CJ 725 Forensic Behavior Analysis Blog

Communities are not equipped to handle mental health problems

By andersodFebruary 27th, 2024in CJ 725

Based on my own personal experience, combined with what I learned from the reading as well as talking to others with experience, I feel that that those at the top have never in their lives dealt with the mental health crisis firsthand and appear to have no empathy. During the pandemic, I worked as a security professional at a hospital as well as hotels converted into housing for at risk homeless people. I don't claim to be an expert in psychology or psychiatry, but I am fairly certain that a good number of the people I witnessed (and dealt with) at the Emergency Department as well as at the hotels were either addicted to drugs or suffering from some kind of mental health condition. Due to a lack of community resources, many of these people have no where else to go, and typically end up in either the emergency room or in jail. The conditions these people live with can be very incapacitating, and without proper treatment, trauma increases.

I understand that handling this issue is not an easy one, though a good place to start would be to invest in more mental health courts. A task force looking into problem solving course found that mental health courts were effective in providing integrated services, reducing recidivism, and with due process being preserved (Orr et al., 2009). And in addition, despite initial short term costs, the long term savings created by keeping people with these conditions out of the criminal justice system more than makes up for it (Slate & Johnson, 2008). My mother worked at a high level locked psychiatric facility and found that many of the individuals had been self-medicating with street drugs to deal with their symptoms, because they had no alternative. Mental health courts offer a pathway to get off street drugs and on proper medication.  Still, without additional resources within the community, there is only so much that can be done by the courts. This has been shown in states like Alaska, which have a strong lack of community services (Slate & Johnson, 2008).

There are those who might argue that these people should not be forced into treatment, saying that this "violates their civil liberties", and that they should choose to be treated. What this does not take into account is that something I learned after talking to a court officer with many years of experience in my area. She says that some individuals are so ill that they don't even realize they need help, thinking nothing is wrong with them. They don't want to do what anyone says even if it is for their own good. If we they go without treatment, they face nearly impossible odds without housing or being able to get work.

The court officer I talked to brought up another issue, government corruption. The state capital had sent billions of dollars to our area to help deal with mental health problems in our communities. Problem is, the money seems to have vanished, or rather, as she put it,  was lost in transit somehow. Getting the resources needed may be next to impossible is there is no accountability in the distribution of funds.



Slate, R. N., & Johnson, W. W. (2008). The criminalization of mental illness: Crisis & opportunity for the justice system. Carolina Academic Press.

Orr, C. H., Hall, J. W., Reimer, N. L., Mallett, E. A., O’Dowd, K., & Frazer, A. C. (2009). America’s problem-solving courts: The criminal costs of treatment and the case for Reform. NACDL. https://www.nacdl.org/drugcourts

The Retraumatization of Sexual Assault Victims

By mgreen4February 27th, 2024in CJ 725

Sexual assault has an immense impact on victims physically, psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally (Rousseau, 2024). These effects are long-lasting and oftentimes leave invisible scars on the victim that influence their ability to function throughout every day life. This trauma is not just the result of the actual act of violence; it also occurs when the victim reports the crime to legal authorities, discloses what happened to close family and friends, pursues future sexual interactions, and is close to those who remind them of their attacker.

When victims do gain the courage to report what has happened, they often encounter victim-blaming, disbelief, and general disempowerment (Feenan, 2021). Each time a victim is asked, "What were you wearing? Did you look at him a certain way? Did you drink too much? Are you known for being a risk-taker sexually? Did you yell and scream for him to stop?" they experience further heartbreak and disappointment. These questions represent an immense failure in our society which has caused people to shame rather than support victims.

Legal authorities are oftentimes the first point of contact in a victim's reporting process. Despite a more recent push for law enforcement personnel to become trauma-informed, they often fail to manage issues pertaining to sexual assault cases with grace. During police interviews, many victims express feeling as though they mirror the unequal power balance that they felt throughout their experience with their attacker (Feenan, 2021). Oftentimes, the law enforcement officers will dismiss the victim, inappropriately press them for not immediately calling 911, or belittle them for having an initial point of contact with the perpetrator in the first place (Feenan, 2021). Sadly, the mishandling of these interviews often hinders the future desires of victims to report additional sexual assaults in the future.

Additionally, the entire trial process can provoke further retraumatization. Defense attorneys will often work to intensely discredit victims in an incredibly insensitive manner (Feenan, 2021). Obviously, it is important for all people to receive a fair trial and questioning is required to allow this to happen, but victims must be treated with empathy and respect. Problematic court proceedings may be more common in situations pertaining to intimate partner violence (Feenan, 2021). This may be because some legal personnel may genuinely be unable to comprehend that a trusted spouse or partner could possibly rape their significant other.

As present and future members of the criminal justice field, we must work to do better. As human beings, we must be better. By empowering victims to speak up, they gain access to resources and support systems which can enable them to recover from immense pain and suffering. While we may not all be equipped to bear the weight of a victims journey, we can lend an ear to listen and point out useful resources. Likewise, we can push for more trauma-informed approach to handling reporting.


Feenan, L. (2021). Factors influencing retraumatization amongst sexual assault victims: a qualitative study of the criminal justice system.

Rousseau, D. (2024, February). Module 5METCJ725. Online.

True Crime & Retraumatization of Victims

By kmtFebruary 27th, 2024in CJ 725

Society has a fascination with true crime. Serial killers are typically the crime of choice. They are the embodiment of the worst depths of what humans can be capable of. Serial killers intrigue us because we can never truly figure them out. There has been a boom in podcasts, documentaries, and books delving into the cases of the worst crimes in history. This media borders on glorifying these criminals and can lead to the retraumatization of the victims and their families. 

One aspect of this phenomenon is the rise of murderabilia, which is the sale of artifacts related to criminals or crimes. One famous example of this is the art of John Wayne Gacy. Gacy created art that he sold while he was in prison. The state of Illinois actually sued Gacy over this (Homepage, 2024). Up until the ‘90s, Gacy’s art hardly sold for above $250 a piece, yet recent auctions of his art have gone for up to $175,000 (Brinkhof, 2023). With the rise of popularity of true crime media, the hobby of collecting murderabilia has also gone up. Some may see this as a morbid, but harmless hobby, but the reality is that the glorification of these items can be incredibly damaging to victims.

When a victim’s family sees the art of the person who killed their loved one be fawned over by the masses, it retraumatizes them. Imagine losing a loved one, then hearing about the gruesome details of their murder from a true crime podcast. It can feel like their pain and suffering are being exploited for profit, turning their personal tragedies into objects of fascination for others.

It's important for consumers of true crime media and collectors of murderabilia to be mindful of the impact their actions may have on victims and their families. While it's natural to be curious about these dark and twisted stories, it's crucial to remember the real people whose lives were affected by these crimes.


Brinkhof, T. (2023, May 16). Murderabilia: Our morbid fascination with the garish art of American serial killers. Big Think. https://bigthink.com/high-culture/murderabilia-serial-killer-art/

Homepage. (2024, February 2). A+E Networks EMEA. https://www.aetv.com/real-crime/john-wayne-gacy-death


Mental Health Facilities Needed

By schaydenFebruary 27th, 2024in CJ 725

We need more mental health facilities in the U.S. to prioritize the care and treatment of our growing number of serious mental health issues. The topic of mental health should be socialized clearly and more broadly to remove the still-existing negative stigma. Social media ‘influencer’ culture of the past two decades turned our society into a disposable, transient one where depth of meaning got lost and taking care of humanity became tedious and dull. Today’s society seems more keenly aware of our interconnectedness and that to take care of only our strongest members is a disservice to everyone… I hope we are seeing a return to humanity now.

We are also living in a highly mutable, borderless, boundaryless world. One where a global viral outbreak shut down economies and affected people’s health for generations to come, potentially. The impact of medications we take, vaccines or shots we receive, food and water we consume; everything we ingest can be felt and seen for years to come. The side effects of these elements can also produce general and mental health conditions like heart conditions, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. If this can happen to anyone, where would we go for support and help that would be a permanent or semi-permanent solution?

More state run and supported mental health facilities are needed in the U.S., especially now and especially in my home state of California where we have been seeing an increasing number of mental health issues. Policymakers need to prioritize taking care of mentally ill patients. Money is needed for research, development, treatment, outreach, and education. We put money toward other resources like technology, which is critical for society's advancement, but we are leaving our most vulnerable members unattended and untreated. Some of the downstream impacts of this ongoing neglect can range from increased homeless populations to more mass shootings.

A local mental health hospital that used to operate in my local town from the 1970’s until early 2000’s (Agnews) is still referred to on some websites as an ‘insane asylum’ or "The Great Asylum for the Insane". (Moffitt, 2021). We have reached a higher-level intellectual understanding of mental illness now.

"The treatment of the insane in California dates from the earliest days of the Gold Rush. The first provisions for the insane were to lock them up with criminals in the ship Ephemia, purchased in 1849 by the City of San Francisco, and later to house them at the San Francisco marine hospital in 1850, used primarily for ailing seamen." (NPS, 2018).

This was the language of my generation and priors: “newspapers of the early 20th century routinely described [patients] as "mad," "demented" or the tabloid-friendly "lunatics."” (Moffitt, 2021). These connotations are negative and counterproductive. The slurs do not accurately describe or reflect the myriad of conditions that are identified and considered today. We have come a long way in many other advancements, it is time to progress and provide adequate support for mental health to improve our society, economy, and stability as a people.





National Park Service. (2018, Jan 26). Agnews Insane Asylum. https://www.nps.gov/places/agnews-insane-asylum.htm

Moffitt, M. (2021, Oct 26). A last peek inside Bay Area's abandoned 'Great Asylum for the Insane' before it disappears forever. SF Gate. https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/Abandoned-San-Jose-insane-asylum-Agnews-ruins-13527415.php

Recognizing Addiction as a Disease in the Criminal Justice System

By lexiradeFebruary 26th, 2024in CJ 725

Our society's view on crime tends to focus on incarceration rather than rehabilitation. Why is that the case? Additionally, the focus is largely on retribution rather than finding the root causes of a particular crime. We prioritize policies and structures that are tough on crime, but there is a lack of policies that address the drug subculture that exists within the criminal justice system. At the forefront of the criminal justice system is the goal of protecting the public's general welfare. Nevertheless, aren't nonviolent drug offenders part of that population? If so, have we failed them in a sense?

The opioid epidemic has affected the entire country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the number of people who died from a drug overdose in 2021 was over six times the number in 1999. The number of drug overdose deaths increased by more than 16% from 2020 to 2021 (2023). These staggering numbers show that drug usage in our country is only getting worse as the years progress. As it relates to incarceration rates, those who suffered from addiction and committed crimes relating to drugs or alcohol made up 85% of the nation's prison population (Rousseau, 2024). That means the majority of our incarcerated population has committed their crimes due to their disease of addiction. When you think of this population behind bars who are suffering from addiction, keep in mind that being behind bars does not aid the individual in recovery, either, as many inmates still find ways to smuggle substances into prisons (Rousseau, 2024). Even while incarcerated, without being given the proper treatment, those suffering will go to extreme lengths to fuel their addiction because the pain of withdrawals is too intense. 

To put it quite bluntly, those who have committed offenses related to drugs get very little help, if any, while incarcerated. Unfortunately, for over 30 years now, conservative policies have dominated how CJ professionals approach people with an addiction within the criminal justice system. These conservative policies have most notably included the use of mandatory minimum laws. Still, critics argue that these laws do nothing but target minority populations and have only contributed to the issue of overcrowding in U.S. prisons (Rousseau, 2024). There are also exceptionally high rates of recidivism for drug-related offenses. The National Library for Medicine states that illegal drug use increases the likelihood of continued involvement in criminal activity, with high rates of relapse and recidivism found among drug-involved offenders; 68% of drug offenders are rearrested within three years of release from prison (Belenko et al., 2013). Most of those who fall into this pattern come from marginalized communities and have no way of receiving any treatment for their struggles. 

Yet, there is still scrutiny surrounding non-violent drug offenses. Instead of formulating new policies that would help to ensure that these individuals receive adequate treatment to not only be functioning healthy members of society but while doing so, this would work towards improving the recidivism rates in this country and help to alleviate the opioid epidemic. It should be a goal to move towards a system that recognizes addiction as a disease rather than a choice. In doing so, we can aim towards providing these individuals with the necessary tools and resources to fight their disease. 

I will never condone crime or violence in any way. This post is, in essence, not to perpetuate a debate regarding dismantling the criminal justice system and its structure but rather to improve it while giving these individuals who suffer from the disease of addiction a second chance at life. Creating a unified approach within our system so those from the lowest and highest levels are educated on addiction and can come from a viewpoint that is more sustainable to view it as a disease. 


Belenko, S., Hiller, M., & Hamilton, L. (2013). Treating substance use disorders in the criminal justice system. National Library for Medicine. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, August 8). Understanding the opioid overdose epidemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Chapter 55 Data Visualization. The Massachusetts Opioid Epidemic. (2016). https://chapter55.digital.mass.gov/ 

Rousseau, D. (2024). Module 2 Lecture Notes: Thinking Like a Forensic Psychologist. Boston University. 

How Mental Health Hinders Cops and How We Can Best Aid It

By frhymesFebruary 26th, 2024in CJ 725

Police officers choose to take part in an extremely traumatic career path because of a calling. What we are just not beginning to understand is exactly how traumatic the path is. There have been a number of studies in fairly recent years about the damage that trauma can do to police officers that are constantly  thrown into stressful and harmful environments.

The first big study was done in 1999 by Stevens and Long. They found that 12-35% of their participants exhibited PTSD behaviors or do have been diagnosed with PTSD (Craddock & Telesco, 2021). They also found that over 20% of participants suffer from sleep issues including nightmares (Craddock & Telesco, 2021). We are aware of the lasting damages done by getting a lack of adequate sleep, especially when it comes to split-second decisions that are required when in law enforcement.

As the years progressed, police officers were shown to have increased levels of substance abuse and suicide than that of the general population. One of the most traumatic experiences for police officers were for those involved in the September 2001 attacks. There have been numerous follow-up studies done on them and found that they had higher than average PTSD symptoms than other cops across the country (Craddock & Telesco, 2021). They also, if they were physically able to, went back to work which would compound their already experienced stressors into more as more situations arose.

In the research conducted by Tina B. Craddock and Grace Telesco in 2021, they had many research questions and hypotheses they were searching for answers of, but their findings were interesting.

They found that the longer someone is in law enforcement, the worse that their mental health and physical health is (Craddock & Telesco, 2021). These are exacerbated by the decreased perceptions of law enforcement is today's society. Their symptoms of their decreased mental illnesses could present as more violent towards civilians or prisoners they interact with, rash decisions, and increased aggravation and possible violence towards family. These are many things that make a cop unfit for duty. They did not find a correlation between increased years on the job and increased alcohol abuse.

When it comes to aiding the police officers who are suffering from increased mental health disorders, we need to put as many tactics in action as possible. The main tactic is to have places where officers feel safe talking about their experiences (Buckhannon, 2023). This, even though a great idea, is easier said than done. A lot of police officers do not want to be involved with therapy of any kind due to its perception of being broken or weak. Instead of having a therapist at the station or that works with police officers, I think there needs to be a public hangout where police officers can meet up with each other and talk like friends. Some of the best therapy is hanging out with people that understand what you've been through and who you can blow off steam with. On a policy level, there needs to be mandated mental health care provided for police officers if they choose to take them up on the service. With this, there needs to be an additonal budget allotment so that the police officers do not see it as taking away other resources that they could be having. These are just limited examples of all of the things that need to be done to ensure that our police force works at their highest capacity. Until law enforcement, policy makers, and the government all work together to attack this threat to our law enforcement officers, this pandemic will continue to evolve and will continue to harm people in law enforcement, their families, and the communities as a whole.


Buckhannon, C. M. (2023, April 4). How to help officers’ traumatic stress. Police1. https://www.police1.com/wellness-week/articles/how-to-help-officers-traumatic-stress-8tk6JlkiiOForRYE/

Craddock, T. B., & Telesco, G. (2021, November 9). Police stress and deleterious outcomes: Efforts towards Improving Police Mental Health. Journal of police and criminal psychology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575544/

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) — A message to the public

By beibeil1February 26th, 2024in CJ 725

Phineas Gage's Traumatic Brain Injury:

In 1848, Phineas Gage, a 25-year-old railroad construction foreman, survived a horrific accident. While using a 43-inch-long, 13-pound iron tamping rod to pack explosive powder into a hole in the rock, the powder unexpectedly detonated. The iron rod propelled through his left cheek and skull, entering near the lower jaw hinge, passing behind his left eye socket, penetrating the base of his skull, and traversing the left frontal lobe upwards. It then exited through the top frontal portion of his skull and landed about 25-30 yards behind him. 

Remarkably, Gage was thrown onto his back, had some brief convulsions, but within minutes, he could stand, speak, and walk. Despite the severity of the injury, Gage made an improbable recovery and lived for 12 more years. 

The injury to his frontal lobe resulted in profound shifts in his personality and conduct, rendering him almost unrecognizable to those who knew him before. Prior to the incident, Gage exhibited traits of being composed, playful, amiable, and capable, serving as a dependable employee in the railroad industry. However, following the accident, he underwent a stark transformation, displaying hostility, irritability, vulgarity, irrationality, and a marked decline in social discernment. His outbursts of unchecked anger proved detrimental to his employment stability. While it's plausible that any individual enduring such trauma might undergo some personality alterations, the magnitude and drastic nature of Gage's changes were primarily ascribed to the physical trauma inflicted on his brain (Bartol & Bartol, 2020).

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) vs. Aggression:

TBI can impair the brain regions and circuits that regulate emotions, impulses, and social cognition, leading to increased aggression in some individuals. The risk and severity of aggression after TBI depend on several factors, such as the location and extent of brain damage, the presence of other psychiatric or neurological disorders, the level of cognitive functioning, the quality of social support, and the availability of rehabilitation services (Bartol & Bartol, 2020).

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) vs. Related Antisocial Behavior:

An article published on Medicina (Kaunas) reviews studies that show a positive correlation between TBI and aggressive behavior, especially in the acute and post-acute phases after the injury. Multiple biological and psychosocial factors, such as depression, substance abuse, age at the time of injury, and social support, can influence aggression (Maresca et al, 2020).

Activities that may cause brain Injuries:

Traumatic brain injuries are also linked with certain sports, notably football, soccer, and boxing. These injuries have the potential to cause brain damage, which in turn may trigger shifts in personality and aggressive tendencies (Bartol & Bartol, 2020).

% in Incarcerated Population: 

Approximately 60% of the prison population in the United States is thought to have indications of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in their history, in contrast to only 8.5% in the general populace. Certain studies indicate that up to 82% of individuals in the criminal justice system fulfill the criteria for having experienced a TBI at some stage in their lives (Bartol & Bartol, 2020).

Treatment and Prevention: 

There are treatments for aggression after TBI: a combination of pharmacological and psychological interventions, such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, cognitive-behavioral therapy, anger management, and social skills training.

Also, prevention of TBI and aggression requires public health measures, such as wearing helmets, reducing alcohol and drug use, enforcing traffic laws, and promoting nonviolent conflict resolution.

Author's thoughts: 

Many people, especially those who have suffered head injuries, have encountered difficulties in controlling their behavior. Harm can result from clashes between one person's aggression and another's. I advise individuals with typically functioning brains to pause and step back to avoid being provoked by someone else's aggression.





Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2020). Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach (12th ed.). Pearson Education (US).

Maresca G., Lo Buono V., Anselmo A., Cardile D., Formica C., Latella D., Quartarone A., & Corallo F. (2023). Traumatic Brain Injury and Related Antisocial Behavioral Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Medicina (Kaunas). 59(8):1377. doi: 10.3390/medicina59081377.


Cultural Competency and Healing Trauma in the Criminal Justice System

By cthurmFebruary 23rd, 2024in CJ 725

The intersection of cultural competency and trauma within the criminal justice system represents a critical juncture where justice, equity, and healing converge. Cultural competency involves more than mere acknowledgement of diversity; it requires a deep understanding of how critical backgrounds influence individuals’ experiences of trauma and justice. This entails recognizing the diverse beliefs, values, communication styles, and coping mechanisms present within different cultural communities. 

Trauma is not a monolithic experience; it varies across cultural contexts. Historical traumas, systemic oppression, and community violence are just some of the multifaceted factors shaping individuals’ experiences with trauma within diverse communities. Cultural norms, familial structures, and religious beliefs profoundly influence how trauma is experienced, perceived, and addressed. 

Building cultural sensitivity within the criminal justice system is imperative to ensure equitable treatment and meaningful access to justice for all individuals, regardless of cultural background. From law enforcement interactions to court proceedings and rehabilitation programs and access to resources, cultural competency must be integrated at every stage of the justice process.

Challenges abound in fostering cultural competency within the criminal justice system. Limited resources, implicit biases, and institutional barriers often impede efforts to provide culturally sensitive services. Furthermore, misunderstandings and mistrust between marginalized communities and justice institutions have exacerbated and hindered healing.

To overcome these challenges, proactive steps should be taken to promote cultural competency. This includes comprehensive training programs for justice professionals, emphasizing cultural humility, active listening, and trauma-informed approaches. Diversifying the workforce and fostering partnerships with community organizations are also vital in bridging gaps and building trust.

Incorporating cultural perspectives into policy development, program design, and service delivery is essential for creating a more inclusive and responsive justice system. This may involve establishing culturally specific support services, offering interpretation and translation services, and engaging community leaders as liaisons between justice institutions and communities. 

Cultural competency is not a static goal but an ongoing journey towards creating a more just and equitable criminal justice system. By centering cultural sensitivity in trauma-informed practices, we can foster healing, promote trust, and ensure that all individuals receive fair and dignified treatment. Embracing diversity, challenging biases, and prioritizing cultural humility are not only ethical imperatives but essential steps towards building a more inclusive society where justice truly serves all.

By eglaneFebruary 23rd, 2024in CJ 725

I found an article that described three scenarios in which an individual has been wrongfully imprisoned. It then described the immense mental toll it took on that individual. The first story was that of "Mr. X". He is a middle-aged man who was wrongfully imprisoned for a short amount of time but suffered lasting trauma mentally and physically. He suffered high blood pressure before the incident, so once he was imprisoned and going through the process, his blood pressure rose exponentially causing him to be in pain. Once he was released, he continuing had nightmares and trauma from the arrest which had taken place in the middle of the night by surprise. He was also mocked socially, this led him and his family to leave their home to join a new community. Although wrongful imprisonment may be a rarity, once it does occur, that law enforcement body or city should inherit the responsibility for individuals to reach adequate, if not better, standards of living than before. Providing treatment, financial settlement, or public address to clear the individual's name who is not truly guilty would be a great start.



Am I a psychopath?

By Kate MaretskyMay 12th, 2023in CJ 725

The short answer: most likely no. While individuals can exhibit certain traits of psychopathy, there is more to the clinical assessment of this diagnosis. The term "psychopath" has become colloquial in its use. It is thrown around when a friend does something out of the norm, when a character on TV displays particular traits, and when describing actions that are atypical. These instances have made it seem that psychopathy is more common than it actually is. People can certainly fall under the umbrella of "psychopathy" but genuine, diagnosed psychopaths must meet specific criteria in order to be diagnosed as such.

Psychopathy, as noted by Rousseau (2023), can be caused by genetics, neurobiology, and abuse. It is defined by three major characteristics which include callousness, a fearless personality type, and impulse control issues (Marsh, 2022). Approximately 30% of the population demonstrate a degree of these traits, but only about 1.2% are classified as "severe psychopaths," Marsh (2022) adds. In order to test for psychopathy, Robert Hare created the PCL-R

Rousseau's (2023) PCL-R presentation slide
Rousseau's (2023) PCL-R presentation slide

(Psychopathy Checklist-Revised) to measure the "extent to which [an] individual matches [a] prototypical psychopath" (Rousseau, 2023). This checklist consists of 20 items that are scored on a scale from 0-2; 0 means the item is not present and 2 means the item is definitely present. Rating each item a 0, 1, or 2, a score up to 40 can be obtained. Any score greater than 30 indicates severe psychopathy, which can only be "diagnosed" when administered by a professional with an advanced degree (Rousseau, 2023). While you can self-administer this test to get a general idea of where you stand, an accurate "diagnosis" can only come from a professional. "Diagnosis" is in air quotes here because psychopathy is not an official DSM diagnosis. Typically ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder) is diagnosed, and in combination with a high PCL-R score, an individual is labeled to have psychopathic tendencies (Marsh, 2022).

Psychopathy can be viewed as a spectrum. Many individuals show psychopathic tendencies at one point or another and whether you have scored a 0, are in the early 20s, or maybe up in the 30s range, falling anywhere on the scale is not necessarily a bad thing. While yes, those with higher scores have an increased risk for criminal behavior due to the lack of empathy and guilt, psychopaths are not inherently bad individuals. Many are successful professionals who use their traits to their advantage. Being labeled a psychopath does not automatically lead to crime and violence; it all depends on how the traits are utilized in one's life.

Treatments for psychopathy are extremely limited. Successfully curing psychopathy is not possible, but there are methods to manage symptoms and improve one's quality of life. Treatments may include things like behavioral skills therapies, medications, and psychotherapy (Psychopathy Is, 2022).  There tend to be additional challenges in treating psychopaths due to their lack of motivation, poor response to treatments, and resistance to any kind of change. These can stem from a psychopath's lack of ownership of problems and responsibilities as well as their separation from emotions, empathy, and guilt. While psychopathy can be managed, it is more stringent to do so than with other kinds of diagnoses.

So, the question still stands: are you a psychopath? The probability of falling into that 1.2% is very low but never 0. You may exhibit several of the PCL-R items at either level 1 or even level 2, but the best way to get to the bottom of it is to see a licensed professional. This can start you on your path to figuring out why your brain may work differently than others and why you act and respond the way you do in certain situations. Either way, it's all about how you use your personality and traits to your advantage while creating little to no destruction in your path. Change is not impossible and neither is living a successful, rewarding life.



Marsh, A. (2022, March). Why psychopathy is more common than you think, with Abigail Marsh, Phd. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/psychopathy#:~:text=Although%20severe%20psychopathy%20affects%20just,fall%20under%20this%20broad%20umbrella.

Psychopathy Is. (2022, December 21). Psychopathy Treatment Options. https://psychopathyis.org/treatment/#:~:text=The%20most%20successful%20approaches%20to,They%20may%20also%20incorporate%20medication.

Rousseau, D. (2023). Presentation files: Psychopathy. Boston University.