Historical Antecedents of Psychopathy

The terms psychopathy and psychopath evoke many erroneous, or at least overstated, images in the general populace. These notions may stem in part from such popular culture venues as television and feature film productions in which psychopaths tend to be portrayed as ruthless, remorseless, and often ingenious, killers. News agencies and documentary filmmakers also may contribute to a general sense that psychopaths are heinous criminals, as it tends to be sensational acts committed by such individuals that get highlighted. This general assumption that psychopathy is intimately related to criminality has waxed and waned throughout the historical development of the concept and will be part of the discussion throughout this entry that traces the concept of psychopathy from the 18th century to more contemporary approaches to ...

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