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Antisocial Personality Disorder and Psychopathy

Posted Mar 14 2010 12:59pm

Long a source of confusion, Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) and Psychopathy are considered two distinct diagnoses by most mental health professionals.  Although often represented in the popular media as being the same disorder with different names (along with the even more confusing term "sociopath"), the terminology and how it is used by the courts can be crucial in sentencing decisions.  The confusion is usually the result of the overlap in the diagnostic criteria: APD and Psychopathy  are both associated with a history of antisocial behavior. Given the role that psychiatric diagnoses can play in sentencing decisions, the question of how an offender is diagnosed can be crucial.  For this reason, it is vital to explore the confusion in the literature resulting from continuing name and criteria changes for the “criminal personality” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  A new paper published in a recent issue of History of Psychology examines the evolution of the Antisocial Personality Disorder diagnosis in the DSM and how the construct has changed over time. The author concludes by discussing the  unique challenges faced by the American Psychiatric Association in potential revisions of the APD diagnostic criteria in the upcoming DSM-V.

For the abstract .
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