1st Edition

The Antisocial Personalities

By David T. Lykken Copyright 1995
    268 Pages
    by Psychology Press

    268 Pages
    by Psychology Press

    This volume presents a scholarly analysis of psychopathic and sociopathic personalities and the conditions that give rise to them. In so doing, it offers a coherent theoretical and developmental analysis of socialization and its vicissitudes, and of the role played in socialization by the crime-relevant genetic traits of the child and the skills and limitations of the primary socializing agents, the parents.

    This volume also describes how American psychiatry's (DSM-IV) category of "Antisocial Personality Disorder" is heterogeneous and fails to document some of the more interesting and notorious psychopaths of our era. The author also shows why the antinomic formula "Nature vs. Nurture" should be revised to "Nature via Nurture" and reviews the evidence for the heritability of crime-relevant traits. One of these traits -- fearlessness -- seems to be one basis for the primary psychopathy and the author argues that the primary psychopath and the hero may be twigs on the same genetic branch.

    But crime -- the failure of socialization -- is rare among traditional peoples still living in the extended-family environment in which our common ancestors lived and to which our species is evolutionarily adapted. The author demonstrates that the sharp rise in crime and violence in the United States since the 1960s can be attributed to the coeval increase in divorce and illegitimacy which has left millions of fatherless children to be reared by over-burdened, often immature or sociopathic single mothers. The genus sociopathic personality includes those persons whose failure of socialization can be attributed largely to incompetent or indifferent rearing.

    Two generalizations supported by modern behavior genetic research are that most psychological traits have strong genetic roots and show little lasting influence of the rearing environment. This book demonstrates that the important trait of socialization is an exception. Although traits that obstruct or facilitate socialization tend to obey these rules, socialization itself is only weakly heritable; this is because modern American society displays such enormous variance in the relevant environmental factors, mainly in parental competence. Moreover, parental incompetence that produces sociopathy in one child is likely to have the same result with any siblings. This book argues that sociopathy contributes far more to crime and violence than psychopathy because sociopaths are much more numerous and because sociopathy is a familial trait for both genetic and environmental reasons. With a provocative thesis and an engaging style, this book will be of principal interest to clinical, personality, forensic, and developmental psychologists and their students, as well as to psychiatrists and criminologists.

    Contents: Introduction. Part I: Crime and Violence: Who Are the Perpetrators and Why Do They Do It? The Psychopathology of Crime. An Animal Model: The Bull Terrier. A Classification of Criminal Types. Part II: The Genetic and Evolutionary Background. Crime From an Evolutionary Perspective. Genes and the Mind. The Heritability of Criminality. Part III: The Psychopathic Personalities. The Psychopath: An Introduction to the Genus. The Classification of the Psychopathies. A Theory of Primary Psychopathy. Primary and Secondary Psychopathy. Further Contributions of R.D. Hare. Theories of Frontal Lobe Dysfunction. Other Theories of Psychopathy. Part IV: The Sociopathic Personalities. The Sociopath or Common Criminal. The Question of Race. Preventing Antisocial Personality.


    David T. Lykken

    "...this is a fascinating volume. It is just the kind of book that should be at the center of debates on public policy--consistently scientific and free from preconceptions or wishful thinking."
    American Renaissance

    HOLD FOR PUBLICATION OF REVIEW!!!"...a sophisticated, tightly integrated work with multiple overlapping themes. This is a book that brings new perspective to a well-travelled literature and which yields fresh rewards with repeated readings. It is illuminating, entertaining, and at times outrageous. In short, it has the earmarks of a classic."
    Psychological Inquiry

    "...original, variegated, intelligent, scholarly, and delightfully written....this book is dense and nutritious; few works are based on bodies of literature as diverse as those covered here, and there are fewer still that achieve the conceptual coherence that Lykken achieves. [He] is an expert in this long-term field, and his book is an encyclopedic compendium."
    Aggressive Behavior

    After reviewing the literature on psychopathy, this book documents the claim that sociopaths, not psychopaths, are responsible for most crime.
    National Institute of Justice

    "Lykken's newest book on the antisocial personalities rivals and then surpasses the classic by Cleckley by combining hard-nosed science, as skillfully as Sagan, with keen observations on humans in social settings garnered over some 40 years of experience with sociopaths. His theory about the 'primary psychopath' and his (usually) origins will irritate, agitate, and partially explicate, depending on the reader's previous exposure to sociology, behavioral genetics, and welfare policy. Lykken's challenges to conventional and received wisdom are both serious and entertaining. Your attitude toward crime and violence will NOT be the same after reading this book as it was before you started."
    Irving I. Gottesman, Ph.D.
    Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Psychiatrics, University of Virginia

    "This is the most exciting book on psychopathology I've read for years. The analysis is incisive and deep; the style is engaging; the synthesis of the author's encyclopedic knowledge in diverse areas -- clinical psychology, sociology, psychometrics, genetics, psychophysiology -- is creative and powerful. This book defines the research task for the foreseeable future."
    Paul E. Meehl, Ph.D., LP
    Regents' Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Member Emeritus, Minnesota Center fo

    "David Lykken, the Dean of the field of antisocial behavior, provides a badly needed, comprehensive, and insightful analysis of the complex causes of the marked and continuing increase in crime and violence. This highly readable book offers its own recommendations that are likely to stimulate a major political debate as to how to solve this critical societal problem. It is one of those rare books that presents an authoritative overview for professionals in the field, yet is written in a clear and entertaining style that makes it invaluable for the educated layperson."
    Don C. Fowles, Ph.D.
    The University of Iowa

    "Your book on the antisocial personalities is wonderful....The topic is major, the writing is marvelously clear, and the argument is correct....your book is the high water mark in our efforts to develop a conceptual understanding of the issue."
    Robert Hogan
    Hogan Assessment Systems