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Law Hum Behav. 2011 Jun;35(3):188-99. doi: 10.1007/s10979-010-9221-9.

Psychopathy and sexual sadism.

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Department of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, School of Medicine, University of Regensburg, District Hospital, Universitaetsstrasse 84, 93053 Regensburg, Germany.


Psychopathic personality disorder and sexual sadism share several common characteristics, such as emotional detachment from the suffering of others or the preparedness to inflict pain or injuries. Based on a sample of 100 male forensic patients (all of them sex offenders, half of them sadistic), the concept of psychopathy and sexual sadism as a unified construct was tested empirically. Pooling indicator variables for psychopathic and sexually sadistic disorders showed that a two-factorial solution yielded a better fit than a single-factor model. The two factors identified psychopathy and sexual sadism as separate latent variables. More specifically, the data were compatible with a path model in which affective deficits and behavioral disinhibition of the psychopathy domain are precursors to sexually sadistic conduct.

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