CHAPTER IX
PSYCHOPATHIC PERSONALITY

We are all the while on the defensive, trying to put up a front to society which will be directly opposite to that which we are more or less conscious of having suppressed and of having put away down into the subconscious realms of the mind. -- SADLER


TENTATIVE, DFFINITION

To the layman the title of this chapter suggests a condition of disease. But to others it is not so. The psychopathic personality is a "poorly balanced," instable, disorganized condition; it exhibits a tendency toward reactions that are commonly regarded as inimical to orderly social relations because of their incorrigibly selfish emphasis. The condition is illustrated in impulsive forms of behavior such as kleptomania, wanderlust, dypsomania, pyromania, narcotomania, and in many other impulsions.1 It is often conceived as an inborn condition, just as feeble-mindedness is for the most part, but it is by no means necessarily associated with mental defect. Indeed in great numbers of instances a psychopathic personality is associated with normal intelligence and even with superior mental level. For example, among 94 cases of this description in Dr. Healy's group of Chicago repeated juvenile delinquents, 79 were described as of normal intelligence and 15 as feeble-minded. If intelligence were a tool, personality, as we have suggested in an earlier chapter, might suggest a way of using it. And "psychopathic personality" would then connote a disadvantageous mode of using the tool: disadvantageous from the conventional viewpoint of a given community, period, and place, largely because of its erratic, irresponsible character by reason of which its behavior cannot be foreseen. In other words we are dealing here with general behavior patterns as they are exhibited in certain persons whom we

____________________
1
Wilhelm Stekel: Peculiarities of Behavior, Wandering Mania, Kleptomania, Dipsomania, Pyromania and Allied Impulsive Acts. Authorized English translation by James S. Van Teslaar, M.D. Boni and Liveright, New York, 2 vols., 633.

See also Ben Karpman: "Impulsive Neuroses and Crime." Jour. Crim. Law and Criminol., XIX, 4, Feb., 1929, 575-591.

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