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10 Fed. Probation 22 (1946)
The Psycopath: A Problem for Society

handle is hein.journals/fedpro10 and id is 176 raw text is: FEDERAL PROBATION

of certain practices is at the bottom of our deep
hostility toward the addict. We do not recognize
the real basis for it, and therefore make up and
perpetuate myths to justify our hostility. We are
right in our conclusions but wrong in our reasons
for believing them.
Whether this or some other, perhaps less
complimentary, reason leads us to believe in and
defend myths about marihuana, this practice
unquestionably makes more difficult the rehabil-
itation of addicts. Addiction does not improve
the mental health of a person who is sick, abnor-
mal, and badly adjusted to start with; prolonged
addiction may cause the loss of what abilities and

assets he originally had. If we regard him, solely
by reason of his addiction, as a degenerate, a per-
vert, an unpredictable specialist in violence, we
may perpetuate his addiction by making life at
a nonaddictive level too difficult even for a normal
person to endure. If we permit him to be treated
realistically, regard him as a sick man to be
helped, his lack of self-control to be supplemented
by judicious and well-timed detention in a proper
institution, and this to be followed by realistic
helpful supervision, he has an excellent chance
for rehabilitation. He can become not a liability,
but an asset to Society.

The Psycopath: A Problem for Society
Department of Psychiatry, University of Georg ia School of Medicine

J URIES, judges, probation officers and the
man on the street find it, difficult to appraise
and difficult to deal with persons whom psychi-
atrists diagnose as psychopathic personality. It
might also be said, with some justice, that the
psychiatrists who diagnose this disorder and who
have attempted to define it also behave as if they
participate in the confusion that arises when
such persons have to be evaluated.
Characteristics of the Psychopath
It is pertinent, perhaps, to give first a sketch
of our subject, not an ambitious interpretation,
not a full portrait, but a rough and quick live-
drawing of the psychopath.
1. Usually and typically, he is polite, affable,
and impressive. One is likely to feel immediately
that he is an alert and a more than ordinarily in-
telligent and attractive person. Psychometric
tests confirm the quick impression, rating his
intelligence as better than the average, often as
notably superior.
2. He is not only free from all the signs and
symptoms listed in text-books as indicative of
serious mental disorder (psychosis, insanity) but
also, on examination, of the minor manifestations
popularly and technically regarded as psychoneu-
rotic. He is not influenced by imaginary voices.
He does not have true delusions such as the false
beliefs which often account for the superficially
fantastic, illogical, inept, and sometimes genuine-
ly tragic, behavior of the orthodoxly deranged

patient. In Words he gives an excellent picture of
the real world, accurately points out cause and
effect, predicts as well as any man the unfortun-
ate consequences that follow injudicious or gross-
ly asocial actions. He can discuss his past mis-
takes with what appears to be superior insight
and can outline plans for the future that would
do credit to one whose profession is to teach and
direct others or to make the laws of society.
3. When he speaks of his intentions and his
goals, when he describes his love for his mother
or what his wife and children mean to him, he is
likely to be judged a person of sincerity and of
substantial emotion. His expressed remorse over
his misdeeds or folly seems very different from
what can be assumed for a purpose by the ordin-
ary charlatan. He often speaks quietly of his
word of honor and under questioning he looks
one in the eye with what nearly any observer
would call a fine, manly. candor.
4.1 Not rarely the records; will show that he
has won the chancellor's, prize at college for ain
essay on the Renaissance, or graduated from high
school summa cum laude, or outstripped 20 rival
salesmen over a period of 6 months, or married
the most desirable girl in town, or, on a first:ven-
ture into politics, got'himself elected to the state
legislature. Usually he will have succeeded:better
than the average for day, weeks or months and,
nearly always, even in a decade's background of
almost incredible failures and follies, sporadic.
brief flashes of ability show.


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