Free Will in Psychopaths: A Phenomenological Description
By the term psychopathy I wish to denote only disorders of personality and behavior; and I shall sometimes emphasize this by using the rather unfashionable expression personality psychopathy. Psychopathy will thus be understood as a condition clearly distinct from other illnesses of the human psyche, such as neurosis and psychosis, and from deficiencies such as mental oligophrenia (retardation); and instead it will be viewed as a kind of personality deficiency, such that the sufferer’s volitional activity is more deteriorated than in neurotics. The latter are prey to remorse and anxiety, whereas the psychopath exhibits neither remorse nor anxiety, but rather a certain coarseness of affection and feeling which is accentuated by an abnormal aggressiveness the etiology of which is to be sought in defective or deficient childhood experiences. In the same way that oligophrenias of a mental kind are defined for the psychopathological classification of the mentally deficient, so too there may be distinguished a kind of moral oligophrenia suffered by certain psychopathic personalities whose deficiency of moral feeling is exhibited in emotional imbalance and lack of social adaptation (sociopathy). These symptoms involve not only the degradation of the psychopath’s moral judgment, but also his ability for free choice in the framework of our customary norms of conduct; in other words, the deterioration of his ideoaffectivity affects his free will.
KeywordsPhenomenological Description Social Adaptation True Choice Moral Feeling Passive Subject
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