Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Ethnic and Racial Differences in Conduct Disorders and Psychopathic Personality/Anti-Social Personality Disorder

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Ethnic and Racial Differences in Conduct Disorders and Psychopathic Personality/Anti-Social Personality Disorder

Article excerpt

The condition known as psychopathic personality/antisocial personality disorder was identified in the early nineteenth century by the French physician Philippe Pinel (1801) who described patients who had "a lack of restraint and whose behaviour was marked by a complete remorselessness of their actions" (Perez, 2012, p.519). Some years later, the British physician John Pritchard (1835) proposed the term ''moral imbecility" for those deficient in moral sense but whose intellectual ability was unimpaired. In 1904 the German psychiatrist Emile Kraepelin (1904) introduced the term psychopathic personality to describe the condition and this has been employed as a diagnostic label throughout the twentieth century and up to the present. In 1941 the condition was described by Cleckley (1941) in what has become a classical book The Mask of Sanity. He described the criteria for the condition as being a "general poverty of affect" (i.e. emotion), defective insight, absence of nervousness, lack of remorse or shame, superficial charm, pathological lying, egocentricity, inability to love, failure to establish close or intimate relationships, irresponsibility, impulsive antisocial acts, failure to learn from experience, reckless behaviour under the influence of alcohol, and a lack of long term goals.

In 1984 the American Psychiatric Association dropped the term psychopathic personality and replaced it with "anti-social personality disorder". However, many psychiatrists and psychologists have continued to use the term psychopathic personality and a number of authorities such as Lykken (1995) regard anti-social personality disorder as simply a synonym for psychopathic personality.

In 1994 the American Psychiatric Association (1994) issued a revised Diagnostic Manual in which it listed 11 features of anti-social personality disorder. These are: (1) inability to sustain consistent work behaviour; (2) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviour; (3) irritability and aggressivity, as indicated by frequent physical fights and assaults; (4) repeated failure to honor financial obligations; (5) failure to plan ahead or impulsivity; (6) no regard for truth, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or ''conning'' others; (7) recklessness regarding one's own or others' personal safety, as indicated by driving while intoxicated or recurrent speeding; (8) inability to function as a responsible parent; (9) failure to sustain a monogamous relationship for more than one year; (10) lacking remorse; and (11) the presence of conduct disorder in childhood.

In 2002 the theory was advanced that there are racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality conceptualised as a continuously distributed trait rather than a discrete condition (Lynn, 2002). This theory proposed that high values of the trait are present in blacks and Native Americans, intermediate values in Hispanics, lower values in whites and the lowest values in East Asians. Evidence for the theory was adduced largely from studies in the United States and derived from questionnaire measures and behaviour such as rates of crime and sexual promiscuity, The theory was criticised by Skeem, Edens, Sanford et al. (2003) and Zuckerman (2003), followed by a reply by Lynn (2003).

In the succeeding decade no further work was done on the theory. In the present paper we present new evidence bearing on the theory from the United Kingdom.


The present study draws on data collected for the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a survey of 18,819 babies born between September 2000 and January 2002 into 18,552 families living in the United Kingdom (Dex & Joshi, 2005). Due to disproportionate sampling, special weights have to be applied in analyzing the data (Plewis, Calderwood, Hawkes, Hughes, & Joshi, 2004).

At age 7, teachers reported pupils' behavioural difficulties, using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), age 4-15 years version (http://www. …

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