Psychopathy is a personality disorder defined by a distinctive cluster of behaviors and inferred personality traits, most of which society views as pejorative. It is therefore no light matter to diagnose an individual as a psychopath.
Like any psychiatric disorder, diagnosis is based on the accumulation of evidence that an individual satisfies at least the minimal criteria for the disorder. In cases based on my own files the individuals have been carefully diagnosed on the basis of extensive interview and file information.
However, I have disguised these individuals by altering details and removing identifying information, without compromising the point I was trying to make.
Although the topic of this book is psychopathy, not everyone described herein is a psychopath. Many of the examples I use are taken from published reports, the news media, and personal communications, and I cannot be sure that the individuals in question are psychopaths, even though they may have been given the label by others.
In each case, however, the documented evidence concerning some aspect of the person’s behavior is either consistent with the concept of psychopathy or illustrates a key trait or behavior that is typical of the disorder. These individuals may or may not be psychopaths. But their reported behavior provides a useful vehicle for elaborating the various traits and behaviors that define psychopathy.
The reader should not assume that an individual is a psychopath simply because of the context in which he or she is portrayed in this book.
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