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Psychopathic Offenders: Treatment Challenges and Controversies

The very nature of the interpersonal, emotional, and behavioral features that characterize psychopathy, and its destructive social consequences, would seem to lower optimism about the response of psychopaths to treatment. The process of treatment is challenging, requiring honest self-reflection, receptiveness to often critical feedback, and the motivation to make important behavioral changes to prevent the same problems in life from resurfacing. The therapeutic pessimism associated with treating offenders with psychopathy is naturally due in large part to the many challenges they present in therapy and their resistance to therapeutic efforts to bring about change. This entry reviews the treatment challenges and controversies of treating offenders with psychopathy; although the challenges are many, the task is not insurmountable, especially when psychopathy is given a realistic context.

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