Psychopathology and Crime

Psychopathology is the study of mental illness, mental distress and abnormal/maladaptive behaviors. Extensive research has been done to study the correlation between psychopaths and criminal behavior. The characteristics of a psychopath include deviance, distress, dysfunction and danger. The rate of recidivism among psychopaths is nearly double that of a normal criminal. The rate of violent recidivism is more than three times the rate in normal criminals. It has been proven that psychopaths are much more likely to exhibit violent criminal behaviors than any other person. It has also been proven that these criminals will be repeat offenders.

The risk factors for a psychopath are increased in those who are in a lower class socially or those who are antisocial and express behavioral difficulties at an early age. Those with poor interpersonal relationships are much more likely to become violent because they carry rage and tend to have explosive outbursts. There are several disorders that fall under the classification of a psychopathological disorder. These include Bipolar Disorder and Dysthymia. Both Bipolar Disorder and Dysthymia are mood disorders and have been known to cause uncontrollable bouts of rage intermixed with bouts of moderate to severe depression. Gaining a feeling of acceptance from peers as well as personal satisfaction are factors that could increase the likelihood a psychopathic individual would engage in a type of criminal behavior. There are many ways to help a psychopathic person to control their emotions. The most widely used treatment is the use of antipsychotic drugs. These medications treat the symptoms of a mental illness that causes disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions. It is also used to treat episodes of mania (frenzied, abnormally excited, or irritated mood) or mixed episodes (symptoms of mania and depression that happen together). Receiving such therapies as massage and bodywork has also been known to lessen the symptoms of such disorders of erratic emotion and behavior. Although the problem has been proven to be a physical neurological disorder, managing the symptoms of psychopathic disorders may help keep a person calm in a situation that could easily lead to a violent crime.

A person deemed a psychopath would fall under the category of biological theory. There is physical evidence in the neurons of those afflicted with psychological disorders that proves these problems are caused by biological defects in the brain. When given slides to view, normal persons would view pleasant photos and neurons would fire in one area of the brain and when given disturbing images, neurons would fire in a separate area of the brain. For a psychopathic individual, all neurons fired the same during both types of visual stimuli. While many psychological disturbances occur due to the misfiring of neurons, the root of the disorder lies in the biological defect thus proving psychopathic individuals in deed fall under the biological theory. When it comes to incarcerating a person for a crime no excuses shall be made. If the person has difficulty functioning in society and is ruled a harmful person toward others, they shall be removed from society in order to protect citizens. Protecting the people is the duty of law enforcement and it must be carried out. If a criminal has a neurological disorder, whether it is something psychological or biological, treatment should be a requirement.


“Bipolar Disorder: Manic Depression; Bipolar Affective Disorder.” PubMed Health. Last Revised 29 March 2011.
“Forensic & Criminal Psychology.” Psychology Campus. Copyright 2004.
“Risperidone.” PubMed Health. Last Revised 15 June 2011.

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