Pathologizing Evil A Critique of Modern Psychopathy Research
Larsen, Rasmus Rosenberg
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Psychopathy is a personality disorder associated with substantial antisocial behaviors and a callous lack of empathy. According to leading research, psychopaths are responsible for at least half of society’s violent crime and make up a third of the incarcerated populace. Next to being a disturbing clinical phenomenon, psychopathy is therefore also a social problem of alarming magnitude. Clinical psychiatrists frequently refer to psychopathy as the best validated personality disorder in mental health research, a status that has led to it being one of the most appreciated and utilized psychiatric concepts in forensic practices. This thesis challenges orthodox theories in psychopathy research, arguing that its clinical conceptualization is poorly validated, elusively defined, and arguably an overestimated clinical as well as social problem. In addition to addressing a careful criticism of prevailing research paradigms, this thesis will offer a novel approach to defining the psychopathy phenomenon, by applying insights from moral psychology and formal ontology. The thesis concludes by explicating a methodological strategy for future research, building on a rigorous commitment to biomedical models in mental health research.