Psychopathy: a confusing clinical construct.J Forensic Nurs. 2008; 4(1):29-39.JF
Although psychopathy has traditionally been cited as a disorder of personality, confusion arises as the term is used interchangeably with the terms antisocial personality disorder and dissocial personality disorder, both of which are largely behaviorally based. This paper aims to provide an overview of the literature on the topic of psychopathy, which examines this conundrum. Included in the discussion are definitions of psychopathy, incidence, approaches to diagnosis, and the debates that surround causes, manifestations, and treatability. Experimental studies and theoretical papers have been included if considered to be informative and of relevance to forensic nursing practice. The review demonstrates that studies are fragmented and no clear consensus seems to emerge concerning any of the discussion areas or even the construct of psychopathy itself. It is concluded that further research is required in psychopathy as encountered in both institutional and community settings. Until complete clarification is provided by the research community, forensic nurses need to maintain positive views about their own role when working with people with this challenging condition and strive to maintain a therapeutic ward atmosphere.