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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1999;27(1):23-32.

Sadism and psychopathy in violent and sexually violent offenders.

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California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, USA.


A nonrandom sample (N = 41) of inmates from a maximum security prison were classified as either psychopathic or nonpsychopathic (using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)) and violent or sexually violent. Sadism was measured using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-II (MCMI-II) Scale 6B, the Personality Disorder Examination (PDE) items for sadistic personality disorder, and the sexual sadism criteria of DSM-IV. Psychopaths were found to be significantly more sadistic than nonpsychopaths (MCMI-II and PDE). Overall power was relatively high. Sadism did not differentiate the violent and sexually violent groups. A diagnosis of sexual sadism was too infrequent (n = 3) for meaningful statistical analysis. The trait measures of sadism and psychopathy measures (PCL-R, Factor 1 and Factor 2) significantly and positively correlated. Results provide further empirical validity for the theoretically proposed and clinically observed relationship between sadistic traits and psychopathic personality.

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