Handbook of Psychopathy

Article excerpt

Handbook of Psychopathy, by Christopher J. Patrick (Ed.). The Guilford Press, 2007, 651 pages (ISBN: 978-1-59385-591-8, CA$36.00 Paperback)

Reviewed by HUGUES HERVÉ

DOI : 10.1037/0708-5591.49.1.70

Although accounts of psychopaths are found across time and cultures, it was not until the mid-to-late 20th century that psychopathy became an accepted clinical syndrome. It was Cleckley, in his influential book, The Mask of Sanity (1941/1988), who first introduced a well-defined set of symptoms anchored in rich case examples. It served as the basis for the development of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991, 2003), which has since established itself as the measure of choice for assessing psychopathy. The emergence of the PCL-R and its derivatives has not only served to clarify the distinction between psychopathy and other externalizing conditions, particularly antisocial personality disorder (APD), but has also led to great empirical and clinical advancements, as well as new debates. The Handbook of Psychopathy aims to address these new developments. It is a well-written text edited by Christopher J. Patrick, a well-published researcher in the area of psychopathy and affect. The book includes 31 chapters from leading researchers in the field.

Chapters are organised into six sections, although the final one consists solely of a summary commentary by Patrick. The first section, "Theoretical and Empirical Foundations," begins with Lykken's short but apt review of the construct of psychopathy. Fowles and Dindo, and Blackburn, respectively, then provide an overview of relevant theories. Together, these chapters offer a nice introduction to this volume. This section concludes with a review of the history of the PCL-R by Hare and Neumann, with a strong argument for the statistical strengths of the recent reconceptualisation of the PCL-R as reflecting a hierarchical construct comprised of two superordinate factors (Interpersonal/Affective and Social Deviance), which each contain two subordinate facets (Interpersonal and Affective, and Lifestyle and Antisocial, respectively).

The second section, "Issues in Conceptualization and Assessment," begins with Cooke, Michie and Hart defending their three facet model of psychopathy, one in which the Antisocial facet is relegated to a simple manifestation of the disorder, not a core feature. They also provide insights into the implications of Item Response Theory in understanding currently debated topics (e.g., whether symptom sensitivity/specificity generalise across groups or can be improved). Lilienfeld and Fowler then review the current evidence in support of, as well as the need for, self-report measures of psychopathy. The next two chapters attempt to map the PCL-R construct of psychopathy onto other popular nomenclatures, with Lynam and Derefinko doing so compellingly from the perspective of structural (or dimensional) models of personality and Widiger via the association between psychopathy and various DSM disorders. Poythress and Skeem then discuss the newly revived notion of psychopathic subtypes and provide a strong but overly focused review of the primary-secondary distinction. This section concludes with a summary chapter by Krueger.

The third section, "Etiological Mechanisms," largely focuses on the neurobiological correlates of psychopathy. Waldman and Rhee review twin and adoption studies, as well as important methodological issues associated with externalizing conditions to help clarify the genetic by environment underpinnings of psychopathy. Minzenberg and Siever present a mechanical discussion of the neurochemistry and pharmacotherapy of externalizing conditions. In contrast, Raine and Yang provide a strong chapter reviewing the evolving research on structural and functional neuroanatomical correlates of antisociality and psychopathy, as well as associated features, with attention to the limits and implications of this line of enquiry. …