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Understanding Antisocial and Psychopathic Women

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Abstract

In this chapter, we provide a theoretical and empirically based understanding of antisocial and psychopathic women. We begin by clarifying the differences between psychopathy, sociopathy, and ASPD, and then provide a historical perspective of hysteria. While the underlying personality of the female psychopath is paranoid, malignant hysteria is their predominant personality style (Gacono & Meloy, 1994). Overviews of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), and Rorschach are offered as a refresher for those experienced clinicians and as a resource for those that are not. Finally, we present group PAI and Rorschach data (also Trauma Symptom Inventory-2 [TSI-2]) for 337 female offenders including subsets of psychopathic (N = 124) and non-psychopathic (N = 57) females. We make note of the differences between female and male psychopaths.

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... In summary, female psychopathy can be conceptualized as having a malignant hysterical style organized at a borderline or psychotic level of personality which includes increased pseudodependency, pathological self-focus, dysphoric affect, a suggestible and impressionistic cognitive style, somatic symptoms, poor reality testing, and poor emotional controls (Cale & Lilienfeld, 2002;Cunliffe & Gacono, 2005, 2008Cunliffe et al., 2016;Forouzan & Cooke, 2005;Gacono & Meloy, 1994;Hare, 2003;Hicks et al., 2010;Kreis & Cooke, 2011;Smith et al., 2014Smith et al., , 2018Verona et al., 2012). ...
... Categorical vs. Dimensional Views of Female Psychopathy. The PAI findings give more credibility to the conceptualization of female psychopathy displaying a hysterical style in comparison to the male narcissistic style 5 (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2005, 2008Gacono & Meloy, 1994;Smith et al., 2018). This presentation would incorporate histrionic traits and borderline personality organization (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2005, 2008Sprague et al., 2012;Verona et al., 2012). ...
... The PAI findings give more credibility to the conceptualization of female psychopathy displaying a hysterical style in comparison to the male narcissistic style 5 (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2005, 2008Gacono & Meloy, 1994;Smith et al., 2018). This presentation would incorporate histrionic traits and borderline personality organization (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2005, 2008Sprague et al., 2012;Verona et al., 2012). Specifically, psychopathic women had significantly higher scores on the BOR scale and its subscales than would be expected if based on borderline traits alone. ...
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In this study, PCL-R scores were used in correlational analyses with PAI scales in a sample of incarcerated women (N = 133). The total PCL-R score was significantly correlated with many PAI scales including ANT, DRG, and AGG. Categorical analyses were also used where the psychopathic women (N = 71; PCL-R ≥ 30) were significantly higher on the PAI scales of MAN, VPI, PAR, BOR, ANT, AGG, DOM; the non-psychopathic women (N = 28; PCL-R total score ≤ 24) scored higher on the RXR scale. These results further elucidate the conceptualization of female psychopathy (borderline and histrionic personality traits) and were consistent both with clinical observations, theoretical conceptualizations, and previous Rorschach research. Clinical implications were provided for working with incarcerated psychopathic women.
... The assessment of antisocial and psychopathic patients begins as a gross categorization of chronic antisocial behavior (DSM-IV), moves to a determination of the degree of psychopathic disturbance (PCL-R), and is further refined through the Rorschach to measure the internal structure and dynamics of the particular patient. The Rorschach is ideally suited for contributing to this assessment (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2008;Meloy, 1988), as it avoids the face validity of self-report measures, yet provides reliable and valid information about the individual's personality structure and function (Exner, 2003;Exner & Erdberg, 2005). ...
... Evaluators should also be familiar with a growing database of forensic Rorschach samples (Bannatyne, Gacono, & Greene, 1999;Cunliffe & Gacono, 2008;Gacono, Meloy, & Bridges, 2000Singer, Hoppe, Lee, Olesen, & Walters, 2008), keeping in mind how these samples differ from Exner's nonpatient and clinical norms (Exner & Erdberg, 2005). A series of studies with antisocial and psychopathic patients (Gacono, 1988(Gacono, , 1990Gacono & Meloy, 1991, 1992, 1994Gacono, Meloy, & Heaven, 1990;Meloy, Gacono, & Kenney, 1994;Young et al., 2000) have validated the use of the Rorschach as a nomothetically sensitive instrument in discriminating between psychopathic ASPD and nonpsychopathic ASPD subjects (also see Smith, Gacono, &Kaufman, 1995, andRussell, 2000, for an extension of these findings to conduct-disordered adolescents), and supported the assertion that these individuals ...
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The assessment of antisocial and psychopathic personalities presents special challenges for the forensic evaluator. This chapter emphasizes use of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), Rorschach, and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) for a comprehensive evaluation of these patients. These measures lend incremental validity to understanding these difficult patients, especially when combined with testing of intelligence and cognitive functioning. Integrating data from multiple domains is essential to answering the psycholegal and forensic treatment questions surrounding the antisocial and psychopathic patient. The forensically trained clinical psychologist is best suited to assess psychopathy, a task that historically has been overlooked or avoided in traditional mental health settings.
... According to Cunliffe and Gacono (2008), males and females differ along the two dimensions of ''interpersonal relatedness and self-perception'' (p. 375). ...
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Female psychopathy has been conceived as a malignant form of hysteria organized at the borderline level of personality function. In this study, the PCL-R was used to assess psychopathy, and the Rorschach Comprehensive System, Extended Aggression Scores, Rorschach Defense Scales, Rorschach Oral Dependency, Trauma Content Index, and Primitive Modes of Relating scoring systems were used to examine psychodynamic variables in female psychopaths. Our findings support the conceptualization of female psychopathy as a malignant form of hysteria and lead us to suggest the need for modifying several PCL-R items with female offenders.
... The picture of a prototypical psychopath has emerged from two centuries worth of study largely on criminal and psychiatric males, while the investigation of the psychopathic female is still in its infancy (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2008). Cleckley (1976) included case descriptions of two women in his seminal text on the prototypes of the psychopathic character. ...
Article
The personality disturbance of psychopathy is one of the most researched and debated conditions in psychopathology and has been considered one of the most important constructs in the criminal justice system. This syndrome has been widely examined in males but remarkably less attention has been given to females, even though contemporary researchers and theorists have suggested that there is a different expression of psychopathy based on gender. The current study utilized the Rorschach Inkblot Method and the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R) to explore the personality characteristics of 77 incarcerated females. Participants were imprisoned for a variety of offenses and were recruited from a medium-security state prison. The level of psychopathy, as determined by the PPI-R, was compared to a select number of Rorschach variables that measure self-perception and interpersonal functioning. In addition, a Rorschach composite score of the variables used in the study was created with the aim of developing a profile for psychopathic females. The association between psychopathy and these variables was investigated using Pearson correlations and hierarchical regression analyses. Results partially confirmed the hypotheses of the study in that certain, but not all, hypothesized Rorschach variables were related to level of psychopathy. In general, results suggested that females do not display disturbance in self-perception and instead demonstrated evidence of psychological mindedness. Most results regarding interpersonal relationships were consistent with prior research findings that psychopathic females are more interpersonally-oriented and seek out attention from others, but also experience dysfunction in their interactions. As a whole, results provided some additional support to the growing notion that psychopathic females have a histrionic/hysteric personality organization, as opposed to the grandiose, narcissistic personality structure of their male counterparts. Explanations for and implications of these results were discussed, and directions for further research were explored.
Chapter
Psychopathy is an essential construct for research and applied usage (Gacono, 2016). The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2003) is the only valid method for assessing the Cleckley psychopath. In this chapter, we discuss theoretical and empirical roots of psychopathy and provide clinical and forensic guidelines for use of the PCL-R. We rely on our extensive PCL-R research and clinical experience in discussing gender differences among psychopaths. Although males show a malignant narcissistic style, the female variant is characterized by a malevolent type of hysteria (Cunliffe & Gacono, 2005, 2008; Gacono & Meloy, 1994; Smith, Gacono, & Cunliffe, 2018). Gender differences are highlighted and guidelines for the assessment of psychopathic and nonpsychopathic female offenders are provided.
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Managing the incarcerated population is the primary task within correctional settings. Using psychological assessment to predict institutional behavior, the psychologist has a unique set of skills essential to the management of prisoners. PCL-R, PAI, and Rorschach data were compared with institutional infractions (total, physical, verbal, non-aggressive) among 126 incarcerated women. Multiple binary logistic regression analyses were used which found significant correlations between PCL-R total score, PAI scales (BOR, ANT, VPI), and Rorschach variables (ROD, EGOI, TCI, AgPot, AgPast, SumV, SumC’, MOR) with total, verbal, physical, and nonviolent incident reports. Each of these measures adds incrementally to the assessment and understanding of institutional misbehavior for incarcerated women. Clinical implications of the findings were presented.
Chapter
Long before psychology, bias has existed in science. From the beginning, concerns have been raised about the reliability, validity, and accuracy of social science research (Meehl, 1954). In this chapter, we define and discuss the origins of bias and how it can erode the scientific method. We focus specifically on bias in psychological research, theory, assessment, and treatment. We discuss the range of common misconceptions and misinformation that permeates the female offender literature. Finally, we conclude with ten myths about female offenders and offer guidelines for identifying bias and how to avoid it.
Chapter
Despite the perception that women do not commit sexual offenses, female offenders engage in sexual homicide, sexually assault their students or their own children, and, at times, work with co-perpetrators to sexually aggress against their victims. Few studies have used psychological tests to psychometrically map the personality of female sexual offenders. In this chapter, we use the PCL-R, PAI, and Rorschach in studying a sample of female sexual offenders with offenses against minors (N = 39). These women evidenced (1) borderline reality testing, defenses, & thinking; (2) a damaged sense of self (entitlement & victim stance); (3) abnormal bonding and pseudo-dependency (maladaptive neediness); (4) affective instability; (5) impulsivity; and (6) chronic anger couched within a malignant hysterical style that masks an underlying paranoid position. Descriptive personality measure data and two case examples are presented to highlight the dynamics of their offending behavior.
Chapter
Historically, the cornerstone of the psychologist’s identity rested on providing competent in-depth psychological assessment (Rapaport, Gill, & Schafer, 1946). The ability to utilize a battery of assessment methods to elucidate complex issues makes the psychologist unique among other mental health professionals. Recent trends, however, have tarnished that cornerstone. Not surprisingly, the movement away from proficiency in psychological assessment has led to a decline in the need for psychologists. In this chapter, we discuss these harmful trends, define psychological assessment, offer a model for assessing female offenders, and provide examples of how record review, clinical interview, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), and Rorschach Inkblot test can be useful with female offenders. We discuss the interpersonal aspects of the assessment process, evaluate gender specific patterns for several PCL-R criteria (also see Appendices A & B), and provide caveats for assessing female offenders. We conclude with a case study.
Article
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The histories of incarcerated women exhibit a multitude of personality issues including psychopathy, trauma, and interpersonal dependency. Two studies were undertaken to better understand these issues with psychopathic (PCL-R ≥ 30; N = 115) and non-psychopathic (PCL-R ≤ 24; N = 53) women incarcerated for drug, theft, fraud, violence, and sex offenses. In the first study, trauma symptoms were compared on Rorschach variables, TSI-2, and PAI scales. The female psychopathic group experienced more problems related to intrusive experiences and dissociation (TSI-2, Rorschach). In the second study, interpersonal dependency was also examined with the PAI, TSI-2, and Rorschach. The psychopathic females had higher rates of interpersonal dependency (PAI, Rorschach). Based on our findings we discuss the relationship between trauma and interpersonal dependency and the meaning of these testing variables and concepts within the personality functioning of these antisocial women.
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Full-text available
Psychopathy is an essential construct in forensic mental health. While male psychopathy and aggression has been thoroughly studied, less is known about this relationship with female psychopathy. In this article, the relationship between female psychopathy (Psychopathy Checklist-Revised [PCL-R] total, factor, and facet scores) and the Rorschach Aggression indices (Aggressive Movement [AG], Aggressive Content [AgC], Aggressive Past [AgPast], Aggressive Potential [AgPot], Sadomasochistic Aggression [SM]) were examined. Rorschach Aggression indices between female psychopathic (PCL-R total score ≥ 30; N = 84) and non-psychopathic female offenders (PCL-R total score ≤ 24; N = 39) were also compared. PCL-R total score was significantly correlated (p <.05) with AgC, AgPast, AgPot, and SM and there were also significant correlations between the Aggression scores and PCL-R Factor/facet scores. The female psychopaths produced more AgC, AgPast, and AgPot responses than the non-psychopathic females. Rorschach aggression indices supported theory and suggested that the violence in psychopathic women stems from their identification with aggression and pervasive feelings of entitlement. Psychopathic women evidenced higher levels of these variables than the non-psychopathic offenders. The results add to the link between aggression and psychopathy as well as a better understanding of aggression in female offenders.
Article
Full-text available
Based on findings from prior research studies, trauma histories have been found to be ubiquitous in psychopathic women. In this study, the Rorschach Trauma Content Index (TCI) was used to better understand the trauma histories of incarcerated women (N = 180). The TCI was significantly correlated with total reported trauma events, reported sexual abuse, other Rorschach scores (AgPast, ROD), and scales on both the Personality Assessment Inventory and the Trauma Symptom Inventory-2. The TCI may be related more to sexual abuse than physical abuse and the traumatic intrusions appear to be related to borderline features and dependency in this sample. These results suggest that the TCI facilitates our understanding of trauma in the lives of incarcerated women.
Article
Full-text available
The Rorschach Comprehensive System Egocentricity Index (EGOI) and its component variables have been useful in understanding antisocial and psychopathic individuals (Gacono & Meloy, 1994; Gacono, Meloy, & Heaven, 1990). In this study, the EGOI, Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) scales and the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) were used with a sample of incarcerated women. The EGOI, Fr + rF, and pairs were examined in relation to PCL-R Items 1 (Glibness/Superficial Charm) and 2 (Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth), PCL-R Factor 1, PCL-R facet 1, and the PAI MAN-G and ANT-E scales. The EGOI and reflections were significantly correlated with PCL-R Item 1 and a combination of PCL-R Items 1 and 2. Unlike highly narcissistic male offenders where grandiosity elevates reflections and EGOI, female psychopaths (PCL-R total score ≥ 30; N = 85) and non-psychopathic females (PCL-R total score ≤ 24; N = 40), did not demonstrate a significant difference for their mean EGOI; however, female psychopaths were more likely to produce protocols with a high EGOI (≥ 0.44) with and without reflections and they had more pairs (a finding consistent with conceptual differences between male and female psychopaths). The utility of the EGOI with incarcerated women is discussed.
Article
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In this study, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), the Rorschach, and the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) were used to elucidate the personality functioning of incarcerated females with sex offenses against minors (FSOAM; N = 31). There was significant convergence among the PCL-R, PAI, and Rorschach data. Both the PAI and Rorschach suggested: 1) borderline/psychotic reality testing and idiosyncratic thinking; 2) damaged sense of self, entitlement, and victim stance; 3) abnormal bonding and dependency; 4) affective instability; 5) impulsivity; and 6) chronic anger. Our comparison with a sample of male pedophiles (N = 36) highlighted gender specific issues with the women. Specifically, the women had more emotional deficits, ego-syntonic aggression, idiosyncratic thinking, and inappropriate attachments. A case study and our findings suggest a conceptual model for understanding the dynamics that result in female sexual offending behavior.
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Wood et al. (2010) published a meta-analysis in which the authors challenged the utility of the Rorschach Inkblot Test in delineating key differences between psychopathic and non-psychopathic individuals identified by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991/2003). In this article, Gacono et al.’s (2001) five conceptual and four methodological criteria for the evaluation and interpretation of psychopathy/Rorschach literature were employed to provide a detailed review of the approach and procedure used by Wood et al. (2010). We identify and discuss a number of conceptual and methodological problems with the meta-analysis including confusion of the related but distinct terms of diagnosis and assessment, selection of studies, categorical versus dimensional interpretations of data, characterization of PCL-R and Rorschach findings, and meta-analytic methodology. Finally, recommendations for the essential components of well designed and implemented PCL-R and Rorschach studies are provided.
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It is essential to understand that CS validity research does not translated directly to the R-PAS. In this article we dicuss essential issues to consider prior to using the R-PAS in an applied context.
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The histories of incarcerated women exhibit a multitude of personality issues including psychopathy, trauma, and interpersonal dependency. Two studies were undertaken to better understand these issues with psychopathic (PCL-R ≥ 30; N = 115) and non-psychopathic (PCL-R ≤ 24; N = 53) women incarcerated for drug, theft, fraud, violence, and sex offenses. In the first study, trauma symptoms were compared on Rorschach variables, TSI-2, and PAI scales. The female psychopathic group experienced more problems related to intrusive experiences and dissociation (TSI-2, Rorschach). In the second study, interpersonal dependency was also examined with the PAI, TSI-2, and Rorschach. The psychopathic females had higher rates of interpersonal dependency (PAI, Rorschach). Based on our findings we discuss the relationship between trauma and interpersonal dependency and the meaning of these testing variables and concepts within the personality functioning of these antisocial women.
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In several articles, my colleagues and I have addressed concerns regarding methodological issues with the recent RIM research (see Cunliffe et al., 2012; Gacono, Loving, &Bodholdt, 2001; Smith et. al., 2018). In many studies, the impact of these issues is frequently hidden, masked in a description of statistical procedures and shrouded by the umbrella of a meta-analysis. Findings from these flawed studies influence conclusions that may appear "controversial" but are in actuality an artifact of the individual studies' inadequate design. Alarmingly, such method-related practices negatively impact the scholarly perception of the Rorschach and are frequently cited by editors for rejecting submitted Rorschach studies for publication, based largely on the presence of "controversy" which does not exist. In this brief commentary, the importance of Lambda to the generalizability of Rorschach findings is discussed.
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Mihura’s (2019) recent commentary on Smith et al.’s (2018) article, “A Scientific Critique of Rorschach Research: Revisiting Exner’s Issues and Methods in Rorschach Research (1995)” raised several issues surrounding our internal validity criteria and our approach to validating Rorschach research. Mihura also conducted additional statistical analyses that failed to address important, critical issues. In this article, we further clarify the importance of refining internal validity criteria for Rorschach research and Rorschach meta-analytic studies (our 2018 article). We offer this information and analysis to guide the Rorschach consumer toward a better understanding of how to assess the validity of Rorschach data and empirical findings. Criticisms of our criteria for evaluating Rorschach research (inter-rater reliability, IQ/Education level, Rorschach Responses, Lambda/F%, sample size) and our recommendation to include descriptive data for critical variables in all published Rorschach studies contradict accepted standards for Rorschach research. Mihura stated that “the associations between the Rorschach and self-report measures were not used to determine the validity of Rorschach variables” (p. 171) in her meta-analyses. Consequently, we applied our methodological criteria to only Mihura’s externally assessed criteria studies (removing self-report studies; 67%) and found that 91% had three or more problems related to internal validity (13 had counter-intuitive findings). In addition, other central issues related to meta-analyses, application/validation studies, and counter-intuitive findings regarding the Rorschach were discussed.
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Full-text available
Psychopathy is an essential construct in forensic mental health. While male psychopathy and aggression has been thoroughly studied, less is known about this relationship with female psychopathy. In this article, the relationship between female psychopathy (Psychopathy Checklist-Revised [PCL-R] total, factor, and facet scores) and the Rorschach Aggression indices (Aggressive Movement [AG], Aggressive Content [AgC], Aggressive Past [AgPast], Aggressive Potential [AgPot], Sadomasochistic Aggression [SM]) were examined. Rorschach Aggression indices between female psychopathic (PCL-R total score ≥ 30; N = 84) and non-psychopathic female offenders (PCL-R total score ≤ 24; N = 39) were also compared. PCL-R total score was significantly correlated (p <.05) with AgC, AgPast, AgPot, and SM and there were also significant correlations between the Aggression scores and PCL-R Factor/facet scores. The female psychopaths produced more AgC, AgPast, and AgPot responses than the non-psychopathic females. Rorschach aggression indices supported theory and suggested that the violence in psychopathic women stems from their identification with aggression and pervasive feelings of entitlement. Psychopathic women evidenced higher levels of these variables than the non-psychopathic offenders. The results add to the link between aggression and psychopathy as well as a better understanding of aggression in female offenders.
Article
Full-text available
In this study, PCL-R scores were used in correlational analyses with PAI scales in a sample of incarcerated women (N = 133). The total PCL-R score was significantly correlated with many PAI scales including ANT, DRG, and AGG. Categorical analyses were also used where the psychopathic women (N = 71; PCL-R ≥ 30) were significantly higher on the PAI scales of MAN, VPI, PAR, BOR, ANT, AGG, DOM; the non-psychopathic women (N = 28; PCL-R total score ≤ 24) scored higher on the RXR scale. These results further elucidate the conceptualization of female psychopathy (borderline and histrionic personality traits) and were consistent both with clinical observations, theoretical conceptualizations, and previous Rorschach research. Clinical implications were provided for working with incarcerated psychopathic women.
Article
Full-text available
Based on findings from prior research studies, trauma histories have been found to be ubiquitous in psychopathic women. In this study, the Rorschach Trauma Content Index (TCI) was used to better understand the trauma histories of incarcerated women (N = 180). The TCI was significantly correlated with total reported trauma events, reported sexual abuse, other Rorschach scores (AgPast, ROD), and scales on both the Personality Assessment Inventory and the Trauma Symptom Inventory-2. The TCI may be related more to sexual abuse than physical abuse and the traumatic intrusions appear to be related to borderline features and dependency in this sample. These results suggest that the TCI facilitates our understanding of trauma in the lives of incarcerated women.
Article
Full-text available
The Rorschach Comprehensive System Egocentricity Index (EGOI) and its component variables have been useful in understanding antisocial and psychopathic individuals (Gacono & Meloy, 1994; Gacono, Meloy, & Heaven, 1990). In this study, the EGOI, Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) scales and the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) were used with a sample of incarcerated women. The EGOI, Fr + rF, and pairs were examined in relation to PCL-R Items 1 (Glibness/Superficial Charm) and 2 (Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth), PCL-R Factor 1, PCL-R facet 1, and the PAI MAN-G and ANT-E scales. The EGOI and reflections were significantly correlated with PCL-R Item 1 and a combination of PCL-R Items 1 and 2. Unlike highly narcissistic male offenders where grandiosity elevates reflections and EGOI, female psychopaths (PCL-R total score ≥ 30; N = 85) and non-psychopathic females (PCL-R total score ≤ 24; N = 40), did not demonstrate a significant difference for their mean EGOI; however, female psychopaths were more likely to produce protocols with a high EGOI (≥ 0.44) with and without reflections and they had more pairs (a finding consistent with conceptual differences between male and female psychopaths). The utility of the EGOI with incarcerated women is discussed.
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Over the years, the number of homicides in Italy has progressively decreased, ultimately becoming one of the lowest rates in Europe (357 = 0.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017, according to ISTAT[Link]). The number of homicides committed by women was about 9% of the total number of homicides during our study period. The percentage has increased in recent years because the total number of homicides has decreased without a proportionate decrease in the number of female homicides. Indeed, murder is an unusual type of crime for a woman and is often associated with a mental disorder, so when a woman committed a homicide, a psychiatric assessment was often performed. A forensic psychiatry expert was assigned to investigate the offender's psychopathology and mental state at the time of the offense. The root causes of the crime remained unexplained, however, due to the lack of a psychiatric precedent to justify this kind of assessment. The role of psychopathy in homicide has seldom been studied in female offenders, even though psychopathy has an important role in violent crimes. The investigators examined, clinically and historically, a sample of women who committed murder with different levels of criminal responsibility (female homicide offenders found not guilty by reason of insanity, having partial criminal responsibility, and convicted as criminally responsible and sentenced to prison) to identify the prevalence of the psychopathic dimension and its possible role in this sample. Prevalence and degree of psychopathic traits were examined in these female offenders using the Psychopathy Checklist‐Revised. This study showed that females who had committed homicide were likely to suffer from mental illness; most of the homicidal acts were committed impulsively; and most female homicides occurred within the family, especially among women who were psychotic, but less so if they were psychopathic. Psychopathy tended to co‐occur more with personality disorders than with psychotic psychopathology. Psychopathy was more evident among female homicide offenders who had been abused or traumatized. Psychopathic women who killed had high factor F1 scores and low antisocial component of factor F2.
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In this study, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), the Rorschach, and the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) were used to elucidate the personality functioning of incarcerated females with sex offenses against minors (FSOAM; N = 31). There was significant convergence among the PCL-R, PAI, and Rorschach data. Both the PAI and Rorschach suggested: 1) borderline/psychotic reality testing and idiosyncratic thinking; 2) damaged sense of self, entitlement, and victim stance; 3) abnormal bonding and dependency; 4) affective instability; 5) impulsivity; and 6) chronic anger. Our comparison with a sample of male pedophiles (N = 36) highlighted gender specific issues with the women. Specifically, the women had more emotional deficits, ego-syntonic aggression, idiosyncratic thinking, and inappropriate attachments. A case study and our findings suggest a conceptual model for understanding the dynamics that result in female sexual offending behavior.
Article
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Psychopathy has long been associated with aggression. However, few studies have looked at differences between men and women. Studies that do exist demonstrate that psychopathy differentially relates to aggression in men and women and indicate that environmental factors may play a significant role in influencing these associations. A key environmental factor is a history of lifetime physical abuse (LPA), which has been linked to aggressive behavior in both men and women. The aim of the present study was to test if psychopathy differentially predicted physical, verbal, and indirect aggression in men and women, and if these associations were moderated by LPA. In a large community sample of men ( n = 369) and women ( n = 204), we assessed the 4-facet model of psychopathy (Interpersonal, Affective, Lifestyle, Antisocial) with the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version, LPA with the Addiction Severity Index, and self-report aggression with the Aggression Questionnaire. Results revealed sex differences and similarities. Physical aggression was associated with the affective facet of psychopathy in both men and women, though in different directions based on the moderating effects of LPA. Verbal aggression was associated with higher antisocial facet scores and LPA for men and not women. Finally, indirect aggression was associated with the antisocial facet of psychopathy for men, and the interpersonal facet for women, and these associations were not moderated by LPA. In women, low antisocial facet scores and no LPA were found to be protective for indirect aggression. These results show that LPA and psychopathy generally increase the risk of aggression, but the interaction between LPA and psychopathy differentiates the risk of aggression forms for men and women. These sex differences highlight the need for female-responsive interventions to target sex-specific risk factors for aggressive behavior.
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Various studies have shown that women with psychopathy tend to commit crimes that are less violent than those of psychopathic men. The present study was designed to address the influence of psychopathy on the crimes committed by female offenders. A national sample of female offenders found NGRI or of diminished responsibility and at risk for criminal recidivism (OPG patients) was compared with a sample of female offenders who were convicted and imprisoned. Results of this comparison between the two groups of female offenders indicate that psychopathy is a transversal psychopathological dimension which may or may not be associated with other mental disorders. In both samples, the most commonly reported offenses among women with high PCL‐R scores were minor offenses, not particularly violent, but they appear to be related to typical psychopathic features such as superficial charm, pathological lying, and manipulation.
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Childhood abuse is associated with increased psychopathic features among girls, but most prior research is based on data from correctional samples of female delinquents and less is known about how specific forms of childhood abuse affect specific features of psychopathy. Using a school-based community sample of 696 girls aged 9-17 years from Barbados and Grenada, the current study examined latent profiles of psychopathic personality traits and their associations with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Latent profile analysis (LPA) revealed four distinct psychopathy groups among girls, including a 'low psychopathy' group (41.9% of girls), 'high psychopathy' group (4.8%), 'high interpersonal manipulation and egocentricity' group (37.4%), and a 'moderate psychopathy' group (16%). There was considerable evidence of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse among participants. Sexual abuse was associated with a 116% increased likelihood of membership in the high psychopathy group and a 57% increased likelihood of membership in the high interpersonal manipulation and egocentricity group. These results indicate that sexual abuse is a powerful distal factor in the development of psychopathic personality functioning, especially more severe variants.
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There has been a longstanding debate and mixed evidence on the link between psychopathy and intelligence. Most of the existing research comes from male prisoners, with the literature on female psychopathy and intelligence remaining sparse. Thus, the current study explored the correlational association between psychopathy and intelligence in a sample of high-risk violent female offenders. This is the first study of its kind from the Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) pathway for women in the United Kingdom (UK). The sample includes high-risk violent women presenting with severe personality disorder. In the present study, we conducted a correlational examination between total scores, and the 2-factor and 4-facet structure of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) with intelligence using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). No significant associations were found between total PCL-R scores, or factor 2, and intelligence. Positive associations were found between verbal comprehension and factor 1 and the interpersonal facet. Thus, the results suggest high-risk violent female offenders with interpersonal psychopathic traits demonstrate higher levels of verbal comprehension skills. This finding may help explain why psychopathic female offenders, who can be characterized by deceitful and egocentric behaviours, may be able to successfully charm and con others for their own personal gain.
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Behaviourally and symptomatically, individuals with dissociative disorders (DD) are often difficult to distinguish from those with psychotic disorders (PD). This chapter reviews how a range of psychological instruments may inform our understanding of the clinical and conceptual differences between severe DD and PD. Across all psychiatric symptom scales, using trauma‐related as well as the broader psychiatric symptom instruments, the DD patients tend to report a high level of symptomatology across a range of psychiatric symptoms. The Rorschach protocols of DD patients show theoretically predicted differences when compared to patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. The clearest distinctions can be found through the use of projective testing, such as the Rorschach. DD patients demonstrate a greater capacity than psychotic patients to be self‐reflective, to modulate affect, to think logically, and to see others as potentially collaborative, despite traumatic flooding.
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Exner’s (1995a) Issues and Methods in Rorschach Research provided a standard of care for conducting Rorschach research; however, the extent to which studies have followed these guidelines has not been examined. Similarly, meta-analytic approaches have been used to comment on the validity of Exner’s Comprehensive System (CS) variables without an evaluation as to the extent that individual studies have conformed to the proposed methodological criteria (Exner, 1995a; Gacono, Loving, & Bodholdt, 2001). In this article, 210 studies cited in recent meta-analyses by Mihura, Meyer, Dumitrascu, and Bombel (2013) were examined. The studies were analyzed in terms of being research on the Rorschach versus research with the Rorschach and whether they met the threshold of validity/generalizability related to specific Rorschach criteria. Only 104 of the 210 (49.5%) studies were research on the Rorschach and none met all five Rorschach criteria assessed. Trends and the need for more stringent methods when conducting Rorschach research were presented.
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Before its closure on April 1, 2015, the Castiglione delle Stiviere was the only maximum-security hospital in Italy that admitted women. In this context, the investigators examined factors related to psychopathy that were thought to be gender specific. Several prior investigations have reported a significant correlation between psychopathy and borderline personality disorder, a disorder thought to represent the phenotypical expression of psychopathy in women. The purpose of this research was to identify psychopathological and phenotypical gender-specific factors that are associated with psychopathy in women. The data appear consistent with that found in the recent international literature and also highlight the different phenotypical manifestation of psychopathy in the two genders. Whereas in males psychopathy is associated with antisocial personality disorder, in females psychopathy is associated with borderline personality disorder.
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Psychopathy is considered an essential construct in forensic work (Gacono, 2016). Most methodologically sound studies have involved males rather than females (Smith et al., 2014). Gender differences have been found to be, and continue to be considered important in the assessment and management of forensic populations (Cunliffe et al., 2016). Male psychopaths present as pathologically narcissistic whereas female psychopaths manifest a malignant form of hysteria. Both are pathologically self-focused; however, the grandiosity in males is contrasted by women’s negative self-view. In the current study, male and female psychopaths (males = N = 44; PCL-R M = 33.13; females = N = 46; PCL-R M = 32.93) were compared using select Comprehensive System Rorschach variables. Female psychopaths produced more painful rumination (SumV), helplessness (SumY), and poor self-regard (EGOI ≥ .44 & Fr + rF = 0) than the males. Males were more detached (SumT) than females. Implications for future research, recommendations for these populations, and suggestions for using the PCL-R to assess female offenders are discussed.
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Cavum Septum Pellucidum (CSP) is a common anatomical variant of the septum pellucidum. CSP is considered a marker for abnormal limbic brain development, but its functional consequences are non-specific. In a recent report [1], CSP size was significantly positively correlated with the affective/interpersonal traits of psychopathy in male offenders (N = 1742). Here we test the hypothesis that CSP is related to psychopathic traits in incarcerated females (N = 355). We examine continuous relationships as well as categorical assignments for CSP size corresponding to a number of prior reports. We also compare female offenders to healthy female controls (N = 385). Consistent with our reported findings in males, a positive association was observed between the interpersonal psychopathic traits and CSP size. In contrast to findings among males, an association between CSP and antisocial psychopathic traits was apparent in females. There was no significant difference in CSP size (in mm) or CSP presence/absence between incarcerated and non-incarcarated groups. However, categorical rates of medium and large CSP were more common in female inmates than in controls. This is the first systematic investigation of these variables in a female inmate sample. In combination with our prior study, these findings demonstrate that limbic abnormalities, as indexed by CSP, are related to psychopathic traits in both female and male inmates.
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It has been suggested that psychopathy and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are associated and that they could be differently gendered variants of the same underlying phenotype. This study explored gender-specific perceptions of the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality (CAPP) and the Comprehensive Assessment of Borderline Personality (CABP). Correctional staff (n = 87) were asked to rate the prototypicality of these models for women and men with psychopathy. The results provide further support for the CAPP model as a promising conceptualization of psychopathy. Findings show few gender differences and lend support to psychopathy and BPD as overlapping constructs.
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The current article reviews the literature regarding several issues that are relevant to the classification of psychopathy. We make the argument based on the available literature that psychopathy cannot be easily categorized in a qualitative manner but rather is a dimensional construct. We also make the claim that psychopathy is not unitary. Indeed, virtually all available research points to psychopathy being multidimensional and therefore gives rise to the potential of multiple constellations of traits (i.e., subtypes or variants) that fall under the broader umbrella term of psychopathy. We review the literature on subtypes of psychopathy, which is in our opinion the best perspective from which to consider psychopathy classification, with the caveat that such constellations or ‘psychopathy variants’ are also dimensional in nature and would vary in severity. We also added an empirical contribution in which we replicate and expand upon the existing psychopathy subtype literature in a novel way. We end our article with general implications and discussion of future directions in this area.
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The present study was designed to compare gender differences in psychiatric diagnosis with the dimension of psychopathy in women and men who had attempted or committed homicide. The study samples consisted of 39 homicidal females and 48 homicidal males who were confined in one of Italy’s REMS or prison facilities in two southern provinces of Italy (Puglia and Basilicata). Assessment instruments included the SCID‐5, the PID‐5 IRF, and the PCL‐R. Each gender group was stratified according to the level of criminal responsibility for the homicidal offense (full, partial, absent), and after assessments, according to the degree of the psychopathic dimension. There were clear gender differences in homicidal individuals. Female offenders were less likely to have had a record of criminal charges/convictions or imprisonment, and their homicides were more often intrafamilial, victimizing especially of their children, whereas males targeted intimate partners and extrafamilial victims. In the entire group, there was an inverse relationship between the level of psychopathy and the personality disorder on one side, and the psychotic disturbance on the other. Factor 2 (lifestyle/antisocial dimension) of the PCL‐R was higher among the homicidal males, whereas females tended to score higher on Factor 1 (the interpersonal/affective dimension). Finally, if the psychopathic dimension is a qualifier for antisocial personality disorder, as indicated in DSM‐5, this appears to be less true for females who tend to have other personality disorders.
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There is a growing interest in understanding the consequences of parental incarceration. Unfortunately, research exploring the long-term criminological and personality effects in female offspring is limited, particularly among second-generation female offenders. In a sample of 170 female offenders, we first assessed the correlations between psychopathy facets, prison violence, and types of crime. Next, we tested the association between childhood exposure to paternal and/or maternal incarceration on adulthood psychopathic traits, criminal offending, and prospective prison violence over 12 months. Correlations showed the interpersonal facet was positively correlated with fraud-related crime and prison violence. The affective facet was positively correlated with violent crime and prison violence. The behavioral facet was associated with prison violence and drug-related crime. Multinomial logistic regressions showed higher interpersonal facet scores were associated with an increased likelihood of having experienced paternal incarceration. Higher affective facet scores, violent crime, and prison violence were associated with an increased likelihood of having experienced maternal incarceration, regardless of if the father had been incarcerated or not. It is evident that having any parent incarcerated during childhood can be harmful to daughters; however, our findings dovetail with prior research showing that maternal incarceration leads to more detrimental outcomes for women.
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The literature examining gender differences in the aetiology and course of firesetting is limited. This study used a sample of 32 female firesetters and 64 male firesetter-controls, matched for age, to explore (dis)similarities across 45 variables. Multidimensional scaling and Chi-square tests showed that most female firesetting fit within a ‘Dysregulated Type’, wherein the firesetting arose in the context of personality disorder, most likely borderline personality disorder, self-harm, and mood dysregulation, and was associated with the motive to relieve or express frustration. Conversely, firesetting for revenge in the context of intimate partner violence, and firesetting to illegally profit financially, was indicated as more attributable to male firesetters. Increased psychopathology and the self-regulating function of firesetting among women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder were highlighted. The implications for formulating female firesetting were also discussed.
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The present study intends to be a contribution to understand affections and emotions associated with female psychopathy. Although there are several studies aiming to understand psychopathy, there is still a gap in the integration of such a concept in affective dimensions, as well as a scarcity of surveys conducted in the female population. Sixty-three women confined to prison, located in the North region of Portugal, participated in this study. Participants were assessed using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), the Levenson’s Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP), and the Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R). Results showed that only nine women presented moderate scores of psychopathy. Moreover, women with higher psychopathy scores revealed deficits in positive emotional abilities, and secondary psychopathy was related with predominance of negative affection. In the future, it would be useful to develop more effective instruments to assess emotions and affections in psychopaths.
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Smith et al. (2018) describe their article as “an evaluation as to the extent that individual studies have conformed to [ Exner’s (1995a) ] proposed methodological criteria” (Abstract). However, the authors did not conduct analyses to compare research before and after Exner (1995a) in order to assess its impact nor were the set of criteria they used Exner’s. Instead, they critiqued the individual studies in Mihura and colleagues’ (2013) meta-analyses, declaring all methodologically unsound (including Exner’s). They conjectured that Mihura et al. omitted studies with less “methodological bias” that would have provided more support for Rorschach validity. I explain why most of the criteria they use to criticize the studies’ methodology are not sound. But to directly test their hypotheses, I requested their ratings of study methodology. Findings from studies they rated as having more methodological “issues” (e.g., not reporting IQ or Lambda range) or as being “application studies” – which they said should be excluded – were not less supportive of Rorschach validity as they assumed would be the case. The small effect size associations ( r < |.10|) were also in the opposite direction of which Smith et al. argued to be true, indicating that the criteria by which they evaluated other researchers’ studies were not sound. Our findings do indicate that researchers are responding to the one criterion that is clearly stated in Exner (1995a) , which is Weiner’s (1991) recommendation to report interrater reliability; before 1991, 12% of studies reported interrater reliability, which afterward jumped to 78.4%. Other claims in the article by Smith et al. are also addressed.
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We examined the impact of the changes in administration and coding introduced by the Rorschach Performance Assessment System (R-PAS) relative to the Comprehensive System (CS) on the Rorschach response process, as manifested in variables relevant to interpretation. We also examined the efficiency of each system to obtain protocols in an optimal range of responses (R) for interpretation. As hypothesized, when comparing 50 CS and 50 R-PAS nonpatient protocols, R-PAS produced many more protocols in the optimal R range (18-27) than the CS (78% vs. 24%) and it eliminated the need for re-administration, which was required for five CS protocols. As expected, R was less variable with R-PAS, as were two variables derived from it, R8910% and Complexity. In addition, as expected because of different Form Quality tables, R-PAS showed notably fewer and less variable perceptual distortions than the CS, and an increase in more conventional perceptions. The other 58 variables showed no reliable differences in means or standard deviations, though modest power precluded definitive inferences about equivalence. Overall, our results support previous findings about the benefit of R-PAS to obtain protocols in an optimal range for interpretation, while keeping the core manifestations of the response process unchanged.
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Most violence risk assessment tools have been validated predominantly in males. In this multicentre study, the HCR-20, HCR-20 V3, FAM, START, SAPROF, and PCL-R were coded on file information of 78 female forensic psychiatric patients discharged between 1993 and 2012 with a mean follow-up period of 11.8 years from one of four Dutch forensic psychiatric hospitals. Notable was the high rate of mortality (17.9%) and readmission to psychiatric settings (11.5%) after discharge. Official reconviction data could be retrieved from the Ministry of Justice and Security for 71 women. Twenty-four women (33.8%) were reconvicted after discharge, including 13 for violent offenses (18.3%). Overall, predictive validity was moderate for all types of recidivism, but low for violence. The START Vulnerability scores, HCR-20 V3, and FAM showed the highest predictive accuracy for all recidivism. With respect to violent recidivism, only the START Vulnerability scores and the Clinical scale of the HCR-20 V3 demonstrated significant predictive accuracy.
Article
Objective This study presents an examination of the influence of response format on convergence between performance‐based and self‐report assessments of similar mental health constructs, to determine if such method variance might account for prior findings of lack of relationship. Methods An online sample of 455 participants (57% male; average age, 35.5) completed a multiple‐choice version of the Rorschach and two self‐report instruments, the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) and the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) representation of the domain traits of the five‐factor model (FFM). Results Several significant interrelationships emerged between the Rorschach Amplified Multiple Choice Test and the PAI and IPIP five‐factor scales. Conclusions These findings suggest that the Rorschach can correlate meaningfully with similar constructs assessed using self‐report methodology when comparable response formats are utilized.
Article
This study sought to expand scientific knowledge on psychopathic personality traits in female offenders by evaluating the relationship between MMPI–2–RF triarchic scales and self-reported external variables in a sample of 205 female offenders. Results indicated that boldness was inversely related to internalizing dysfunction, including suicidal behavior, psychosis, youth conduct problems, problems stemming from alcohol use, and a history of outpatient mental health treatment. Meanness was positively related to internalizing dysfunction as well as youth conduct problems, anger, prison disciplinary reports, and psychosis. Disinhibition was associated with a history of abuse in childhood, suicidal behavior, internalizing dysfunction, problems associated with alcohol and drug use, family history of mental illness, prison disciplinary reports for violence, number of previous criminal charges, and anger. Consistent with views of psychopathy as a configural condition, interactive effects of boldness with disinhibition and meanness were observed for multiple key external variables (e.g., conduct problems, substance use, nonsuicidal self-injurious behavior). This study provides further evidence for the triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy in female offenders and lends additional support for the validity of MMPI–2–RF triarchic psychopathy scales.
Article
The Rorschach Performance Assessment System (R-PAS; Meyer, Viglione, Mihura, Erard, & Erdberg, 2011 Meyer, G. J., Viglione, D. J., Mihura, J. L., Erard, R. E., & Erdberg, P. (2011). Rorschach Performance Assessment System: Administration, coding, interpretation, and technical manual. Toledo, OH: Rorschach Performance Assessment System. [Google Scholar]) introduced R-optimized administration to reduce variability in the number of Responses (R). We provide new data from six studies of participants randomly assigned to receive a version of this method or Comprehensive System (CS; Exner, 2003 Exner, J. E. (2003). The Rorschach: A Comprehensive System. Vol. 1. Basic foundations (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. [Google Scholar]) administration. We examine how administration methods affect 3 types of codes most likely to contain potential projective material and the frequency of these codes for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or last response to a card (R in Card). In a meta-analytic summary, we found 37% of responses have 1 type of code, 19% have 2 types, and 3% have all 3 types, with stable proportions across responses within cards. Importantly, administration method had no impact on potential projective variable means. Differential skew across samples made variability harder to interpret. Initial results suggesting differences in 3 of the 18 specific Type by R in Card pairs did not follow a coherent pattern and disappeared when using raw counts from all participants. Overall, data do not support concerns that R-optimized administration might alter potential projective processes, or make potentially “signature” last responses to the card any different in R-PAS than the CS.
Article
Valid measurement of psychopathic traits in females using the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) continues to be an under researched topic. Previous latent variable and other psychometric studies have raised questions concerning the structure and predictive effects of psychopathic traits in females. New cross-cultural research finds good support for a four-factor model of psychopathy in females and the predictive effects of the psychopathy factors (Declercq, Carter, & Neumann, 2015; Neumann, Hare, & Pardini, 2015). Nevertheless, additional research is needed on females, especially individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. We investigated the factor structure and construct validity of the PCL-R in a female Hispanic sample (n = 155). Confirmatory factor analysis showed that the four-factor model provided an adequate fit. Furthermore, structural equation modelling revealed significant negative and positive predictive effects, respectively, between general personality (Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), and indifferent/abusive parenting with the broad syndrome of psychopathy.
Article
Emotional impairment is a core feature of psychopathy, and the disorder has been linked to an inability to recognize and regulate emotion, leading to deficiencies in empathy and difficulties in social functioning. This study investigated associations among psychopathic traits and ability-based emotional intelligence (EI) in female offenders and integrated data with previously published male offender data (Ermer, Kahn, Salovey, & Kiehl, 2012) to examine gender differences in relationships. Results showed that female offenders were impaired in the understanding and management of emotion relative to the general population, and that female offenders scored higher than male offenders in EI. Affective psychopathic traits (e.g., callousness) yielded a small relationship with difficulties in managing emotion in female offenders, and few gender differences in relationships between psychopathy and EI were found. Findings contribute to literature on emotional functioning in females with psychopathic traits and further understanding of gender differences in emotional abilities among offenders.
Article
Controlling the number of Rorschach responses (R) as a method to reduce variability in the length of records has stimulated controversy among researchers for many years. Recently, the Rorschach Performance Assessment System (R-PAS; Meyer, Viglione, Mihura, Erard, & Erdberg, 2011 ) introduced an R-Optimized method to reduce variability in R. Using 4 published and 2 previously unpublished studies (N = 713), we examine the extent to which 51 Comprehensive System-based scores on the R-PAS profile pages are affected as a result of receiving Comprehensive System (CS; Exner, 2003 ) administration versus a version of R-Optimized administration. As hypothesized, R-the intended target of R-Optimized administration-showed reliable weighted average differences across each method of administration. As expected, its mean modestly increased and its standard deviation notably decreased. Also as hypothesized, the next largest effects were decreases in the variability (SD) of 2 variables directly related to R, R8910% and Complexity. No other reliable differences were observed. Therefore, because R-Optimized administration does not notably modify the existing CS-based normative values for other profiled R-PAS variables, the data do not support concerns that R-Optimized administration notably modifies the Rorschach task or that existing CS research data would not generalize to R-PAS. However, because R-Optimized administration reduces variability in R, it allows a single set of norms to apply readily to more people.
Article
Personality disorders (PDs) are challenging to assess and are associated with great individual and societal costs. In response to the limitations of categorical models, the DSM-5 included an alternative model (i.e., Section III), which uses impairment (Criterion A) and pathological traits (Criterion B) to diagnose PDs. Although numerous studies have illustrated dimensional trait models' ability to capture personality psychopathology, less attention has been paid to personality impairment. The present investigation sought to examine Criterion A's ability to contribute incrementally to the prediction of antisocial (ASPD), borderline (BPD), and narcissistic personality disorders (NPD), and Interpersonal-Affective (F1) and Impulsive-Antisocial (F2) features of psychopathy. The current study used 200 female inmates and found that impairment contributed to the prediction of BPD, NPD, and psychopathy F1 scores and did not add to the prediction of ASPD and psychopathy F2 scores. Difficulties in distinguishing between personality impairment and personality disordered traits are discussed.
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Jodi Arias killed her ex-lover Travis Alexander in 2008. He was shot, stabbed, and nearly decapitated. She was sentenced to life in prison. For 2 years after the murder, Mr. Arias claimed that two masked intruders broke into the home and killed Mr. Alexander. Later, she admitted that the intruder story was a complete fabrication and changed her story to that of self-defense. Through the lens of psychopathy, this case study examines the behaviors and deceptions generated by Ms. Arias. This case should be of clinical interest to professionals studying deceptive behavior.
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There is a paucity of research about personality pathology among female offenders. This study aims to address this gap in the forensic psychology empirical base by examining the relationship between female psychopathy, as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist–Revised, and personality disorders, as measured by the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III in a South African forensic context. Participants included 108 purposively sampled female offenders incarcerated in South Africa. The Kruskal–Wallis H test and Mann–Whitney U test revealed a number of significant differences in levels of personality pathology between groups. Importantly, the results support international findings that significantly higher rates of Cluster B personality pathology are found among psychopathic offenders compared to non-psychopathic offenders.
Article
The Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL–R; Hare, 2003 Hare, R. D. (2003). Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised technical manual (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON, Canada: Multi-Health Systems. [Google Scholar]) is one of the most commonly used measures of psychopathy. Scores range from 0 to 40, and legal and mental health professionals sometimes rely on a cut score or threshold to classify individuals as psychopaths. This practice, among other things, assumes that all items contribute equally to the overall raw score. Results from an item response theory analysis (Bolt, Hare, Vitale, & Newman, 2004 Bolt, D. M., Hare, R. D., Vitale, J. E., & Newman, J. P. (2004). A multigroup item response theory analysis of the Psychopathy Checklist–Revised. Psychological Assessment, 16, 155–168. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.16.2.155[CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®] [Google Scholar]), however, indicate that PCL–R items differ in the amount of information they can provide about psychopathy. We examined the consequences of these item differences for using a cut score, detailing the consequences for a previously applied cut score of 30 as an example. Results indicated that there were more than 8.5 million different response combinations that equaled 30 and more than 14.2 million that equaled 30 or more. This raw score, like others, corresponded to a broad range of PCL–R-defined psychopathy, indicating that applying cut scores on this measure results in imprecise quantifications of psychopathy. We show that by using the item parameters along with an individual's particular scores on the PCL–R items, it is possible to arrive at a more precise understanding of an individual's level of psychopathy on this instrument.