Women and Anti-Social Personality Disorder

female-sociopathThe holy grail of personality disorders, psychopathy, sociopathy, ASPD or madness without delirium. Described by Harvey Cleckley in his book “The Mask of Sanity” as the insane that appear sane. Most of the research on this disorder has been done by Dr. Robert Hare using the populations of America’s prisons as his subjects. This lead to the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) and then the next version the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R). Unsurprisingly the diagnosis of this disorder appears to favor men with up to 3 men being diagnosed as having ASPD for every woman. The symptoms in Hare’s checklist was developed almost exclusively by studying men, mostly the prison population, which may have affected the calibration of the tools. There are some questions among professionals that wonder if psychopathy have a lower incidence rate in women, or in fact there are issues with the diagnostic tools [4]. Either in the form that the disorder manifests differently as is the case with schizophrenia [5], or in that the psychologist may interpret behavior different.

From three different studies, the prevalence of anti-social personality disorder has a prevalence of 1% – 4.1% in the population. This is a fairly significant amount of people, as it comes out to 1 – 4 in 100. This means that most of us has probably interacted with quite a few psychopaths, and probably do so on a daily basis without realizing. The reason for why we do not realize, is that if predators were easy to spot, they would not be very good predators. Continue reading