What does the term “psychopathy” mean and how it was born?
Psychopathy is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterised by persistent antisocial behaviour, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits. There have long been discussions about whether a psychopath is born or made, by which the suggestion is that a person has either a genetic or biological predisposition to antisocial behaviour, or their interactions with the environment around them are what causes the behaviour. This essay aims to determine that psychopaths are, in fact, made and not born.
It may be useful to first consider some history on the terminology of the word “psychopath”. In the early nineteenth century doctors who worked with mental patients began to notice that some of their patients, who to all intents and purposes appeared outwardly normal, had, as they termed it, a “moral depravity” or “moral insanity” in that they seemed to have no sense of ethics or the rights of others. Around 1900 the term “psychopath” was first applied to these people, and in the 1930s “sociopath” was also used as an indicator of how much damage they might do to society. Since then researchers have returned to using “psychopath”.