Non-incarcerated psychopaths: why we need to know more about the psychopaths who live amongst us.

Kirkman, C. A. (2002) Non-incarcerated psychopaths: why we need to know more about the psychopaths who live amongst us. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 9 (2). pp. 155-160. ISSN 1351-0126

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On 1 November 2000, Robert Stewart, aged 20, was jailed for life for bludgeoning to death his Asian cellmate, Zahid Mubarek, aged 19 years because ‘he felt like it’. During the court hearing the term ‘psychopathic personality’ was used in relation to Stewart and, following this and other similar cases, the average man or woman could be forgiven for believing that psychopathy is inextricably linked with dangerousness and criminality. In the light of the Government consultation paper entitled Managing Dangerous People with Personality Disorder. Proposals for Policy Development and the Government White Paper Reforming the Mental Health Act – Part II: High-risk patients, this article proposes that whilst studies conducted with incarcerated psychopaths will continue to increase our knowledge and understanding of criminality, non-incarcerated psychopaths have an arguably equal potential to illuminate our understanding of the emotional difficulties, such as lack of empathy and lack of conscience, which underlie psychopathy and which lead to offending behaviour. Although a range of obstacles have hindered progress in this field of study, this paper proposes that developing an understanding of the nature of the emotional difficulties of the psychopath, unconfounded by criminality, has the potential to make a valuable contribution to the field of child psychiatry in ways which have implications for mental health nurses and society as a whole. It theorizes that if the psychological constructs which underlie psychopathy were better understood, children who display those emotional difficulties could be more accurately identified and strategies be generated which carry the ultimate aim of minimizing the risk of those children developing the offending behaviour associated with psychopathy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Full text of this article not available on this repository. Originally published in Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Copyright 1999-2012 John Wiley & Sons.
Uncontrolled Keywords: child psychiatry, criminality, emotional difficulties, minimizing risk, psychopathy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:52
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2016 09:13
Identification Number: 10.1046/j.1365-2850.2002.00462.x

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