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Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2008;4:217-46. doi: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091452.

Psychopathy as a clinical and empirical construct.

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  • 1University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. rhare@interchange.ubc.ca

Abstract

In this review, we focus on two major influences on current conceptualizations of psychopathy: one clinical, with its origins largely in the early case studies of Cleckley, and the other empirical, the result of widespread use of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) for assessment purposes. Some investigators assert that the PCL-R, ostensibly based on Cleckley's work, has "drifted" from the construct described in his Clinical Profile. We evaluate this profile, note its basis in an unrepresentative sample of patients, and suggest that its literal and uncritical acceptance by the research community has become problematical. We also argue that the idea of construct "drift" is irrelevant to current conceptualizations of psychopathy, which are better informed by the extensive empirical research on the integration of structural, genetic, developmental, personality, and neurobiological research findings than by rigid adherence to early clinical formulations. We offer some suggestions for future research on psychopathy.

PMID:
18370617
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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