A psychopath or sociopath (the terms can be used interchangeably) is an individual, male or female, who behaves impulsively with little or no sense of what is right and wrong. Since he can be readily identified by his behavior, diagnostic tests are usually not necessary. The origin of the psychopathic character is found in early childhood development. In these cases there is a marked difference in the degree of parental frustration imposed on the young child. One parent is harsh and cruel while the other is permissive and loving. This contradictory way of upbringing, simultaneous parental repression and indulgence of the child’s wishes, results in a child with poor impulse control leading to psychopathic behavior in later life.
Prior to around 1960, child-rearing practices were fairly consistent in America. The family was intact and people had generally accepted forms of social behavior. Social life was primarily organized around the family. Sexual repression was the rule. Sexual matters were never publicly discussed and, according to tradition, sexual activity was confined to marriage. There was a general consensus as to what was right and wrong. Social destructiveness was held in check by individual and social restraints, by accepted codes of behavior and by statutory laws.
Then suddenly, in the span of a few short years during the early 1960s, partly as a result of the so-called “sexual revolution,” destructive impulses broke through in full force from within those of the younger generation. Family traditions were undermined and American society as a whole underwent a transformation from authoritarian to anti-authoritarian. With the eruptions of these destructive forces, almost every kind of socially pathological behavior came to be tolerated, if not accepted outright. “Sex, drugs and rock and roll” became the mantra of the 1970s. People were completely unprepared to deal with what was happening as the authoritarian family structure weakened or, in some cases, ceased to exist. In today’s anti-authoritarian society, permitting the child’s every wish combined with an absence of parental guidance has replaced old-fashioned authoritarian repression. This has led to aimlessness in children, an inability of the young person to take charge of his or her life, and anxious, chaotic behavior on the part of the younger generation.
Today, in our anti-authoritarian society, psychopathic behavior is becoming alarmingly more widespread. Some current examples of psychopathic behavior are: dishonest, greedy CEOs of large corporations committing corporate fraud, the entertainment industries’ romanticizing and glorifying criminals and psychopathic characters and turning them into heroes, and the increased incidence of all kinds of criminal behavior including, in particular, drug use in the past several decades.
There is no treatment for the true psychopath. In fact, clinical experience reveals that conventional forms of treatment such as psychotherapy result in their mental and/or physical deterioration. The psychopath is highly adept at using any form of therapeutic intervention in the service of his psychopathic tendencies.
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