive
  • poor behaviour controls
  • need for excitement
  • lack of responsibility
  • early behaviour problems
  • adult antisocial behaviour

4. Psychopaths and crime

  • Psychopaths are more criminally active throughout much of their life span than are other offenders (Hare, 1991; Hare, Strachan, & Forth, 1993)
  • Psychopaths are generally more violent than non-psychopaths; 97% psychopaths v. 74% non-psychopaths received at least one conviction for violent crime (Hare, 1981)


Psychopathy Links:

a. Books

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. Hare  (1999)

The Psychopath: Emotion And The Brain. Blair, Mitchell & Blair (2005).


b. Websites

Excellent resources on the study of psychopathy are on Robert Hare’s pages:

Some good general information on this site:

A profile of a psychopath by Robert Hare:


c. Research papers

Prevalence and correlates of psychopathic traits in the household population of Great Britain

Sex differences in psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder: A review and integration

 Gender differences in contributions of emotion to psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder


d. Articles

The psycho gene. V. good article here refuting idea of ‘criminal gene’ but looking at genetic basis for psychopathy

Psychopaths: Born evil or with a diseased brain? Brief but useful BBC article on this controversy here

Inside A Psychopath’s Brain: The Sentencing Debate. More on the controversial neurolaw debate here:

The Origins of Violence: Is Psychopathy an Adaptation? Some interesting points are made in this article.



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4 Responses to The psychopath: Facts and research resources

  1. Pingback: Antisocial Personality Disorder:The Dark « The Toxic Coworker

  2. Pingback: The Psychopath Dilemma | Follow Me Here…

  3. thanks again says:

    thanks so much for this! writing a screenplay on psychopathy from an actual psychopath’s perspective and i can’t tell you how helpful this has been.

  4. Abby Stevens says:

    This was very helpful for me whilst writing my EPQ, thank you!! I just have one question though, what is the study for the experiment by Grann in 2000??

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